7 Steps to Being Successful in Online Dating

The process of online dating.

Posted Nov 23, 2018

Online Dating
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Source: Online Dating

Don’t like being alone?  Want a partner?  Then online dating offers you the possibility of finding one.  However, online dating is no panacea and it can take a little effort to find the type of person who is right for you.  Similarly, if you are looking for a house, an apartment or shopping for a car, it may take you some time and research to find the right one. 

In some ways, online dating is really just relationship shopping or 'relationshopping', a little like the Amazon or eBay of the dating world.  In addition to this, the amount of choice of potential dates which appear to be available in online dating can make the process somewhat daunting.  Therefore, it is firstly important to be selective about which dating site or sites you should use.

1.  Which Website or App to Use

The are many different dating apps and sites to choose from, and in addition to the mainstream apps and sites, there are also many niche sites.  While some of these sites may seem slightly strange at first, they can have a very important place for those who belong to specific niche groups. 

It is highly unlikely that you would have the money or even the time to use many dating sites at the same time and therefore it is important to be selective in those you use.  One common question is always, which is the best site to use?  This is obviously a rather difficult question to answer, in as much people have different preferences about the way in which they go about dating.  One major way in which sites can be categorised is in terms of what might be called see and screen sites, where daters decide on their own choices and sites employing algorithms, which attempt to match people together on relevant characteristics.  Different types of site have different effects on a dater’s perceived control and their decision-making satisfaction in dating (Tong, Hancock & Slatcher, 2016).

2.  Profile Pictures

The importance of first impressions is well known, and therefore the way in which you construct your dating profile will have an effect on the way in which others initially perceive and judge you.  Having said that, the way in which some people construct their dating profiles is rather surprising. Dating research company ‘Dating Scout’ have published some rather unusual findings.  For example, in terms of profile pictures, many men display pictures of themselves yielding weapons.  A profile photo I once viewed was even accompanied by the caption ‘I reserve the right to bear arms, but I also like long walks on the beach and nights in with a glass of wine.’  In addition, a high proportion of males feature in dating profile pictures alongside big cats, although thankfully this is something which many dating sites have now banned.  Also surprising is the number of profile pictures of people holding bacon. 

There is plenty of advice on how to construct your profile, how many photos to include and what they should illustrate, but that is outside the scope of this article.

3.  Profile Descriptions

In addition to a profile picture, most dating sites allow users to write a brief profile, which describes them, both in terms of their interests and their personalities.  However, it is surprising how unimaginative people can be in doing this.  “I love to laugh” is a popular description.  Surely, everyone loves to laugh.  “My friends and family are important to me”. Well you’d kind of hope so.  However the best one surely has to be “I’m normal”  Very reassuring!

The important thing really is to say something about your own personality or interests, and preferably something you can illustrate about yourself using an example or two. 

4.  Making Decisions

In addition to advertising yourself in your online dating profile, you also need to engage with the dating process by evaluating the profiles of other daters, in order to ascertain whom you like.  Finkel at al (2012), suggest limiting oneself to a manageable set of dating candidates, which avoids the choice overload issue described earlier.  Furthermore, they recommend avoiding an assessment type mindset, and not being too reliant on selecting your potential dates on specific criteria.  Instead, one should maybe try selecting the type of person with whom you can imagine having a good time.

The romantic notion is that there is someone for everyone, an idea perpetuated further by dating sites offering to provide users with a match.  However, the human race is not like some enormous jigsaw where everyone matches together.  It’s really not that simple, with the truth being that for some people there may be very few or even no matches, while for others there may be many. 

5.  Opening Lines

If you see someone you like in online dating, then the next thing is to make contact.  Therefore, what do you say as an opening line?  Back in 1986, Chris Kleinke and colleagues (Kleinke, Meeker and Staneski, 1986) asked students what they would say to initiate contact with someone they wanted to meet. In other words, what do people say when they meet someone they would like to get to know?  Some of the more humorous lines which, by the way, were categorised as cute or flippant, were, “Didn’t we meet in a previous life?” and “You remind me of a woman I used to date.”  While lines such as these are not necessarily recommended, it is important to note the importance of humour.

6.  Humour

Pretty much everyone states that they have a good sense of humour, and the acronym GSOH (Good sense of humour) is often used in dater’s descriptions.  However, sense of humour can either mean that you laugh a lot at the jokes made by other people, or that you are good at making other people laugh.  In other words, what has been called humour appreciation or humour production.  Research has revealed gender differences here in as much as men generally like to make jokes and have other laugh at them, whereas women like to be made to laugh.  If you have ever watched a man and a woman together in a coffee shop or a bar, then it is the amount of laughter produced by the female rather than that produced by the male, which predicts romantic interest.  One theory as to why it is for men to generate humour comes from evolutionary psychology.  Men who can be spontaneously funny are said to be creatively intelligent.  Those who are creatively intelligent possess good intelligence genes, and consequently are more attractive.   Therefore, in any online or face-to-face conversation it is important to use and appreciate humour.

7.  Meeting

The goal in online dating is ultimately to meet the person with whom you have been chatting, and it is probably important to meet up as soon as possible.  After all, you don’t necessarily want a long-term online dating pen pal. 

So what are the do’s and don’ts of a first meeting?  Well there are lots, but some obvious ones are not to play with your phone in front of your date.  Even if it vibrates in your pocket then resist the urge to look at it or check it.

Also, don’t say that the situation is awkward or that it is embarrassing to think that you met online.  Actually, in the USA, about 33% of marriages begin online.  Furthermore, in comparison to marriages which are the result of face-to-face meetings, people in marriages, which are the result of online dating report higher rates of relationship satisfaction.

Well that’s a quick and maybe slightly frivolous start to online dating. Remember also that to be successful, you really have to spend time and effort, but hopefully it will be worth it. 

References

Finkel, E. J.,Eastwick, P. W., Karney, B. R., Reis, H. T., & Sprecher, S. (2012). ‘Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science’ Psychological Science in the Public Interest 13 (1) 3 –66.

Kleinke, C. L., Meeker, F. B., & Staneski, R. A. (1986) ‘Preference for Opening Lines: Comparing Ratings by Men and Women’ Sex Roles, 15 (11,12), 585-600.

Tong, S. T., Hancock, J. T., & Slatcher, R. B. (2016) ‘Online Dating System Design and Relational Decision Making: Choice, Algorithms and Control’ Personal Relationships, 23, 645-662.

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