You’re working full-time and trying to finish up college at an acceptable time, and let’s be honest there is NEVER an acceptable time for that, but you want somewhat of a normal dating life and yet you have no time to find someone worth your time, what do you do?
In an age where most of us ladies spend our time in a situation just like the one I just told you and still expected to show up to that mixer or friend’s wedding with a decent date what are your options? Online dating of course, and no, it’s not as desperate as it seems, over 40 million American’s use online dating on a daily basis. You see and hear commericals for websites like Match.com and EHarmony.com everyday and you know that little girl on the Eharmony commerical is adorable.
Which site is for you?
With so many different choices out there, you have to make sure you pick the right site or app for you and what you’re looking for. The amount of dating sites, whether free or not, is insane. Yet, the categories for them are pretty basic. You’re either looking for friendship, a relationship, or a hook up (in general). Although there are sites for specific needs and desires, here are some of the most recommended picks for the three main types of needs:
Looking for Friendship
Sites like Meetup.com are mainly geared toward friendship, though although it is only listed in the “friendship” group, it is the most popular dating site in the United States as of the June 2014, with over 9.5 million users. Another popular site is MeetMe.com. These sites allow you to get into contact with other people in the area, or just people in general. Most people get on these types of sites because they are new to an area and are looking for people to hang out with, go to a movie with, have a drink with, and/or vent about their work problems to.
My favorite site is Girlfriend Social, which is for women who are new to an area to meet up with many like minded women. Though, if you already run into people randomly, it might get awkward. I’ve had customers pop on my feed, and they then come in store and avoid me. Don’t worry, it’s not always like that. I’ve met some great ladies from Girlfriend Social!
The type of people you can find depends on the site you choose and how you present your profile. Though even though they may be listed as a friendship site, I guarantee you someone will be on there looking to hook-up with you. You can block and report them, which I think is the best feature a dating site can have.
Looking for Relationship
Sites like Match.com, Plenty of Fish (POF.com), Zoosk.com, and OkCupid.com are a few of the most popular sites for people looking for something more than just friends, and more than a hookup. Three of these sites offer free options that are decent. I’ve tried out all of the above sites, and I have to say POF’s free version was my favorite. Second best are OKCupid and Zoosk. I was not a fan of Match’s free option. It limits you way too much, and you almost have to pay for a month or two to get anything out of it. I canceled my account almost instantly.
Since these are free dating sites, you are bound to meet more than a few sleazes. You can’t get worked up about something someone says online, trust me. I’ve learned to walk away from my computer and phone when guys get rude or mean. You just need to go have a glass or two of wine and then go back to deal (or not deal) with it. On POF, you are able to set an age limit on who you are looking for, and if someone doesn’t meet your requirements they cannot contact you. This is probably the best part of the entire site.
Looking for a Hook Up
Now, if you’re just in the mood to find someone to burn some calories with or kill some stress, an app like Tinder is your best bet. It uses your Facebook information and photos, so there is no hassle and you do it all right from your phone. Bonus! Plus, people cannot contact you unless you both like each other’s photo. They also give you the option to block someone if they get too creepy – and trust me, there is a huge chance that will happen. If you’re looking for more on Tinder and hooking up online, look here!
Look for Easy Access
Most of these sites, whether free or not, offer an app for your phone, both IOS and Android. You can also set up your profiles through the app, so if you’re like me and decide to do this halfway through your second, or third, bottle of wine – no computer is needed.
You should also do your own research on the sites. Ask your friends and family and see which ones they recommend; there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Online dating is something our generation has come to expect and the stigma it had years ago is no longer a huge deal, so take advantage of it ladies!
Constructing Your Profile
Deciding what aspects to show of yourself is one of the most important parts of online dating. You want to be genuine and real – showing off your personality and interests without revealing too much or seeming overbearing. You want to give a realistic impression of who you are, so you can attract someone who is the best match for your personality and interests. I know – it sounds overwhelming already! Here are some fabulous tips to help you through this critical stage.
I’m serious, so many people lie on their profiles, so don’t be one of those people! Answer as truthfully as you can. Be honest about your age, what you look like, your career, if you’re a parent, and other critical pieces of information. You can gloss over some things like past relationships, dating habits, your crazy obsession, or even crazier ex – because some things are best left to the future. But otherwise, be truthful about who you are, what you like, and what you’re looking for. Show your hobbies, interests, and mention if you’re looking for someone who likes the same. If you have any deal breakers or things you need in a relationship, make sure those are clear. That way, you’ll be more likely to find your match.
Don’t Limit Yourself
Eharmony has the most detailed questionnaire, because they try to find the most perfect matches for you. The only problem is that sometimes they can’t find someone for you at all. Bummer. So, even though you’re trying to be truthful, make sure your answers aren’t too strict and self-limiting. Are you looking for a guy that’s over 6 foot with muscles, a cute puppy, a high-paying job, chiseled jawline, who loves to cook, and can also do yoga? Good luck. You don’t want to go in with a list of things the “perfect guy” needs to be – until virtually no one would be a good fit for you. Be realistic about your potential match – and make sure that guy actually exists out there. It may help to narrow down your deal breakers and must-haves, and then let all those other details go.
Show Your Hobbies
Be very descriptive about the kinds of things you like to do, so your match gets an idea of who you are and the things you both have in common. Think beyond what you like to do in your free-time alone, like catching up on re-runs of KUWTK and snuggling your cat. Think about the types of activities you could do together. Are you a wine & dine kind of gal? Coffee dates and window shopping? Would you rather go to a club, a low-key piano bar, or curl up with a movie instead? Are you the outdoorsy type, or a party girl (which you probably are if you’re here…)
If you don’t actually like an activity like hiking or camping don’t put up that totally Instagram-worthy photo of you looking over a canyon flashing your sorority hand sign. You’ll end up embarrassing yourself on your first date when he thinks it’s a great idea to take you hiking up a trail. Imagine if someone you know in real life see’s your profile. Would they think it represents you? Or would they call you out it, hardcore? This is where the beauty of having a friend read over everything before you post it. They won’t let you do something that could embarrass you.
Similarly, don’t fall into cliches. Yes, you love long walks on the beach and watching sunsets, but who doesn’t? Pick something that you know you love, and that’s unique about you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think anyone will find it interesting. You need to be true to yourself.
I think this one is pretty self explanatory. You don’t want to come off as uneducated. Make that english class you paid for worth it. I think everyone knows the power of a comma, but most people forget about it. It can change the entire meaning of a sentence. Please, please, please do not be one of those people that uses texting language for everything. We are adults, use your words. It’s not cute, and saying LOL in your profile looks super creepy. Why would you laugh at yourself?
Have some worries about your grammar? Spell check everything, or use the “phone a friend” option and have them take a look over everything. Like I said, there is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about (except writing lyk this 4 ur prfoile).
Be Picky About Your Photos
Pick photos that you feel beautiful in, but don’t reveal too much about you. I don’t recommend that photo of you doing a kegstand in your college sweatshirt, for any site. Pick a nice headshot with that killer smile, and a photo that shows your entire body dressed nicely. I don’t mean a nude, but a full length photo of your beautiful self! You’d want to know what kind of shape your guy has, and he wants to know the same. You want to find a photo that highlights all of your assets, without bringing them to too much attention. My first jump is to always pick a photo that my boobs look good in, because I think they are one of my best assets, but that gives guys an instant attraction (or turn off) without much thought to the person behind the photo. You should also avoid photos that have your butt/stomach/vagine/etc hanging out.
Pick a photo that is recent. If you do end up going out with a guy, everything is going to come out, especially when it comes to photos. Don’t pick a photo that looks nothing like you anymore. He’ll know if you’re no longer the size 2 you were in high school, or look 5 years older (nothing wrong with either of those, but still doesn’t represent you as you are today). Pick a recent recent photo in good lighting with a non-distracting background. Don’t pick a photo that is at an awkward angle or at a Halloween party that you barely remember. Put your best foot forward, ladies!
You can also have some photos showing things you like to do, whether it’s yoga, hiking, concerts, or chillin with your adorable puppy. It’s a great instant conversation starter.
On the flip side, photos of you with girlfriends actually turns a guy off. From a guy’s perspective, it makes you come off as someone who isn’t independent, can’t handle being alone, and runs to their friends for every decision. You want to look confident and self-assured, as you are!
Meeting Someone Awesome
So, you’ve created the perfect profile, and you’re searching through a sea of potential partners to see if you can find your perfect match. But, what should you look for? Aside from washboard abs and chiseled features… how do you know if this guy is a winner, or a scrub? How do you present yourself in the best light in messages, and follow through to seal the deal with a date? Most of all, how do you respond to those crazy, creepy, weird messages from that guy you’d never be caught dead with? Don’t worry, girl. I’ve got you covered.
Look for Similar Interests & Conversation Starters
To find the best match, look for someone who you can start an easy, comfortable conversation with. Did you go to the same college? Do you also love running marathons, eating sushi, or that chic little bar across town? Do you want to cuddle up with (him and) his cute puppy? Perfect! That’s an instant conversation starter, and thing you can connect on. Similar interests make sure that you’ll have some solid small talk, and some base-line compatibility, before moving on to a date (where you’re locked in to at least an hour of conversation). You’ll want to make sure you’re messaging him for something more than his charming good looks (though, that’s definitely a plus).
Don’t go for the guy that has nothing in common with you. If you’re a party girl, and he’s a concert pianist or opera singer – or you’re from the city and he’s a farm boy that’s never been – you may find yourself stuck when it comes to conversation topics. Sure, it might be interesting to see a new perspective at first… but if their passion is totally boring to you, do you want to be hearing about it every night? Probably not.
Don’t Get Catfished
We all know most of those relationships end poorly. People are impersonated on the internet every day. If you’ve seen the same picture of a guy on two or three different profiles, your best bet is to avoid those people at all costs and to report them to the website. Not everyone who looks like a model on a dating site is actually a fake, but people who use photos of actors and musicians and try to pass if off make it pretty obvious. Similarly, if you see a photo that’s awkwardly cropped or looks edited significantly, it very well may be. We live in a world where there are things like reverse photo lookup and reverse phone number look up. Use it to your advantage. If you look at someone’s profile and you notice that hey have tons of photos with no friends tagged, the fakeness is real. If you get the feeling that someone isn’t being completely truthful, either call them out on it or drop them like it’s hot.
Constructing a Message or Reply
If you decide to take the first step and message a guy first, make sure your first message is interesting and eye catching. You don’t want to send him a little message saying “hey” or “hello”, because I can guarantee that he has received multiple just like it. Highlight a common interest, or something you liked about his profile. Make a joke or a corny pick up line. Be original, don’t just pick one you’ve heard a thousand times. Pick the one joke you save for when someone is really upset. You need something that’s going to make him think, “Wow, this girl is someone I could see myself with.” It should not be a rant about some pointless thing just to start a meaningless conversation.
When constructing a reply, first consider if he’s someone you’d be interested in. The guy may not meet a single one of your criteria, but if he sends something more than a “hello” message, which shows he actually was interested in you and your profile, he may be worth responding to, just to see what he has to offer. Sometimes, a great conversationalist can be a great dating partner, even if you don’t think you have things in common at first. See where the conversation goes, and lead it to any common interests, or prompt with questions to discover new ones. In getting to know someone online, it’s important to get a feel for their personality and if they’d be interesting and fun to meet in person. If he just replies with “lol” or “haha” after all the work you put into a joke or reply, please do not automatically throw your phone. He may not know what to say, but it can only go up from there. If he’s regularly replying with one word or short answers, take the hint and move on.
Don’t Give Out Too Much Personal Information
Save some things for your first date – especially any information that might be revealing, sensitive, or overly personal. Some things are best said in person. I wouldn’t recommend giving out your last name or phone number until you truly believe that you could see yourself dating this person in the future. A lot of guys will ask you for your phone number right off the bat, usually using excuses like, “I don’t have much service,” or “I’m running low on data.” If it’s within the first two days of talking to him, reply with something like, “Let me know when you’re back in good coverage,” “Well, message me back when you’re on wifi,” or “I just don’t know you well enough to give out my number.” Don’t feel pressured into giving up any information you don’t want to. You have to protect yourself. You’ll know when you feel comfortable.
Keep Personal Space
If you think someone is getting way too personal too fast, trust your gut. Stop messaging him, and if that person continues, report and block him. There’s definitely dangers of online dating, but you can avoid them if you protect yourself, your full name, your phone number, and details about where you live, go to school, work, etc. Wait until you’ve met in person (in public) and have met a few times to start going into details about where you’ll be on what times and days. This is true for all types of dating! I would also caution you against using photos that reveal too much, whether it’s personally identifying information or something more risque. Your photos travel elsewhere on the internet.
Look for Out of Place Cues
Telling if someone else is being truthful is probably the hardest part of online dating. Always check the guy’s photos for a wedding ring and any other signs of marriage. Is he cropping pictures that look like they’re with another girl? Does he have photos with a baby – or mention that he’s a father? These aren’t necessarily reg flags – but they are worth mentioning and asking about to see if there’s another woman still in the picture. Protect yourself to the fullest extent. If he won’t call you in the middle of the day or after work, but he will around 10 p.m., on his drive home, or while walking the dog – there is a good chance he is hiding you from his wife, girlfriend, fiance, baby mama, etc. If there’s another women involved trust me, she’ll be angry about it – and you don’t want to be on the other end.
Going on a First Date
Now the timeline for making the transition from online dating, to talking on the phone and texting, to finally meeting in person – is completely up to you. You should feel like you know enough to feel comfortable with him, and that you actually might see it going somewhere. In general, he should be someone you’d actually be interested in dating in person – not just someone who is fun to talk to online. Keeping the conversation going online can get a little hard, and you might feel like,”Why was I interested in you?”. This is a fact of life. If you talk to someone that you never met for an extended period of time, you start to lose things to talk about. Don’t let that happen. If you’re having a good conversation, and are interested in meeting, bring it up! Talk to him on the phone before meeting up with him. I find someone’s voice can reveal a lot of things about them, and the questions you ask along with the voice he uses to answer can reveal a lot more than a text or a message. Once you’ve done that, use these tips to set up your first date.
Casually Meet in Public
Picking a place to meet is probably one of the more important things you’ll have to decide, other than picking your outfit. Places like coffee shops, going out for food, or an upscale bar are all good places to meet someone. It gives you the option to make jokes and conversation, but it also doesn’t pressure you to make things work. If it’s going well, great! If it’s not, you can absorb yourself in your coffee, food, or cocktail. On the flip side, don’t pick a super trendy restaurant that neither of you can afford, or a super romantic place that will put the pressure on you. Usually, it will feel very forced and filled with expectations of romance, wealth, and being whisked away to some fantasy relationship. Keep it casual, simple, and fun. You may even want to try a low-key yet adventurous activity, like ice-skating, a wine tasting, or a beer garden with a good view. Enjoy your time with someone and be proud of yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone.
Use Stranger Danger
You don’t want to meet in front of your apartment, or at a quiet park in some never-traveled areas of town, with someone you barely know. Make sure you meet at a public location that you know well – not in a maze of roads you’ve never heard of in his town. Make sure you have your own transportation and can leave whenever you please, so you’re not dependent on him for a ride. Always let someone (a friend or a roommate) know where you are going and who you are going with. It’s even a good idea to give them his name and phone number, just in case anything happens. Never left a drink unattended or in the hands of someone you barely know. Anyone can slip something into your drink, whether it’s your date or not. This is true for all dating scenarios in the beginning – not just online dating!
Don’t Give Up Easily
Online dating can be pretty difficult. Maybe the website you chose is pretty boring, and the guys just want to hook up. Or, you go on a few bad dates, and then change your mind on what you want from the relationship. Go back to the basics, do some research on other dating sites, and re-evaluate what you’re saying on your profile and how you’re responding to messages. You may even want to consider paying for a site, depending on how serious you are. You’re not going to find Mr. Right on the first try, and if you do, more power to you. But like my mom always told me, the longer you wait, the more ready he is going to be for you, whether it’s tomorrow or three years from now. A great guy will come along. Don’t settle, you’ll find him!