So you’ve finally done it.
After weeks, months (years?) of friends telling you to open up an account and join this mystical world of online dating, you officially took the plunge. Yup, there you are — head and bio floating amidst hundreds, thousands, millions of others looking to find dates, sex, love and everything (everything!) in between.
That being said, online dating like everything else in life, comes with its own unique set of red flags, traffic signs and helpful hints to ensure you make the most of your time meeting and mixing with online strangers. Let’s take a look, shall we?
1. Don’t Overdate: If this is your first foray onto the Dating Interwebs, you’ll notice some weeks dozens upon dozens of people will message you with offers to meet up for a drink. Unless you want to quit your job and take a hiatus from your life, be very wary of “overdating.” The surefire route to exhaustion consists of packed after work activities with strangers where upon reflection it’s tough to place a story with a face. If you find yourself not remembering which date talked at length about his time studying in Rome or which one has that wonderful Golden Retriever puppy, or worse, what you told each of them, it’s time to scale back and be a bit more selective.
2. Messaging for too long if you’re comfortable meeting soon : While everyone has different philosophies on this, if you you know you’d like to meet someone soon and you end up chatting back and forth for longer than four or five messages with no hint of a meet-up, you may need to bite the bullet and suggest meeting yourself or move on. If you’re looking for dates, not pen pals, then choosing a site that works as a filter and puts like-minded people in your inbox is key.
3. Not chatting at all before setting a date: On the flipside, it’s often a red flag if the person in question ask you out for drinks on message 1. If they dive right into a date proposal with no general curiosity about who you are, it might be an indication they’re sending out hundreds of offers to anyone and everyone until someone bites.
4. Being overly critical: All of us have physical preferences and nobody’s asking you to abandon them. After all, who doesn’t want a six-footer with killer dimples? That being said, a healthy sense of selectivity can, if you aren’t careful, veer into a long stretch of Saturday nights alone. So why not give that person who seems perfectly nice (but maybe a few inches too short) a chance.
5. Being too lax: That being said, to avoid #1 you need to have at least a rudimentary list of qualities you’re looking for so you don’t meet just anyone for a beer. Your time is precious, so if you’re steadfast on a set of dealbreakers at the get go, feel free to add them, you’ll be saving yourself some serious time.
6. Uploading blurry and/or dated pictures: Make it easy for people and choose clear, current photos in a mix of different settings. You don’t want to always be holding a drink or always running marathons and riding horses either. Try to show yourself as multi-faceted and a full body shot never hurt anyone either.
7. Profiles with misspellings, grammatical errors and/or novel-length entries: Similar to a cover letter when on the job hunt, you don’t want to bore future bosses (or boyfriends) with every single detail of your life. You also don’t want to hit publish without a thorough proofread. You’re smart and accomplished, which means spelling and grammatical errors don’t fit into your personal brand.
8. Waiting eons to reply to a message or receive one: If you’re interested it’s good form to reply within 24 hours to a message. Again, you’re here to meet people and get dates, not wait on bated breath for GuitarGuy76 to reply or leave potential dates hanging yourself. If someone takes longer than 24 or 48 hours at the very most to reply or is flaky and cancels a bunch of times before meeting, it doesn’t exactly bode well for future behavior.
9. Lying (height, weight, age): One way to ensure you don’t get a second date is to false advertise yourself. Whatever your perceived flaw — too short, too tall, a little chubby, about 5 years older than you wish — there’s someone out there (probably more than just one someone) who’s just fine with you the way you are. Be proud and rock it.
10. Don’t get discouraged too quickly: And, finally, after a string of so-so dates and no promise for a second, it might be easy to pack it up and decide that online dating isn’t for you. Not so fast! The best things in life take time and unfortunately finding love falls into that category. Do you give up when you can’t find a job and decide the job market and working just aren’t for you? Probably not and if so, how’s your parent’s guest room treating you?