Online dating has completed revolutionised how people meet and how relationships begin and develop, and has done so possibly for the better.
Colin and I never met on a dating website; we met smashed out of our faces in a bar nearly a decade ago. We had no idea of each other’s hobbies and interests, family backgrounds, level of education, occupations, etcetera, etcetera. We didn’t know if the other was a psychotic murderer with bodies buried under their patio, never mind their views on having children.
They (who is they?!) say you never know who you’re going to meet online, and people bang on about the risks and the need for stringent safety measures when you’re chatting online and – God forbid – if you choose to meet up with that person, but I seriously doubt whether meeting someone in a bar while suffering from a bellyful of tequila shots and double vodkas is any better.
My parents separated and divorced a lifetime ago, but it was only about 5 years ago that my mum met my now-step-father, and that was through an online dating website.
My mum is quite a shy person, and definitely not one to shout about her plethora of wonderful qualities, so I took on the job of writing her profile for her, which gave me a bit of an insight into the online dating scene. And it bagged her a husband, too!
Since then, I have tonnes of friends who have met their partners, wives, husbands through online dating sites, and it is becoming more and more apparent that gone are the days when random – often drunken – meetings in pubs and at weddings were the main venues for singles to meet and relationships to start. Now love, or a shot at it at least, is but a mere few clicks away…
OK, so perhaps it’s not quite as easy as dating sites might claim, but online dating is certainly worth a try, and the tips below might help to increase your chances of success…
1. Choose a flattering and honest profile picture.
Obviously, you’ll want to choose a picture for your profile that shows you at your best, but you need to bear in mind that if things go well the next step is to meet in person, so you need to choose a picture that does actually look like you.
This piece of advice sounds like a given, but there are many people who use online dating sites who choose pictures of themselves that are years old, so a recent pic is the best way to go.
2. Be honest when writing your profile.
Honesty is definitely the best policy when writing your online profile. Don’t feel pressured to add hobbies and interests because everyone else has, and because you want to avoid appearing boring, because this will only cause you difficulties and embarrassment later on when someone asks you about it. Remember, you’re looking for someone who likes you for you.
3. Give the process time.
Just because you’ve found someone online with a picture you find attractive and similar hobbies and interests doesn’t mean you’ll be an instant and perfect match for each other. Like with meeting someone in “real life”, finding someone you can have a meaningful relationship with takes time, and you may have to virtually kiss a few frogs before you meet your prince.
4. Don’t be put off by a picture.
Although it’s almost a certainty that most people will have chosen their most flattering photo for their profile picture, some people just don’t photograph well. It’s worth bearing this in mind if you find someone who has similar interests and hobbies, and who you enjoy chatting with, as you may find yourself attracted to them in person, should you choose to meet up.
5. Don’t stress too much about writing messages to them.
Again, it’s natural to want to create a good impression of yourself when you meet someone online, and so it’s natural to take time writing the messages you send to them.
What’s not natural is labouring over every sentence and trying hard to write what you think they’d like to read. You are who you are, and if they “get” you and your humour great, if not, it’s likely they’re not right for you anyway.
6. Consider what is important to you in a life partner.
It’s good to reflect on what’s important to you in a partner before you start chatting to people. The great thing about online dating is that, in theory, you could find a partner who is close to exactly what you are looking for. Although no-one is perfect, online dating gives you control over certain specifics, for example, the level of education of your partner, the wage they earn, whether they smoke, drink or want (or have) children. These things may not matter in the short term, but they can be sources of conflict further down the line, so considering what you want or don’t want can help you to find someone who matches you and your needs in certain areas.
7. Ask your friends and family for ideas and help.
A lot of people find writing their online dating profiles tough because they are extremely modest or shy, or perhaps even have lower self-esteem than others. If you’re struggling to list your positive qualities and traits, ask your Nearest and Dearests for help! This trick might help you to acknowledge and recognise your best attributes, and may give you the confidence boost you need to write positively about yourself.
8. Remember that others are finding it hard as well!
Although I’ve suggested you try to be as natural as you can when it comes to your interactions online, remember that those who you’re chatting to may also be finding the process difficult, and so their messages may not reflect their true personalities. They may be trying too hard, or be keeping their messages bland and hiding their sense of humour because they don’t know your humour yet.
Online messages don’t reflect tone, facial expressions or body language, which often means points can be misinterpreted quite easily. Keep this in mind when you’re interacting online, and give people a little extra time to get to know you and relax a little and for, ultimately, their personality to shine through.
9. Make the first move!
This can be a scary idea but thankfully it’s a lot less terrifying a concept online than face-to-face! If you find a profile you like it’s definitely worth making contact with them. With the thousands of people using online dating sites there’s a high possibility that the person you’re interested in might not have come across your profile. Don’t let your fear put you at risk of missing out!
And if they don’t like you based on your profile and photo, all they can do it ignore your message – put into perspective, it’s not the worst thing in the world that could happen to you!
10. Don’t be embarrassed by meeting a partner online.
There used to be a stigma attached to online dating, but this is generally a thing of the past. Generally, older generations who aren’t quite as computer savvy as younger generations may not fully understand or support the process, but with such a rise in popularity of online dating, it’s unsurprising that the stigma has been almost eradicated.
And consider it this way: doesn’t it make more sense for people to meet in a forum where they can judge physical attractiveness while matching less superficial needs, such as interests and important life choices, than to meet drunk in a bar where physical attraction is the ONLY factor considered?