OKCupid, Match.com, eHarmony, Christian Mingle, How About We…these are just a handful of online dating websites that have gained popularity over the past decade. In high school, I distinctly remember guffawing at a television commercial promoting eHarmony, vowing that I would never jump on the proverbial bandwagon. But after living in multiple states, feeling particularly transient, and wishing to meet new people, I decided to give online dating a fair chance. I’ve had serious relationships come out of these websites, and many of my friends have also had positive experiences with people they first met online. If you are feeling uncertain about joining the online dating world, read on. As an OKCupid veteran, I learned how to swiftly navigate this complex world.
You can be selective… You know what you like. Don’t relax your standards even if you feel you’re being “too picky.” For example, I explicitly state in my profile that I’d prefer to date a vegan or vegetarian because the lifestyle is such a fundamental part of who I am (plus, who wants to kiss someone who’s just downed a steak? Gross). I also prefer someone who isn’t religious, so I make sure to note this. Only you know what you look for in a significant other, and it’s up to you to own it and stand by your values and ethics.
…But don’t be too selective. Most of us are guilty of building up an “ideal” partner. We might prefer someone with brown eyes who works at a humanitarian non-profit and has a mile-long vocabulary (I’m not projecting, I swear), but the reality is that we are unlikely to meet someone who comfortably fits all of our criteria. You have to be ready to take a broad view when looking over someone’s profile, focusing on the qualities that are appealing to you.
Message first. I can’t stress this one enough. The great thing about online dating is that rejection is far less uncomfortable than an in-person interaction. If you send a message to someone of interest and he or she never responds, it’s much easier to move on than experiencing an awkward rejection at your local coffee shop. If you’re into guys, they generally love when a girl initiates the conversation (probably because they’re afraid of rejection, too). When you send your first message, make sure it’s brief but also highlights something that was mentioned in his or her profile. Do you both speak a foreign language? Are you both a fan of the same author? There’s a bounty of conversation topics as your disposal, so use them!
Fill out as much information as possible. You don’t have to write the next great American novel, but make sure you’re answering all profile and “match” questions thoroughly. On OKCupid, prospective dates are identified by their match percentage. The site literally has thousands of questions to answer, ranging from lifestyle, religion, sex, and ethics. It’s important to answer these questions honestly, as I find the calculations are quite accurate. You can also view how another person has answered your same questions to see if your views align.
Don’t judge someone by his/his profile picture. Often, people will select really unflattering pictures of themselves as their profile pictures. Who in the heck knows why? But so often it’s true, especially for the men. (Bonus tip: it doesn’t hurt to ask your best friend if you’ve chosen the right profile photo–which evidently is a medium shot showing at least 1/3 of your body, smiling, preferably in nature or in another pleasant setting, on the left side of the face). It can be easy to pass a quick judgment on someone based on one picture, but if you have at least a remote interest in someone’s profile, it doesn’t hurt to click to see more photos. (Conversely, you should offer the same opportunity to potential suitors by putting several photos on your profile). This isn’t to say that physical attraction is always paramount, but the reality of online dating makes appearance an important factor. Also, remember that someone might look very different if you choose to meet in person!
Have you ever tried online dating? What tips do you have to offer?
Also by Molly: Giving Up Coffee for 21 Days
In Relationships: 10 Signs You’ve Found the One – Vegan Edition
Photo: Samuel Hearn via Flickr