How To Make The Most Out Of Online Dating
With the development of the internet, and the growing number of singles in urban areas, online dating has been as popular as never before; the internet is filled with millions of profiles from men and women, on conventional online dating platforms as well as various social media platforms, with the purpose of finding a partner.
Online dating has many advantages: you have the opportunity to stay anonymous while you are chatting with someone for the first time, you might not experience the same form of anxiety as when meeting someone for the first time for real, and you have the opportunity to pre-select people according to their profile, containing information which would normally only have become obvious during a conversation. Moreover, online dating is time efficient.
On the other side, online dating bears a big disadvantage. Because, each and every minute you are spending on an online dating portal, you are actually not out there and interacting with people. And each live interaction with people adds to the experiences we make in life.
So, what is the best way to date online? Is there a best way at all? And how should we balance the time we spend online with the time we spend interacting with real people?
There is no, by definition, ‘best’ way to date online. Every single person is as different as their motivations to date online. Still, there are a few things you may want to consider. If you give them a thought, it might well contribute to a positive and joyful dating experience.
Why do you want to date online instead of going out there and meeting live people? Some people are simply very introvert and find it easier to get into an initial conversation in writing, while others are just not interested in going out, or they have nobody to go out with. Again other people don’t seem to find the type of people they are looking for in bars or cafes, so they start searching online to find ‘the one’.
Regardless of what your motivation is, it does tell a lot about you, and what you expect to find. It might not impact your online dating experience a lot, but it might influence how you approach another person online. Also, it is important to be aware that the way you communicate on an online platform is not that much different from talking with someone for real.
The profile picture
An online dating profile preferably needs to have a picture. It will add to the visibility you have when other members are searching for profiles which match your criteria. Many members will not even take the time to view a profile without a picture.
In addition to having a picture online, what does it communicate? A picture always needs to be friendly, interesting, and not too serious. Perhaps it shows a hobby of yours? Or perhaps the setting indicates that you love to spend the nights with your friends? Do you have a dog, or cats? Were you traveling, due to that sign on the background with Chinese characters?
Therefore, choose your picture with care, and be conscious of what it communicates to other people. Also, finding a picture giving other people a reason to write you may enhance your online dating experience.
On the other hand, pictures can also be copied, and if a picture is online somewhere on the internet, it will probably stay there forever. For this reason, you should also carefully select pictures, which you don’t mind the world to see. Alternatively, you might not want to upload a picture, but share pictures via e-mail only once you have built up basic trust in a person. The disadvantage is, that this will do your visibility no good, and people might not want to initiate a conversation with you due to that.
Online dating platforms usually allow you to fill out more personal information about who you are, what you like (or do not like), and what you are looking for. Filling out your profile can be very tricky, because you do not want it to be boring, yet it should not look like you are trying to be funny; it should not give away everything there is to know about you, yet it should reveal enough to spark people’s initial interest in wanting to get to know you; it should not be too honest and too serious, yet you do not want to lie either.
You should spend a good amount of time filling out your profile, but you do not have to fill out everything. Some topics might simply be too personal, and you want to leave some fields blank, to allow people to ask you about it.
Sometimes, you can circumvent topics via a little sarcasm or joke. For example, to the question what you are looking for you could simply state “a challenge”, or something similar.
Writing with people
Somehow many people forget about any form of courtesy or friendliness when they date online; they use pickup lines which they might never have used in real life, and their behavior is simply below any standard. When writing with someone for the first time, you might want to write and behave in the same manner as you would normally do. You can make a short comment about his or her profile picture and ask a question, or pick something interesting from what that person wrote on his or her profile.
If the interest is mutual, he or she is likely to respond quickly, and you can start to exchange some messages. But patience is a virtue. Online dating makes it possible to write with different people simultaneously, and not everyone is online 24/7. So don’t get nervous when you have not received a response within an hour.
Use the messaging system to really try and get to know that other person, you can make little jokes, or write about a mutual interest. Don’t lie about yourself, be honest but again don’t tell the other person everything about yourself. You still want to have some topics available for when you meet in real life. Address the other person by his or her name, so that the person knows you are not a spammer, or you don’t send mass messages. Also, I believe any person being serious about online dating should expect his or her name to appear in messages being written to him or her. Unfortunately there are many spammers
Setting up a meetup
After having written some messages back and forth, and if I have the impression I can trust this person, it is time to set up a meetup. I personally always avoided using the word ‘dating‘, and in stead I would simply suggest to grab a coffee or wine somewhere down town and have a bit of conversation. The big benefit of just having a casual conversation is that there is no pressure, which you usually have during a typical date, and you can leave the option open to actually stay in contact as friends, if you don’t like the other person in a romantic way.
The meetup should ideally be at a neutral place where there are a lot of people around, such as a cafe or bar somewhere downtown. During the first meetup, it is important to talk, and to get to know each other a bit better and to try and establish a connection. During a second or third meetup, you can still go to a club or an event, or grab some food.
Therefore, when setting up a meeting, agree on a date, a time, and a place to meet. You know how the other person looks like from the picture already (it should be advised not to meetup with someone from whom you have not received any picture). Also, exchange phone numbers. This is absolutely imperative, so you can notify each other when you are late or when something sudden happened. Not exchanging phone numbers is a strong sign of lack of trust, and that the person is likely not to show up at all.
Read more about the ‘5 Ingredients Of A Successful Date’.
Making a quick exit
What happens if you meet for the first time, and you simply don’t like the other person, for whichever reason? Although this is never a pleasant situation, one elegant way to handle this is to keep the meetup short, perhaps have one drink only, and then make an excuse to leave the place, for example because you are not feeling well. If you are more direct, you can also tell the other person honestly that you don’t think the two of you can connect well… but not every person can take such criticism.
Whatever happens, it is important to make an exit if you feel there is no connection. Some people tend to stay for a long time, and get sucked deeper into a conversation they are not enjoying. This should never be the purpose of any type of date.
Keep your focus and diversify
When you have been messaging with one or two people for a while, or perhaps you have met with someone physically, it is easy to lose focus. Just like with physical dating, online dating is an ongoing process; you will need to log onto the website regularly, preferably at least once a day if possible, you will need to read your messages, or initiate new and fresh conversations with other people. Also, members come and go, so there are always new people you can address. Online dating means you have to remain active, in stead of just waiting for someone to send you a message.
Additionally, you will need to keep your life diversified, and not lose yourself in online dating too much. Therefore, do the things you love to do in life, go out, meet up with friends, so sports, and dedicate your days to your work or education. Try to view online dating as an add-on to your life, spend time on it, but not all the time you have.
Online dating can be fun, and it can be an addition to meeting people in real life. Online dating offers you to exchange with people you might normally not meet at the places you go to regularly, and it is an option to gain new experiences. Online dating is not much different than traditional dating, in a sense that all the interpersonal rules apply online as well, such as courtesy, or flirtatious talk. If you are willing to put some time and effort into building your profile, being honest, and taking initiatives, this might well lead to a first physical meetup with someone you like.
Online dating can be a great add-on to many people, as long as your life does not become too centered around it; your life is too valuable to spend all your days sitting at home in front of the computer, looking at your inbox six times per hour. Go out there and enjoy your life.