It's summer at last, which can only mean one thing: Time to fire up your online dating game. JK, JK, but I did track down some effective online dating habits to try this summer, and they certainly can't hurt to give a spin if you're single and ready to mingle, etc. "Dating can be a blast and a great way to meet new people, or it can be a drag and a daunting task," relationship coach Jessica Brighton tells Bustle. Whether you have fun with it or feel totally oppressed by it is up to you — and it's worth pointing out that if you do feel stifled by dating online, it's probably not for you, and it's likely best for you to try other tactics — but if you want to learn some new ways to make it more effective, I spoke with dating and relationship experts to find out just what you should and should not try out ASAP.
First off, before I share their tactics, a quick reminder: Online dating, just like pretty much everything else in life, is directly successful in relation to how you look at it, so keeping a positive attitude is key throughout. If you start to feel super negative about the whole thing, take a break and regroup before continuing. But if you're ready to try something new online this summer, read on to sample some ideas about dating on the internet.
1. Step Outside The Box
"One effective online dating habit is to make yourself a promise that at least one time per week, you will look at the people who have favorited you and choose one of them to whom to respond, even though he or she might not be your usual 'type,'" Samantha Daniels, professional matchmaker and founder of The Dating Lounge dating app, tells Bustle. If you refuse to go outside your usual box, you have way less of a chance to meet someone really right for you, because most people usually choose the same type of person over and over, instead of letting something new (with the potential to be great) in.
"I always tell the members of my dating app ... that sometimes it’s good to consider someone who doesn’t grab you at first glance, someone who you might not choose initially but who might be interested to you nonetheless," she says. "Online dating and dating app profiles are difficult to decipher, so sometimes it’s good to just take a chance." The worst that happens is that you have a bad date, and excuse yourself quickly — but you just might find someone amazing this way.
2. Be Silly
"A bit of humor is worth its weight in online dating gold," dating expert Noah Van Hochman tells Bustle. "Amusing anecdotes in a profile are great, but remember that the pictures on a profile are the real door opener. A former Wall Street executive on one site added to his pictures one of him riding a stuffed moose," he says. "This in turn led to many other members pausing to look and then read the entire profile and send a message." It's not every day that you see someone riding a stuffed animal, after all.
"Getting people to pause long enough to read the profile is vital," he says. "Many people use the sultry or suggestive picture to accomplish this, but then you become just one out of the many." And if you do that, you're sending a message that you might not want to send if you're looking for a relationship. "Something really funny or bizarre can set you apart, and that makes all the difference," he says. Can't hurt!
3. Change Your Photos Often
"Try changing your pictures on a regular basis," Stefanie Safran, Chicago's "Introductionista" and founder of Stef and the City, tells Bustle, putting them on a three month rotation or thereabouts, she suggests. Though some may just shuffle their profile pics around a bit, she suggests really changing your photos altogether to create a new vibe as often as possible.
4. Read A Profile All The Way Through
"One effective online dating tip is to really read someone's profile," Megan Stubbs, relationship expert and sexologist, tells Bustle. If they have only one photo, that's your first red flag; if they haven't written anything, it could be a fake account. "If there is information, use that to your advantage," she says. If they have a full profile, take it all in. (If they don't, don't bother messaging them.)
"Did they say they were into reading?" Stubbs asks. "Instead of a generic 'Hey, how's it going?' try 'Tell me about the last book you read,'" she suggests. That lets them know you actually read their profile, and opens the potential for a great discussion.
5. Edit Your Profile
"I think that people should try out what types of introductions are working best for them and which are not," psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. Dating profiles are like resumes, she says. "Different factors attract different people or detract them. You have to be open to what is working for you and what is not, and make adjustments based on the feedback, or lack thereof, that you are getting."
If you try one profile and only get sexy messages or super short "hey" messages, try something new. Keep editing your profile until you hit on one that really represents who you are.
6. Have Coffee Or A Drink First
"When you do finally meet in person, never commit to lunch, dinner or any other outing that requires a great deal of your time," Brighton tells Bustle. "Instead, commit only to coffee or a drink." If the person isn't a good fit, you can get out of there immediately.
"Both can be short but sweet, and you are not committing to spending an extensive amount of time with this person, especially if you don’t feel chemistry or hit it off," she says. "Remember, you can always extend the date, but it’s not as easy to cut out early." Too true!
7. Meet Up ASAP
If you haven't discussed meeting up soon after you meet someone online, don't stick around, New York–based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. If they haven't asked you out or didn't respond to your suggestion to meet, it’s probably not going to happen, and if it does, there’s no sense of urgency on their part.
In fact, they may just be killing time by meeting people online, just in case they ever feel the urge to actually take go out with them. Don’t waste your time. Online dating can become overwhelming, quickly, because there appear to be so many opportunities. Use this as a filter to stay focused and find success in online dating.
Images: Fotolia; Giphy (8)