If you met your partner online 10 or 15 years ago, you might spend the rest of your relationship telling the little white lie you came up with at the time about meeting in the grocery store or at school. Any stigma is fading fast, though. According to 2012 statistics, 40 million of the 54 million single people in the United States have tried online dating, and about 20% of relationships begin online. These relationships aren’t just brief flings; about 17% of marriages begin online.
Online dating is particularly helpful if you’re new to a city or you just don’t have the time to get out. And while online dating still poses some safety concerns, it’s increasingly socially acceptable and provides would-be couples a chance to get to know one another before they take the dating plunge. Not everyone has a successful online dating experience, though, and research increasingly shows that some strategies work better than others.
Building Your Profile
It’s tempting to lie on your dating profile, and many online daters do. But a much better strategy is focusing on what makes you unique. Build a profile that you would find attractive. If you’re a literature lover or need a partner who adores big dogs, address this upfront. Stay away from platitudes and statements that are true of everyone, such as emphasizing that you like to have fun. Everyone likes to have fun, and in an increasingly competitive online dating world, such a profile won’t stand out.
While it’s tempting to choose your best photo, some online dating experts recommend making a more mundane choice. This helps you avoid creating false expectations, and will ensure you attract people who are interested in you for more than your photo.
Strike a balance between providing too much information and no information at all. Potential dates don’t need to know that you’re struggling with a divorce or that your dog just died, but an empty or unrevealing profile can be equally unappealing.
Making the First Move
Most studies show that women tend to get many more responses online than men do. This puts men at a distinct disadvantage when making the first move, so it’s important that first email stands out. Don’t just send a one-sentence response. Comment on something in her profile or share a story about yourself. People are much less likely to respond if they see nothing noteworthy in your message or if it looks like you’ve sent your message to hundreds of people.
Sniffing Out Fakes
Online dating is becoming a more competitive world. People sometimes hire professional writers to write their profiles, and some use fake pictures. Particularly if you talk to someone for weeks before meeting him or her, this can cause disappointments when you go on your first date. Start by plugging a person’s photo into a photo search engine to see if other results come up; if you find the photo on tons of other sites, it may be fake. Then cut and paste the text of the profile into a search engine to check for duplicates that don’t match the profile’s photo.
We’ve all heard that it’s best to meet in a public location and to tell someone else where you’re going. But the illusion of intimacy in online dating causes many people to abandon this strategy. Even if you’ve been talking to someone for months, you can’t be sure the person is who he or she says until you meet. In fact, many online dating crimes have occurred after two people have talked for an extended period of time. No matter how long you’ve been talking to someone, take basic safety precautions. And hang onto your privacy at least until you meet. Avoid giving away revealing information such as where you live, where your job is located, or any financial information.
- Campbell, J. (n.d.). The psychology of internet dating. Shippensburg University. Retrieved from http://webspace.ship.edu/jacamp/psyberpsych/Dating/Index.htm
- Online dating: 10 psychological insights. (n.d.). PsyBlog RSS. Retrieved from http://www.spring.org.uk/2010/09/online-dating-10-psychological-insights.php
- Online dating statistics. (2012, June 20). Statistic Brain RSS. Retrieved from http://www.statisticbrain.com/online-dating-statistics/
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