The stigma attached to online dating appears to have almost completely abated over the last few years, with an estimated 59% of people now viewing online dating as a legitimate way of meeting people. But considering the sheer size of the online dating market and the number of options available, taking that first step can be incredibly daunting.
For all you trepid newcomers, I’ve compiled here a rough guide which should give you at least a decent head start in the online dating meat market…
Choose the Right Site
There are literally hundreds of sites, many of which will be free to use and many more which will charge either a sign-up or subscription fee. The two most popular pay sites and arguably the sites which kicked off the online dating craze, are Match.com and Eharmony, both of which charge rather hefty subscription fees. Whether or not you wish to choose a pay site, of course, depends very much on how serious you are with your intentions. If you’re genuinely looking for a ‘soul mate’ connection, then the intensive matching algorithms used by Match and Eharmony should (in theory at least) help you find a more compatible date. However, these sites can also rely too heavily on said algorithms and surely love and romance is so much more than just mathematics? Away from the premium sites, there are also free sites such as OKCupid and Plenty of Fish, which generally have more subscribers (for obvious reasons) and also offer premium packages for people who wish to pay a small fee for the benefits. These sites tend to attract a lot of ‘bots’ though and people who really are not taking online dating seriously. Finally there are more specialist sites, which cater to niche markets such as uniform dating, older women dating and alternative lifestyle (punks and goths etc) dating. These sites are generally not as popular as their generic counterparts, but their more specialist nature means that you should be working with ‘quality over quantity’. Ultimately, which site is best for you will be very subjective, but make sure you know exactly what it is you’re looking for and you’ve done your research before you make your decision.
Keep Your Profile Content Simple and Balanced
Nobody wants to read your life story, but then a few lines of generic dialogue about how much you enjoy “A night in with a DVD and a takeaway,” as much as you enjoy “A night out with the lads” will make you look like a colossal bore. The key is in finding a balance. You want to keep it to two or three short paragraphs at the most, and a single decent paragraph at the very least. Many sites will instruct you that you should divulge information such as your favourite bands or movies, but unless you have a real vested interest in either, typing something along the lines of; “I love all music, as long as it has a good beat I can dance to” or “I love scary movies and action movies” will bore 99% of your prospective dates. Keep the profile focused on your positive qualities, your genuine interests and what you are looking to get out of the experience. Injecting your profile with a little humour won’t hurt either, but try not to go overboard or you might not be taken seriously.
Choose the Right Pictures
Of course your immediate instinct will be to select the most flattering pictures possible, but if that picture is from 4 years ago, it’s not only disingenuous but incredibly transparent. It’s become fashionable of late to include a ‘selfie’ as an internet dating profile picture too, but these pictures not only make it look like you have no friends, but can make you come across as shallow and arrogant about your appearance. You want to include at least 4 pictures on your profile. The first should be a clear shot of your face, the second a ‘body’ shot, the third a picture of you with friends and the forth maybe something a little more comical that shows off your personality.
Don’t Copy and Paste
Whilst it might seem tempting to simply copy and paste the exact same message to everybody, copy and pasted messages are incredibly transparent and are rarely (if ever) actively replied to. This is especially true if said copy and pasted message is something as simple and nondescript as “Hi, how are you today?” or something equally dull. Look at it from your potential date’s perspective; if you can’t be bothered to spend a few minutes coming up with an original message for them, doesn’t that make you out to be a pretty lazy and unimaginative person?
Keep Messages Brief (but not too Brief)
If your message reads like a short story, then it will either come across as desperate or just downright creepy. The opposite is true; however if you’re pursuing older women dating, as these women have been around the block a few times (so to speak) and will generally have much greater reserves of patience. Still, always keep it to a couple of paragraphs at the absolute most. Conversely of course, you also don’t want to keep it too brief, as it will look like you’re not even trying. Also, you should ask as many questions as possible in your messages, as this will give your potential date something to respond to.
If you follow the guide above, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be swimming in messages before long. Remember though that it pays to be selective, and even if you’re not interested, it’s always polite to reply.
Good luck out there!