Feeling lonely this Valentine’s Day? If you’re staying home to Netflix and chill by yourself — again — it’s time to put down the remote and get dating online. After 15 years of relationship coaching, I’ve learned what works and it’s all here in this guide.
“He’ll appear when you least expect it.”
“Don’t appear desperate!”
“Play hard to get.”
The pain of being single when you want to be in a relationship is real. If you’re truly ready for a committed relationship, you should be able to find one without all these rules. Sometimes all it takes is being in the right place at the right time and being open to the right-for-you partner.
By now, we’ve all known someone who’s met their significant other using dating apps like Match, Bumble and, yes, even Tinder. So, why not you?
I know … online dating is not as easy as it seems. First of all, there’s that profile! What are you supposed to write? Can you really trust what people say? And then there’s the initial emails and the, dun-dun-dun … dates! OMG, you’ll actually have to go on dates. When you add in the hundreds of prospects and the number of app options, it’s no wonder you’re over it.
If you’re actually serious about meeting someone, though, let me tell you — there’s real hope in online dating. In my 15 years of relationship coaching experience, I’ve seen numerous clients — no matter how busy, how unsure, and how skeptical — navigate the online dating waters with great success. Below, I’ve compiled their lessons into a guide that will help you make the most of online dating to find the quality relationship you desire and deserve.
To thine own self be true.
The keys to an effective profile? Honesty, authenticity and full-enough disclosure. Contrary to popular belief, writing a strong profile is not about impressing people with your accolades and talents; it’s about reflecting your true self (your personality, values and interests) to attract a great match — YOUR great match.
Before you get writing, ask yourself:
- What’s unique about my personality and interests? What do I like best about myself? I want my ideal match to value my [fill in the blank].
- What kind of romantic partner am I? What do I value in a partner? What do I need from a partner?
What are my deal breakers? Must-haves? Non-negotiables?
- What’s something people should know about me, even if some may see it as a negative? (Cause the right person might see it as a positive!)
Avoid emphasizing something just because you think it’s appealing to others. If you don’t REALLY love skiing, for example, don’t add it just because you live in Colorado. This type of thinking sets you up to attract the wrong type of person, and can later come across as manipulative.
Also, be wary of letting friends or family members write or influence your profile. One client made the mistake of letting friendly coworkers weigh in on her first profile: “I am deeply emotional and spiritual. I wanted to convey this somewhere in my profile but I was too embarrassed to explain it to my coworkers. I rewrote my profile a month later to include these deeper details. After that, I was relieved to know the guys messaging me were seeing the true me, and the profile delivered better results.”
If you find yourself dating or receiving messages from people with whom you have nothing in common, ask yourself why. Is your profile reflecting your true self?
Tell ‘em what you want, what you really really want.
Get really honest with yourself about what you want, and communicate it unapologetically.
If you actually want to be in a relationship, don’t tell people you’re interested in meeting as friends. There’s nothing desperate about confidently owning your desires and weeding out those who want something different. Your honesty won’t scare off people looking for a relationship, but it may scare off those who want a fling. Win-win!
Sometimes we don’t really know what we want until we get out there. After a few dates, you may realize, for example, that you’re not ready to date, 15 years is too large of an age gap, or “yes, I actually do want to date someone with my religious preferences.”
Part of the dating journey is learning about yourself and what you want. When realizations occur, update your profile. In fact, I recommend revisiting your profile monthly to tweak inaccuracies and make sure you still like how things read.
Ditch the ab and duck-lip selfies.
Attraction is important, but if you’re looking for someone with whom to share a life, start by showing YOUR LIFE in your pictures.
Solid profiles show the following types of pictures:
- YOU: At least one, recent shot of you looking your best in a natural setting. Avoid posed bikini shots, ab selfies or duck-lips — your new partner should be attracted to your natural appearance, and most of us don’t look selfie-ready even 75 percent of the time.
- Your interests: Two pictures of you doing something you love, be it playing music, skiing, writing, working, camping, etc. Focus on activities you want to do and share with a significant other — not just things that will impress a significant other.
- You with your friends or family: One to two pictures of you being social. Again, give people a sense for what it’s like to hang out with you.
Grab bag: One last picture that’s a little out of the norm. Make it memorable — a good conversation starter.
Email with thoughtful details — about him or her.
That initiatory email can be tricky. You want to be genuine but you also want to stand out. And those intro email, truth be told, can all start to sound the same. Here are a few basics to keep you on track:
- Keep it conversational. Represent how you talk and interact in real life by using your everyday language.
- Show you’ve read his/her profile and explain why (beyond looks) you’re contacting him/her: “I see you like camping. I do, too! I grew up camping and take a trip every year.”
- Ask a question about his/her profile to get the conversation rolling: “I see you’ve traveled quite a bit. I love traveling, too. What’s been your favorite place?”
- Get creative. I had one client give her prospective date a grammar quiz. Though unorthodox, it was playful, memorable and, in a way, showed she valued intelligence. (That prospective date eventually became her husband.)
There’s no hard and fast rule about when you should ask for a date, but if you’re interested, there’s no reason NOT to ask at any point in the conversation. After all, that’s why you’re both there. And only in asking can you really gauge the other person’s interest.
Say yes to date — even if you’re not totally sure.
They’re why you signed up, and yet, committing to dates can be hard. There will be some obvious “no thank yous,” but most of the time, most of the people seem … fine.
If you’re not sure where to start, here’s an idea: pick someone who doesn’t match any automatic dealbreakers, writes a thoughtful email and shares some of your interests. Maybe you both work in marketing and like Mexican food. Worst case scenario, you end up swapping career tips over margaritas.
If you’re issue isn’t indecision, however, it may be pressure. Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves and our prospective partners that we get that deer-in-the-headlights feeling. Of course you want things to go perfectly, and with the perfect person, but you just don’t have that much control in online dating. Even if someone’s profile and email correspondence tick all the boxes in your “ideal partner checklist,” you’ll still be missing one critical piece of info: your chemistry.
Wouldn’t it be easy if we could determine chemistry from an email? Yeah … unfortunately, we can’t. There’s only one way to tell chemistry: meeting face to face. The more dates you go on, the less pressure you’ll feel and the more you’ll learn about yourself and your preferences. One client used to tell me she’d “go on as many dates as possible because each ‘no’ was just removing another fish from the sea.” She’s now engaged.
If you’ve been looking for Mr/Ms Right without success, you owe it to yourself to give online dating a try, especially if you haven’t tried it before. Who knows … these basic foundations for navigating online dating may deliver your perfect match, but even if not, they should help you leapfrog the most common obstacles.
Looking for more personalized support? Team Dabney offers one-on-one virtual and email coaching. Please contact us for a free consultation.
To your emotional health,