Five Signs You May Need a Break from Online Dating

Online dating is a great way to meet new people and potentially find love, but it can be exhausting. Some former online daters even told us it feels like a part-time job: you sift through the various profiles out there, look for things that appeal to you, try to contact the possible dates, physically GO on dates, and then hope that things progress from there. It takes time, effort and energy. And over time, it can wear you out.

While you might not want to lose precious time in your search for a mate, there might come a time when you should take a break from the exertions of online dating. You don’t want to get completely burned out; that will skew your judgment and make finding a truly good match even harder for you. So how can you tell when you’ve reached your threshold and need to step back? Dr Greg Kushnick wrote an article for Huffington Post that outlined some of the key signs to watch for. They include:

  1. You check your dating apps almost constantly. This is an obsession that shows you’ve gotten far too attached to the process. If you can’t go an hour between glances at the screen, it’s break time.
  2. Little letdowns cause major upset for you. A small dealbreaker, rejection or other hiccup in your dating process shouldn’t feel like the world is ending. If you’re tempted to cry into a pillow because the person you messaged turned out to be a smoker, you need to step back.
  3. You only go on first dates, never second ones. Something is clearly not quite right if none of your meetups continue for more than one evening. Maybe your perspective is off; maybe a temporary break in dating will help you clean your slate a bit and start fresh.
  4. You complain about online dating like you’re a victim of something horrible, but you keep on doing it. If you bitch about the process, whine about how no one is suitable, or badmouth the experiences you’ve had, you come across as bitter, and that vitriol festers in you. If you complain, take some time away from what you’re complaining about.
  5. You’re depressed or anxious, and getting more so. If you are already prone to depression or struggle with issues like depression and anxiety, online dating won’t fix anything. In fact, it could be making you worse. If you have depression, you should be spending your main efforts on helping yourself get better. That way, you’re more likely to be in the right mindset to find a healthy match, and you won’t be expecting anyone to come along and make everything magically better (because that simply doesn’t happen).

Smile, Frown or Flirt: The Three Profile Pic Expressions Examined

Most people will say it’s always better to smile in a photo. You look friendly, happy, welcoming, etc. when you smile. But is that truly the case for an online dating profile photo? What sort of facial expression works in dating profiles to catch the eye of potential matches?

An OKCupid blog post set out to examine dating profile facial expressions in detail. The author found some interesting results just by poring over the vast collection of photos on the site. Women smile in 56% of their photos, while men smile in just 37% of theirs. Meanwhile, men make a “flirty face” just 2% of the time, while women make it about 9% of the time. So that’s how the actual pics shake out; now what actually WORKS?

Flirting with the camera gets girls the most messages.

Flirting with the camera gets girls the most messages.

By and large, the flirty face gets a woman the most messages from prospective dates, but there’s a caveat: She must be flirting AT the camera, not away from it. Women who make the flirty face but don’t make eye contact with the camera get much worse results. It makes sense when you think about it. Men like to be flirted with, but they don’t like to think you’re flirting at someone off to their side. So ladies, send the bedroom eyes at the camera lens, and you’re most likely to get a response.

For the men, the pics that got them the most messages were non-smiling, and also, strangely, non-eye-contact. A man staring off to the side, stone-faced, is more successful than it seems like he should be. The author theorizes that it makes the man look more mysterious, and therefore, more interesting. And once again, if a man makes a flirty face, he needs to do it AT the camera, not off to the side of it.

But most men don’t do the flirty face at all.

 

Dealbreakers: How To Choose Some (And Stick to Them)

If sharing a laptop in the park is incredibly important to you, be sure to stick to your guns.

If sharing a laptop in the park is incredibly important to you, be sure to stick to your guns.

When you’re navigating the waters of online dating, you encounter a wide variety of people. Some, of course, are fake people (bots), but you can probably spot those. They’re the ones that keep flirting with you in chat even when you reply with things like, “Seriously, if you’re not a bot, say ‘no bot’ right now, dammit.” But many of the people you meet online are real, genuinely interested, and full of their own quirks, personality traits and habits.

Not all of these quirks and habits will suit you, of course. Some things will just not be compatible with your own life or personality, no matter how cute the other person is or how well they spell. For many people, smoking is a major dealbreaker; for others, things like religion, children or political opinions can ice the interest. So how can you figure out what YOUR dealbreakers are?

Start by looking at your own interests. Are you heavily religious? Do you really, really care about politics? Do you want kids someday? Are you a drinker, a smoker, a recreational drug user, etc, and either way, do you have strong feelings about these things? Think about the many beliefs and interests that are truly important to you, and then think about how you’d feel if you spent time with someone who was diametrically opposite to those things. Does it feel like it would be a punch in the gut to spend time with someone who says they’ll vote for Trump? Does the thought of kissing a smoker turn your stomach? These are visceral reactions that you can’t ignore. Trust your instincts on things like this, BEFORE you have someone standing in front of you to test your resolve. And figure out which are more important than others.

Second, don’t apologize for your dealbreakers. You are entitled to your own desires in a relationship, and that’s nothing to be sorry about. Some people might get annoyed with you, even hostile, if they find out that something about them just doesn’t jive with you. But that’s nobody’s fault. Different people don’t always mesh, and there is no reason you should have to feel obligated to change yourself, alter your beliefs or suck up an uncomfortable situation just so the other person can feel better. Be true to yourself and honest with others. That doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible on a myriad of other things — after all, compromise is vital in a good relationship — but when it comes to true dealbreakers, compromise is usually not a good idea.

Last, be patient. In the hunt for a perfect mate, it’s easy to make excuses, rush through the process and overlook red flags in order to be in a relationship. But dealbreakers almost always come back on you. For example, if you’re a guy who doesn’t want kids, and you start seeing a woman who does, don’t think that you’ll be able to “bring her around.” She probably thinks the same about you, and in the end, if you’re both solid in your desires for/against children, you’ll both be in for a world of heartache. No matter how pretty she is, how much you fit together in other ways, how great her laugh is…. in the end, a dealbreaker is just too big to skip over. There are many, many other potential dates out there, some of whom WILL fit the bill for you, so take your time and don’t rush it.

Going from the Web to the Real World: Three Tips for Meeting In Person

So you’ve found someone on a dating site that you actually click with. You exchange some winks, some flirts, some chats… Yep, definitely a match. So now it’s time to plan the first in-person meetup! After all, that was the point of making an online dating profile in the first place, right?

Is your date already planning this outcome? If so, trust your gut and run.

Is your date already planning this outcome? If so, trust your gut and run.

Getting ready for the first in-real-life meeting can be stressful. Where do you go? What do you do? Most people know that they should plan the first date for a public place (it’s safer on both sides that way), but beyond that, what’s the best option? Judy Cole of Men’s Fitness had some tips for guys looking to plan the first face-to-face experience with a new flame, and really, these tips can apply to guys OR gals.

  1. Go on a real date. This seems obvious, but many people who meet for the first time after an online connection do it in super-casual places, like Starbucks. Treat this like a date with someone you already know in real life. You don’t necessarily have to pay for a whole meal, but choose a decent restaurant, a classy bar for drinks, or a pleasant al fresco lunch spot. Make it feel like you care about the effort your date put into getting ready and meeting you, because they probably DID make an effort.
  2. Watch for telltale signs of trouble. On a first date, it’s easy to ignore or completely overlook red flags in the other person. Watch for things like a date who asks too much about how much money you make, doesn’t look or seem very much like her online profile, or is already planning several dates down the line. My brother recently started dating a new girl, and in under two months, she was talking about what their wedding would be like. That’s a huge no-no, and when it happens, you have to be ready to split. Don’t lie to yourself about what your dealbreakers are or what you’re willing to put up with: a red flag is a red flag. Even if it’s nothing in particular that bugs you about the other person! Our gut feelings are often a great indicator of something being just not quite right. Follow your instincts.
  3. Know how to get out safely, if you need to. Women are told this a lot, but it applies to men, as well: Aside from meeting in a public place, you should know where the exits are, tell people where you’re going, and have a plan to get out if things get hairy. Sometimes, that means having a friend call you partway through the date in case you need an excuse to bail. Again, this isn’t a negative thing for either side of the meetup. This is a safety thing. Meeting someone in person when you’ve only known them online is a risk, and even though the vast majority of first dates from dating websites go fine, it never hurts to be prepared.

The Long-Distance Relationship: Can You Do It? Four Things to Consider

With most online dating sites, you can choose how far from your current location you want to look. That way, the results you find are usually near you, and a long-distance relationship (LDR) is not an issue. But sometimes, things can change. You might:

  • Start looking further and further from home just to see who’s out there;
  • Meet someone while you’re on a trip, which means that, when you go home, you’re not geographically close anymore;
  • Meet someone close to home, but then something happens that moves one of you away (job offer, sick relative, etc).
"What do you mean, you're seeing Beth from Accounting??"

“What do you mean, you’re seeing Beth from Accounting??”

In short, no matter what you do, you might find yourself staring down the barrel of an LDR, either right away or sometime down the road in a relationship. When that happens, it’s not necessarily the end of the world; many people have successful LDRs. I myself have had two, one of 9 months and one of 1.5 years, and they both worked out very well (still married to that last one). But in order to make an LDR work, there are some things you really have to consider beforehand.

 

  1. Is this an exclusive, monogamous relationship? The very first thing to figure out when you are distant from your partner is, are we going to see other people? Make sure that the answer to this isn’t taken for granted; talk about it, figure out what each of you wants, and go from there. Don’t just assume that, if you’re faithful, they will be, too, or if you plan to date around, they’ll understand. Hash it out, and if you can’t agree on an answer, it might be best to part ways.
  2. Stay in touch, in multiple ways. You’ve decided to make a go of it, and that’s great. Fortunately, there are so many communication tools to help you! Your phone can call, text, Skype and email, and we recommend doing all of these. Video chats (like Skype and others) are particularly great because seeing each other helps keep the connection fresh. And every once in a while, send a real, snail-mail card or letter. Everyone likes getting happy mail, and it’s a fun surprise.
  3. Keep your friendships and family relationships strong. When you’re in a twosome, it’s easy to get all caught up in the coupleness and let other relationships fall by the wayside, at least for a while. But in an LDR, it can feel downright lonely to watch TV alone, go to bed alone, eat dinner alone. It’s very important (and good for the health of your partnership) to keep your friendships and family connections going. Hang out with your pals… Have dinner with the folks… Go shopping with your sis. A solid foundation of friends and family is vital for ANY relationship (it can’t all just be about the love), and in an LDR, that’s especially important.
  4. Talk about everything, even the little things. You might feel like the everyday minutiae don’t merit discussing because, come on, you don’t get to talk to this person as often as you’d like. But seriously, talk like you see each other every day. Chat about the little wins, the tiny annoyances, the irrational fears. Opening up in a personal, everyday sort of way has a lot of advantages. One, it makes the relationship feel more real (talking like “normal” couples talk); two, it can prevent issues like jealousy, because you can talk out the things that are bugging you; and three, it gives you a chance to REALLY get to know each other, from the big things to the small. Distance can be an issue in a few ways: you might have trouble trusting the other person, and the spans of time between visits can prolong the “getting to know you” stuff and make an otherwise-mediocre relationship seem way better than it actually is. Communicate daily, about any little thing, and it’ll get “real” much faster.

First Date Foods: Six Things You Should NEVER Eat

A first date in person is a great way to get to know someone better. But if dining out is part of your first date plan, be careful which restaurant, and even which meal, you choose. Some foods lend themselves quite well to first dates (or any dates, for that matter), while others set you up for a less-than-pleasant experience.

First, a few GOOD choices for first date food. You might try:

Swiss or not, fondue is a sexy choice.

Swiss or not, fondue is a sexy choice.

Fondue – yes, it has the potential to be messy, but in a fun way. There’s something intimate about a shared pot of hot cheese. And feeding each other is a flirty way to get closer.

Picnic – Sandwiches and fruit under a tree in the park are no muss, no fuss. They travel well, don’t make much mess and give you the portability to enjoy the great outdoors. Cap it off with some cookies!

Appetizers + Dessert – Light fare, finger foods and other small plates provide a lot of variety without the heaviness or mess of larger meals. Then split a slice of cheesecake or chocolate temptation.

Now on to the things you should definitely NOT eat on a first date:

  1. Large amounts of onion or garlic. These two pungent flavors are delicious, but they stay with you for a loooong time after, no matter how many breath mints you eat. Garlic is so strong that, if you put cloves of it between your toes, you can actually TASTE it after a while. Skip the garlic sauces, onion rings and other potentially-powerful flavors.
  2. Ribs and other BBQ with sauce. This is a mess waiting to happen, both for your face and your clothes. And no one finds another person attractive when they’re wearing a protective bib. Try to avoid food that makes you look like a caveman to eat.
  3. Corn on the cob. Tasty as it is, it’s a mess to eat, and you’ll probably still be finding corn hairs and kernels in your teeth hours later. Unless you carry floss with you at all times (and don’t mind using it all night), avoid this side dish.
  4. Super-spicy or fermented foods. Not only are these flavors so strong as to overpower everyday mints (see garlic, above), but they aren’t for everyone. If your date has a more bland palate or simply doesn’t like excessive spice or flavors like kimchi, you’ll be an instant turn-off if you eat those things. Save the exotic options for a later date.
  5. Whole crab, lobster, peel-and-eat shrimp or other crustaceans/shellfish. Most of these have to be eaten, at least in part, with the fingers, and that’s not fun to watch. It’s messy, usually involves bib-wearing (see BBQ, above), and in the end, you’re ripping up a dead carcass for your meal. Sure, it tastes awesome, but the visual is hard to get past. Perhaps on a later date, when you’re more comfortable with each other, you can split a bucket of shrimp and a few beers and laugh about the mess you’re making. But not on the first date!
  6. The most expensive thing on the menu. On the first date, you may be looking to seem like you’ve got it going on. Ordering the top entrée can give the appearance of wealth and/or taste. But seriously, don’t do it unless you REALLY love whatever it is. Your date will be less impressed by the gesture than you think. Instead, give the meal options some thought, perhaps talk about how you’re torn between two (reasonable) choices, and select something that you genuinely like. You won’t have fun on this date if you’re choking down something you don’t enjoy eating!

20 Things You Should Never, Ever Say on a First Date

And now for some slightly lighter fare.

For most people, the do’s and don’ts of first date conversation can vary quite a bit. Some people say never to talk about politics or religion, while others insist that those topics are vital in getting to know if someone is a good match. Talking about exes is generally a no-no, while discussing music is usually safe. Some things, however, fall firmly in the do-not-say category. In the spirit of humor (and just a touch of uncomfortable realism), here’s a list of twenty of those particular no-go comments that should get you kicked to the curb in no time flat:

  • Do you have a photo of your mom? I want to see whether you’re going to age well.
  • What are your feelings on roleplaying as badgers?
  • Mind if I take a quick blood sample?
  • I think Hitler was somewhat misunderstood.
  • You can’t be a REAL gamer unless you play [insert obscure game here].
  • I’m a better driver when I’m drinking.
  • What does your hair smell like?
  • This tie is made of real baby seal pelt!
  • I’m not a crazy cat person. It takes at least 10 cats for that, and I only have 8.
  • I’m pretty sure the moon landing was a hoax.
  • Come on, don’t you read the science? Vaccines cause autism!
  • Want to hear about my kidney stone experience?
  • If climate change were real, it would never be snowing out.
  • You should meet my parents! And look, they’re right over at that table!
  • Well, I’m currently married, but it’s just a green card marriage so it doesn’t count.
  • Does this rag smell like chloroform to you?
  • You sure you want to order that? It has a lot of calories, and you probably don’t need them…
  • I like that shirt on you! It’s a lot better than the one you wore last night when you were sleeping.
  • Sorry to rush you, but I have another date after this one.
  • I’m gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free, egg-free and sugar-free. Also I’m allergic to water, but I take a pill for that.

To Shave or Not To Shave: Do Women Prefer Beards?

Is this attractive?

Is this attractive?

In recent years, facial hair has surged back into style. And we’re not just talking about standard beards and mustaches. A wide variety of lengths and designs are popping up on faces nationwide. From the close-trimmed “I haven’t shaved in a few days” scruffy look to the longer, more hipster, “I wear a beanie with my horn rims every day” look, beards are back like never before. But do they actually make men more attractive to women?

According to some sources, the jury is still out. Many women claim to see beards as manly and sexy, while others claim they look messy, lazy or otherwise unpleasant. A lot depends on the shape of the face wearing the beard, of course, and in most cases, it comes down to each individual beard evaluated by each individual woman. That said, however, studies have begun to give some parameters to the best of beards and their appeal to ladies.

CBS News reported on a study in 2014 that explains some beard science.

“When shown men’s faces, men and women study participants consistently rated the faces with beards or stubble as more attractive than clean-shaven faces,” the article notes. “But beards were most alluring when facial hair was rare, whereas clean-shaven faces gained in popularity when hairy faces were the norm.”

So beards and stubble are good, as long as not EVERY face is beards and stubble. This, the article suggests, could be why beards go in and out of style as time progresses. We go through beard eras, then clean-shaven eras, and each time the cycle repeats when the style is new or rare again. Facial hair, the scientists said, is most attractive when it’s the exception to popular style, not the rule.

Should you grow (or keep) a beard for your online dating profile pics? Right now, beards are very much in fashion, so you may actually stand out more by NOT having one. But in the end, you should opt for a look that best suits your bone structure and your style. Ask your friends and family for their honest opinion. Try a few looks and see what looks best on you. Be yourself, above all else, and that confidence will help you in the long run.

From Winks to Drinks: Four Tips for the First Date

You’ve met someone online that you seem to really click with. You’ve exchanged messages, shared personal details, and expressed an interest in meeting IRL (in real life). Sometimes, this is the biggest hurdle to online dating: taking the relationship from cyberspace to personal space. Here are a few tips to help you make that leap as smoothly as possible.

1. Don’t wait too long to set up an in-person date. Some people email, text and chat for days, even weeks, before they try to venture into a real-life setting, and by then, the pressure is really on. Instead, if you’ve exchanged a few messages and you seem to be a good fit, set up the date now. Waiting doesn’t help anything except to make the other person think maybe you’re not all that interested after all.

2. Pick the right venue. You need to meet somewhere in public for the first time, so you can both be comfortable. Don’t pick someplace trashy or low-brow, like a parking lot or a fast food joint. By the same token, don’t go over the top with a fancy schmancy dinner. Instead, try a trendy bar for drinks, or a fun bistro for lunch. Places like this keep it a bit casual without being TOO casual, and they allow for talking in relative privacy so you can get to know each other better.

A cozy bar is a nice spot for a first date... just watch those drinks.

A cozy bar is a nice spot for a first date… just watch those drinks.

3. Safety first. Women hear this a lot, but it matters to men, too. When meeting someone from the internet for a date, you have to consider your personal safety above all. Meet in person, have a charged cell phone on you, know where the exits are, and NEVER leave your drink alone. Both men and women have been the victims of date-rape drugs and other awful situations, so even if you think you know this person really well already and you can totally trust them, err on the side of caution. It’s worth it.

4. End on a good note. If you like the other person and want to see them again, suggest another meetup before the first one is even over. Something like, “Hey, if you’re free this weekend, I know a great club a few blocks from here.” Then follow up within a day to confirm the plans. If you DON’T like the other person, be straightforward about it. You can say something like, “I’m really glad I had the chance to meet you in person. I’m sorry that I just don’t feel the chemistry that I hoped I would, but I hope you do find the right person!” They might get upset, but at least you didn’t leave them hanging.

If you’re just not sure whether you want to see them again, suggest that you touch base via text or email again soon. You can say something like, “This was fun, I’m glad we could get together. Let’s text later and see how we both feel about doing this again sometime.” Then definitely text the other person within a day or two so they know you weren’t just blowing them off.

Three Tips for a Good Online Dating First Impression: Username, Tag Line and Writeup

Crafting the perfect online dating profile? We can help.

Crafting the perfect online dating profile? We can help.

We’ve covered how important the right dating profile photo is, as well as some great tips for reaching out to other users on dating sites. But when it comes to a first impression, there are even more details that matter, and they start with the smallest of things: your username, tag line and writeup.

According to this article on Oprah.com, there are a few quick tips that will help you maximize your potential for a good first impression. Here they are for you:

1. Your username: Whatever you choose, it’s one of the first things your potential date will see, right before or right after your profile photo. Be very aware of how your username speaks for you. If you’re a woman seeking a serious relationship, a username like “Dcupgal” won’t do you any favors. Similarly, a man looking to impress a wide variety of women may want to steer clear of childish usernames like “420gamerguyy.”

Don’t try to be too clever with your username; if there’s a joke in there somewhere, be sure it’s clear enough for more than just a tiny percentage of the population to get. And finally, don’t try to force a username for yourself if the one you really want is already taken by someone else. “MissMary5693462” is messy-looking and impossible to remember.

2. Your tag line: Many dating sites give you a single line of text to put as your profile’s lead-in, like a headline or status update. This is a chance to catch someone’s eye with your wit, interests or style, right up front. First, remember these can be changed regularly. If you’re looking for something specific in a given week, you can change your tag line to reflect that (something like “Seeking someone to hang at the Shady Mongoose club this week and catch a bluegrass show!”).

Second, try to avoid TOO much cleverness or obscurity in your tagline. Inside jokes are fun when everyone is in on the joke, but those who don’t get it won’t be amused or impressed. You won’t sound smart or educated; you’ll sound pretentious or confusing.

3. Your description/writeup: We’ve talked before about what should go into your writeup, but the style of it matters, too. Break up that wall of text into a few paragraphs, and organize them somewhat. The first paragraph is who you are and what you do; the second is for your interests, pet peeves, etc; and the third is what you’re currently up to, from recent books and movies to things you’d LIKE to do, ideally with a date.

One last thing: Spell check. For the love of Pete, spell check is your friend. Let it help you. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did.