Most people who have ventured into the depths of the Tindersphere can attest to its bleakness. And sure, while there are those who manage to emerge from a bout of online dating victorious and coupled up, those who don’t find themselves feeling frustrated and stuck as they attempt to navigate the murky waters of digital courtship.
Luckily, a little advice from an expert in cyber dating could be a total game changer for those among us who are eager to find love, but not so eager that we’re willing to risk getting swipe-induced tendinitis in the process. One of America’s top online dating experts and digital matchmakers, Julie Spira, has been in the business of making online magic happen for 25 years. In other words, she knows a thing or two about the (very worthy, according to Spira) art of dating online.
“Online dating is the most popular way for singles to meet with 39% of couples saying they’ve met online, as compared to 20% who met through friends,” says Spira. “And even if it’s not a love match, you could meet a new friend or find a business opportunity. Dating online is just a great way to expand your social circle, meet people that your friends don’t know, and learn more about what you’re looking for in a partner.”
Unfortunately, because online dating is so popular, as Spira says, that also means that the online dating landscape is a pretty crowded one. For that reason, Spira recommends that people approach online dating with a strategy in mind as opposed to just flying by the seat of their pants. A good place to start? Steering clear of these eight major online dating no-no’s.
1. Don’t post old (or too few) pictures.
“Photos really matter, and too many people are afraid they won’t recognize their date,” says Spira. Be mindful of choosing photos that are pretty recent, and Spira even recommends captioning photos with the month and year when they were taken to help give your online matches a little context. As for how many photos you’re posting, Spira suggests shooting for 5-7, as using just a single picture or too few photos could come off like you’re not that serious about finding love online.
2. Don’t talk too much about yourself.
According to Spira, your goal in the beginning should be to come off as more interested than interesting. “It’s better to be a good listener,” says Spira. “I realize that some people are nervous, but online dating is about creating a good dialogue to get to know your potential date, and not to just present a monologue about yourself.” Basically, you want to find a balance between sharing a little bit about yourself but always appearing just as interested in learning more about the other person.
3. Leave the novel at home.
Just like you wouldn’t really want to watch a movie after someone has spoiled the ending, a profile that’s too detailed is a bit like spoiling the discovery phase of a new relationship. “Some people write long-winded profiles, and if someone actually reads it all, there’s nothing left to talk about on a date, so they’ll most likely take a pass,” says Spira. Instead of putting it all on the table right away, Spira suggests limiting the breadth of information you share and instead just providing enough to give an idea of who you are. “Online dating is about taking a glimpse into your life, and the life you might have together as a couple should you click.”
4. Leave the drama behind.
In Spira’s experience, people often default to talking about the negative stuff they’re dealing with –– their ex, work, or their frustrations with online dating –– on their profiles, but you should be careful to steer clear. “No one wants to hear about how your ex broke your heart, your list of bad dates, and how you have the worst boss in the world,” says Spira. “Make your profile positive, and list what you’re passionate about and what makes you smile.”
5. It’s a date, not a deposition.
“The worst thing you can do when you finally match is say, ‘So, tell me about yourself,’” says Spira. “I’ve seen some people come up with a list of job-like interview questions, which are far from anything romantic.” To make sure that your conversation with a potential love match feels more natural than it does intense, Spira recommends avoiding cookie-cutter questions like: Where did you go to school? Where do you work? What is your relationship like with your parents? When was your last relationship? How long have you been dating online? What was your longest relationship? Why did you break up?
6. Don’t say “hey!”
“I always tell singles I’m coaching that horses hang out in hay, and do you really want to date a horse?” says Spira. Instead of going with a basic “hey” as your opening line, Spira recommends just sticking to “hi,” including your match’s first name in your introduction message to make things personal, and tacking on an exclamation mark to let them know you’re excited to chat.
7. Don’t send generic messages.
Part of finding a connection online is finding someone that you feel you can connect with on more than just a superficial level. To find that, you’ll need to do something a little more thoughtful than just basically copying and pasting the same basic conversation points in every chat. Instead, try to personalize your messages and show an interest in the other person. “Get past the photos and read something in their bio,” Spira suggests. “When you reach out, you’ll stand out when you ask them a question about their recent trip to the Galapagos Islands.”
8. Don’t be hasty.
Impatience is one of the greatest enemies of successful online dating. So much so, in fact, that Spira’s cardinal rule when it comes to online dating –– the one thing that she thinks trumps over everything else –– is to give it time. “I believe everyone should try online dating for one year,” Spira says. “If you meet someone on the first date, that’s fantastic, but during that one year, try to go on two dates a week until you meet someone you’d like to start dating exclusively. And don’t worry about rejection. You’re looking for your dream date, and it’s similar to looking for your dream job, only better. If you fall in love, chances are it will last longer than a series of jobs.”