I might as well come clean- I’ve done this online dating thing. As much as most of us hate to admit it, it’s more common than we think, and as time goes on, I see more and more people finding long term relationships and even marriages from meeting people online (not always from dating sites either!).
For me, online dating sites have been a mixed bag. While I’ve met some very cool people- not all of which lead to something long term, but some lead to friendships. I’ve also had my share of well- surprises…(It seems women love to downplay their weight according to my male friends, and from my experience, men love to play UP their height, and as a girl who is 5’8″ I’ve had some annoying surprises).
What sites should you use?
-Consider your budget. Match.com, Chemistry.com, Eharmony.com are all paid sites (even if they offer “free weekends”) and sites like OkCupid.com are free. I know that CouponCactus.com offers cashback and discounts for several of these dating sites, so if you want a paid site, it’s a great way to save money. (Note: using a dating site on a “free week/end” may not generate leads, it usually serves as a ploy for you to find someone, then pay to communicate with them).
-Take some time to research how sites “match” you up with potentials. Each uses their own measurements, and if you’re not into the whole “woo-woo” compatibility tests, you can find one that just matches you up one-to-one based on straight forward questions about aspirations, politics, and opinions (Like Okcupid.com)
-Also take into consideration the cost. Just because you pay for a site doesn’t mean you’ll get better results. In fact, it might be a disappointment that you’ve found someone with potential and because they haven’t paid for their membership, you cannot communicate.
Things to Consider When Creating a Profile:
-Pick pictures that are flattering and highlight what you want to show off, but don’t smack of “editing.” One of the classic tricks of people who are worried about their appearance or insecure about their weight will be to post photos with weird angles, odd lighting or the vast majority of their body cropped out of the picture. Even if you are proud of what you’ve got, be aware that a photo that looks MySpace-esque could send the wrong message.
-Be very clear when creating your profile what you are looking for. There are creepers out there, trolling the net for flings and hookups. You can just let people know that you’re ready for something serious.
-Whatever you do, don’t air your dirty laundry. It’s amazing how many profiles I’ve seen where people feel the need to relay that they’ve “had their heart broken,” or “don’t like douchebags.” Sure, this may be true- but it leaves a first impression that you’re not over your past.
-Realize that someone seeing your profile will size you up very, very quickly- in fact, sometimes unfairly so. They, like you, are just trying to sniff out potentials very quickly and weed out anyone that just doesn’t “fit,” or seems to be embellishing/hiding physical or personality traits. If you’re not getting any leads, you might want to review your profile, have a friend look it over or simply review other potential dates you may have written off too quickly.
Consider Trying Other Online Tools:
–Meetup.com is a great way to connect with other people with similar interests. Some meetups can be free (or really cheap if organizers want you to pitch in $1-5 for space rentals or food).
-Playing games online (not that I would suggest playing WoW, but hey…) or chatting in forums about various topics instantly connects you to people with similar interests and lifestyles. One of my good friends met her husband on a forum and got to talking….the rest is history.
Everyone I’ve spoken to to gather feedback about their online dating experiences has had different things to say. I would recommend mixing up your tactics and trying different sites if one doesn’t work out. I would also suggest you be very clear in your mind and on your profile about what you’re looking for. When you find someone with potential, it’s easy to judge them based on a very limited profile- if someone holds potential, give them a chance.
The biggest gripe I’ve heard about online dating is that they just couldn’t “find someone interesting.” The great potential of online dating is that it instantly connects you to a variety of people, the downside is that sometimes these connections can be easily dismissed based on false judgements or assessments of potential dates based on a truly limited number of factors.
My advice? Stick to your guns on what you’re looking for in terms of values, life goals and interests- but be open minded when it comes to the person carrying those traits. It might be tempting to write someone off based on a bad profile photo or a few initial nervous and fumbled conversations, but use your gut and be safe!