New to Online Dating? Set Yourself Up for Success During Prime Time

online dating tipsJanuary and February are the busiest months of the year for online dating. Not only are new people fueled by their resolutions, veteran members get more serious in their search for a sweetie. It’s a fun and hopeful season marked by a flurry of emails and plans. You never know when a first date is going to last three fascinating hours. It doesn’t even matter if it’s a dud. Another date is always an email away. Yet by the time spring arrives, there will be a certain percentage of daters who are disappointed with their online windfall.

Take this recent conversation with a friend:

Me: How’s the dating life?

Her: Just okay. But I wrote my profile in like 10 minutes, so I can’t expect much.

Me: Why don’t you put in a little effort?

Her: I don’t want to try so hard. It would feel worse if I took it seriously and then nothing worked out.

You know the type. They approach online dating by “dipping their toes in the water” or “trying it out for a while.” While it’s a great strategy to avoid rejection or maintain the fantasy that love will show up gift-wrapped on your doorstep, it’s also a reliable way to make sure you’ll have plenty of time to catch up on “Game of Thrones” during cold winter nights.

Here are a few tips to start your search out right:

1) Spend Time on Your Profile

This seems like a no-brainer. Surely, you’d put as much effort into marketing yourself for love as you would for work, right? It’s shocking how many people write bare bones descriptions of what they’re looking for and what they have to offer a partner. Yes, it’s hard to write about yourself in general, never mind come up with something particularly clever that doesn’t sound like everyone else’s profile. But people aren’t expecting brilliance. They’re expecting honesty. Check out some articles on this site with advice on how to write a compelling profile.

So crank out some content. It’s especially crucial during dating’s high season when you’re competing with members who’ve taken some time to show they actually care about putting their best feet forward to find the right match for their hearts.

2) Don’t Skimp on Photos

You’ve heard this before, but it’s even more important when members are juggling a bunch of matches. You’re going to feel more comfortable setting up dates with people who give you a visual glimpse of their lives. It’s not just about determining whether you’re attracted to them. By seeing your matches at a family BBQ, on a bike, on a boat, at a vacation viewpoint and next to a platter of their famous red velvet cupcakes, you get a better sense of what they’re about. Plus, you provide conversation fodder, such as “Tell me more about those cupcakes!”

Post lots of them of you in different outfits in different places doing many kinds of activities. Get in the habit of asking someone to take your photo every time you go somewhere interesting or think you look extra stylish.  Don’t want to get ribbed by your buddies? Ask strangers. You can even make up a dumb excuse, such as “Do you mind taking a quick photo of me? I want to show my mom I’m wearing the sweater she gave me for Christmas.”

3) Think Long-Term

Perhaps you need to ease into the dating waters by telling yourself: “I’ll just do it for a month and see what’s out there.” Perhaps you’ll get lucky and find love quickly. But how realistic is it to expect to find the love of your life in 30 days? You’ll want to meet a lot of people and see how each connection plays out over time. Make a commitment to stick with your search for at least six months. It will help you stay in the right mindset when the shiny newness wears off.

4) Roll Up Your Sleeves

No one wants to think of love as work. But you have to put the time in. Set aside a half-hour or hour each evening to send emails or return phone calls. Make Sunday morning your regular time to check out new matches. Look at the week ahead and figure out when you’re available to go out on dates. Get busy and you’re more likely to enjoy some downtime with your special someone this summer.

What is the most useful online dating tip you have received?

About the Author:

Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist and the author of Motherhood, Rescheduled: The New Frontier of Egg Freezing and the Women Who Tried It. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Slate and Salon.

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