Online dating is a misnomer - dating apps and sites are merely tools for introductions. Online dating should be no different than meeting people offline. With that said, anonymity encourages bad etiquette, check-boxes create unhealthy expectations, upfront information creates a false sense of security, easy profile setup creates lazy behavior, people read too much into matches (not a good KPI), access to numerous profiles provides opportunity for temptation or unwillingness to settle down. On top of all that, people are typically private with their dating profiles and thus rarely seek unbiased feedback. Below are some general tips to navigate the online dating waters (I provide more detailed, customized advice for clients). Be sure to read the latest survey by Axios/SurveyMonkey on the state of online dating.
Q: What is the optimal number of photos to use in a dating profile?
A: Definitely at least 4 photos but no more than 6. Typically, the more photos you post the more harshly you will be judged i.e. you are only as good looking as your worst photo.
Q: Should I look away and not smile in my photos?
A: No! While those photos might solicit likes, they don't necessarily result in quality dates. Be yourself, be candid. Smile naturally, don't force it. Look at the camera, look interested not self-absorbed nor shy. Read this for additional insight. For advice on photos, check out this photo intro.
BIO / ABOUT ME SECTION
Q: Should I use a ghostwriter to write my bio and send messages for me?
A: No! I provide clients guidelines on what to focus on in their bios but I do not write bios myself. Character and personality will be lost in translation if you hire someone to do this. Secondly, you deprive yourself of the chance to experience the exploration of getting to know someone through those messages. Additionally I advise clients on how to spot ghostwriters on dating apps/sites.
Q: I feel and look younger than my age - is it ok to lie about my age?
A: No! Being truthful is important in online dating. If you lie about age right off the bat, what else might you be lying about? Starting off with a lie is a recipe for failure and frustration.
Q: I have kids, is it ok to use photos with them in my bio?
A: No, I highly recommend you don't for privacy reasons mostly. People understand kids are the center of your universe (or at least should be) but avoid photos with them. Instead, list how many kids you have and their ages in your bio.
Q: What should I write in the bio section of my online dating profile?
A: Talk about your passions, quirks, random obsessions, curiosities, guilty pleasures, self-deprecating humor, where you were born and raised, what you like to do for fun, what you would do if you won the lottery, what you do for a living, where you traveled last or are going next.
Q: Is it ok to use a screen name or initial instead of my real name on a dating profile?
A: No, it is highly recommended you don't. Using a screen name is very dated. Even Match is moving people to using their real names. Using a screen name or initial signals insecurity, lacking transparency. If you use a screen name or initial prepare to receives fewer matches, interest.
Q: What is a shadowban?
A: People have noticed that they receive fewer matches after re-installing a new profile or trying to reset an an account. Most apps have mechanisms in place to detect when a user is trying to game the system. I am personally against doing anything shady but in case you do give an app a break, talk to me so you know what to expect when returning to a dating app. Generally, most apps will front-load matches/profiles to get you hooked and then slowly reduce them over time encouraging you to sign up for paid services.
Q: What are the demographics for each online dating site and app?
A: There is no definitive answer on this but a couple surveys are about right highlighting age and gender splits: SurveyMonkey Intelligence 2016; Bustle Map 2017; International Trends. Every article, survey out there is based on some sample size and don't necessarily provide the right drivers for success nor accurate expectations. They are used to provide loose directional advice and should be taken with a grain of salt. During/after our photo session, I will provide specific guidance on what I recommend for you based on age, location, personality etc.
Q: Do you have any thoughts on whether I should use Match.com or tips on how to set up an account there?
A: Match.com Tips
Q: How do I setup an account for Facebook dating? Should I use Facebook dating?
A: It is only available in select markets and even then not everyone will have access right away. You will see a notification banner at the top (main Facebook app) to test out the new feature or you can lookout for the heart icon (top right if/when it becomes available). It will be rather slow in terms of traction early on so I don't put a lot of weight into using it early on as a serious option. In fact, the Facebook secret crush feature is kind of creepy. Stay away from it altogether.
MATCHING & MESSAGING ETIQUETTE
Q: Is there such a thing as being overly eager and aggressive when it comes to messaging and swiping?
A: Yes, you should express excitement but avoid appearing stalker-ish. Be direct, timely and transparent. Do not reply immediately but also do not make the person wait. Respond 1-3 days after matching and reply within 24 hours for subsequent messages. It is bad etiquette to swipe right on someone you are not interested in. In fact if you don't respond or message people you match with it can hurt your ELO score. More info: Super-Swipes
Q: What is the best way to start a conversation after matching with someone?
A: Conversation Starters
Q: I accidentally left-swiped on someone. Should I pay for a subscription or membership to match with someone again?
A: All apps eventually recycle matches/profiles if you are on them long enough. Avoid going down that rabbit hole.
Q: If the person I ask out backs out of a date, who is responsible for making new plans?
A: The person who backs out is always responsible for making new plans or suggesting other dates/times. If not, he/she is not interested. Move on.
Q: What are some podcasts, books and resources I should check out?
A: Read Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari; Maureen O'Connor (New York Magazine's Sex Lives Podcast). Great Economist article on dating trends. For you introvert's check out Susan Cain's Quiet. If you suffer from body odor, check your shirt labels - avoid polyester. It traps bacteria more than cotton leading to more odor. Buy 100% cotton, always. Suffer from acne? Try out Clenziderm by Obagi. Also, stop by your local Sephora for some concealer to minimize those temporary skin blemishes. Check out Eater's date guide by neighborhood
Q: What is an ELO score? What about the Gale-Shapely algorithm?
A: ELO score is a 'desirability' score Tinder's algorithm uses to rank users. Higher score, more visible your profile is to others. Improve your ELO score with good photos. Similarly Hinge uses the Gale-Shapely algorithm to score profiles to show users.
Q: What is the single best piece of advice you have for someone?
A: This is a piece of advice I received from my professor (Dean Ellis) from USC on the last class of the semester in 2003 - "Never turn down an invitation from someone to grab a drink, meet up for coffee, go out to a new class - you never know you will meet: a business partner, friend or significant other."
How to avoid online dating scams | How to report online dating scams | My Online Dating Safety Tips
Lastly, online dating apps are meant to introduce people - you don't date online. Exchange a few messages and then take things offline. Dating apps are not a platform where you share every detail of your life nor should you pin all your hopes on one person. Don't put too much pressure on a first date - "Is this the one?" Ask yourself, "do I want to see this person again?" Also, do not stop with online dating. You should continue to go to the gym, go to happy hours with friends, join hiking clubs, take cooking classes etc. If you are down and out and hoping meeting someone will lift your spirits, you will be severely disappointed. You are not ready to date someone if you are not happy with yourself.
Contact me today to discuss any questions you have around dating apps, photos, bios and messages.