10 Tips for Online Dating

Online dating

“Kevin, this woman is the most adorable creature I’ve ever been in contact with, and if she turns out even to be as good-looking as a mailbox, I’d be crazy not to turn my life upside down and marry her.” You’ve Got Mail – 1998

When You’ve Got Mail came out, internet dating was still in its infancy, and a line like the above, set moviegoers’ hearts aflutter. It was cute and in no way a red flag that Tom’s character might have been a bit of a fantasist. Corresponding with a stranger was just like writing to a penpal right, and nothing but true love could come of it.

At least that is what the shareholders of meetme.com* wanted you to believe. Except the reality was that, even back then, people were posting photos that were ten years old; inflating their profiles with hobbies that didn’t exist, and boasting of moonlit walks on the beach that had never been taken.

Many a first date ended before the coffee was cold because of profiles that were more fiction than fact.  It was also not as innocent as movies like You’ve Got Mail, The Perfect Man or Must Love Dogs portrayed it as. Sadly – murder, rape and financial fraud trials that have begun with “they met on the internet” have only increased over the years since those films first appeared.

Currently, however, over 380,000 kiwis have a profile on Tinder alone. So why do singletons prefer searching for a date online, when there are far more hard luck stories than successful ones?

Because finding a partner on the net is now considered a social norm, and it is so much easier to sit at home and go through a hundred or so profiles than it is to go out and start chatting to one person at a social event and hope they text you back within a week.

If you want to be one of the success stories and minimise your risk of becoming a court statistic, then I recommend you follow the ten commandments of internet dating.   

1. Be honest!

As already mentioned, posting a non-recent photo of yourself or creating a profile that doesn’t match the person you are in real life is a sure-fire guarantee to not getting a second date. Likewise, whilst your profile shouldn’t be a CV of all your accomplishments, hopes and desires, it should contain the truth about yourself. For example, do not tick – exercise regularly –  if you only went to the gym that one time in 2017 when they had an open day.

2. Don’t believe everything you read.

Just because you are honest in your profile, doesn’t mean everyone else is going to be. Overseas studies report that 81% of online users tell fibs about themselves and that one in ten profiles are fake, used by scammers to gain personal information about you for their gain. If someone’s profile comes across as too good to be true, it probably isn’t. 

3. Keep the long or intimate conversations for when you meet.

Treat the dating website/app like the introductory service it is. Once you have established that you have something in common during a general chat, arrange to meet sooner rather than later. Online chatting aims to arrange a meeting between two like-minded strangers, not to figure out the names you are going to call your furkids/children.  Beware of being asked to share intimate photos or engage in sexting immediately (unless a hook-up is all you want too). Remember you have no idea of who you are actually talking to and what you share online is extremely easy for someone else to share with the rest of the world.  

4. Meet in a public place.

Agreeing to meet in your home or theirs for the first time is a bad idea. Even if you think it is just a hook-up, and no matter how good you think the chemistry is online. Always agree to meet in a public space like a café first and make your own way there. You don’t want to be reliant on them taking you home if the date turns out to be a dud or makes you feel unsafe.

5. Tell a friend or family member you are meeting someone. 

 Yes, there is a risk that your family member/friend might think it funny to follow you and say something embarrassing to your date, but it is less of a risk than not having anyone able to raise the alarm if you don’t make it home.  Be sure to let your date know that someone knows you are with them too.

6.  Notice how they treat/speak about people.

If you are chatting online first, do they talk about their ex or others in a derogatorily way? It is okay to say they and their ex split because they wanted different things. It is not okay to say they think their ex deserves a good kicking and wishes something horrible would happen to them. How someone talks about others is a good indication of how they will treat you.

7. It should be a conversation, not a monologue.

During an online conversation, it is okay to give some details about yourself but be sure to learn something about them too and be wary of someone who only talks about themselves or only wants to know about you. If they only want to know about you, they may be scammers or have something to hide about themselves. If they only want to talk about themselves, they may be trying to gain your sympathy and setting you up for a scam. Or they may have a narcissistic personality that does not make for a good life partner.

8. Date one person at a time.

As much as it might feel like you are a kid in a candy store with so many people to choose from, resist the urge to go on a different date every night. This scattergun approach to dating rarely works out; just ask anyone who has been speed dating how hard it is to remember details about ten different people in two hours. It is also easy to fall into the trap of comparing dates against each other, rather than based on individual merit.  

9. It is okay to take a break

When swiping left or right, or scrolling through endless profiles becomes something you do to fill in time rather than a quest to find someone you like, it is time to log out and take a break. The same take a break rule applies if you feel that having an empty inbox or no new matches means you must be unattractive or affects your self esteem. It is okay to take a step back from online dating whenever you like. It is why most apps and dating services do not offer long term contracts and the ability to cancel at any time. Dating is not a compulsory pastime. 

10. Be dateable

Before you sign up to any dating service or app, ensure that you are in the right frame of mind and are doing it for the right reasons. It is not an easy way to get over someone else, as your hurt and baggage will accompany you on any date you go on. Nor should it be something you do because you are lonely or looking for someone to complete you. If you want to be one of the internet dating success stories, then be sure to make sure that you are the person you would like to be with first. You know – no baggage, self-confident, fun to be with and a good listener.

My seven-week programme, Attracting the One, will give you insight into who you are and what you need in a partner. I will also help you gain the skills and confidence to date without fear, and attract the person who is right for you. You will also learn how to create the foundations of a relationship that will ensure its longevity.

Give me a call to discuss how I can help you get ready to meet and attract the partner who is perfect for you.

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Ann Jay

Ann Jay is a Wellington Relationship Counselor who provides marriage counselling, couple's counselling, and relationship coaching for couples and women either in a relationship or single. Her goal is to help people create healthy, loving and fulfilling relationships and experience the love they deserve.