Online dating is a lot like choosing a ready meal. You see all these options; fat free, low sugar, super indulgent, and suddenly you can’t decide. Do you want the sausages and mash or the macaroni and cheese? When you finally select which meal, you go home to discover it’s not actually that nice, it’s not particularly filling and you’d probably have been better off making something yourself. Only once in a while, you find a ready meal which seems perfect. Welcome to the world of online dating!
Why is it so hard to meet someone online?
Prior to meeting my partner, I was on dating apps partly enjoying the thrill of meeting new people but really looking for love. I’m not sure why, but admitting I wanted to find a partner made me feel slightly vulnerable. As though saying it would instantly create a sympathetic expression on the faces of friends and family members, who would either tell me I’m still young or that I should stop being so picky.
Online dating can be difficult for several reasons:
- Choice overload. Trying to find someone amongst an assortment of different personalities, looks, aspirations.
- Different desires. You might be looking for love, but the person you’re swiping right on wants something more casual. Or the profile you’re viewing just wants a confidence boost and someone to scratch away weekend loneliness.
- Negative assumptions. Been on the online dating carousel for a while? Had some bad experiences? You’re not alone. Online dating is filled with suspicious people wondering whether a photo is highly edited, a date is too good to be true, a person isn’t actually a robot. Negative beliefs can lead to a lack of effort – Prince Charming suddenly not bothering to travel half-way to meet you.
- High stakes. Unlike meeting someone in a bar, where you’re a mysterious person who might want love or simply a fling, online dating has all your cards out on the table. You know your first meeting is a first date where you’re both being analysed and compared to a profile that probably took 10 minutes to create.
- Suspicion. Suspicion can lead us to make snap judgments. When I was meeting guys online, I kept expecting them to tick loads of boxes. If they suddenly made an awkward comment or showed too many nerves, I’d just write them off. ‘Oh, they’re not confident in themselves, I want a confident man.’
- Preferences. The online world makes us select just about every preference going. In real life, you’re more-likely to hit it off with someone based on one characteristic like humour. You don’t meet and say no because you’ve just learnt they like waking up early and you’re a night owl.
5 tips to succeed in online dating
Despite these difficulties, online dating still has its perks. You learn a lot about yourself, you meet people you’d have likely never of met in real life, you have a real chance of finding someone special. Yes, it can be tough and time consuming. But don’t give up hope! These 5 tips can help you succeed:
1. Do your homework before signing up
During lockdown, I signed up to the dating app, Badoo. I was inundated with sex messages; men telling me I was ‘hot’ and they wanted to spend a night together (I’m putting this politely). Frustrated, I complained to my friend who looked the least bit surprised. ‘What do you expect?’, he said with an amused expression. ‘That site is a hookup site, that’s where people go for casual sex.’
After checking reviews, I realised he was right. Okay, sure, maybe some people have found each other on the app and they’re now planning marriage and babies. Research tells me however, it’s probably not the best place if you’re seeking long-term commitment.
When choosing sites, pick a couple and try to make them a bit different. I believe, the easier it is to sign up, the easier people not looking for love may also join. That’s why I recommend at least trying a more detailed platform like eharmony.
2. Be honest on your dating app profile
The first profile I created said I loved cooking, working out, going on adventures, trying new things. I like cooking – not to the point where I want to be cooking long meals on a Saturday, I like working out – not to the point where I’m going to wake up at 6am to exercise and I like adventures, sure, providing it’s nothing too wild or extreme.
Who was I kidding? How was I going to find someone when my profile didn’t even represent me? Surly the key to meeting someone worthwhile is being yourself. And that includes with your requirements. If you refuse to date a person with cats (cough, me, cough) state that. If you want someone who will wake up at the crack of dawn to go running with you, jot that down.
The more honest and open you are, the more you will match up to people similar. It’s about quality rather than quantity of potential swipes. And yes, there is a balance. Keep some mystery – you don’t need to share that you can make a big deal out of things and go off in a mood for no reason (cough, cough).
3. Take things at face value
I once had on my profile that I know all the words to 90’s rap songs. I thought this was a unique and cool line, but when I changed it to say something else, I started receiving double the number of messages. Online dating users are superficial – they have nothing to go on apart from words which they link to personal assumptions.
My love of 90’s rap screamed to some people – all she loves is 90’s rap. I’m going to listen to nothing but 90’s rap with her.
I love working out = I’m a workout fanatic who will not go near a slice of pizza and will have zero chill days.
Photos in a club = This person LOVES drinking and being out. They won’t have quiet nights in, they won’t be cultured and visit museums or go out simply for a nice meal.
You get the point. People use quick judgment and stereotypes to suss people out. By being more specific, you can help cut back on these types of assumptions. For instance, ‘I prefer staying out more than staying in, but I do love a little Netflix & chill on a Saturday night’. The same specifics apply to photos – use variety to show different sides of you.
4. Avoid listing physical traits
A Marie Claire article notes that listing things such as ‘height, weight, income’ can ‘make you look too unapproachable’. If you can, try to broaden your physical preferences, including location. You might surprise yourself with who you find attractive.
5. Step outside the box on what online dating means
I reconnected with my partner through Facebook. I’ve previously been on a date with a guy from Instagram. Online dating doesn’t have to mean only dating apps or sites.
There are millions of people on social apps who are single and might be looking for someone. Use hashtags and location to find people in your local area and see what their profiles are like. How you approach this makes all the difference – be polite, do not expect a response if you DM (some will, some won’t) and don’t come off too strong or flirtatious.
Now you know what to look out for with your online dating profile, why not read my Ultimate Guide to get Back into Dating.
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