Five Tips for Approaching (and Conquering) Online Dating

Know what you're looking for even before you start.

Know what you’re looking for even before you start.

We’ve given tons of tips in our blog about how to be a successful online dater. We help you take a good profile pic; we point out what NOT to do on a first date. We even suggested some niche dating sites for people with specific interests. But in a general sense, just how can you turn online dating into a successful endeavor? Amy Webb did a month-long experiment to analyze successful dating profiles, and she shared her results with the world (and now, we’ll share a few of those with you).

  1. Know what you want before you start (make a list and everything). It’s hard to find the perfect mate if you don’t even know what you’re looking for in the first place. If you want someone who has kids, have some idea how many kids and how old/far apart they are. After all, there’s a big difference between someone who has one ten-year-old kid and someone else who has five kids ranging from 6 to 16! Write down what really matters to you, what you seek in a partner, and what your dealbreakers are. Be honest with yourself; there’s no reason to settle here.
  2. Figure out the sites you like best, and join more than one. For the most success, belong to at least a few sites. Keep in mind that paid sites like Match.com tend to be successful for long-term relationships (they tout their high marriage rate in their commercials), while free sites like Tinder are more hookup-friendly. Watch your budget, though; paid sites can nickel and dime you for all the features they offer, so do your homework and figure out what you really need each site to provide for you.
  3. Keep it short, and don’t be funny. Don’t use your profile as a place to ramble on about yourself. Stay short and to the point, and don’t try to be funny. Webb suggests that humor doesn’t translate well to text, especially dating profile text, and sarcasm often falls flat. Instead, be earnest about who you are.
  4. Don’t fixate too narrowly on your own interests. Say there’s a TV show you love. I mean, you LOVE it. If you spend too much space in your profile talking about that show, you could turn off potential matches who might not appreciate your show the way you do. Instead, mention a few of your interests, maybe keep it more general (“I really enjoy sci fi TV” instead of “I’m completely in love with Star Trek, especially Commander Data”) so you can create a potential “in” for those who might be attracted.
  5. Keep your language positive and upbeat. Webb found that profiles that use words like “fun” and “happy” got more love, so don’t use your profile as a place to dump all your issues, your pet peeves or your hangups. Stay as positive as possible, smile in your profile pics, and try to describe things that genuinely excite you. What would your ideal day look like? Let some of that joy show!

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.

Online Dating and Color: How Hues Affect Your Chances

We’ve talked a lot in the past about how to construct a good online dating profile: what sort of photo to use, what headlines and taglines will get you positive feedback, etc. But online dating goes a lot deeper than the surface. Much like real-world interactions, there’s a psychological element to what we see in an online profile, as well as how we react to it. Much of it is subconscious, but fortunately, there are people who study this sort of thing.

Photo by Hadret

Photo by Hadret

The University of Rochester in New York did some research on color in online dating profiles and found that, when men see a woman wearing red in her profile photo, they are more likely to find her attractive, ask her out and even spend more money on her. A similar study out of France showed that, when researchers digitally changed the color of women’s shirts in profile pics, the photos with red shirts resulted in the most messages sent to the women.

That makes some sense; red is a color associated with love, lust, passion, and other relationship-themed concepts.

What about other colors? James Houran, PhD, a writer for Online Dating Magazine, suggests that blue is actually the best color for a dating profile, as it conveys peace and tranquility, as well as loyalty. We would add that blue is one of those colors that is almost universally flattering (especially turquoise shades, which go well with every skin and hair combination), so it would have a positive impact on most photos. Houran suggests green as a second choice (it’s easy on the eye and conveys a message of nature, fitness, health and wealth) and red as a third.

What color should you probably avoid? That’s simple: yellow. Yellow is not flattering on most people and it’s tough for the eye to perceive comfortably. If a color could be loud, yellow would do it. It can suggest sunshine, carefree fun and other positives, but in the end, it’s probably better to choose another color for your online dating profile outfit.

Keep in mind that the MOST important thing for your online dating profile photo is that you feel comfortable in it. Wear something you like, in a color you like. When people feel positive and confident in what they’re wearing, it shows, regardless of what the color actually is!

“I’ve never tried this, so here goes…” – 6 Dating Profile Cliches and What They Really Mean

If you’ve read more than one dating profile in your life, you know they can be riddled with the same phrases, platitudes and cliches. Over time, they might even begin to run together, to the point where you don’t even see them anymore. This isn’t helpful for making a profile “pop” to the reader, but as it turns out, there’s an actual message behind most of the cliches you see on dating sites. This article from BBC News explores what lies beneath the phrases that you probably ignore. Perhaps next time you read a profile, you’ll be surprised at what you actually learn.

1. “I’m new to this, so here goes…” This phrase may seem innocent at first, but it’s actually illustrating how uncomfortable the writer is with the online dating process. The writer may even think there’s a stigma to using an online dating site, so by saying “I’m new,” he or she is distancing themselves from what they think is a bad thing. They may not actually be new to this, but they are probably not psyched about it.

"I enjoy sunshine, long walks on the beach, and washing my hair in the nearest creek."

“I enjoy sunshine, long walks on the beach, and washing my hair in the nearest creek.”

2. “Seeking my partner in crime.” Despite a somewhat dark phrasing, this is a lighthearted comment. This person is trying to come across as fun to be around, interesting and not at all needy.

3. “My friends say I’m…” If you see this phrase followed by a list of adjectives, it could suggest that the writer is insecure or doesn’t think that highly of himself or herself. Why would it matter what friends say, especially when you won’t actually know if these “friends” are correct until you know the person yourself? Also, lists of adjectives are pretty weak; instead of saying “my friends say I’m funny,” just write something you’d think is funny. It’s way more effective.

4. “Don’t contact me if you can’t tell the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re.'” Yes, grammar is important to some people. But damn, this comes off as obnoxious. First, dating profiles aren’t a place to throw a fit about a nitpicky thing that bugs you. And second, while the writer may think he or she is weeding out the uneducated masses with a grammar quiz, they may have forgotten that anyone with an education higher than middle school has the potential to know the difference between “your” and “you’re.” Knowing how to use those words properly isn’t necessarily a sign of higher education. Rather, it’s a sign that the person paid attention in 7th grade English.

5. “I’m easygoing.” There’s not a lot of deeper meaning behind this, but it’s so useless as a phrase that you can pretty much ignore it when you see it. Think about it: Does anyone really think of themselves as uptight, annoying or high-strung? Probably not. Even high-maintenance people think they’re low-maintenance.

6. “I have a great, successful life, but I just need someone to share it.” Experts suggest that this person isn’t really trying to brag; rather, they’re trying to make it clear that they’re not needy or lonely. They want to explain that they don’t have any major failings as a human being just because they’re using an online dating site. Deep down, they may be one of those people that still stigmatizes online dating and isn’t completely comfortable.