We all live in a digital world and finding your romantic partner through the internet has long since become the new normal. The many platforms and gamified ways of searching for your perfect match can be fun and exciting, but there are many pitfalls you'll want to avoid.
There are also some universal rules of successful online dating that are worth taking note of if you want to succeed. We have gathered advice from some of the top experts writing on the world of online dating.
Before anything else: know what you're looking for
A good many online daters don't actually know what kind of partner they are looking for. As a newbie, you may find yourself sifting frantically through hundreds of profiles on a daily basis, unable to determine what person is worth your attention enough to drop a line. Or maybe you're taking a shotgun approach and throwing yourself at anything in sight – which is basically telling the dating platform's algorithm that you're low status.
If you're not seeking to build a long-lasting relationship and are OK with fleeting romances, you want to stop at the profiles of those daters who also look for something casual (and vice versa).
The same goes for your profile. State clearly and explicitly what you expect from relationships at this point in your life and describe the most important essence of what makes your ideal candidate (important: be realistic and don't go overboard).
Read about how the opposite sex views you online
Women don't view men's profiles the way men expect – and vice versa. Do your basic due diligence and spend a few moments reading online dating perspectives from the opposite sex.
For example, according to this great article from Anna David, women would much rather see you holding a dog or your baby nephew ("I can't help but think he's kind of great.") than a shirtless pic – no matter how good you look in the bare.
And then market yourself properly
It's crucial that you distinguish yourself from the competition. Be shameless about highlighting your best qualities and strengths and make it easier for your potential candidates to notice them.
Again, according to Anna:
We expect you to stress your best and hide your worst.
Some guys seem to think, a woman's going to learn this secret someday, so why not now? I'm talking to you, men who stress that they have herpes but it hasn't been active in a while, or who paste huge chunks of ALL CAPS text in their profiles sternly warning the dating site about reprinting their info in ads.
"If you're that paranoid, you shouldn't be on a dating site," offers Jamie. "Whenever I see those weird ‘don't invade my privacy' notes on a profile, I just think, ‘Wow, you sound really laid-back and like you're a lot of fun.'" As for the STD confessionals, she asks, "Don't you want to give me a chance to like you before you give me reasons not to?"
So go ahead and mention that you volunteer in your free time or donate blood for medical research purposes. You may want to emphasize your love for sports or other hints that you lead a healthy lifestyle.
Put up original photos – especially on dating platforms that limit your uploads. You definitely don't want to be one of those thousands of daters putting up photos taken at the bars. There is nothing unique or peculiar about the pictures showing you holding a glass of champagne in the company of your pals.
It's also a good idea to inject a little bit of humor into your profile. Scientific studies keep telling us that humor is one of the most desirable qualities when it comes to the art of attraction. What about a picture of you wearing that funny Halloween costume or flaunting a huge sombrero you won at the state fair?
And what about a game or riddle? Tinder expert Blake Jamieson has this piece of advice:
"There's a line in Starsky & Hutch where Owen Wilson says, I like your style. And Ben Stiller says, I like your moves. So I basically put a challenge at the end of my very short bio where I said: If I said ‘I like your style,' what would you say back? (There's only one correct answer.) And I got tons of messages from girls. Most of them didn't get the answer right. But a lot of them wanted to try it."
The most important take-away from all of the above is obviously: don't be afraid to appear "not like others." Lots of people out there look for a person who can stand out from the crowd.
But be honest
People often try to appear better than they really are, especially when vying for love. They embellish their profiles and attribute to themselves qualities and virtues they don't possess, or otherwise try to deceive.
Imagine your partner's disappointment if it works; you meet up and they finally find out that you're not the one they thought you were. At best they'll skidaddle out of there before you've even seen them and then ghost you forever.
If you don't want to disclose your salary or your deepest, darkest phobias, just leave it out altogether. Being honest when searching for love online is as important as being frank about faults in an item you're going to sell.
If you aren't naturally witty, prepare some good icebreakers beforehand
You don't want to be the "ur hot" dude. Say something interesting that immediately stands out and invites a response.
Learn the search filters
The majority of online dating sites provide you with the possibility to apply filters when searching for your ideal match, and casting a wider net than you need to will just waste time and lead to disappointment. Some daters are extremely choosy and selective when it comes to finding a partner online and there's nothing wrong with that. Don't hesitate to tick corresponding boxes to find the kind of person with whom you'll be able to build a mutually rewarding relationship.
The bottom line
There isn't a one-size-fits-all recipe for being successful at online dating. Oftentimes it's serendipity or sheer luck that determines your success and lead you to a dream partner. It's still up to you to create an effective profile and set clear and realistic expectations for your potential candidates. There is a lot of fish in the sea (7.8 billion to be exact); your perseverance, patience, and hard work will pay off eventually.