I consider myself a pro at online dating, and I say that ironically. After three years of downloading, swiping, meeting, deleting, dating, and re-downloading, I’ve pretty much tried them all: Match.com, OkCupid, Tinder, Hinge, Bumble. I even once filled out an eHarmony.com profile, but never followed through.
I’ve learned a lot through my years of maneuvering the world of digital love – about myself and other people – and oftentimes, people ask me, “What’s the craziest date you’ve ever been on?” “Do you have any horror stories?” “Do you see a lot of umm…inappropriate pictures?” To that last one, I’ve thankfully seen less than expected.
And while I haven’t been on any dates I’d classify as horror stories, I definitely have a lot of interesting stories. That’s one aspect of online dating that I find really fascinating: it’s led me to so many interesting people that I’m sure I wouldn’t have met otherwise. However, while Tinder and the like have the reputation of being “hook-up” apps, there are actually people on dating apps, like myself, who are looking for something more substantial.
I’ve had a few guy friends in the same boat who are extremely curious about the ladies’ side of things. “What makes you swipe right or left?” they’ll ask. “What’s a good way to get a girl’s attention?” There’s no right answer for these, as they vary for everyone, but to give you an idea of how I make my picks online, here are some online dating do’s and don’ts for the opposite sex:
Fill out your bio. I know it can be hard to write about yourself or come up with something super clever and witty, but unless I find you really attractive, a blank bio might warrant a swipe left. It doesn’t have to be much…a few describing words or even a joke is fine. I’ve found a good one-liner is a great conversation starter.
Send me to all of your social media accounts. Chances are, if I start talking to someone and we plan to meet up, I’m going to check them out on Facebook first, but for some reason, when guys list their Snapchat name, Instagram account, and websites, it feels very promotional to me. Yes, I’m on an online dating site, but I want a real-life relationship. Some girls might see this as a way of “getting to know people” better, but I’d rather do that in person.
Choose pictures wisely. We want to know who you are, not all your friends. It’s totally cool to include group photos, but make sure you have some solo ones too, so it’s clear which one is you. Pictures of you with your ex-girlfriend(s) aren’t great choices, and neither are pictures where you’re passed out, hitting up an ice luge, surrounded by a dozen empty cans, etc. I’m down for a rager every once in a while, but I’m also not looking to hit frat-level parties every weekend – college was 5 years ago. It’s nice to know you can have fun, but I hope late-night partying isn’t your only hobby.
Along the same line, headless body pictures are a turn-off for me. Pictures of the nether region are an immediate left, but I’m also talking about shirtless photos. (Leave a little mystery, guys!) I’m not interested in seeing a decapitated six-pack. Smiles are so much more attractive, and pictures like that make me think you’re only interested in the physical aspects of a relationship.
Message me with just a “hey” if we match. I know y’all are more creative than that. Saying something that kicks off a conversation is key, which is why the joke-in-bio is my go-to. People offer other jokes, tell me I’m funny, ask if I have others, which eventually leads to conversation. If you don’t have a knee-slapper (though there’s always Google), messaging someone with a question is a much better start than a simple “hi.” Something along the lines of “Hey, how’s your weekend going?” or “Hey there, how long have you lived in XX?” makes me feel like that person is interested and wants to put effort into talking, rather than making me carry the conversation.
Remember there’s a real person on the other side of the screen. Dating in your 20s – whether you’re looking for something casual, serious, or somewhere in between – is really tough, and you never know what the other person has gone through. Be kind, and ultimately, don’t say anything on the screen you wouldn’t say to their face.