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6 Proven Ways to Succeed with Online Dating

6 Proven Ways to Succeed with Online Dating

Online dating is the greatest invention the world has ever seen. Think about it: it’s like online shopping for sex. You browse profiles, find someone you like and start a conversation. With any luck they will like you back and you can look forward to a new life of love, romance and passionate lovemaking.

In theory.

In reality, it’s like that game at the fun fair where you have to shoot a row of ducks but nobody ever seems to be able to hit the target. Fixed or not, it’s frustrating, and unless you’re a crack Marine Corps sniper, you will often go home empty handed. Online dating is a pain in the ass. As a “veteran” of over 60 internet dates and nearly 10 years of negotiating my way through the many, many websites out there, I know firsthand how arduous and frustrating it can be. I’ve made countless errors, put up stupid pictures, sent even stupider messages and had “sure things” vanish into thin air.

It’s this experience, however, that has enabled me to figure out what the hell I am doing, and I wish to share some of my tips and tricks with you. The following tips are for both men and women and they will hopefully spare you some of the failures that I went through.

1. It’s all about your main profile picture

Many online dating articles and products will try to convince you that what you write for your first message is the most important skill you will ever learn. This is true to a certain extent. For sure, what you write in your opening message and in your profile will dictate a lot of your success with online dating, but the single biggest factor is how someone responds to your profile picture.

It is the first thing they will ever see!

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While your opening message’s content will determine if someone clicks through to your profile, it’s that little thumbnail image that will determine if they open the message at all. This isn’t a universal rule but take women as an examplethe more messages a woman receives each day, the pickier she is going to be. Have you ever deleted an opening message based solely on the thumbnail image? I think everyone has at some point, and imagine how often you would do this if you received 20-50 a day instead of 1 or 2 a week.

Now you get it.

Most attractive women don’t even open all of their messages simply because they can’t be bothered to sift through them all. You have to assume that a quick glance at the thumbnails is all she is going to use to decide whether to open the message, so if your main image isn’t the single best photo you own then you are doing yourself a disservice. No cheesy topless shots, no stuffy formal pictures and no Myspace style self-portraits either—you want a picture that shows you are a relaxed, fun person who has an active social life.

2. The key to writing an interesting profile

It almost doesn’t matter what information you write in your profile as long as you are conveying sincerity and vulnerability. The best way to demonstrate sincerity is to write your main bio in a loose conversational manner without trying to “big” yourself up. This isn’t a CV; you aren’t auditioning for anyone, so don’t write it like you are trying to impress. It will come across as needy, and although you may have the sexiest picture imaginable, your chances of meeting someone are virtually zero if you sound like a douche.

Vulnerability is the essence of opening yourself up without fearing rejection. Are you a geeky chess player? Are you passionate about computer programming? Do you have a fetish for licking stamps? Don’t be afraid of telling people who you are and what you love doing. A truly attractive person is comfortable in their own skin and has the confidence to reveal their thoughts and feelings without caring what anyone else thinks. Ask your best friend or someone you trust to proofread your profile to check that what you have written is a fair and honest representation of your personality and you aren’t coming across like a crazy person.

Unless you want to attract crazy people of course.

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3. That all-important first message

Okay, you’ve sorted out your profile and taken some decent pictures, now you’re ready to send your very first message. What do you do?

First, don’t just send messages out blindly: you have to tailor the message to your goals and the person you are writing to. You don’t want to give a beautiful woman a physical compliment because it won’t have a huge effect on her. Likewise you don’t want to tease someone who comes across like they might not be the most confident person. With regards to messaging men, don’t be overly flirtatious as that can immediately set off their BS detector. Instead, give a man a non-sexual compliment and show interest in something from his profile. Guys, read that last sentence too—it applies both ways.

Common sense goes a long way here:

Read their profile.

Read it again.

Try to find something that most people may have missed. Does she love an obscure movie that you’ve also seen? Has he been to a country that you love? Is she doing a degree in a subject that you have knowledge about? Find something that you can grab hold of and use, whether that’s a specific piece of information or just a vibe you’re getting. Tailor your message around that. It’s hard to figure someone out based on just a few words and a picture or two, but you have to learn to go with your instincts. Unfortunately this will only come with practice, and the more messages you send, the better you will get.

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Online dating is exactly the same as meeting someone the conventional way—it’s purely a numbers game and the quicker you realise this, the better. The more messages you send out, the more replies you will receive. Research has also shown that the best time to send a message is on a Sunday afternoon. That is the time when people are generally bored and are at their computers searching for a bit of companionship after their failed attempts at meeting someone the previous night.

4. How to get away from the internet and on that first date

There are two main ways to transition away from whatever dating site you are using: the first way is a slower process but it’s probably the safest option, while the second is very “high risk-high reward”, but is the quickest method if done correctly.

Option number 1

The slower method is about building trust and rapport. The best way to do this is to suggest moving away from the dating site to a more personal method of communication. Back in the day this was MSN Messenger, but nowadays you could use Facebook chat or WhatsApp. The advantage of Facebook is that you can get more insight into who they are, see more photos, find out the kind of circles they hang out in. It’s slightly stalkerish, but remember; they will get to see everything on your profile too so it’s a fair swap.

WhatsApp is basically an instant messaging service that is available on iPhone, Android and Windows and it involves trading each other’s phone number. From here you can send each other messages throughout the day and it’s a great way to have some fun. After you have built up a little more trust you can then transition to speaking on the phone—hey, you have each other’s number anyway so it makes sense.

Option number 2

You can skip all of this if you want and just go straight for the meet up. To do this effectively you have to use your common sense (I’m sure you have some) and suggest this at the right time. In my experience I would do this after maybe 20-30 emails back and forth. This may seem a lot, but if you are trading several emails a day then this should only take a week to accomplish.

The way that I bring this up is with a casual, “you seem pretty cool, we should meet up soon” comment. It’s very vague amd doesn’t pressure them into giving an immediate answer, yet it shows that your intention is to meet up, not to have a new pen pal. If the response is in any way positive, then go right ahead and suggest a provisional date, like saying “Cool, I am free on Monday to Wednesday evenings and maybe Sunday afternoon; let me know what is best for you”. Give a few options, such as different evenings, mix in a daytime option and sit back and wait. I would say 75% of the time you will get a definitive date set from this, but if not, then as long as you keep emailing each other, you can try again the following week.

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Remember: as long as you keep chatting to each other, the interest is still there. Don’t feel discouraged by an initial “no”, as this could mean anything from feeling worried about meeting someone online to simply being busy with work. Keep building that rapport and don’t moan about it under any circumstances. Accept every decision and show that you understand. Be patient and respectful.

You can always revert back to option 1 at this point.

5. First date dos and don’ts

  • Choose the location yourself; preferably some place where you feel comfortable and that offers the opportunity to sit/walk side by side. Don’t go to dinner, the cinema or sit opposite each other—those promote a sense of detachment.
  • Act like it’s the second date already. Don’t start with an awkward hello and a million questions—chat like you would to a good friend.
  • Don’t offer to pay for a drink, just go ahead and do it. If they object, just tell them the next round is on them, (or next time if it’s only a quick meet).
  • The key to building rapport is to qualify and comfort. Listen intently and demonstrate an understanding or approval or what they are saying, then follow up with a similar story/example from your own life. For example: “I can’t believe you climbed Kilimanjaro, that is such a cool story—I’ve always wanted to do that but the closest I’ve got to that is a hike up Ben Nevis, which was cool in its own way because…”
  • Go ahead and talk about your online dating experiences—you can laugh about all of the crazy weird messages you each receive.
  • Don’t reveal how many people you have met up with if it’s more than 5 in a 1-year period, or if the person you are meeting is inexperienced at this.
  • If there has been some flirting and you feel that you have both enjoyed the date, don’t be afraid to go for the kiss. It is rare that you will receive a rejection and it demonstrates attractive qualities.
  • Use common sense, but don’t use fear as an excuse not to make the move.
  • Remember that you are not trying to sell yourself. Go in with the mindset that you are trying to find out if this person meets YOUR standards, not the other way round. Be friendly, flirty, funny and conversational without being needy.
  • Don’t ask for a second date—just state that you would like to see them again and you’ll be in touch soon to arrange something.

6. Finally, some important points to remember

You will have no doubt seen those tabloid internet dating horror stories, but they are so rare it’s not even worth worrying about. Meeting someone online is probably the safest method of dating. I say this because you have the option to check out everything about them before that first date, which is something you can’t do if you meet someone in a bar or club. If employers can use the internet to check out potential employees then you can do the same.

On a semi related note, make sure that the photos you have seen are genuine. If you can’t see their Facebook page or if their dating profile only has 1 photo then it is okay to ask to see a few more. I personally will never meet up with anyone if I haven’t had a good look at their photos. This isn’t being shallow at all, it’s simply reducing the chances of being conned into meeting someone who is 50 lbs heavier than their photo or is in any way trying to pass themselves off as better looking than they really are.

You can spot a fake profile a mile off; it’s really easy. If there is just 1 photo of someone with above average looks, little in the way of profile information, mentions sex in any way whatsoever, or uses their first and last name together then move on. It’s not worth the hassle. Similarly, guys: as you know, women don’t usually send out that first message so if you receive a message from a really hot woman and you feel uneasy about it, feel free to reply but beware—check those trigger signs I just mentioned and use your instincts and intuition.

Girls: you WILL receive messages from guys asking for sex. It happens, so it’s best that you’re aware of it from the outset. The majority of these guys are harmless and just lack social skills. The best way to deal with these is not to reply at all, not even a polite “no thanks”. Only reply to the guys that have put a little thought into the opening message.

So that’s it. Online dating is a bit scary if you have never done it before, but hopefully this guide (whilst covering the basics) is enough to get you started, and providing that you follow my advice about using your common sense and instincts, you’ll have a great time. Enjoy yourself and stay safe!

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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