How Do Online Exchanges Turn Into Relationships? I Asked 10 People Who Met Their Significant Others Online

According to sociologist Eric Klinenberg and his unlikely research collaborator Aziz Ansari, studies show that we have no idea what to look for in an online dating profile. The traits we say we're looking for don't always appeal to us in reality, and we often end up happy with people who don't match our criteria — particularly when one of our main criteria is good looks. For example, when people met through the OKCupid app Crazy Blind Date, which uses blurred photos, they had a good time on their dates despite not knowing what anyone looked like in advance, prompting OKCupid co-founder Christian Rudder to conclude that "people appear to be heavily preselecting online for something that, once they sit down in person, doesn’t seem important to them.”

What should we be looking for, then? I figured the best people to answer this question would be couples who met online and stood the test of time — because just as every life started with an egg and a sperm, every online relationship began with a profile that stood out and a message that inspired a response. So, I asked 10 people who met their significant others online what part of that first profile or message got the ball rolling. In addition to revealing what you should keep an eye out for when browsing profiles, these answers can clue you in to how to get your love interests' attention.

In the interest of helping you optimize your profile and messages and vet the ones you come across, here are some qualities of online personas that launched relationships.

1. A Shared Language

2. Similar Taste

3. A Good Heart And Sense Of Humor

4. A Visual Conversation-Starter

5. Passion And Intellect ... At Least At First

6. Quirky — But Not Douchey — Style

7. A Profile That Doubles As Reading Material

8. Common Interests

9. Optimization For's Algorithms (But Don't Ask Me How To Achieve That)

10. Smokin' Hot Photos, Obviously

I wonder what Aziz Ansari would say about that last one. Images: Fotolia, Giphy(7), Natalie Barratt, Carlos Pacheco , bixentro/Flickr