Online dating is a funny thing because it’s perhaps one of the most shallow ways to find a partner. Whether you’re on a dating app or just shooting your shot in somebody’s DMs, you’re basically assuming compatibility based off looks and some surface level information that may or may not be true.
Yes, it’s a little different than being introduced to someone by a good friend who knows you well, or bonding with your longtime work-crush outside of the workplace. You’re taking a chance on your personal taste and discernment, and that’s a pretty big deal.
But even if you have great taste in love interests, making a few missteps when dating online is still possible. In fact, you could be missing out on the perfect match right now all because you don’t really know what to do other than swipe right and hope for the best.
It’s all good, sis—we’ve all been there once upon a time. However, we didn’t stay there and you don’t have to, either! Ready to score a date that’s worth your time? Here’s a quick guide to online dating the right way.
1.) You’re there to meet people—not sell yourself.
Making a dating profile is a lot like advertising yourself. You put up your best pictures, talk about your unique hobbies, and make yourself sound as cool and desirable as possible with the 150 word bio they ask you to write.
However, selling yourself is not the best approach. Now, what do I mean by that? Attempting to convince people that it’s a good decision to swipe right on you or like your profile comes off as desperate and will ultimately attract the wrong people in the long-run.
When you let every person in the world know that you’re a woman whose a good cook, great in bed, empathetic, and looking for a soulmate as a way to attract who you want, you’re far more likely to attract men willing to use you for what you have instead of genuinely building a connection with you.
But of course, this is online dating after all. So you can’t completely hide yourself away, either. The happy-medium here is simply being yourself, but not oversharing.
This will give you the opportunity to be completely genuine and open about who you are and what you’re looking for without compromising any of your integrity or overexposing yourself.
2.) Leave your assumptions at the door.
“Every man on dating apps is just looking to hook up!” Does that sound familiar? It’s a common belief that many women who are disillusioned by the whole process of online dating believe, but it’s not completely true.
There are a plethora of men looking for many different things on dating apps and websites. Everything from marriage and building a family unit, to casual hookups and a nice FWB situation—it’s all there. So you can’t go around treating every man as if they want nothing from you but sex and basic companionship.
On the flip side, you can’t believe every man when they say they’re looking for something serious. They lie, too—and baby, that’s the honest to God truth. So you can’t take every seemingly serious person seriously, either.
The best way to get around this frustrating conundrum is to vet your suitors. Ask them the right questions, truly get to know them, and you’ll be able to use your discernment to weed out the phonies from the genuine men.
3.) Have conversations, not interviews.
Online dating is a bit detached as is because it’s not initially an in-person process. And in the age of “what do you bring to table” conversation starters, it can seriously come off as a job interview and not a love connection.
Simply put, stop doing that! Of course you want to know the answers to certain questions, but what’s the problem with naturally finding out the answers to those questions as you get to know your person?
Asking them personal questions like how much they make a year or if they ever cheated on a partner so early on is already a massive no-no, and it translates especially awful when you’re sending it as a DM on an dating app!
Girl, breathe. No, forreal—take a deep breath and just enjoy the ride. You might be looking for something really specific, but you’re going to scare the men away with intense question asking if you carry on like this.
4.) Learn how to read between the lines, ASAP.
Sometimes people say things without outright saying them, and this happens quite a bit with online dating. A lot of times, phrases like “looking for a good time” or important details like “I’m a traveler who is always on the go” may mean that they aren’t ready for commitment, or perhaps their current lifestyle isn’t fit for children.
By no means is this a bad thing, but it does give you some insight into compatibility. If you’re a single mom who is responsible for your children day in and day out, someone who hasn’t set any roots may not be a match.
Or if you’re looking for a more fun, casual relationship, someone who talks about how much they love kids and would like a family one day may have expectations for the relationship that you don’t necessarily have.
Read between the lines and take what they’re saying at face value. If you put the two together, you’re more likely to get the bigger picture of who a person is and what they want before you waste your time trying to match.
5.) Create a simple “code of conduct” for yourself.
Going from online dating to real life dating is scary. You don’t know these people, you don’t know if they’re even safe or worth seeing, to be completely honest.
For this reason, it’s important to create a code of conduct for yourself before you link up. For example, if you meet someone on a dating app, maybe you’d want to talk to them on there for a couple days before giving them your number. And then after you text and take a phone call for a week, you’ll schedule a date in a public place.
This is just an example, but creating a code of conduct for yourself while using the internet to date is a good way to extend your vetting process and ultimately keep yourself safe.