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Match Me if You Can

Looking for love — or even like — in the digital age has its own special set of rules.

Lindsey Mills
January 28, 2019

You’re looking for The One. You’ve gone on blind dates, trusted the friend setups and worn-out the single-person-at-a-bar look. Everyone has apps on their phone, so why not download one that can help you find your special someone? If all else fails, you’ll probably have a couple stories to laugh about.

The digital age has changed a lot when it comes to our day-to-day doings — including the dating scene. Finding and nurturing a relationship has a new set of rules thanks to computers, phones, and a slew of online dating sites where singles can meet and mingle.

Technology has allowed millions of people to interact with individuals they might not have met in person, and has kickstarted thousands of opportunities that would have otherwise lain dormant. About 40 percent of Americans are on or have used dating apps, and 59 percent think online dating is a good way to meet people.

So how is one to navigate this type of dating scene in order to find a good fit, happiness, and perhaps love rather than a disaster, embarrassment, and disappointment?

Tips for surviving the dating world have evolved to include some of the same old-school etiquette our grandparents passed on to us along with some new guidelines for the dating scene that fit our evolving culture. From putting yourself out there, to following up after the first date, here are some suggestions for braving the online world in hopes of meeting your match.

Be honest
From the start and with every conversation that follows, it’s important to be yourself and to be upfront about what you want. It’s better not to waste your time or theirs with false pretenses. From what you write about yourself to the pictures you post, make sure you’re presenting you and not a version of you that you think will get some dates.

Don’t have your friend write your profile
A bio that reads “I asked my friend to describe me and this is what they said…” screams that you’re neither confident nor self-aware enough to write your own description. You know you. Acknowledge that, and tell people about yourself with enthusiasm and pride.

Use a good profile photo
Your profile photo is one of the most important parts of an online dating experience. While we humans don’t like to admit how shallow we can be, 90 percent of online daters’ interest in other people comes from the profile photos. This means that the photo is basically your best impression.

Use good grammar
Not only does it show that you have the ability to be a functioning adult, but good writing gives people fewer reasons to ignore your profile or messages. When you’re finished writing something, proofread it.

Be specific about you, not them
Saying you like to hang out with your friends and watch movies is wildly vague. What do you and your friends like to do? What kind of movies do you like? You’re more likely to attract a good fit when explaining you and your friends enjoy fishing on the weekends, then having a beer by the campfire, or that you love horror films, rather than putting out blanket statements that encompass 99 percent of the population. Be specific about who you are, but not specific about who they’re supposed to be, i.e., tall, blond, likes the gym. Being specific about the kind of person you’re looking for only alienates potential matches and makes you look obsessive.

Don’t play hard to get
You hopped on a dating site because you’re interested in meeting and getting to know people, so don’t act like you are suddenly too busy to meet and get to know people. Waiting too long to respond to messages and canceling on dates just says you’re not interested. If you like someone, respond quickly and show them you’re interested.

Meet quickly or make the break
Don’t email forever or let the relationship unfold over text messages. You might think you’re connecting while actually a lot is getting missed in translation. If you think someone might make for a good date, then go on a date. Online dating is a great tool for meeting people you wouldn’t have had the chance to otherwise. However, it is not a substitute for getting to know someone in person.

Safety first
Remember that no matter how nice and potentially wonderful your date may be, you have never actually met this person. Until you’ve met and talked in person, they are still virtually a stranger, no matter how many DMs you’ve exchanged. When meeting in person, be sure to make the first date public. Go somewhere you feel comfortable, and let someone know where you’re going and that you’ll let them know when you get home.

Learn about the other person
This has been a rule forever, but it never hurts to be reminded that you should never talk about yourself the entire time. Not only could it be a turnoff, but you’ll also fail to learn anything about them and whether or not you’re as interested as you think you are. This can lead to a relationship with someone you don’t like all that much. Ask questions and get to know the other person as best you can so that you’ll know important things early on.

Let them pay or you pay
Let the other person pay, or be adamant about paying. Nothing ruins the date like an awkward answer when the server asks if the ticket is together or separate, or asking the server to split the bill after it’s been delivered. Ladies, it’s perfectly fine to be old-fashioned and let the man pay. Be appreciative and say thank you. Or, if that offends your femininity, then grab the check and boldly take the bill.

Call the next day
If you had fun, and you want to see them again, call them. Be assertive in your interest and don’t wait for the other person to make the next move. If they like you too, they’ll be so glad you called. If not, then it puts an end to the guessing game so that you don’t waste your time and can move on to the next date.

Don’t be offended
The central element of online dating is the sheer volume of people involved. People move quickly and, as with anything online, have short attention spans. Every time you go online, you will see hundreds of potential matches. When you start a conversation and it ends within two messages, don’t respond later by insulting the person. Instead, just focus on the law of large numbers.  

Tips for Building Your Best Profile

  • Post those action shots: People who post pictures of themselves doing activities tend to get more messages.
  • Be positive: Even if you’ve had dating fails, don’t list them or use language that insinuates a negative outlook.
  • Smile: The pout? The majority of people are actually not into it. Smiles receive more messages.
  • Keep it short: While it can be easy to write a long, rambling profile, most won’t read a whole life story. Simply list who you are, how you live your life and the kind of relationship you are seeking.
  • Be specific: If you love traveling, list where. If you read a lot, write out your favorite books. Matches are easier to find this way.