Why Online Dating
Screens and Searches
Writing Good Personal Ads and Profiles
The Donīts -Common Mistakes and Changes
After the Emails
Why Online Dating
Should you take online dating seriously?
A September 2004 survey of 4,743 newly married
or engaged couples registered on Weddingchannel.com showed 12 percent of the
couples met online.
The Internet is the best way to find a date.
Most often our problem in finding dates and
compatible mates is that we donít run into enough people everyday. Most
people meet their dates through contacts with common friends or
co-workers, or their hobbies and social groups-karate, volleyball,
etc., or chance meetings at a bar or night club . When you are single and
looking, you are doing well if you are meeting someone
interesting to go out with every couple of months.
But Internet dating changes all that. You date
with ten times the frequency (as I did!) and 10% of the effort.
Throughout this article my personal experiences
will be written in italics.
Before I started dating online, I was going out
with someone new once every 3-4 months. After I started dating online, I was
going out with someone new every 1-2 weeks, and this went on for years. And
these are just the hard results. Imagine the actual number of women who
I was corresponding with! It was three times that. I simply couldnít
respond to some women because I didnít have the time! Not too bad a situation to
be in for a guy in his early thirties.
Online dating does have its set of rules and
etiquettes which you need to learn, e.g. what to write in your profile,
your emails, what kind of photo to put, etc. Same as learning a new set of
social customs in a new setting, whether you start out to night
clubs or make a move to a new city or country, the online dating board
also has its set of rules. And the faster you learn them, the faster you
start reaping the fruits meeting lots of new people, going out a lot, and having
a good time. No more of those weekends where you are left
alone watching a rented movie.
A recent study showed that about 29 million
Americans, or about 2 in 5 singles, used an online dating service. There
are more than 50 million personal ads or dating profiles on the
various Internet sites (many people use more than one site). So you
know that there are a lot of people doing this, and as always, the
people who understand the new medium better, will be the ones who get
the best results.
Online dating is less stressful!
I remember one time reading about a book which
mentioned good pick-up lines to initiate conversations. Since I am an
experimentalist by nature, I immediately went to a bar and tried using some.
I would take a shot of Tequila, because really I was very nervous, and
walk up to a girl to chat her up. Well, no luck. I might as well have thrown
darts in a dark room. I was way too anxious, the whole thing was too
stressful, and I realized that this is completely not me.
Online dating and the use of well-directed
personal ads to get to the audience you desire is quite different from
trying some random pickup line in a bar about how good someone looks or
asking out the reception girl at the Airlines office. In almost
all real-life situations, there is a lot of anxiety involved in asking
someone out. It is common for you to visit a restaurant over and over to
finally get the waitressī phone number, or to go to the gym even when you
are tired after a long dayís work, so you can run into that tall
blond guy again (and the last three times, you have barely said
Hello!). It is just too much energy spent in initiating the first contact, or
in getting someoneís attention.
With online dating, there is no such anxiety, no
wasting of precious time or energy chasing Uma Thurmans or Brad
Pitts. You upload your ad, you send some nice small messages to
people to make them aware that you are interested in them, and just
WAIT. Soon you will get some nice responses.
At least single and looking!
Another advantage of online dating is that the
people advertising on these sites are single and looking to meet
people. Now that may sound like a minor thing, but it is very
important! In real life situations, about 60-70% of the people you meet
are NOT single at any given moment, or not ready to date anyway (still
ending their previous relationships, generally not feeling
well, etc.)-so your chances of meeting someone SINGLE and LOOKING
are something like one in three. That guy who works in the
office below you has a girlfriend somewhere in New York, and you are
getting unnecessarily excited about him. So much energy in this world
is wasted on asking out or getting to know people, only to realize
that they already have someone! When you meet people online, they are
single and looking (there are a small percentage of people who are
lying-but we wonít worry about them....they exist in real life too,
we all know too well...), and that makes the process much more efficient.
You are better off trying to communicate with people who are
interested and are ready to get involved with someone.
I canít even count the number of times this has
happened to me. I would get to know someone through the gym playing
volleyball or she would be working in another group in my company, and I
would meet her and get all excited. And then she would tell me she had a
boyfriend, and I would feel the little deflating pinch of that little balloon of
love pricked by a needle.
On occasion, I have gone out with women who had
boyfriends or who were' married. In the end, it was way too stressful,
there was too much insecurity (will she leave me for him, is she seeing him
behind my back, why does she always says he did this better...), too much
baggage, and I ended up feeling very bad about the whole thing.
There are no such hassles with online dating.
Of course people can lie, married people can go
about pretending they arenít, but when you have a nice pool of
single people to choose from, when you the ability to get to know a lot
of potential partners on the Internet, there is no reason to get
yourself into problem relationships.
Letís be practical. In the end it doesnít really
matter how you meet people - be it in a bar, through acquaintances,
or on a plane ride. The Internet is just a very fast and efficient way,
Numbers game-initiating contact
Even in the online dating world, men are usually
the ones making the first move. This is probably because male
profiles outnumber female profiles (data from amigos.com). However, for
both parties, romance is still a numbers game. What that means is: get
ready to contact a large number of people.
People are inundated with virtual kisses, winks
and icebreakers (dating site jargon for first contact with
someone who interests you!) , so it is your profile which will set you apart.
One can generally start out with a simple message "Hello, I am xxxx, I
liked your ad, and I would like to get to know u better. Please write
me at *this-emailaddress* if you are interested." Attach a copy of your ad
and photo if you can in the message. This needs to be done
with many people, and hopefully you will get some responses. This
email is an invitation for the other person to come and have a look at your
profile - the profile should do the talking. Long introductory,
tailor-made emails are a waste of time - because people are getting lots
of emails and will often ignore a long-winded email. You need to send a
simple "first contact" email out to a lot of people, and soon you
should get some good responses to your Ad. Do read the ads of the
people you write to carefully before writing, you might be just
wasting your time (e.g. racial or religious Preferences).
Years ago when I had this long period without a
girlfriend, I was thinking about strategies to improve my chances with
women. I would see some nice girl in my company, and I would meet her, and
would wonder about how I could convince her to go out with me. I would
consult a friend, who is
considerably older than me, happily married with
kids, letís call him George. So I would ask George what I could do to make
this girl go out with me. And he would say-you canít do anything. Just ask her
out, if she goes out with you, well and good. If not, find another one to
ask out. It didnít make sense at that time, but years later, after dating many
more women, and then dating so many off the internet, I realized how right
George was. It is a numbers game, and the more you roll your dice, the better your
chances are. Rejections mean nothing to me anymore-it is simply a dice roll
gone bad. With Internet dating, I just have so many dice rolls!!!
In my early online dating days, I would look at
a profile, and really get interested in a particular girl. I would read
her profile carefully and tailor write my first email based on that, looking for common
things, etc. I realized that this was a waste of time- I often did not
receive responses to my well thought out greetings. Thatís when I decided that my
time was better spent writing a simple message to many more women than
fixating on a particular one. I had not grasped the notion that Romance
is a numbers game, especially in online dating.
When I began using the ďform letterĒ first
contact approach, and wrote to many women in my area, I got lots of responses.
All this time of course I already had a nice profile representing me
accurately, so when they looked at the profile, they got to know me, and if they
found me interesting enough, we would go out on a date.
Screens and Searches
Use the screens or the searches available in,
for example, Match.com, Yahoo Personals and Amigos.com wisely. You can
screen for people living close to you, choose physical attributes,
religious preferences, smoking and drinking habits, and many more
categories. Yahoo even allows you to screen based on sense of humor
type (nothing funny about that...). Learning to use these screens
will save you
considerable time-by narrowing down the pool of
potential candidates quickly.
One major dating site says that both men and
women are 15 times more likely to look at a profile with photos
than one with no photos.
It is surprising how many people are still shy
about putting their photo online. They are scared that the guy they
work with, or another acquaintance will discover their profile and
somehow that makes them uncomfortable. Well, guess what, those
other people are the ones who are behind the curve. Online dating is
here to stay, and you must be completely comfortable with putting a
profile on the Net, with photos, to look for a partner. This WILL BE
(it may already be) the most popular way to meet people. By being
upfront about putting your personal ad with a photo, you are embracing
The photo is a very important part of your
personal ad. The ideal photo should be a head shot, or maybe about a
quarter of your body height, so you can see the shoulders. It should
be bright so that facial features are clearly visible (brightness can be
adjusted by software). If the site allows you to put more than one photo,
and you have good photos, go ahead and upload them all. For the
secondary photos, photos with friends and family are a good idea
because they generally give an impression that you are a normal social
Donít be too harsh on judging yourself if you
are tall, short, not photogenic, fat, or whatever. You are what you
are, and the purpose of the photo is to show yourself to the world.
Of course, the photo should be best one you can get, so think about
getting it enhanced by a professional studio. If you take online
dating seriously, there is no reason not to put your photo out there;
eventually you will be meeting these people who you are emailing or
chatting with in real life.
Avoid using sunglasses in photos. Do not be
provocative or too revealing in your photo on the profile (most
sites will not even accept a photo like that).
Writing Good Personal Ads and Profiles
Whether you are looking for a serious long-term
relationship, a casual relationship, or just to make friends, you still
need to go out and find those people who you are interested in, and who
are interested in you. The Internet is by far the easiest way to
find them. And the first step is to have a well-thought out and
well-written online dating Profile.
The importance of clear and informative profiles
cannot be overstressed. Not to mention that if you just
say "I am looking around to meet some people, was just curious", a lot of
bored people from Germany will be writing you! In general, the
more information you put in your ad, the fewer useless responses you
will receive. An intelligent person should spend a decent amount
of time looking at other peopleís ads, because selecting dates or a
partner is probably the most important thing we do in our adult lives.
That being said, keep in mind that even after
you have started meeting people, you may not get "hooked up"
right away. Give it a few months at least before you get some results.
Letís face it-love is hard to find. But at least if you are going out
with a lot of people, meeting new people quickly and efficiently (a
key advantage of online dating), you can expect to find someone to fall
in love with faster-and thatís the best you can do.
Donít be shy in your Ad, or try to be overly
politically correct. If you think you donít want to go out with people with
kids, say so. If you have some particular preference for physical
attributes, height, body weight, etc. do mention it clearly. You save
yourself the trouble of unnecessary communication, and so does the other
Another thing to remember is that it is
generally a bad idea to be negative, whine, or complain, in you Ad, even if
youíve had some bad experiences or relationships in the recent past.
In such cases maybe it is better to be single and just smell the roses
for some time, because the least you must have is a desire to meet
someone with a smile.
However, mentioning negative details in a
matter-of-fact way is fine, e.g. women saying "Men who are not looking for a
committed relationship please do not write."
The best way to write a profile is to imagine
yourself meeting someone new for the first time in a casual setting- a bar, a coffee
shop, or at a friend's party. Think about the kind of things you would
about yourself to this person- your dating profile is the same idea extended over the Internet.
The Donīts-Common Mistakes and Changes Suggested
Here is a collection of real examples of typical
mistakes have made in their Internet dating profile, and my
suggestions to fix them. Keep in mind that online dating is very competitive-if
you come across as boring, overly-sexual or negative, you may not
get any good responses to your ad. Thatís why I sometimes
call these mistakes
..."I am a funny, witty person...."
Funny and witty people never write that
directly. Instead of saying this, add a touch of humor to your profile.
..."I was just bored, so wrote my profile
A negative attitude. Instead, say, "I am new to
..."I am an honest, spontaneous, creative
(..other personal adjectives)
Very few people think they are not, this is very
subjective (same as the fact that 80% people believe that they have an
IQ above average!). Avoid using personal adjectives in your ad.
Define yourself concretely-better to say I am a guitar player in
a band or I write Novels or I am a cardiologist than I am creative
..."I want a guy who can make me laugh..."
Comes across as negative-you sound slightly
depressed if you need someone just to make you laugh. Thereís plenty
of stuff on the TV to make you laugh, and you are not looking for a
joker, you are looking for a boyfriend, a mate...remember?
..."I like blonde women, but if you are
dark-haired and good-looking, write me anyway, maybe you can change my
Turn-off to both dark-haired and blonde women.
Make up your mind, if you are looking for only blonde women,
just say so. Donít play both sides of the coin, generally
backfires. Better not to say anything if you are not sure.
..."I like taking walks by the ocean, or
watching TV, or going camping with my friends..."
Unimportant details. Most people like these
things, and these are hardly important details in finding a partner
(it is unlikely you wonít like going out with someone just because they
donít like walking the beach or watching TV with you) . The section of
"Hobbies" is where you put these things, and more specifically-e.g.
snow-boarding, or watching/playing basketball.
..."I am sexy, flirtatious,... I like kisses on
my back, full body massages from my boyfriend/girlfriend..."
Keep the sexual innuendos out of your profile.
You will have plenty of time to exchange raunchy emails if you are
addicted to writing sexual stuff... but in the first impression,
keep it out. Think about it this way-would you say this to a guy or a girl
in a bar who you met for the first time? If not, then donít say it in
your ad either.
..."I hate smokers, dislike people who donít
like pets, canít stand selfish people, etcÖ."
It is okay to say that you donít want to date
smokers or selfish people; but tone down the language. Do not use strong
negative verbs like Ďhateí, Ďdislikeí, and Ēcanít standĒ in your ad
Ėthey give a bad impression about you to people who are
non-smokers or who like pets.
..."I am looking for a REAL man/woman, with all
the letters or REAL..."
Sounds like you have had some bad experiences in
relationships, but that's over now. Come with a positive attitude
to online dating, ready to meet new people. Bitterness in a profile is a
."I am not interested in guys who are bitter and
No one is. Use the ad mostly to tell people what
you like, not what you donít like. Agreeability is a must have in
."I broke up with my boyfriend recently, thought
I would meet someone nice to hang out with onlineÖ"
Remove the details ĎI broke up with my boyfriend
recentlyí. You are single and looking, and that is enough. You can
share these details later in email or phone conversations. You can probably relate to some of these
mistakes yourself. Sometimes a small mistake can ruin a generally
well-written ad (e.g. a sexual innuendo dropped offhand-I like
caressesÖ). Your profile is not a soap-box where you mention whatever comes
off the top of your head. You are trying to represent yourself,
get the attention of the other party in seconds, and any mention of
something negative is enough for them to ignore you, and move on and
continue browsing other Ads.
Now that you understand what
not to write in a
profile, letís go over what you should write in one.
Follow a factual but casual approach to writing
your personal ad. You want to let the people get to know you, but at the same time,
your ad shouldn't come across as a boring resume. Sprinkle it with some humor,
exclamation marks; make it fun and interesting.
A good profile has 200-250 words, with 150-200
words for yourself, and 50-100 words describing the kind of person you are
What does a good profile contain? Your life
history, your goals, your achievements? Should you mention that you are
feeling lonely lately, emphasizing your sensitive, emotional side? Or
should you write something cool and cocky? What are people
looking for in Ads, consciously or subconsciously?
Discuss your career history and plans. What kind
of jobs you have done, what your future career aspirations are,
etc. These are generally looked at as positive. Think of it as the first
conversation you are having with someone, donít we usually talk about
we do? Excellent stuff to write about in a profile. Be brief, of
course- you donít want to go on and on about selling shoes, delivering the
mail, or designing and fabricating cars, for that matter.
If you have children, mention about them. This
is an important part of your life, and interests the people interested
in dating you. Mention their ages, and if they live with you.
If you have moved around a bit in your life,
mention the places where you have lived. It gets more people interested
in you and wanting to write to you. For example, if you are presently
living in Los Angeles but have lived in Dallas, someone who has a
Texas connection is more likely to write to you. If you have lived
internationally, all the better people are always interested in life in other places
If you have just moved to where you are living
now, mention that. People like playing tourist guides. They are
eager to know new faces from other parts of the country or the world.
They can also help you settle down in the town more easily-so even if
nothing happens romance-wise you can always make some good
If you speak a foreign language, mention that.
It attracts attention. Along the same lines, mention a little of your
family genealogy, as most people find that interesting as well (e.g.
I have a Scottish or Chinese mother).
Mention how you entertain yourself. This is
where you can be funny and witty, so exercise your imagination. Mention
about your social circle. Are you a social person? Do you have
many friends? Do you go out with them a lot? What activities do you do
with them? If you have a good relationship with your siblings, your
parents, and your family, mention it. Mention if they live close to you,
and how often you see them.
Mention if you like pets, and have any of your
When you are talking about the person you are
looking for, be clear in your requirements. But make sure you donít limit
yourself unnecessarily. So if you donít want to date men
who have kids say so. Or if you have a naturalistic bent of mind and
would like to date only people who respect that philosophy (must love
nature and animals) then go ahead and mention that. But again, be
careful-you are restricting potential responders here, so put
things only if you are quite sure what your potential partner
absolutely must or must not have.
Mention if you are looking for a stable
relationship or if you are just looking to make friends and will see how things
go from there (looking for nice and interesting people to hang
After the Emails
This section deals with what you do once you
have your Inbox full of emails from people wanting to know you
Now starts the second screening process.
Remember that it is likely that the people writing to you are
also writing to other people. So some email exchanges will just
cut off abruptly, this is a part of online dating which people
find very hard to digest at first, but it happens in real life
too. It is just that in real life maybe we get clued in a little
better when someone doesnít want to communicate with us anymore,
plus they are more polite-they will say they are busy with work
so they wonít be able to go out, etc. Get ready for some rude
disappearances on the Internet-but donít take them personally.
It is just people optimizing their time and spending their time
communicating with people who they feel they will get along the
best with. And if you have lots of responses, as I did, you will
sometimes act the same way-even if you are not a rude or
impolite person in real life.
Once you have made initial contact with someone
interesting, normally with you exchanging emails, you want to
see if there is mutual interest. you may want to keep an eye out
if they have been lying. A recent study found that men are most
likely to lie about whether they are in a relationship, and
women about their physical attributes and how good they look. So
ask for most photos, and ask directly if they are single or in a
Once this is taken care of all else is simply
upon the two people involved. Communication should evolve from
email exchanges to telephone conversations, and then to a
personal meeting for a lunch or coffee.
You are better off meeting in a public place, so
that it is easier to leave if you find yourself unimpressed or
losing interest (It is much harder for you to ask someone to
leave your house!). Also meet people first time in a public
places for security purposes.
On many occasions, I have been excited about
finally meeting someone in real life, having exchanged plenty of
emails, a couple of phone calls, and even some photos. When I
met them in real life, I found that there was no chemistry
there, physically. In one case, the woman I met was completely
obnoxious and disagreeable to everything I said (and she wrote
perfectly wonderful and very nice emails and spoke quite well on
the phone too)!
This section is more for the women than the men.
Your chances of running into an offhand lunatic
are not any higher online than they are in real life, but some
precautions are new and apply only online. These are just safety
measures, and should not in any way make you paranoid or less
excited about finding love online.Think of it as just putting on your seat-belt in
your car-thatís all.
When you give him yours, take his. Call him at the number to
confirm that he has not lied.
Once you do decide to meet a guy, it is
important that you
have the first meeting in a public place. Do not meet a man in a
hotel if he is from out of town. Do not have him pick you up at
your house; you donít want him to know where you live. Before
going on the first date, make sure you inform some friend,
roommate or family member that you are going to meet Mr. XXX
finally, after having known him through the Internet. Give them
his number so he is traceable in case
you get into
trouble (you can always tell him that you have given his number
to a friend, so you have a card up your sleeve).
Try to enjoy Online Dating its supposed to be
I highly recommend you visit his website
which is constantly updated with new ideas and insights, which
may not appear in this book.
Feel free to send this Ebook to your single
friends and family members who are looking for love online!
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