How To Up Your Online Dating Game This Summer

by Laken Howard

Online dating is more work than you probably realize: The maintenance required to keep your profile in tip-top shape and the process of browsing matches and messaging them can be time-consuming. For many of us, swiping left and right is so ingrained in our daily routine that we hardly even think about what we're doing anymore when we open up Tinder or Bumble or OkCupid. But honestly, sometimes you need to pause and refresh — and trying out new, effective online dating strategies is the perfect way to spice things up as summer kicks off.

Although online dating has made things easier for us in so many ways, it can also be easy to accidentally impede your own love life by getting stuck in the same old routine when it comes to digital dating. If you've been single for a while, chances are you've gotten into a dating groove — one which may or may not work for you. Maybe you've gotten used to letting potential partners take the reins, or maybe you've become too stubborn to date outside your preferred "type."

Laurie Davis Edwards, founder of eFlirt and author of Love @ First Click , tells Bustle that summer is the perfect time to branch out and shake up your routine (and hopefully improve your online dating game). "Anytime the seasons change, people get a lot more active in regards to their dating life," she says. "That's a great thing because it also means there might be new matches for you to check out and connect with. The great thing about online dating is that small, tiny actions can add up to big changes."

So if you're not seeing results and want to give your dating game a major overhaul, try these seven strategies to give your online love life a boost this summer — everyone knows the best time to find love is when things heat up!

1. Switch Up Your Profile Pictures

If you're anything like me, you've had a dating profile for so long that you've practically forgotten what photos you've chosen to show off to the world. If you're feeling stuck in a rut, swapping your old pics for some fresh ones is a quick way to give your profile a boost. "Photos are the first thing everyone looks at," Davis Edwards says. "[Changing your photos] seems like a small action but it can make a huge impact on who you're connecting with."

Especially if it's a different type of photo you're adding, you're widening your pool of potential matches, because different people will be attracted to different pictures. You can even get into the summer spirit by adding a season-appropriate snapshot: you cartwheeling on the beach, cannonballing into a pool, or showing off an Insta-worthy ice cream cone.

2. Spend 20-30 Minutes A Day Online Dating

This one is all about building a habit: If you spend a little bit of time each day swiping, it will become a conscious part of your routine. "When you're consistent, you're going to get dates," Davis Edwards says. "Spending half an hour each day on dating apps means you're always moving your dating life forward in the right way."

But she also cautions against spending too much time on Tinder and the like — the longer you're on an app, the more judgmental you become, which could stop you from swiping right on someone who might actually be a good match.

3. Make The First Move

If you're an avid Bumble user, you're already used to sending the first message. But there's more to "making a move" than simply saying hello to someone. "I talk to a lot of women who tell me they don't want to ask [a guy] out, they think he should be the one to do that," Davis Edwards says. "Here's the truth: It takes a lot of energy, effort, and heart to date."

Guys don't always know what they're doing either, she says, so don't worry so much about "traditional" gender roles if you're looking for a male partner; it's 2016, and totally OK to ask someone out, regardless of gender. Plus, Davis Edwards says, all the time you spent messaging someone is wasted if you don't move things offline.

4. Make Your Breaks Count

Although Grease taught us all that summer lovin' is a blast, sometimes you just need to take a break from all the chaos. If you're thinking of deleting your dating apps, Davis Edwards says you should really commit to it, rather than just taking a day or two off. "When you are taking a break, you should be taking a break from everything," she says. "Take a really conscious break: No dates, no messaging, no searching — put the app on ice."

Rather than just taking a break when you get temporarily discouraged by your lack of success, take a couple-weeks-long break where you focus on your own life and your relationship with yourself. To make things easier, pick a date to come back to your dating apps — with a fresh perspective and renewed energy.

5. Be Spontaneous

Nothing says "summer" like going on a spur of the moment happy hour date with someone who messaged you on your lunch break. Sometimes we get so caught up in the fuss of making plans that we forget it's just as easy to say "to hell with it" and just meet up after work. "Meeting up faster is good, but make sure you have some common ground before you meet up," Davis Edwards says. "I suggest people go back and forth 20-30 times before you meet up. Make sure you have some info about the person."

It may not be best to go out with someone you're not that into just because, but be open to the idea of meeting someone who seems promising day-of rather than waiting a week to set up a date. You'll have less time to let your nerves get worked up, and the conversation might flow more naturally if you're venting after a long day at the office rather than relying on predetermined "first date talk."

6. Say 'Yes' To The 'Maybes'

How often do you really sit down and ask yourself, "What do I want in a partner?" Davis Edwards says any time you're ready to be more proactive about dating is a good time to reassess and think about who you really want to meet. "Almost every single one of my clients who is in a relationship [now] is with someone they only said 'maybe' to when they first saw their profile," she says. "Be open to saying 'yes' to maybe, because it's the maybes who usually matter more."

You don't really know someone until you meet them offline, and the person who has perfect photos and says all the right things might not be the right match, Davis Edwards says. Her advice? Go slower when you're swiping — make conscious decisions rather than basing things off an instantaneous initial reaction. You might just be surprised by who you'll meet.

7. Tinder While You Travel

For many people, summertime means one thing: vacation. And who doesn't love a good vacation romance? Though your GPS will auto update when you travel to a new place, Davis Edwards suggests changing your zip code before you leave. "You can get a little dynamic going [with someone] and plan the date for when you arrive," she says.

Especially if you're traveling far or only have a short stint somewhere, this gives you the chance to get the ball rolling ahead of time. And the plus of finding someone to show you around? You get to know the area like a local, even if you don't hit if off.

Images: Fotolia; Giphy (7)