When it comes to online dating, it seems that most people either love it or hate it. Either you’re a big fan and you love the way technology makes it so easy to connect with new people, or you hate it because everyone who posts an online dating profile is a lying, stinking jerk.
Which one of those camps are you in?
Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’m in the Love It camp. I met my wife online, and I don’t think I would have met her if we hadn’t both plunged into the online dating pool and given it a try. However, I am fully aware that some people abuse the “honor system” of the online dating world. These less-than-honest people post old photos of themselves and they tell little lies to make themselves sound better (e.g., taller, richer, younger, etc.) or they just flat out lie about almost everything.
So the big question is, once you decide to try an online dating site, how do you attract the right kind of attention from the right kind of (honest and sincere) people?
#1. Tell the Truth
Start by observing the honor system. Post current photos. Let the Golden Rule be your guide whenever you post anything about yourself. You’re online for all the right reasons, so be the kind of honest and sincere online dater that you want to attract.
#2. Find a Quality
With that as your foundation, you are much more likely to find a quality person online. The power of your intentions and expectations works online just as it does in the Real World. If you go into online dating believing that everyone else is a jerk. Sure enough, all of the jerks are going to find you.
If you can’t get yourself into the mindset that there are some decent people who are active on dating websites and they are genuinely looking for loving relationships, then my advice to you is just forget about finding love online. If you’re a glass is half empty-or completely empty-person, why put yourself through the hassle of online dating?
But if you have at least some optimism about the possibilities, then there are some very practical tips that I can offer about how you can attract the right kind of attention from the right kind of people online.
#3. Make your Profile Perfect
Start with a good profile photo, since that’s what other people see first. Use a flattering portrait-style picture of your head and shoulders. Wear clothing that you are comfortable in. Don’t be overly sexy. (Sexy attracts the wrong kind of people, unless you’re looking for a one-night stand.) Look into the camera. Relax. Smile. Make sure the light is soft so it flatters your face. (Direct sunlight is harsh, and it makes most of us squint.)
Next, give yourself a nice screen name. SexyMama69 is not a good screen name. Pick something that hints at your interests. HappyHiker17 or TropicalWaters gives others a glimpse into your personality and interests.
#4. Better Write about Yourself
Put some time into writing your profile, especially the headline and the first few paragraphs. Be thoughtful, open, and pleasant. If you are a horrible writer, enlist the help of your friends. Especially your friend who works in communications. Describe the best elements of your personality. Let others know what makes you tick. This is no time to complain about your ex or share the details of your divorce.
Remember that your online profile is a sales brochure for you. Be as positive as you can. Tell people what you like, not what you don’t like. Describe what makes you happy. Tell the truth, but that doesn’t mean you have to be so completely honest about every detail that you sound crabby. (“My friends say I am extremely picky and hard to please. Some even call me a bitch. Ha!”)
#5. Respond Politely and Briefly
When you get an email from someone online who shows an interest in you, respond politely and briefly. Less is usually more. Thank them for the email. Use your best manners and expect them to do the same. Tolerate nothing less. If someone sends you an inappropriate message, do not respond. (If the site has a process for reporting bad behavior, do so if you have been deeply offended.)
After a few online exchanges with someone who seems promising, agree to speak on the phone. You’ll find out a lot more about someone a lot more quickly with a phone conversation or two than with dozens of email exchanges.
Once you have spoken on the phone enough to feel comfortable about a new person, then and only then you can agree to meet in a nice, safe, well-lit public place. (When in doubt, choose a Starbucks or similar coffee shop.) In person is where the magic is most likely to happen.