The Savvy Girl's Guide to Online Dating
Ten years ago, when the only popular online dating websites were Match and eHarmony, a group of guys walked into my mostly female office and asked all the single ladies to test out a new dating website they were creating. I had been single for two years, and dating websites seemed incredibly uncool to me, but this one, I'm in Like With You, sounded interesting, so I created a profile. Little did I know that this would be the start of eight years of active online dating. OkCupid, Tinder, Hinge, Bumble—I’ve obsessively tried them all, almost as if they were an addiction. While online dating can be awkward, frustrating, and disappointing, it can also be a lot of fun. Although I have yet to meet “the one,” I can say that I’ve successfully mastered the art of online dating. Wondering how you can up your game? Here’s the savvy girl’s guide to navigating all those much hyped-about dating apps.
Your profile is incredibly important, so set aside some time to fill in the sections and upload your favorite photos. Be as honest, clever, and witty as possible, but don’t go overboard. A full-length photo of you smiling and wearing red is scientifically proven to be the most popular way to get a guy to swipe right. Men are attracted to a woman’s eyes, so make sure you’re not wearing sunglasses in all of the photos. Including pictures of you doing something active and with some gal pals is also a good idea. This shows possible matches that you are athletic and fun.
It feels like there is a hot new dating app popping up every day, so experiment with multiple sites. If you perform a quick Google search, you’ll come across a bunch of apps you’ve never heard of, like Score, Tastebuds, and Align. There’s even Tindog, a dating service for pet owners where you can find potential partners with dogs in your area. There are also apps that are city specific. For example, the app I’m currently active on is The League, an elite dating site that’s only in San Francisco and New York and is connected through your LinkedIn profile. If you can’t afford to pay for a website like eHarmony, try an app that is free, like Coffee Meets Bagel. Find the app or website that works best for you, and commit to using it regularly.
Some dating apps offer a certain amount of matches per day. If you don’t like or match with any of the five options for that day, don’t get discouraged. The chances of you signing up for How About We on Monday and meeting the love of your life on Tuesday are slim, so be patient with your matches. Do note that in general, the more active you are on a dating website or app, the more matches you will get. If you only log in once a week, rather than once a day, you’re lowering your chances of finding a potential soul mate.
It’s exciting when you get a match with an attractive prospect and he or she reaches out to you. It’s also thrilling when you decide to make the first contact and receive a reply quickly. However, nothing is more disappointing than having a whirlwind two-week text-ationship that leads to nothing. Constantly sending each other texts is not dating—meeting up in person and actually getting to know someone in real life is. If you’ve developed a good text habit and the other person hasn’t suggested meeting up, be bold and ask if they’re interested in grabbing a drink at a local watering hole. The purpose of online dating is to go on actual dates, right? So if someone is lukewarm about setting up a date, stop wasting your time texting.
One of the great things about online dating is that it can help you figure out what you want in and from a partner. According to Dr. Gian Gonzaga, a senior research scientist for eHarmony, “One of the hidden benefits of dating online is that it allows people to critically examine what they want out of life, not just out of a potential mate, in a way they hadn't done before.” If it’s important for you to have kids, don’t like a person who clearly states that they don’t want to be a parent.
I’m a huge fan of Patti Stanger’s The Millionaire Matchmaker and her concept of non-negotiables. She believes that everyone who is looking for love should have a list of five personality traits they want in a partner. You shouldn’t compromise on these five things. Here are mine: I’m looking for a man who is successful, athletic, family-oriented, stylish, and an adventurous eater. If he doesn’t regularly talk to his little sister, he’s not the guy for me. If he doesn’t eat any fish, it’s not going to work out—my signature dish is garlic shrimp. Figure out what you want and you’ll be more equipped to find it.
Don’t reveal everything about yourself in your profile. To make the dating game a little more alluring, be mysterious. Don’t post photos that are too sexy or show too much skin. Don’t “give it all up” on the first meeting. Gradually disclose details as you are getting to know the prospect in person.
According to Tina B. Tessina, psychotherapist and author of The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again, “Online dating is advertising, rather than making a connection. And advertising is full of falsehood and exaggeration. You can expect them to present the best picture they can and to shave years off their age and pounds off their weight.” I’ve also found that men notoriously lie about their height on their dating profiles. If it says he’s 5’7”, just a heads-up: That probably means he’s going to be short—possibly even shorter than you!
It’s very easy to fantasize about online prospects. On paper, she looks and seems perfect, so you may get the urge to plan your winter wedding at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, but stop yourself before you start searching Nordstrom’s website for white fur shrugs. Crafting an elaborate fantasy after two dates will only lead you to bitter disappointment when she ghosts you. Don’t become too attached too quickly. Play it cool, carry on with your fabulous life, do you, and you’ll end up coming off as more attractive and desirable.
If someone is giving you the creeps, don’t agree to meet up with them. Most dating apps have a way to block a user, so figure it out and make sure they can’t contact you. Don’t give out your last name or phone number until you’re ready to do so. Whenever I’m going on a first online date, I tell my sister or a best friend about it and make sure to name the location of our meet-up. You never know what could happen, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Find Friends is an app that lets you see the location of your friends, and a couple of my girlfriends and I all follow each other. It makes me feel better knowing that if something bad were to occur while I was on a first date, my friends would know where I am.
You will be rejected when online dating. There’s no way around it. You will also reject people, so grow a thick skin and realize that it’s just part of the game. Relationship therapist Terri Orbuch explains it perfectly: “Don’t take a ‘no’ response from others personally. It probably doesn’t have anything to do with you. They could want someone who is a different age or lives in a different region. At the same time, feel free to say no to people you don’t want to meet.”
When you really want to find love, it’s easy to jump into a relationship with someone who, deep down, you know isn’t right for you. If the day-to-day chemistry is great but you can’t see a future with him in the long run, break it off. You cannot fake a relationship until you make it. Like Carrie Bradshaw said, if there’s no zsa zsa zsu, your relationship won’t last. It’s hard to be alone, but it’s better to be alone and happy than in an awkward relationship and miserable. You will find true love, and when you do, it will be so amazing you couldn’t even imagine settling for that firefighter who refused to make plans with you.
Dating is tough. Online dating is even tougher. If you’ve been dealt a series of bad dates or a bunch of rejection, take a break from the game. Delete the apps from your phone and focus on doing the things that you love to do. Hang out with your girlfriends, throw yourself into a new hobby, or start the blog you’ve been thinking about writing. Once you’ve had enough time to heal and no longer feel disillusioned by online dating, you can download the apps, update your profile pictures, and get your mojo back.
Shop items below to make sure your date-night look is pretty and polished.
Are you actively online dating? How is it going?