Online Dating: Work or Play?

Hi all, my apologies for being MIA the last week or so. Life got in the way, which got me thinking…

How often do we take a back seat approach to online dating? How often do we think we don’t have to put in the time, but the dates will come rolling in anyway? My guess is fairly often. In fact, many people rarely put in the time needed to fill out their profile properly, then sit back and wait, hoping their inbox quickly fills to the brim with suitors.

Does your online dating strategy look like this?

Does your online dating strategy look like this?

 

The truth is, this approach simply isn’t realistic (unless you’re on a Bradley Cooper/Kate Upton level of hotness). For the rest of us, online dating takes a certain amount of effort.

If you put together a sloppy profile with half-thought out answers or, worse, left them all blank, expect your inbox to be blank as well. If your photos are outdated, fuzzy, or just plain unattractive (think weird, unflattering selfies), then don’t expect your date calendar to fill up.

In order to be successful, you need to be proactive– ditch the wait and see attitude. That means, take the time to set up an appealing profile, update it every few months to keep it fresh, set aside a few hours to wade through emails and profiles in order to decide the correct response (delete the ones who don’t make the cut), and maybe even reach out to a few people first.

Yes, in many ways online dating is easier, quicker and more convenient than traditional dating, but that doesn’t mean it takes zero time and effort. That is, unless you don’t care about results.

So maybe before dialing in to online dating, check with a few friends, read a few blogs, maybe even a few books, to see what you’re getting yourself into. If it’s what you’re looking for, dive in! Online, even a small amount of effort (relatively speaking) can have a huge payoff.

So go ahead, give it a try.

P.S. Happy “Everyone is a Liar” Day ;)

Shopping for Love

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They say online dating is like online shopping. Eager newbies shiver with tingles of excitement as they open their browser and start searching. After all, the possibilities are endless and they’ve been regaled with tales of “add to shopping cart,” then falling madly in love.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the advantages to online dating do resemble shopping. For instance, you have an organized selection right in front of you, similar to aisles of a grocery store. In the real world, you can be surrounded by loaves of Wonder bread, grade A steaks, and triple fudge ice cream all at the same time. Online dating, however, streamlines your “shopping” process. By choosing your search parameters and filing out a personality questionnaire, you can, in a sense, peruse the deli section and skip dairy all together if you’re lactose intolerant.

One of the problems with this scenario, though, is this: it eliminates the human factor, thus leading you up to disappointment. While shopping online, you can add items to your cart and they will magically appear there at time of checkout. But with online dating, there is no guarantee the guy will meet you off line, or even respond to your email.

But don’t get discouraged. You can still have fun shopping online for a date, just make sure your expectations are in check. If you’re ready to purchase, but he’s not ready to leave the store, move on. Sometimes we think we know exactly what we want. We’re craving a big, juicy steak, but wind up with the pasta primavera and couldn’t believe we didn’t order it in the first place.

Okay, so I’m mixing a million metaphors, but you get the idea. Have confidence and standards (a shopping list, if you will), but keep your mind and heart open. The process may seem long and frustrating at times, but don’t give up. Eventually you’ll be ready to check out.

What’s Worse Than Monday?

….making a list…

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Okay, that used to be my reaction to writing “to dos” down on paper, but I’ve been thinking a lot about goals lately, and how important it is to have them in life… and in love.

Now, I’m not exactly a check-list-o-holic. I’ve only recently starting writing things down because at the ripe ol’ age of 28, I can’t remember anything. But I’ve found that when I do, I become more productive. So it got me thinking… can we apply this to our online dating lives as well?

Here me out: I’m saying you have to write down EVERYTHING, but try writing down something. And no, I don’t mean write “find someone online.”

Try a check list like, “Chat with one new person this week,” or “go on at least one date this month.” When you’re able to check it off, you’ll feel like you’re making progress, will get less discouraged, and hey, maybe even push yourself to find that someone special.

Even more important is making “the list.” That’s right: the infamous checklist of what you want (and DON’T want) in a partner.

But don’t just think about it… WRITE IT DOWN.

It may seem like a silly extra step, but I promise, seeing it on paper gives you a whole new perspective…. and resolve.

So take two minutes, grab a pen, and put something on paper (or type it in your smart phone). It doesn’t take much effort, but it may save you time (and heartache) later on.

So with that, Happy Monday everyone! Here’s to a productive (and happy) week ahead!

Make ‘em Laugh

Men hear it all the time: women love a sense of humor. And although some may think it’s crap (and really, all we want is George Clooney), those who are less pessimistic will find it to be true.

We want someone who can make us laugh. We want fun, easy going, light-hearted.

Now, don’t panic, that doesn’t mean we expect every guy to be Kevin Hart, Chris Rock, Will Ferrell, Stephen Colbert, or Jerry Seinfeld (Yeah, I know I’m leaving out a TON). It doesn’t mean that your online dating profile has to read like an episode of Saturday Night Live, or contain more jokes than a Comedy Central lineup.

But it DOES mean your profile should include some sign of humor somewhere.

Don’t go to your Google bar and start typing in “comedy routines,” “jokes,” or “how to be funny without being creepy.” There are MANY different forms of humor.

For example, maybe you’re:

  • sarcastic, and can throw out quick barbs like nobody’s business (granted, sarcasm doesn’t usually translate well via type on a computer screen, but if it’s your gift, I bet you can make it work).
  • witty, and can string words together to make people laugh and think (more power to you).
  • goofy, and your odd-ball style of humor will have people holding their sides in fits of laughter (sometimes at you, sometime with you, but, hey, a laugh is a laugh).
  • dark, and your humor may scare some people, but will ultimately draw your kind-spirit (and you can laugh, together, at the pain of the world, possibly while wearing lots of black eyeliner).
  • off-beat, and no one gets that weird poop joke, except your soul-mate, who will love you all the more for your weirdness (just maybe don’t say “poop” in your profile).
  • a comedic genius, ala the greats, in which case, don’t hold back, let your greatness be known (the women will flock).

I’m sure there are other types of humor I missed, and I’m not saying go all out, especially if your brand of humor is less accepted in most social circles (i.e. poop and/or fart jokes). What I AM saying is this:

If you infuse your profile with even a hint of humor, you will be miles ahead of the others. We see hundred of bland, boring profiles a day, so make yours stand out in some way. We may not message you, but we’ll never forget you (and we’ll most likely message you).

To Sext or not to Sext?

While chatting with Virg about my recent post, Time to get Cheeky, I started thinking about Patti Stranger from Millionaire Matchmaker. She has a rule on her show that she calls, No Sex Before Monogamy. It’s pretty self-explanatory. So here’s my thought process on this (tell me if you follow): can we adapt something similar for online dating?

What if we said something like, No Sexting Before We’re Offline.

Of course, this applies only if you’re looking for a serious relationship. If your intention is to hook up, this won’t really work for you. But I think it’s important for everyone else.

We’ve all been there: chatting with a “nice guy” who is “looking for a relationship” and then…. WHAM! He sends a penis pic. Or more subtly steers the conversation toward sex. Or asks us what we’re wearing. Or if we’re into bondage.

Now, we may not always realize it, but letting the guy take us down this road leads us to Hookup Hilltop, not Relationship Ridge. Obviously, I can’t claim that sexting before meeting will never lead to a relationship, nor can Patti claim that sex before monogamy always leads to a breakup. However, it does set the right precedent, and let’s the guy know you’re serious, and have standards (not to mention self-respect). That can’t be a bad thing, right?

My friend E argues with this all the time. “I’m just a really sexual person,” she says. “I can’t help a sexual text or two, it’s just who I am.” Look, I get that she likes sex. Most people do. But you have to know when to lay down that card. Most (I say most) men aren’t thinking long-term if they’re already sexting you before you even meet. Sure, you can risk it, and see how it goes, but why not help yourself out? Don’t sabotage yourself before you even get started. Especially if you’re still texting more than one person.

So ladies, let’s say no to sexting. At least until we’ve seen the whites of their eyes.

Hmm… intriguing… I wonder if it’s worth a watch?

Time to get Cheeky? (A New Trend in Online Dating)

As we all know, the realm of online dating is constantly changing, and new technology is popping up all the time (Can anyone say Tinder?). But is all this change really making dating any better?

Cheek’d founder Lori Cheek seems to think so. Then, her idea of online dating evolution may in fact be a devolution. I’ll let you be the judge. (Oh, who am kidding? Of course I’ll judge too!)

Here’s how Cheek’d (and other sites, such as MeSayingHi) works:

You go online and create a profile. Doesn’t sound that much different, yet, right? Then the site gives you a unique ID Code. Okay, now we’re mixing things up. Next, you customize a set of calling cards, if you will. These cards resemble business cards, except instead of your company info, the cards contain a quirky, cute, cheesy, goofy, lame, charming (I’ll let you pick the adjective) pickup line. On the other side of the card is your ID code.

Now what? The next part is simple. Or difficult, depending on your personality. When you’re out and about, doing your thing, if someone catches your interest, you slip them one of your Cheek’d cards. Then, I suppose, you slip away mysteriously into the night.

The object of your interest now has your ID code and can go to the website, look up your profile and see if they’d like to date you. According to the Cheek’d website this is online dating, only backwards.

Let’s pause for a moment. Does anyone think this is going to work? For the sake of the argument, let’s say it’s just like handing someone your business card with “you’re cute, call me” scribbled on the back.” How often does that actually work?

My problem with the process is this: if I’m going to hand someone a card, I’m probably going to talk to them, at least for a second, and if I’m going to do that, can’t we both decide then and there if it’ll go any further? I think the draw of online dating is that you’re not face to face. In this scenario, your interaction is limited, but you still have to have the balls to approach someone.

Then again, maybe it’s the right amount of  whimsy, charm, and personal contact, without the higher risk of rejection?

So, is this in fact the next step in online dating? Or is it a fleeting fad? Personally, I’m not sure if Match should move over just yet, but I’ll let Lori plead her case:

What do you think?

 

What’s the Deal with Body Type?

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So today, I don’t as much have advice as I have a question:

What’s the deal with checking a multiple choice box for your body type?

This is the conversation I had with my friend S the other night:

S: Ah!!! I’m so confused! (Tosses her laptop on the couch and places her head in her hands.)

Me: What’s the problem? (I pick up her laptop and sit next to her on the couch.)

S: I’m supposed to pick my body type, but I can’t figure out which one I should choose.

Me: It can’t be that difficult. What’s your first instinct? (I scroll through the list of multiple choice options.)

S: Well, at first I was thinking athletic because I work out five days a week.

Me: Okay, so let’s put– (She cuts me off.)

S: But then I was thinking, I have hips and a butt so maybe I’m curvy.

Me: So then let’s– (Cuts me off again.)

S: But no matter how much I work out, I have this handful of fat on my stomach, so should I put that I have a few extra pounds?

Me: Well, I think that– (You guessed it, she cut me off.)

S: Of course, I’m thinner than most girls our age, so should I put slender? I mean, it’s all relative, isn’t it?

Me: You just need to– (This time I can tell she’s going to cut me off, so I shut up on my own.)

S: But then they tell you how men read into certain things, like, athletic means boyish with no boobs, curvy means fat, a few extra pounds means obese, and slender means no muscle definition. Ah!! (She throws herself back against the couch cushion and closes her eyes, whimpering.)

Me: I think we’re getting a little carried away. Here, let’s try this. (I close my eyes and randomly click.)

S: What’d you just do? (She peaks open her eyes, sees that I’ve made a choice, and she lunges for the laptop in a panic.)

Me: We’ve randomly selected that you’re slim/slender, which I think is just fine.

S: But–

Me: No buts. (This time I’ve cut HER off.) You’ve posted seven photos, three in shorts, and one in a skin-tight dress. If these idiots can’t tell what body type you have by looking at you, then you don’t want ‘em. Okay?

S: Okay. (She sighs, and appears slightly relieved.)

(I put her laptop away before she can stress over the lengthy questionnaire. Baby steps, people, baby steps.)

So what’s the deal with selecting a body type anyway? We post photos. Do people really overlook someone because they picked “slender” over “athletic?” Seriously, I’d really like to know.

Thanks.

Online Dating: Know the Rules (And the Secrets)

Has that much changed?

Has that much changed?

Ready for a cliché? (Online) dating is a game– so know the rules! That is, if you want to maximize your success. What do I mean by “know the rules?” Well, there are certain strategies that will help you get ahead- the trick is knowing your site, and their little secrets.

  • Have you noticed your profile activity is dwindling? You’ve been on the site for a month or two now, and your profile is viewed less and less often. Chances are, you’re now at the bottom of the search pile. But don’t worry; it’s an easy fix. Add a new photo! Most websites (Match included) will send you to the top of the search if you upload a new photo. The same goes for updating your profile information, but a photo is more of an attention grabber.
  • Sunday is one of the highest trafficking days for online dating, so don’t miss out! Update your profile a little before, then log on so members can see you’re active, maybe even chat!
  • Change up your search criteria. Do you feel like the site keeps showing you the same faces over and over? Your search criteria may be too narrow. Try altering a few details (add or subtract and inch from height, add a few miles to the search radius, subtract a few dollars from income desired) and see what happens. Some sites even allow you to save different search settings so you can alternate searches and mix things up. *If you’re on an algorithm-based site, it’s best to start narrow (so you’re not bombarded with non-matches), then update your info once a month.
  • Make sure you log in at least once a week, even if you don’t have time to search or check your inbox. Many sites allow users to search based on whether or not members have logged in recently. You don’t want to be filtered out because you’ve had a busy week.
  • Dismiss some gender based traditions, such as waiting for the guy to make the first move. Some sites allow women to have an “upgraded” membership for free, while men have to pay for features such as sending an introductory email. You could be waiting on him, while he’s waiting on you. I know it goes against the “norms,” and even your comfort level, but it’s not always wise to wait on the guys.

In the end, online dating is similar to “real” dating– you get what you put in. If you don’t fill out your profile, expect a low response rate, etc. Of course, that doesn’t mean to have to go over-board to “beat the system,” either. But if you know the ins and outs, you can better determine how much time and effort you want to invest. Know you, know your site, then get to know the other members. And have fun. :)

Online Dating: Cure or Disease?

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Whether we admit it or not, many of us dive into online dating with certain expectations. They go a little something like this,

Up until this point, love hasn’t been working out so well. I’m tired of just waiting around for the right guy to find me. It’s time I take things into my own hands. I’ll sign up for online dating and then I’ll find him! Let’s get this ball rolling.

With our war cry on repeat, we select our battlefield of choice, sometimes with very little thought. Match.com, eHarmony, OK Cupid, Plenty of Fish, Tinder… it doesn’t matter as long as I pick one, and whichever I pick, he will be there waiting…. asleep in Cyber Space like Sleeping Beauty in her castle.

We start the hunt, eager, hopeful, hungry… we click through profiles with voracity, certain he’ll be hiding in the next round of daily matches. Except… he isn’t there. Where is he? We search faithfully for a month or two, never giving up hope. Sometimes love takes time, patience, we tell ourselves. But in our minds “time” is one month, two tops. If we’re really diligent, we may even wait six months. Then in creeps the doubt, the disappointment, and even the anger.

Online dating was supposed to be my sure thing. Why didn’t I find him? Why didn’t it work? The commercials promised me it would work. What’s wrong with me?

Doubt turns into disdain and pretty soon we’re more depressed than when we started. The cure-all has become our disease.

But here is the secret, Friends: online dating isn’t a sure thing. Surely, it will offer up men in spades, and some will even be wonderful, dateable men. Some you may even date. One, you may even fall in love with; you may even get your “happily ever after.” And you may not.

A large, important component to dating in general is timing. Online dating can speed up the process, but it’s still all about timing. And no matter what you do, there are some factors you simply can’t control. But this isn’t meant to discourage you; rather encourage you.

You don’t wait around for love to find you, but you can’t always hunt it down and capture it either. Sometimes you have to live life and leave the rest up to time.

Consider online dating one weapon in your arsenal. It gets you out there, it opens doors. It promises only possibilities. So rejoice in the possibilities, dream, hope and see what happens.

Search Party

During my online dating stint I came to appreciate the “search” feature.

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Some sites, like eHarmony, place high stock in their ability to find your perfect match- without your help. They ask you to fill out a lengthy questionnaire, then tell you to lie back and relax– they’ll do all the work for you, that is, if you don’t mind putting your fate entirely in their hands.

As I’ve mentioned before, I found my last long-term relationship on eHarmony. However, I had to circumvent the system a tad and do a little searching of my own. How did I do this? I broadened my search radius (from 50 miles to 200) and took a chance scrolling through my “hidden” matches– eHarmony’s version of “maybe, I don’t know, what do you think?”

And there he was! If I’d left love up to eHarmony’s algorithms alone, I never would have found him. Side note: he was also out of my requested height range, but I found out that you can’t always put a “you must be *this* tall to ride this ride” sign on love.

On the flip side, my current BF was also outside my “desired” parameters, but luckily Match isn’t so stingy with its science. He was allowed to find me (search) and message me, and then the ball was in my court.

When I weigh the pros and cons, I can’t figure out why certain sites don’t allow a search option. Shouldn’t they maximize your potential by providing matches based on your questionnaire, AND allow you to search, going with your gut?

Bottom line: while online dating sites want to help you find love, they always want to take your money. The best way to do that is by giving you glimpses of love, but not sealing the deal… not for awhile at least. Ultimately, they want to tease you with attractive profiles at first (some of which may not even be active), then phase out slowly, dragging things along until you’re about to cancel, THEN they will start showing you members who may actually stand a chance at taking you off the market (and their site).

Okay, that may be a tad pessimistic (although often true), but my point is thus: stick with the search option, Sites. We appreciate it.