So, it’s coming up to Valentine’s Day and you might be wanting to have a little romance in your life. As a follow up to my last post, talking about my own potted relationship history complete with Happy Ever After, I thought I’d share my top tips to finding that special person for yourself.
These are specific to online dating, as that’s the method that ultimately worked for me.
1. Play the Long Game/Take Your Time
If you’re serious about wanting to commit to a long term relationship, you might need more than a few days lead-in time. Signing up for an online dating profile tonight, with four days to go until Valentine’s, might score you a date for the big day and you could be lucky enough to have said date with someone super right for you but, realistically, it’ll probably take more than that. More time, more energy, more searching.
I’m sorry if this bursts your bubble. It’s probably not what you want to hear, but you’ve waited all of your life so far already, right? What’s a little longer? If you want lasting results, it’s gonna take some time, but it will be worth it. (That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with just wanting a date and nothing more. If that’s your jam, go for it, but this advice isn’t really targetted at you.)
I was on (and off) online dating sites for years, not taking it very seriously at all, before I found one that worked for me. The one I stuck with was OkCupid, but you may find a different one that suits you better (bonus tip: do your research!). Even once I’d finally selected my dating site of choice, I was on there for so long that they actually made me on of their moderators.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Those years of being on the site were not entirely devoid of options. I would get messages fairly regularly, it was just that none of the message-ees suited me. This might also be your experience, but do not despair.
2. Fill Out Your Entire Profile
There’s a stat these sites always give you about how you’re much more likely to get responses if you upload a profile picture and I totally believe that. So, step one: pick a picture. Step two: make sure you’re actually in the picture! Back when I was moderating other people’s profiles, I would be asked to check their photos were appropriate and you would be surprised at how many people added artistic shots of plants or their pets or a car or football or anything except their actual face. Do. Not. Do This! It may say a little something about your personality, and personality is definitely important when it comes to dating, but your potential dates are gonna want to know what you look like. (It should also go without saying that you shouldn’t use a photo of someone else’s face, but lots of people do that too, so I’m gonna say it anyway: bad, bad idea, friend!)
Once you’ve got your photo, age, and sexual orientation up there, you’ll probably have three messages in your inbox already, but hold up! In my experience, the people who immediately jump on contacting all the fresh meat without knowing or caring anything about you are probably there for hookups and not long term relationships. (Again, I’m not saying hookups are wrong, but if that’s not what you want, stay with me.)
So, fill out your profile. Be honest without being too hard on yourself – there’s a balance to be found, and you will discover it through trial and error. If you put all your insecurities out there, it will be like blood in the water to all the passing predators. (Yes, be aware, they are out there!)
3. Trust the Algorithm
I think the biggest mistake a lot of people make with online dating is to just focus on people’s photos and not that little percentage mark beside them that tells you how compatible they are with you. If you’ve both filled out your profiles and answered all of the quiz questions honestly, that score will be pretty accurate. (You are still taking a little risk, because some people won’t have answered honestly, but that can’t be avoided any more online than it can in person. Until you really know someone, a lot is based on face-value.)
My husband answered all of the questions OKCupid had to offer and I answered all of the questions except the ones about sex because I wasn’t comfortable with them. It gave us a score of 96% and, you know what, it was spot on. We probably would have had an even higher match if I hadn’t avoided the sex questions.
We were on the same page, in the same book, in the same library, and – most importantly – written in the same language.
We could pretty much finish each other’s jokes from date one. (Mostly because Steve got his jokes from Tumblr and, it turned out, we were already following a few of the same people.)
4. Don’t go on a date with someone you’re not actually interested in just because you’re lonely and/or you feel bad for them
This is a trap that mostly women fall into but, trust me, it is not worth it. Sympathy dates end up with the person (whether you or them) feeling even worse when they don’t work out. Save yourself the angst.
5. Meet Somewhere Public
If you’ve followed all the tips to this point and have a few decent possibilities, yay! Go on that date, but try and set it for someplace neutral that you can get home easily from if it ends up going south.
Additionally: don’t get discouraged if your date goes south! It happens.
If/when it happens, or if you’ve followed all of my advice and you still don’t even have a date yet, give it more time. This sounds cliche, but relationships are not the be-all and end-all of everything. It is way better to be in no relationship than a bad one, so don’t settle for someone you don’t really want just because you’re worried no one else will come along. The world is full of people. You do not need to be in a rush to settle down with the first one you meet.