Online dating is something I've dabbled in a time or two before.
I am still at the bare bones of my being, one of those people who enjoy meeting people in real time and taking things from casual to committed from there, if fate so chooses. I'm more of a serial monogamist than a serial dater, so apps where people seemed to get off on instant gratification did not seem like a great place to foster a serious relationship.
I'm not a huge Tinder advocate – aside for conversation and a little touchscreen eye candy – I did use a lesser known dating site called DateMySchool where you had to have a university email in order to join, ensuring that you were indeed meeting students. I didn't think anything would come of it honestly. I was working part time, going to school full time, and living off campus, which made it hard to enjoy the social aspects of college life. I wanted to meet students either on campus or at nearby campuses to hopefully make some new friends.
But a friend or three into the game and nearing the end of my free trial on the site, I saw this guy with this very interesting profile picture and the rest was history. I had no idea that it was possible to find something real online, which is undoubtedly due to the fact that I underestimated its potential for sincerity. I wanted to have a more interesting story. Like, oh, we met while almost grabbing the same manga comic at Barnes and Noble or he picked my coffee up by mistake and things hit it off from there. But no, we met online. I said something wittier than I thought possible, it got his attention, he messaged me three times in a row before leaving his number, and when we met in person, signed, sealed, delivered, I was his.
Below are some do's and don'ts plus a few online dating success stories that will help lead you to finding the real thing when looking for love online:
DON'T Forget About Your First Impression
What you put out there about yourself when you're looking to meet new people online is important. The profile photo on your profile sparks the attention of your potential suitor and the profile itself sells the rest if you two decide to get past the swipe right part and take it to exchanging messages. Include a favorite close-up photo of yourself that personifies you as well as a few full body photos.
DO Be Open-Minded About Making Connections
Truthfully, a lot of people don't even know they want something real until they meet someone who changes their mind. So talk to people that you like, build connections, deepen them through dates, and allow the flow to guide you. If it's important to disclose that you want something serious, do so, but also pay attention to cues while you're dating. People tend to reveal exactly what they want from you through action. Listen to that gut instinct.
Gina, 26, Teacher – Together w/ Aaron for 1 Year
“I met my boyfriend, Aaron on a website called Interpals. It's mainly a language exchange website. I was looking for friends in Korea because I was moving there after 3 years in Japan. I wanted to learn about Korean culture and language. At the time, Aaron was on a working holiday in Australia when he messaged me. Initially, I wasn't interested in his profile because it wasn't interesting, but the more we started speaking, the more I realized there was more to him than the initial profile sentence of, 'I'm bored with Australia now.'
I gave up on dating while I was in Japan because Japanese guys were too shy and most military men just wanted someone to play with. You should go in with an open mind and see what's out there. I wasn't initially interested in my boyfriend, but if I hadn't given him a chance, we wouldn't be dating. Once we started talking, I realized how funny he is and I liked his blunt honesty. It was refreshing to be around someone who was just themselves instead of putting on a mask. When you're in an intercultural relationship, you can't follow the dating rules you know from your countries. You have to communicate exactly what you want instead of leaving your partner confused from trying to read between the lines. I knew he was special because it had been over four years since I really connected with someone. He moved back to Korea while I was still in Japan, and I told him I wanted to meet him. He jumped on a plane, flew to Okinawa, and when I saw him at the airport, I knew he was special. It was quite the surprise I even met anyone on a language exchange platform."
DON'T Limit the Sites or Apps You Choose to Use
If you find the more common options out there for online dating aren't working for you, try the road less traveled. While it is true that connections are made everyday on Tinder and Match, some romantic connections can happen just by using sites that hone in on common interests. These sites include faith-based sites like Christian Mingle or language exchange platforms like Interpals. Online forums are another great place to find people who have similar interests.
DO Make a First Move
While it has received mixed results in my life, I've learned that when it comes to people and opportunities that my go-getter ways don't mesh with, I didn't need them in the first place. If you see a woman or a man's profile and you are interested, let them know. What do you have to lose? My first move led to a last first date.
BrittanyAlissa, 28, Beautician, MUA, Blogger – Together w/ Donnell for 3 Years
“My husband and I met on eHarmony 3 years ago. I believed it was fate because 7 months prior to him messaging my on eHarmony, he had messaged me on another site. I ended up never messaging him back on that particular site because it wasn't really that great. I then deleted that profile only to sign up for eHarmony after seeing a commercial on TV. So once I received a message and saw it was the same guy from the other site, I knew it was meant for us to meet.
Our first date is so memorable because of where it was. My brother was having a listening party for his mix tape at the strip club Perfections. I was immediately attracted to his beard and his smile. He had a smile that made me think about him even when I wasn't in his presence. What drew me into him was how honest and upfront he was with me; honesty isn't something you find on a daily basis so when you do it is refreshing. And of course the way he looked at me made me feel so special I knew I wanted to be his forever. I think the secret to finding something real through online dating is 100% honesty. I find that nowadays people constantly say what they think the person wants to hear instead of being true to themselves. If you want love say 'I am looking for love' and if you want to date, be honest about that as well. It's the only way you'll find and get exactly what you're asking for. What told me that Donnell was the guy for me was the way he let down his guard and allowed me into his heart. He was a bachelor for a while before he met me, and he always told me that he took love so very serious. So when he told me he loved me I knew we would be in it for the long haul."
DON'T Wait So Long to Take Things Offline
I had one rule – well I had a few – but one in particular came into play when it came to narrowing down where my attention went with online dating. I am not a huge texter and as a person who loves quality time, I prefer that above phone calls and texts, so if it's been two months, we talk almost daily, we're in the same city, and haven't set up a time to meet, I politely say, “Next." Talk to one another in person as soon as you feel comfortable to get a true understanding of your chemistry and connection. Thank me later.
DO Stay Gettin' Yo' Life
Allow the negatives to be funny stories you tell your girlfriends or guy friends later. Ghosting (people just stop talking to you out of the blue) is a common thing both online and offline, so take people who leave without saying anything with a grain of salt, say aloud, “Your loss", and keep the dating game moving. Experiences are the measures of a good life so don't allow scrubs to make you cynical about love.
DON'T Have Too Many Expectations
Just like regular dating offline, online dating should of course be approached with purpose, but just like offline dating, putting too much pressure on finding “the one" can be the very thing that keeps you from obtaining it. It's also the kind of thing that keeps you from enjoying connections for what they are in the moment.
Jasmine, Marketing & Promotions, 26
“We met through OkCupid. I was on the site for a good six months and then got bored. So I was off it for a few months before deciding to get on it again. I generally don't reply messages with one liners - like those simple 'Hi, how are you?' – I'm a long message type of girl (laughs). He was one of those 'Hi, how are you?' messages. Best part of is, I was the first girl he sent a message to and the only one that replied. I think it was his smile and his sincerity (that drew me in to him). I'm not sure what drew him in about me however. Maybe it was my killer personality and body (laughs). He was new in town - Kuala Lumpur. At this point, we were on Skype with each other for a few weeks and I told him I was hungry and wished I could grab my favorite meal: roti boom - a type of Malaysian-Indian sugary bread. We went to a nearby cafe and had roti boom, so roti boom was kind of 'our meal' from then on. I was actually seeing another guy that time that barely made effort to meet me, so when I had to choose the guy for me to focus my time and attention to, he was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, we broke up a few months ago. I actually just deleted Tinder. For now, I'm happy with getting to know guys offline. I feel like I haven't really explored what's out there yet and there are tons of people who are still doing the old fashion way - meeting people offline. But eventually, I probably would try out online dating again. Hey, I was an online dating success story, so of course online dating will be a go-to thing for me in the future."
Have you had success with online dating? Share your love stories or your horror stories in the comments with us below.