When I joined my first dating site a couple years ago, I felt like I was lost in a sea of unwanted attention. I didn’t know how to turn down the “sups” and “heys” in my inbox, so I just responded to everyone. And I quickly learned why it’s so tempting to ghost someone (stop communication without telling him or her why) while online dating. I wasted a lot of time on forgettable conversations and the same pick-up lines because I was waiting for some stranger to throw me a lifeline instead of simply swimming for myself.
What I learned from that experience was this: When navigating online dating, the most successful women plot their own course. I know it’s tempting for single women to sit back and play defense while waiting for their Prince Charming to come knocking, but being proactive can save them a lot of time and headache in the long run.
Here are six practical online dating tips for women:
1. Have realistic expectations.
As much as singles wish there were a magical algorithm-based shortcut to love, the truth is you have to do some legwork to get a date. Online dating makes it easier to find potential love interests, but no website or app can gift wrap a happily-ever-after for you. You have to use those high-tech tools to showcase your charming self and get your crush’s attention.
Single women should expect to do their part in the wooing process. That means knowing what you want, being an engaging conversationalist, and, yes, even sending the dreaded first message to someone you like. Although men are more likely to send the first message on most dating platforms, women actually get better results than men do when they have the courage to start the conversation and show interest from the get go. Female online daters are 2.5 times more likely to receive a response to a first message than men are, so go ahead and initiate a chat next time someone catches your eye. The odds are in your favor!
2. Ask around.
Anyone new to the online dating scene shouldn’t be too quick to commit to the first dating platform you see. Many brand new apps or free dating sites don’t offer a safe and scam-free environment for women. Ask your friends which dating sites they’ve used and which ones they’d recommend. Search online for full reviews of the top dating apps written by dating experts. Look into customer testimonials, membership demographics, and any other information you can find before deciding which dating sites or apps are best for you.
3. Add more than one photo.
On a dating site, a selfie speaks a thousand words. You don’t want yours to say, “I use Snapchat too much” or “I took this photo in my car and put zero effort into my profile.” You should have at least one non-blurry, unfiltered photo of yourself on your dating profile, but more is always better because it shows you’re a real person with many facets to your personality. Your photos are often your first impression while online dating, so make the most of it and showcase what makes you who you are.
According to Zoosk’s internal stats, four is the magic number when it comes to online dating photos. Members who uploaded four or more photos received the most messages. That’s right, you can get guys to message you more just by adding another selfie to your profile. If you have pictures of yourself traveling abroad or doing something awesome, use them to catch a guy’s attention and make your dating profile stand out. Make sure your face is clearly visible so people know you have nothing to hide.
4. Don’t rush but don’t take forever.
Every woman has her own pace when it comes to dating. Some people are anxious to skip the small talk and start planning a date right away while others are content to spend months trading messages before even mentioning meeting in person. You should find the middle ground between these extremes so you don’t wind up on a date with someone you haven’t vetted at all and don’t waste your time talking to someone who has no intention of ever meeting you. I typically wait a week before agreeing to a date because that helps me weed out flaky guys who can’t keep up an interesting conversation.
If it’s been a week of chatting and he hasn’t asked you out, ask him out yourself! Say something like, “We should continue this conversation in person,” or “Are you doing anything this weekend?” His response will let you know what his intentions are, and then you can either go on a date or move on to someone else.
5. Be authentic.
Don’t lie on your dating profile. Don’t even fib. The whole point of joining a dating platform is to find someone who likes you—maybe even someone who loves you. So be you.
It’s common for women to lie about their weight and age. Single women may want to hide their curves and their gray hairs while online, but guys are going to see them in person eventually and then feel cheated and deceived. That’s not a good first impression. If you’re honest about who you are, you’ll wind up in better quality relationships based on a real connection.
6. Don’t be discouraged.
Online dating is basically a numbers game. You might hit it off with someone right away or you might have to talk to dozens upon dozens of guys before finding the one you’re looking for. It can be frustrating to continually get your hopes up for someone who turns out to be so not worth it, but giving in to your frustration isn’t going to help you succeed the next time. Just keep going and keep it light. Dating is supposed to be fun, so don’t take it too hard if things don’t work out the first or second or hundredth time. You can always conduct a new search and try again tomorrow.
My online dating journey wasn’t always smooth sailing, but I soon found my way once I learned how to politely reject guys I wasn’t interested in and pursue the guys I wanted to get to know. Bottom line: You can’t wait for your dreamboat to come to you—you have to make an effort to swipe, like, favorite, and message your way to an actual date.
If you go into a dating site or app with the right attitude and frame yourself in a positive light, you’re going to seem more attractive and have more fun throughout the online dating process. Once you join a reputable dating platform, you have advanced matching and search tools at your disposal, so all you need is the self-confidence and the nerve to propel yourself to the type of guys you’re interested in meeting. As long as you’re enjoying yourself, that’s what matters most. Good luck!