How to Be Successful at Online Dating

Expert Tips to Find Love Online

Online dating is now the second most common way for couples to meet. There’s a dating site for anyone and everyone (have you seen that Farmers Only online dating commercial?). In fact, in 2011, each month 25 million different users logged on around the world to find love, with one in 10 Americans among those ranks. The industry has been roaring in recent years, bringing in annual revenue of $1.9 billion.  

With so many singles (we hope, anyway) hitting up dating sites to meet their perfect match, it begs the question: What's the best way to stand out from the crowd, and increase your chances of find the right match? Our experts weigh in with important pointers on how you can be the belle of the online ball.   

Being Single is Okay
When venturing into the wide world of Internet dating, remember that dating should be a complement to your life, not your whole life. Be happy and confident with yourself on your own, and bring that into your dating life. Don’t come across as desperate or needy to meet someone in your profile (or in person). Keep in mind that if you’re happy flying solo, you’ll be happy with a mate and vice-versa. Your happiness doesn't rely on anyone else. 

Be Honest
Your profile is the only thing representing you online, so make it honest. Use a profile photo you feel you look your best in and that also reflects you: no photos taken six years ago; no Photoshop; no photos with three of your friends where it’s unclear who you are. If you don’t like sports (or some other hobby nemesis), don’t say you do. Authenticity goes farther than shallow people-pleasing. If you have a quirky hobby that you love, don’t be afraid to put it out there--in fact, it'll make you more memorable. You never know who might be intrigued by your endless quest for the perfect slice of pizza. 

If all goes as planned, you’ll meet someone via your profile, and when you do, you’ll want it to be a clean slate situation, not one where you’re having to play actress to all the exaggerated statements you thought made your profile look better.

Know Yourself
No one knows you like you do. Ask yourself what you want and what you’re looking for in a match. If all your friends are looking for a hunky, lacrosse type, that’s great--for them. If you happen to like more of an adorable nerdy type, don’t be afraid to go for that. Remember, you’re going to be the one in the potential relationship, not your friends. 

Same goes for what you’re looking to get out of online dating. If you’re just looking to meet some new people, say it. If you’re looking for a serious relationship, put it on your profile. The only way you’re going to succeed is to put what you want out there and not try to blend in with the crowd of date seekers. If you say you’re only looking for hangouts when you’re really looking for a long-term relationship, you can’t be mad when you end up going on a string of dates that never pass “Go.” 

Be Patient
Online dating, just like regular dating, is a process, according to Marriage and Family Therapist and Sex Therapist Dr. Stephen Betchen. Just because a site boasts thousands, or in some cases millions, of potential love interests, it doesn’t mean that you will be compatible or even living in the same vicinity as each other. Be patient, stick to what you know you need and want in a partner, and eventually a terrific match, either friendship or love-wise, will come around. WIth that said, don’t be afraid to contact a profile that catches your eye first--if there’s any place antiquated dating rules don’t apply, it’s online. 

Keep Your Expectations in Check
When you’re first dating it should be light and fun. Avoid negative or serious issues and, no matter what, don’t dare pull out your Future Wedding Pinterest board for feedback. 

“If you are looking for your one and only you should understand that 99 percent of your dates will not be your perfect match,” says Jasmin Terrany, licensed psychotherapist. “Don’t try to make everyone into your husband.” 

The First Date
Once you’ve waded through the dating pool and finally made it to first date-land, start off with a brief-ish meet up: try coffee or a drink. When the second date rolls around, you can get into more extended dates: a trip to the zoo, an exhibit at a museum, a movie, etc. “The purpose of a date, when getting started, is to see if you want to have another date. That’s it,” says Darren Haber, MFT, psychotherapist. 

Just relax, enjoy yourself, and it’s okay if you’re nervous--they probably are too! Most importantly, bring yourself to the date. Don’t worry about “performing” a role you think your date is looking for. If they’re not into you for you, well then, in the words of Jay-Z:  On to the next one. 

Play it Safe
Be smart, ladies. You know that the Internet is filled with people pretending to be something they’re not (yeah, we saw “Catfish”). With this in mind, plan your first meet up in a safe, public place. And don’t be afraid to go with your gut. If you find yourself in a situation that just doesn’t feel right, bow out. If the guy is truly a gentleman, he will understand. And if he's not a gentleman, then all the more reason to kick him to the curb. You really do deserve nothing but the best. 

Expert Sources: S. Michael Plaut, Ph.D., psychologist and certified sex therapist; Darren Haber, MFT, psychotherapist; Jasmin Terrany, licensed psychotherapist, mindfulness and meditation; Stephen Betchen, marriage and family therapist and sex therapist 

(References: mashable.com/2012/03/24/online-dating-infographic-2/;huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/06/online-dating-common-couples-meet_n_1257243.html; sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120206092552.htm;cnbc.com/id/45553198/Love_at_First_Byte_The_Secret_Science_of_Online_Dating)
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linxdating commented
Definitely playing up the quirky part of your online dating profile is important. Men respond particularly well to something "random" and "unusual" with online profiles. Be real. be human. Be genuine. Don't create a profile that is perfect and doesn't expose any vulnerabilities. Stand out from the hundreds of others be being you. Be different. Shine that way.