You’re making progress…
- Dating profile. Check.
- Unique user name. Check.
- “Had me at hello” headline. Check.
- Fabulous (and honest) photos. Check.
- Clear (and honest) “what you’re looking for in a partner.” Check.
- Well-written (and proofread) “about me.” Check.
Okay, so all that hard work is done. Congrats!
What’s next? Well, hopefully you –
- set your intentions
- visualize (daily) the outcome you want
- speak (daily) a few kickass affirmations
- understand it is a process with ups and downs
- are willing to be patient and open minded
First, some practical matters.
Although most sites provide platforms for communicating (everything from “winks” and “nudges” to chat forums), I recommend creating an email dedicated solely to online dating. You will use the email as you move through the process (starting with emailing, moving to telephone and finally meeting face-to-face, with the lucky ones who pass muster!).
Concerned about cyber safety? Quick tips:
- Open a PO box for registering with dating sites.
- Change your cell phone billing to the PO box to protect you from reverse look-ups.
- Block your cell phone caller ID so that your name and number do not appear when you initiate a call.
Getting ready to communicate, step by step.
- Start with a plan. Set aside between thirty minutes and an hour per day to read profiles and respond to communication—even if you just want to say, “No thanks.” That is important and takes up time too. If you have dedicated time for seeing to your online dating, you’ll have greater success. Don’t just do it “on the fly” or in stolen moments. Get home from work. Get comfy. Sit down and have at it.
- Read the whole profile. Apply the Golden Rule. You want people to read the profile you worked hard on, so return the favor in advance. It’s not all about the photos…. It’s true that we are visual creatures and, sure, their photo may have sparked your interest, but their words will tell you so much more.
- Read closely. Skimming not recommended. Read what they wrote. Read between the lines—what’s missing? Check tone—how does each person communicate? Heartfelt? Humorous? Sarcastic? Arrogant? Sincere? And then listen to your intuition. Did this person take the time to write a self-reflective, well thought-out profile?
- Discern and decide. Does this person have the goods? For you, that is. Is he or she interesting and in possession of key traits you are looking for in a partner? Similar relationship goals? You get the picture.
- Make contact. When someone interests you, reach out! Do not wait for the other person to make the first move. It could be a long wait. Not because you are not awesome, but because people are weird sometimes. What can I say? So try a wink, kiss, or a nudge. Or, if you prefer, a little private message saying, “You look interesting!” See below for more on reaching out.
- Sunday afternoon. Not kidding. Studies have shown that is the best time to send messages if you want a response.
- Use a name. If you use the profile name, or the first name if provided, it is respectful and reassuring. No pet names, please, like Sexy, Hottie, Baby. It’s a big turn-off.
- Grammar. For Pete’s sake, check your work. You don’t have to have a PhD but you do need to sound literate.
- Think first. Before you click “send” make sure you have put some thought into what you are saying. Remember they are evaluating you as you are them. You want so sound natural and comfortable in your own skin, it’s true, but that doesn’t mean you have to blurt.
- Ask a question. It sends a wonderful message that you are paying attention, that you are interested, and that you have time for him/her. Ask about something you read in the profile—a hobby, something you share in common, pets, movies, books, anything really.
- Look closely at the responses you get. Does the person seem to be answering perfunctorily—as if you were one item on a conveyor belt—or does he/she elaborate, respond to what you said or how you said it, inject humor or a personal touch?
- Show sincere interest. Just as you are noticing the kinds of responses you get, so is everyone else. Genuine interest is flattering and you can make a lot of headway with it. If you talk only about yourself your interest in the other person is not very evident.
- Build a connection. Showing interest and asking questions—and building on the answers you get with further (sincere) questions—are ways to do this. But follow your gut. And follow the lead. If this person sounds funny and upbeat, show that side of yourself. If he or she is more serious, or shy, or tentative, or outgoing—whatever it is—respond in ways that feel appropriate for forging a connection with this particular person. You will not respond or reach out in the same exact way with everyone (or they’ll feel like they’re on a conveyor belt).
- Balance sharing with asking. If you bombard someone with questions you may sound like a drill sergeant. Rather, show interest and ask and respond to what is offered to continue to draw the person out. On the other hand, be sure you share as well. Don’t hold back (except to protect your privacy of course), especially if you are asking for, and getting, honest responses. It should never b
e all about one person. If it is (either you or the other), there is a problem.
- Move on to email. After 10 to 20 messages suggest you communicate via email. (NOT TEXT!)
- Move to the phone. After a while, it will be time to use the phone and hear a voice. (Again, do not use texting to communicate—unless you are saying you are running late or asking what time to call.) Phone calls will give you more insight into this person of interest. Voice, tone, speech are all the beginnings of chemistry.
- Face to face. In time, you either are not interested, or you are. If the latter, phone calls can only go so far. Time for a face-to-face meeting. Always keep safety in mind. Remember the person you are meeting is a stranger and should be treated as such. Meet in a public place, tell your friends or family where you are going and whom you are meeting. Set an hour time limit. If it goes great, there’s always the next time—so keep it short the first time, just in case it does not go great. Enjoy the experience of meeting someone new! You may or may not connect with every person you meet face to face. Keep an open mind and try not to be attached to the outcome.
Remember this process—from creating your profile to meeting a wonderful person you want to see again and again—takes time. Along the way there may be disappointments and rejections. Not everyone can click with everyone. How exhausting if you had to have coffee with every profile that showed up in your inbox! And besides, don’t think of it as disappointment or rejection. Think of it as clearing the way for what is meant to be.