Beginner’s Guide to Online Dating

6 minute read

By Jordana Weiss

Whether you’ve been single for a while now or you’re in the wine-drenched throes of a bad breakup, online dating can seem daunting. Fortunately, you can learn everything you need to know about online dating success with a search online.

You never know what’s out there until you look, and there are ways of making it easier on yourself so that you can be looking for the perfect person without becoming too overwhelmed. Check out our guide to stress-free online dating below.

1. Know what you’re looking for

This seems obvious, but many people sign up for a few different online dating apps without really knowing what they want. Are you ready to meet Mr. or Ms. Right and settle down to have kids, or are you looking for a few fun nights on the town with someone who you have some physical chemistry with?

Do some soul-searching and figure out what’s right for you in this moment. The great thing about online dating is that you can always change your preferences. Be honest about where you’re at, and you’ll be able to find likeminded people who are looking for the same thing.

2. Based on your preferences, pick the right app

There are so many online dating apps out there now that it’s impossible to sign up for them all. Ideally, pick one or two based on your preferences and stick to them for a while. If they don’t work, move on to a new one.

It can be difficult to keep up conversations on multiple apps, and you risk missing out on someone great because you’re overwhelmed with all the different choices. Some apps focus on relationships, while others are more vehicles for arranging one night stands. Choose wisely.

3. Write a complete profile

This goes along with the previous tip. If you have too many profiles on multiple different apps, you’re less likely to focus on crafting one great profile and more likely to skip over this part in order to move on to your next app.

Spend a bit of time writing your profile since it’s what people will use to tell if they want to spend time with you. Ask some trusted friends about what your best qualities are, and incorporate that info into your bio.

4. Don’t put everything in your profile

Some things should be left to the imagination. Use your profile to list pertinent information that you could have in common with a potential match, but leave out your life story.

That way, they’ll be tempted to ask you out so that they can find out more about you. If you write a gigantic profile, chances are most people won’t read to the end, and you’ll appear as if you don’t know how to censor yourself.

5. Save your comedy routine for the bar

It can be tempting to show off how funny you are in your profile, but be careful. Not everything translates well to print, and it can put people off if they don’t get your humor or if they take things out of context. Put your focus on being fun, not funny. Avoid sarcasm at all costs — it never reads well, and can make you seem sour and unfriendly.

6. Use a picture that looks like you

Some people get so caught up in the glamor of online dating that they use photos of themselves that have been airbrushed and filtered into oblivion. While no one wants to post unflattering photos, make sure that if you’re touching up the photo or changing the filter, it still looks like you in the end. No one likes to get to a date and find that the person waiting for them looks nothing like their profile pic — it projects a lack of confidence.

7. Don’t use selfies

While it’s a generally agreed upon fact that everyone takes selfies, using them in your online dating profile can make it seem like all you do is take photos of yourself. The ideal purpose of photos in an online dating profile is to let people know what kind of things you enjoy.

Take photos of yourself at a hockey game, or when you’re out at the bar with your buddies. Use photos that showcase your place in your community of friends, and ideally, photos that also show you doing things that you enjoy.

8. Don’t just send messages forever

Getting a message from someone who thinks you’re cute can be a huge ego boost. Flirting over text and email is super fun, but don’t sit in the ego boost forever. Eventually, you have to get up the courage to meet people in person.

Online, you can edit your response, and agonize for hours over the perfectly crafted message, but this doesn’t allow you to get to know someone. Step outside of your comfort zone and arrange a date.

9. Meet in a public place

Your parents have probably told you this a thousand times, but you should always arrange to meet someone new in a public place for the first time. Be cautious while you’re getting to know someone.

Plus, if you’re in public and things are awkward, you can always take a break to regroup in the bathroom while you figure out a plan. Don’t be shy about being out in public on a first date — people who work at bars, coffee shops, and restaurants have seen it all before.

10. Make your first date something quick

There’s nothing wrong with your first date just being coffee or a quick lunch. It gives you an opportunity to get to know each other without the stress of an endless expanse of time to fill.

If you like each other, you can always arrange to meet up again. If you don’t, you’ll be happy that you only gave yourself an hour to fill with awkward small talk.

11. Don’t feel bad if you want to leave

If you’re not feeling the vibe of the date or if you’ve made up your mind that you don’t like someone, don’t feel bad getting out of there. You’re under no obligation to stay. Be polite and honest.

You don’t need to make excuses for your exit, but if you feel like you want to, feeding your dog or cat, or tending to a sick friend is always a solid excuse. Don’t be a coward and sneak away — make your exit gracefully, but firmly.

12. It’s okay to be talking to multiple people at once

Everyone knows the best part about online dating are the options! While it’s not good to split your focus too much, it doesn’t hurt to be talking to a few people at once.

Online dating makes it difficult to give your focus to one person at a time, but just be aware of how many people you have on the go at once. Don’t just talk to people for the sake of talking — if there’s no spark, move on.

13. Don’t worry about taking breaks

If you’re overwhelmed and need to take some time off from online dating, do it! Don’t feel bad about taking a step out of the dating game for a while. Putting yourself out there, and being vulnerable can make you feel exhausted and discouraged.

Online dating should be exciting, but if it isn’t anymore, try to figure out why by taking some time away from it. Put your focus on self-care for a while, and work on both your physical and mental health.

14. Focus on what’s real

Many people are so excited by online dating that they’re desperate to make a deep connection with everyone they match with. Unfortunately, this just isn’t realistic.

Figure out what a real connection feels like, then pursue people whom you feel that with. Even if their profile pic is smoking hot, you can’t force a connection when there’s nothing there. Let it go.

15. Have someone you can vent to

Sometimes online dating can be tough. Find someone you can vent to who really understands where you’re at. It’s better to pick a few close confidants than to broadcast your frustration all over social media. Plus, your close friends will know exactly what to say to boost your self confidence and make you feel better.

Jordana Weiss