I’m not the typical “guy” who posts shirtless pictures of himself on dating sites or sends unsolicited pictures of his genitals to random women. But I am a guy who is fond of online dating sites, so I have a few tips that might help you when using them. Perhaps my perspective here might help you when seeking your next mate on there (or not).
I remember when MySpace was revolutionary. I turned 19 and I was good with finding and meeting prospective dates on there. You were defined by how cool your MySpace layout was – animated GIFs, custom CSS and your favorite embedded YouTube video. Very rarely was anything of substance shared there and more or less, everyone had the same opportunity to meet and connect with others. The interactions were unique because of the anonymity given by using MySpace. As history has it, when people defected from MySpace to Facebook, that online community became a dust town. Dating sites like OkCupid and Plenty of Fish (POF) became more popular.
After the fall of MySpace, I eventually created my OkCupid account. I really got into the quizzes that members could take. I answered a little over 1700 questions. OkCupid prides themselves on the ability to match people based on responses to their surveys. They have a decent algorithm as I found myself conversing with smart, funny and attractive women regularly. But, you see, I was an early adopter of OkCupid. There wasn’t much competition — that is, not many other guys were using it when I was.
Eventually as more and more men (late majority) joined the site, I observed two problems. First, was the women became less trusting, less open and much more selective in who they even talk to. Second, the number of dudes in shirtless photos and less engaging profiles shot way up. Decent guys who really were more descriptive in their profiles were pushed out by the overtly masculine “bros” that dominated the site. As a result, they destroyed the network of decent matches. I don’t know of any other guys who actually took the surveys on there (like I did eagerly); I also know few women who took the surveys for more than a dozen questions. So, what I’m saying here is that dating online became tougher — the common denominator lowered and therefore interfered with the quality of matches I and others would receive.
While I have initially met my girlfriend on POF, she was not far from the top of my matches on my OkCupid. She maintained a similar-looking profile on both POF and OkCupid and her survey results were pretty indistinguishable from her views on life after we met. To my surprise, we both have felt frustration in online dating, specifically with these dating sites. I have seen the quality degrade over the years and the only people to blame are ourselves.
Why ourselves? There hasn’t been a better time to join a dating site, share your interests, provide inputs about your views and find people with the right amount of balance in similar perspectives and differences. The data couldn’t be any better than the present. However, the majority of people using these sites do not use these features, so the accuracy of the data is weaker. Basically, the quality of these online dating sites is determined by the amount of activity and engagement we have on them. You can’t find a quality match only by uploading a photos and saying you like to “hang out with friends” for your hobbies. The richer the data; the richer the outcome.
So, here are my tips for women in creating and maintaining your online dating profile. I presume the goal is to find a quality, long-term partner.
Online Dating Tips to Find Your Next Partner
- Use accurate, respectful, recent photos. Is wearing a bikini the best photo you should use when finding your next mate? Probably not and neither is using your high school yearbook photo (when you’re in your late 20s). With recent photos that position you in a respectful, fun way, it demonstrates confidence in yourself and your surroundings. We all know we’re not models on there, so why bother faking it? Be confident in who you are and what you look like. It’s not like you’ll be able to hide it after meeting someone, right?
- Provide details about you. No, not details your height or your cup size, but volunteer details about what exactly makes you tick. What are your interests and what excites you when you wake up every morning? Knowing these details allows us to see if they are complimentary to our lifestyle. Look, someone who runs marathons every month is not going to like living with me. But someone who goes on Netflix binges and plays Xbox might. These little details matter.
- Share your goals and aspirations. Similar to the above, it’s good to be honest and share what you want in both a relationship and life. What is it you want to get out of life? Do you want to travel to all the continents? Do you want to be a well-compensated attorney? Do you have a “mission” for your life that you seek to carry out? Not everyone has these, but it will tell us that you’re goal-oriented and that you don’t just want to say in your current lifestyle. Be generous in sharing some specifics and it might even result in a great conversation later.
- Outline what you don’t want in a partner. Just as important as sharing yourself and what you do like and want in someone else is the ability to explain what you don’t want in a partner. For instance, if you adopt a vegan lifestyle, you probably don’t want a mate who isn’t okay with that. Perhaps you are saving your virginity for marriage, it might be a good idea to include that — if for nothing else, a filtering mechanism. Maybe if you also don’t like dating very athletic people, you could include that, too. These details can be exclusionary or affirming depending on who is reading your profile.
- Use the features of the dating site (like quizzes). By using all the features of a site, you can let the algorithms work their magic. For me, I was better matched by those who answered lots of questions; and conversely, those who I was least matched also answered lots of questions. The quizzes make a significant difference in who shows up at the top of your matches list. It also (generally) results in a more quality match that makes conversation easier and more relevant. In short, if you’re not having luck with OkCupid so far, answer the quizzes and be sincere in assigning the importance of the questions.
- Be open to the first couple messages. This is arguably the most frustrating aspect of online dating. We craft a relevant message and send it hoping that you read it. All to be met with no reply or other acknowledgment for it. While I don’t expect that every woman I message to fall in love with me, it would be nice to at least engage in some intellectual conversation. With no response, it tells us maybe our writing skills aren’t valued and perhaps we need to be more direct. With no response it compels us to do zany things to get your attention and prompt a reply — even if a negative one. And yes, I know there are a lot of assholes out there who don’t deserve any reply. Instead, look for a the slightly more intellectual, normal messages among the dozens of messages you might receive every day. But after a couple of messages, you should have a general sense of if you want to carry on a conversation. Follow your instincts.
- Be direct. As much as I wish I could say otherwise, guys don’t take indirect subtleties well. You might think that walking away from a conversation demonstrates disinterest, but the perception many interpret is that you’re busy and you forgot about us. Be direct and let guys know that you’re not interested, seeing someone else or otherwise not impressed. Many will beg for details of their rejection, you don’t have to give it. By being direct in saying ‘no’ to further advances, you’ll be better able to not stress about being mean or rude to someone as well as limiting the unwelcome advances in the future. (Blocking should be a last resort, in my opinion.)
- Don’t get emotionally attached (yet). One last tip is this — and it took awhile for me to learn. When reading someone’s profile do your best to not get emotionally attached right away. It’s good to recognize attractive features and interests, but realize that with the internet, people can put out the image of who they want to be not necessarily who they are. Also, just because you think you both would be the most amazing match ever, it doesn’t mean the other person feels that way. And after the first date, play it calm. Don’t make me call the police because you sent me a series of suicidal messages via text (yes, this really happened). This causes people to run, not walk, away from you.