Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Advice for Online Dating

I have a lot of clients who are, with varying degrees of effort and success, attempting to find relationships via online dating resources. They're on Match, OK Cupid, PoF, Tinder, Bumble (to name a few). 

In full disclosure, I did online dating off and on for several years and found it both frustrating and fruitful, depending on my attitude at the time. I did, however, pretty consistently have what one might call "success" at it, and so from that perspective I'm happy to offer suggestions. I made a lot of friends, as well, and as such had many fascinating conversations about online dating and what people's different experiences of it were. There were some pretty consistent themes that arose, and so I feel confident that this could, if nothing else, give people new perspective. Take or leave these tips based on what feels authentic to you, because that is my #1 piece of advice. 

So without further ado: 

1) Be YOU. Make sure that your photos, bio, quotes, etc all reflect an authentic version of yourself. You don't have to disclose everything up front, of course, but if what you're interested in is connecting with another human on a meaningful level, you have to present yourself accurately from day one. Few things feel more uncomfortable in the online dating world than to discover upon meeting someone in person that they are not at all who/how they presented themselves. To me, the greatest compliment one can give or receive in these endeavors is "You are exactly the same in person." I heard this a lot from men, in a surprised and appreciative way. This leads me to believe many others people are not presenting themselves super accurately. YOU, always. The right person is going to like you for exactly who you are. Also, remember that keeping up a facade is a LOT of work. Ain't nobody got time for that in 2017. 

2) To that end, put recent photos up only, unless you indicate in the caption what is different now or what year the photo was taken. Most of us do not look how we looked ten years ago, for better or worse, and so to present yourself as a younger or thinner or more fashionable version of yourself is false advertising, which we want to always avoid. 

3) Ladies, you need to know that men see it as a huge red flag if all of your photos are just of your face (especially if it's a heavily made-up face). For better or worse, they assume it means your body is ______ (something you don't want to show). Make sure you have full body photos on your page. They don't have to be sexy or in any way specifically intended to show off your body, just make sure there is a photo that shows accurately what you look like. This may seem shallow, but remember that we are all going off our first impressions, and we generally have to find the way someone looks appealing on some level in order to be attracted to them. Don't be mad that men want to know what your body looks like. Many of them have felt tricked into going out with women they normally wouldn't be interested in, so they are understandably wary if their experience suggests they might be duped again.  

4) Similarly, men, you need to know that if all your photos are selfies, that's a red flag. That suggests (to me, at least) that you don't have any friends to hang out with or to ask to take a picture of you at least. Put a group shot up if the people in it are comfortable with it (if that's all you have) or have a pal take a normal-looking photo of you that isn't in the gym or bathroom mirror. One or two of those is fine but not a whole series of them. We get it, you work out. We get it, you have abs. We get it, you use the bathroom. Whatever. We don't care as much as you think we do about your body. We care more about knowing you have friends/family who love you and spend time with you. Or that you've been interesting places or done things besides taken photos of yourself in mirrors. 

5) Write about yourself in your profile. Don't just talk about what you want or don't want in another person. Give the people reading your profile information about YOU. What do you do for fun, for sport, for entertainment? Where do you like to go? What are some interesting quirky facts about you? What are your favorite things? Think of it more as a resume' and less as a help wanted ad. Say who you are, and a person who is looking for someone with your qualities is going to express interest. 

6) On that note, please do not write your whole profile bashing all the men/women you've encountered so far. Talking about catfishing and whatnot or making threats like "You have to do ____" in order for me to even talk to you. Don't litter it with endless "don't be _____" and "don't bother messaging me if _____" and "no games" and negative/defensive garbage like that. That just makes you sound bitter and as if you've been on these sites for a million years and you're all weary about it. It also can make you sound impossible to please and little fun to be around. I would always suggest you make effort to sound like you're actually excited to meet new people. That's why you're on the sites in the first place, so be open to it actually happening instead of constantly poised to defend against imposters or expecting to be lied to or manipulated. For the record, I went out with a fairly large number of men over the years, and every single person was who they said they were. Most of them looked like their photos. It's not as common as you might think to be fake out by people in real life. 

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