In theory, online dating sounds perfect. Your perfect partner is just a few clicks away, thanks to clear profiles and the instant increase of your available dating pool. But in practice, online dating is more like the ultimate crapshoot.
Plenty of misses and opportunities for mistakes, but you may just hit the jackpot if you keep up on it. Here are five tips for making the most out of your online dating experience.
1. Choose Your Profile Picture Wisely
The first thing people’s eyes are drawn to will be your profile picture, not your clever bio or description. The tiny thumbnail version of it may just be the deciding factor for a person who is debating on reading your profile to begin with. People in an online dating pool often receive multiple messages or pokes per day, so using profile photos as a quick “Yes” or “No” is common practice.
Go for a picture that actually looks like you now and in a social or relaxed setting. There’s no point in using older photos, as your date might bail as soon as he or she sees you in person because you were misleading from the start.
Formal photos are too stuffy, and photos where you’re overly dressed may make you come off as too serious. Go through your photos and find a good one of you taken recently in a social or quiet atmosphere.
2. Create A Natural Bio
Your profile bio isn’t the place to boast about accomplishments or talk yourself up. You’re looking for potential partners, not a job, so you need a bio that’s natural, friendly and not too serious.
Write an honest, open bio that describes you as a person, faults, weird habits and all. Keep the tone light and conversational, like you’re actually talking to someone. Ask a trusted friend to double-check it before you post, and make any adjustments as needed based on the feedback you get.
3. Consider Your First Message
The first message you send a person you’re interested in can make or break you. Before you even craft it, read his or her profile carefully. Look for something interesting or unique that you both have in common to touch on in your message.
Personalization goes a long way, much farther than a generic or physical appearance compliment. By making your message personal, you’ll stand out and demonstrate that you’re interested in more than just his or her body.
4. Decide How To Proceed
You can get from screen to in-person one of two ways: building up a rapport via messages over the long term or just hinting after a bit, say 20 to 30 messages. Deciding which way to go can be a little difficult, but it’s easier if you have a sense of the person to whom you’re talking.
A shier, more reserved person, for instance, may merit the slower rapport approach, while a more outgoing, forward person is probably going to be open to meeting sooner.
Review some of the messages and conversations you’ve had with the person to make your decision about the approach. Regardless of what you decide, never push for a meeting, as that can make the other person uncomfortable. Dropping some hints and taking the ones you receive in return will help you make the first meeting setup a success.
5. Stay Safe
While there’s no guaranteed one way to stay safe while online dating, you can do a few things to protect yourself. Know the signs of a fake profile, which often include a single stunning profile pic, vague bio and mentions of sex.
Only agree to meetings in a public and neutral place with other people around, like a restaurant. Ask for a few more photos if his or her profile only has one and you can’t see any on other social media, like a Facebook page.