Basic Dating tips


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General Tips

Online dating has its set of dos and don'ts, its etiquette which you need to learn and master, e.g. what to write in your profile, your emails, what kind of photo to put, when to give out your phone number, 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 own 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.

Numbers game

Even in online dating men are initiating the first contact more often than women. This is probably because male profiles outnumber female profiles (data from 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 and icebreakers, so it's your profile and what your write about yourself which will set you apart.  After creating an informative and catchy Ad, you can generally start out by sending a simple message to the people you are interested in: "Hello, I am xxxx, I liked your profile, and would like to get to know you better. Please write me at *your-email-address* if you are interested." 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 to them, you might be just wasting your time (e.g. religious preferences & smoking habits).

Informative Ads

The importance of clear and informative ads 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 less the number of useless responses you receive. An intelligent person should spend a good amount of time looking at other people's Ads, because selecting dates or a partner is probably the most important thing we do in our adult life. With that, 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. Communication should evolve from email exchanges to telephone conversations (for security purposes, just to avoid the offhand lunatic out there, make sure you have the other party's number), and then to a personal meeting for a lunch or coffee-first dates always in the daytime, less stressful for both parties. After that, it is all genes and chemistry. Let's 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.

Don't be shy in your profile, or try to be overly politically correct. If you think you don't want to go out with people with kids, say so. If you have some particular preferences for physical attributes, height, body weight, etc. do mention them clearly. You save yourself unnecessary communication, and so does the other party.

It is a bad idea to be negative, whine, or complain, in your ad, even if you've had some unsatisfying dating 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, until you feel really ready to meet new people again. 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."


Screens and Searches

Use the screens or the searches available on your dating site wisely (How to select a dating site?). You can screen for people living close to you, choose physical attributes, religious preferences, smoking and drinking  habits, and many more categories. Yahoo even has a 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.


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 new people. By being upfront about putting your personal ad and your photo on a dating site, you are embracing the future.

The primary photo is a very important part of your personal ad. This is the photo which shows in search results and when people are casually browsing online dating ads. If this is bad, people won't even bother to click and look at your profile! The ideal primary photo is a head shot, or about a quarter of your body height, so you can see the shoulders. It should be bright, your face clearly visible (brightness can be adjusted by software), with you looking straight into the camera.

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 give the impression that you are a normal social human being. This is specially true if you have kids - putting a secondary photo with your kids gives an excellent first impression.

Avoid using sunglasses in photos. Do not be provocative or too revealing (most sites will not even accept such a photo).

Screening out after the responses

After you have some responses from people who you would like to know more, you start the second screening process. Remember that it is likely that the people writing to you are also writing to other people. Therefore, some email exchanges will just cut off very abruptly; this is a part of online dating which people find very difficult 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 started to get to know someone interesting, normally with you exchanging emails with them, you may want to keep an eye out to see 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 they look. So ask for more photos, and ask directly if they are single or in a relationship.

Online Dating Safety

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.

Always exchange phone numbers. 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 absolutely 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.

To summarize:

1. Meet in the day time, in a public place, for a coffee (e.g. Starbucks). Do not meet for a drink in the evening in a bar etc. for the first date.

2. If that is not enough, consider informing a friend that you are going on this date and the name of the guy and his phone number. When you do meet him tell him that you did this-this will deter him from doing something silly-knowing that someone already knows that you are seeing him. If you have a cell make a phone call telling your friend that you are finally with the guy who you wanted to see.

3. If even this makes you uncomfortable, show up with a female friend at the place where you fix the date with your guy. Make the guy meet your friend, say hello to her-and then ask your friend to leave for an hour or so (go shopping, etc.).

Go meet them-the first date!

Your goal in online dating contacts, emails, instant messages, and phone calls should be to arrange a face-face meeting as soon as possible. That's when the fun really starts-everything before that is just a preparation for the first real life meeting (date). So give your your phone number fast, ask them to call you, etc. with that single goal in mind-I want to meet this person in real life as soon as possible. Of course during the time when you are conversing with them with emails, instant messages and photo calls-you should feel that the other person is a good fit for you and has not said anything completely strange. But the take home message here is to arrange the first date fast after you feel that there's nothing really wrong with the other person-and avoid falling into the trap of trying to get too much in information just from emails, instant messages and phone conversations. They are a limited way of getting to know someone-and the real test is the face to face meeting.

Handle/Nickname/Username on dating sites

The most important parts of your online dating 'experience' are (in that order of importance)

1. Your online dating profile-who you are and what you are looking for.

2. Your primary photo (your primary photo is the most important photo-that's the one which shows in online dating search results when people are browsing profiles online)

3. Your headline

4. Your handle/nickname/username

The only thing to remember in choosing a username is not to be too crazy-don't choose psychofemale or lovesex or something like that-all else is completely fine and you should do well. I highly recommend highly neutral usernames e.g. NewYorker3443, because then people are more likely to read your headline, your profile and see your photo-which is what you really want. Don't distract them by a weird username is my strong recommendation.

Long Distance Relationships-they can work!

There is a common myth in the world, especially the online dating world, that long distance relationships don't work. People believe often times that the long distance is the CAUSE of the relationship failing. This is not true. Consider this:

-Plenty of pilots, flight attendants, military personnel, who are traveling constantly and have sometimes fairly long separations from their significant others, have really nice and stable relationships.

-There are a lot of divorces and separations in small towns between people who have lived in these small towns all their lives.

From these two one can conclude logically that distances are not a major factor in relationships (not the make-or-break the relationship factor).

Therefore, in online dating, don't rule out matches which are not in your town. Of course you shouldn't be writing to Latvian women if you have no chance of being in Latvia, but the idea is-keep an open mind, and do not rule out long distance matches. If you are living 200km from a big city which has  a lot of singles and online dating profiles-do contact these people, make a trip once every few weeks to set up some dates, and meet these people! Don't be disheartened by distance!

Dealing with last minute cancellations and people standing you up

If you are in a big city, you will certainly have some unpleasant last minute cancellations and sometimes even people not even showing up on the first date. This problem is unique to big cities because people are going out on a lot of dates every week in big cities, and are likely to change their mind at the last moment more in a city than in a small town where dating frequency per week is lower. It is also because the "accountability" factor in big cities is lower-you are not likely to run into the person you canceled the date with. However, because this is one of the most unpleasant experiences for online daters, some tips are in order.

-Make sure you call your potential date a few hours (lets say 6 hours in advance) to see if they are still meeting you at the appointed hour. You can also text message them on the cell phone to confirm this.

-Make another phone call 15-30 minutes before you start out to meet them, just to make sure they are as keen to meet you as you are to meet them. This is a MUST DO-without this don't risk going out of your way to meet someone. I have seen many people get stood up cold because they didn't do this. If your potential date doesn't answer your phone call, do not go. There are exceptions of course (e.g. if they don't have a cell phone, or have already informed you that they won't be available for receiving a phone call because they are at work, etc.) but in 99% of cases you must give them a last minute call to see everything is set for you first date.

-It is also advisable to set up your date near to where you live or work-not where they ask you to go. In case you are stood-up at least you waste less time.

-Good behavior by you encourages good behavior by others, and you should likewise never cancel a date if there are less than 24 hours left. Do go and show up, even if it is for a 20 minutes coffee. Respect your commitments, and much like obeying traffic laws, this will help you and everyone else involved with online dating.

Big cities, more possibilities

If you are in a small town your possibilities are lesser than in big cities-there simply are not that many single people online. Much like in a business-your market size is much larger in big cities than in small towns. But don't be disheartened, there are a couple of good ways to get around this problem (and this is a very serious problem if the town you live in is really small).

Make your "place where you live" in your dating profile the largest big city/metropolis close to you. This is not the same as you looking in that city for dates-you should declare that you actually live in the big city. Why? Because people in big cities won't even respond to profiles from other towns and cities-they have plenty of profiles to look at in their city! You want to show up in search results and casual browsing in the big city, and that means you should put your "place you live" in your dating profile as the big city itself. Your responses rates will be multiplied many times over if you declare the place you live to be the biggest city close to you.

If you are not close to a big city-hopefully there is a big city which you visit often, or can visit often (have friends, family), make that city your "place where you live". Then in your profile declare that you live in two places-do not say that you are visitor to the big city! Just say that you spend time in both places, because of your work, or just because you like the small town air for relaxing. But in the standard box question of "where you live" only the big city must show. There was a time when I lived in a small city and went to a bit city for 5 days every month almost exclusively for online dating! It worked like magic!

You can still contact all the people you want in the small town you live if you declare in your profile that you live in two places-one the big city, and the other the small town where you actually live. The people in the small town you live probably are not getting too many responses to their ad-and will respond to you anyway, if they see in your profile that you spend time there. You can also clear this up with them in the first contact email you send them-tell them that you actually live in their town and spend quite a bit of time there, but live in the big city as well for work or family or friends, for example.

After finding food and shelter, finding love and a good partner should be the right priority (higher than a good job or good salary) and you may even consider moving to a big city simply for online dating, to improve your odds of meeting singles. This may lead to a substantial change in your lifestyle and even a drop in your living standard, but if finding love and a good partner are big priorities for you, moving to a big city for a few years, primarily for online dating, is a very smart thing to do.

I highly recommend you visit his website, which is constantly updated with new ideas and insights, which may not appear here.

Useful Links Online Dating Business Blog

Dating Advice, Articles, etc.

Online Magazines

Personality Tests related to Love, Relationships, etc.

Sites reviewing the various Online Dating Sites


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This site was last updated 04/12/11