Yes, You Can Find Love Online

Online dating gives you access to more choices, but there are pitfalls.

Posted Apr 24, 2019

Do you believe in soulmates? According to a 2017 survey of 800 American adults, two-thirds of us do. 

Do you believe you must be similar to a partner to get along over the long haul?

It's possible that these beliefs have made you ditch promising relationships.

Although some sites promise that their algorithms identify good matches based on similarity or complementary personality types, they haven’t convinced the research community. The main advantage of online dating, scientists say, is access to many people you’d never otherwise meet.

Some research-based tips:

Sadly, people post morose photos and confess serious problems on first dates. You’ve been warned. Depression, addiction, bad finances and the like are poison for lasting love.

Women, make the first move. OKCupid reports that 30 percent of first messages sent out by a straight woman to a man turn into a conversation, compared to only 12 percent of first messages sent by straight men. Also, men reach out to women 17 percentile points more attractive than they are. Put those two facts together, and reaching out to a man that you consider attractive is your best way to land such a man. Another tip for women: Photos most likely to lead to conversations are those in which you’re doing something; next most successful are photos that include an animal. 

Men get more messages from women when they look off in the distance in their photo or pose with a pet. And fill out the bio. As Tinder executive Rosette Pambakian told Popular Science, men with blank bios are 98 percent less likely to get a match.

Neither sex should invest much time examining profiles and online answers to questions. In fact, swiping on Tinder or another nearly purely visual app may be much better, says Eli Finkel, a social psychologist at Northwestern University. Most people can’t judge from profiles who they will like in person.

Some motherly advice:

Filling out the form is an exercise in authenticity. Specify the characteristics you actually want and then stick to them. If you dream of a family with a Jewish woman, skip the hot 42-year-old Catholic actress. 

Let it go. No one likes rejection, but demanding explanations, obsessing, or tracking your date’s online activities are bad for you. It’s an easy trap to fall into: In a report on the New York Times column “Modern Love,” editor Daniel Jones observed that “nearly everyone cyberstalks.” Be better and you’ll be faster on the road to healthy love.

Don't text much before you meet. I recently had a daily text exchange with a man almost every night for a week. We were telling each other bedtime stories—and then he cancelled our Friday date and ghosted me. I won't ever know what happened, and although the online romance was fun, it has made me wary as I go forth again. 

Don't jump to conclusions. If you get uncomfortable early in a relationship, do you assume the worst? Imagine if you brought that mindset to your other relationships or activities.  

Decide if you’re a good bet. Do you have a bad track record? Is your life overwhelming? Get some therapy, if needed, and make it your business to change.

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