If you’re thinking about taking your first steps into the world of online dating or returning to the scene after a break, then it’s understandable to feel a few butterflies of nerves as well as excitement and eagerness to get started.
Use the guide below to navigate the process of online dating. Whether you’re looking for a casual fling, long-term love, or simple companionship, the world is literally your digital oyster. And oysters are the food of love, after all…
Think About What You’re Looking For
Before signing up for a platform or paid membership, take some time to think about what you’re looking for and what you hope to get from online dating. Be honest with yourself. If you’ve not long come out of a relationship and want to make connections and casually date, that’s fine. If your goal is to find someone to settle down in a long-term partnership with, good for you, too!
Knowing what you’re looking for will help you choose the dating app or platform that’ll likely work best for you and will also make navigating the whole dating process smoother.
Choosing Your Dating Site
So, you know what you want, and you’re ready to meet singles. Great! This information will make choosing a dating site or app relatively easy. Some sites are specifically geared to those looking for fun and no-strings dating, while others are designed for those seeking a serious relationship.
There is also a wide range of ‘niche’ sites out there for those looking to meet like-minded singles. Dating sites catering, for example, to single parents looking to meet other solo moms and dads are very popular, as are apps designed for mature singles wanting to date – so-called ‘silver singles’! So if you wish to connect with another committed vegan, a fellow young professional, or someone who shares the same faith as you, you’ll be able to find a dating platform to suit.
Creating Your Profile
The nature of your profile will ultimately determine the number of singles you connect with and the suitability of these matches. It’s vital to not skimp on the time you spend creating your dating profile – think of it as a love investment!
Firstly, be sure to complete all sections the bio asks for as completely as possible. Don’t forget to fill in the parts regarding what you’re looking for in a date or a partner; if, for example, you wouldn’t consider dating someone who is a certain number of years older or younger than you, then be sure to set these parameters if possible.
Try to inject your personality into your bio: give the reader a sense of your hopes, dreams, and passions. A little humor goes a long way, too.
Next, it’s time to choose your profile photos! It’s tempting to deploy filters or use arty side-on shots, but resist! Research has found that filtered photos are one of the quickest ways to have potential matches scroll past your profile, so instead, embrace your inner and outer beauty and choose a main photo that shows your face clearly, sans filter.
For the other pictures, choose a small selection that best expresses your personality – if you opt to include a group shot, keep it to one, and never use this as your main pic – it’s another recipe for missing out on potential matches.
Have a Messaging Plan
So, you’re all set up, and the matches have started to come in: now comes the messaging part of the process!
Having a plan for how you’ll tackle messaging with your matches – or potential matches – is a great idea. The sheer volume of people using dating apps means you’ll need to stand out from the crowd, so avoid a generic-type message, like ‘hey’ or ‘how are you?’ Instead, think about how you can engage your possible date-to-be in a discussion.
Read through their profile carefully for some ideas. People generally love to talk about themselves, so if, for example, they mention that they’re a major foodie, why not ask them for a restaurant recommendation or for the most out-there dish they’ve ever eaten?
While the messaging side of things is important to help you decide whether the individual is a potentially good match, it’s often advisable to resist getting caught up in weeks of messaging back and forth before getting out on a real-life date. It can be really easy to create an impression of someone that may not be entirely realistic: meeting up within a reasonable timeframe can help you to figure out whether this person is someone you’d like to continue to get to know…or otherwise!
Your Safety is Paramount
While it’s important to keep an open mind throughout your dating journey, ensuring your personal welfare and safety is a priority. Contact the dating site’s customer support if you feel uncomfortable regarding an individual’s messaging or are uneasy in any way.
There are a few basic steps you should take to keep yourself safe when it comes to getting out there on an in-person date. Always arrange to meet for the first time in a public, well-populated location that you’re familiar with. Let someone know where you’ll be and when you expect to return. Make sure you have your phone and that it’s fully charged.
Most importantly, trust your instincts: if anything feels off, don’t worry about appearances; simply leave, and get to safety immediately.
The Road to Romance
While online dating, it’s important to keep things in perspective: it can be easy to become consumed by the process and to begin obsessing over things like how many people you’re matching with or messages that go unanswered. Remember that the potential matches don’t know you and your beautiful personality; similarly, we can never know what’s going on in someone else’s life.
Taking care of and nurturing yourself throughout your dating journey is key. Keep doing the things you love and spending time with the friends and family members that make your world go round. And, before you know it, and when you’re least expecting it – love may just find you.