Online dating is so ingrained in our cultural dating roadmap that it isn’t so much a question of whether you want to start online dating as when you’re going to give it a try. Maybe you’re just dipping your toe in the waters, maybe you’re back on apps after a breakup, or maybe you’ve been doing it forever and suspect you could be having a better time of it.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, what “rules” you’re supposed to follow, or are looking to get more matches, check out these nine experts’ number-one piece of advice for online dating. We could use all the help we can get, right?
Put yourself into a dating mindset.
“When building your profile and looking for potential dates, your mindset should follow what you’d like the outcome to be. Whether you’re looking for a long-term relationship, a hookup, or something in between, let your mind consider the result you wish to achieve so that your profile vocabulary and tone match.” —Sunny Rodgers, ACS, clinical sexologist and certified sexual health educator
Don’t be timid.
“Be entirely yourself rather than projecting a more muted version of yourself. The more that you show your personality, the more the other person gets an idea of what a relationship with you would be like. You might as well jump in immediately!” —Gabrielle Alexa, sex and dating writer
Be and put yourself first.
“We all want a flattering photo that peaks the maximum number of people’s interest. Go ahead and choose that picture, but recognize that it’s a slippery slope. There is a temptation to create or communicate a [version of] you that, like an Instagram post, will garner the most likes. Do not contort yourself to fit what you presume others desire. In your mind, put your wants first. Use Tinder to communicate what you actually desire, so you can find someone you truly like.” —Wednesday Martin, Ph.D., author of “Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free”
Stop looking for your perfect match.
“We know it sounds counterintuitive, but you read this right. Online dating makes it easy to filter people based on what’s worked for you before (or what hasn’t) and create an impossible mold of what you think is your perfect match. The problem is that eventually your matches all either seem to blend together and you lost interest, or you run out of options. Keep an open mind, and try [Liking] someone who isn’t your usual type. You might find that your ‘type’ isn’t as important as you thought.” —B+L, co-hosts of “Not Your Girlfriend’s Podcast”
Use your pictures to make a good impression.
“When choosing a profile photo, look for a picture in which you have a genuine — not forced — smile and a slight tilt of the head. Research has found that both of these features are related to positive first impressions. Also, if you’re planning to include a group photo on your profile, go for pictures where you’re in the middle and everyone looks like they’re having a good time. After all, you want to give the impression that you’re someone people like to be around.” —Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., research fellow at the Kinsey Institute and author of the “Sex and Psychology” blog
Take the lead.
“If you want to be successful at online dating, you can’t wait for the right dates to come to you. Be proactive with [Liking and Noping] often, sending the initial message, and taking charge of your dating destiny. [People] who do are more satisfied with their dating-app experience and feel that they meet more appropriate and satisfying dates.” — Damona Hoffman, certified dating coach and host of “Dates & Mates”
Stop worrying about nailing a pickup line.
“I think that there’s this idea that you must have a witty, thoughtful, and overall brilliant opener when you’re messaging someone first on a dating app. That’s just not true. Sure, it could be cute if you managed to find a funny way to illustrate you read their profile and share a common interest, but if you can’t do that, don’t stress. It doesn’t matter what you open with as long as you open. ‘Hey, any exciting plans this weekend?’ is something you can say to anyone. Really, it’s as simple as that.” —Zachary Zane, bisexual activist and writer
Listen to your gut.
“You can follow every standard online dating tip and still end up dating someone you later regret or miss out on someone incredible if you don’t listen to your gut. While it can seem a bit ‘woo,’ research shows that our intuition is not only accurate, but also rooted in brain chemistry. It’s easy to talk ourselves out of listening to that inner voice, but trust it, even if you’re not sure why a potential date seems iffy or like a heck yes. If you slow down enough to hone in on your instincts while getting to know a person, you won’t rush into something unideal because of those lusty, punch-drunk chemicals. You might also give someone you wouldn’t have expected to go for a chance and end up extremely grateful that you did.” —August McLaughlin, author of “Girl Boner”
Don’t delay getting together IRL.
“Try to meet face to face ASAP, or if that isn’t possible, at least have a phone or FaceTime call. You’ll never know if you have real chemistry until you actually meet in person. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, energy, and emotional investment by doing this, because you could be texting somebody for months before realizing you don’t connect in real life. Also, by insisting on meeting as soon as possible, you’ll know if the other person is genuine and looking for the same thing as you, or if they’re just a time-waster.” —Lucy Rowett, sex, intimacy, and relationship coach