Most people make online dating too difficult.  True, it can be challenging, frustrating and sometimes even a little bit scary.  But so is just about anything else if you don’t have the right information and guidance to see you through to your ultimate goal.

Today I’m going to go over a few things to get you started on the right track; a few things you need to do to avoid some of the most common pitfalls guys make when trying to be successful with online dating.

We’re covering what not to do because, especially in the online dating world, it’s as much about what you don’t say as it is what you do say.  You only have a short window of opportunity before a woman clicks NEXT! and goes on to the next guy. 

1. Don’t make a list of qualities

“I’m passionate, faithful, caring, honest, affectionate, intelligent and I have a great sense of humor” or “I like drawing, hiking and camping, and am looking for someone mature, easy going and fun.”  Sounds great, right?  WRONG.  Yes, those are good qualities to have, but when they’re presented this way they’re going to bore her to tears.  It also reads just like every other profile she’s read  today…NEXT!

If you’re funny, then show it!  If you’re outgoing, tell stories that demonstrate that.  I like camping too, but it’s more interesting when I express that by writing about how it feels to wake up in my tent in the wilderness without a human sound for miles, or the time a raccoon got into my cooler while I was sleeping and ate what I had planned for breakfast that morning.

Confidence, especially, is something that you can’t just list and have someone believe that you have.  Honesty, intelligence and passion are wonderful things to demonstrate, but the key is actually DEMONSTRATING them.

Leave the boring lists for the other guys, and start telling stories to illustrate your qualities.

2.  No generic emails

When you send a woman an initial email, make sure to include something that proves you read her profile.  “You’re hot, let’s get together” is going to get deleted.  Immediately.

Read (actually read) her profile and find a couple things that interest or impress you.  Tell her that you’re interested in learning more about her, but you’re selective.  Then comment on something specific she has in her profile.

Here’s an example:


I just got done re-reading your profile and had to send you something despite myself.   : )  I’m extremely picky, but there are a few things in your profile that really stand out.

I especially like how you mentioned your friends and family being such an important part of your life. That shows a level of self awareness and caring most people don’t have. That is a great start, and I’d like to get to know you and see what more there is to you than meets the eye.

This will strike an emotional chord with her and she’ll write you back.  There are a lot of subtleties here that we don’t have room to explain in detail, but follow the rules of attraction.

Some people say that short emails work better, but I disagree.  As long as you don’t suck up to her, and have good things to say, longer emails can be even more effective.

3.  Don’t post pictures of you without a shirt

Ok, there are a couple of exceptions.  If you’re under 30 and have an Ambercrombie and Fitch body, go for it.  But if you’re 35, it doesn’t matter if you have the body of a 23 year-old Olympic swimmer.  Don’t do it.

If you are under 30 and have a 6-pack (abs, not beer), then by all means, put up a picture of you on the beach or running with your dog.  Just don’t flex for the camera.  Make sure to have the picture taken where you’re doing something other than trying to look like you’re auditioning for Jersey Shore, because otherwise it just makes you look silly.

If you’re over 30 but in great shape, resist the temptation to post a bare-chested pic.  Put on a tight fitting shirt so women can see that you’re in shape, but let them imagine the rest.

If you’re not in the shape you want to be, then DEFINITELY keep your shirt on.  Wearing something with vertical stripes will make you look thinner, and taking a picture with something huge in the background (a mountain, house, rollercoaster, etc.) will make you look smaller as well.

4.  Don’t write like you text

It’s lame, hard to read, and makes you look like you’re 12.  Don’t use texting abbreviations anywhere in your profile.  You’re not limited to 160 characters, so spread your wings a little bit.

It is 2011, im look n 4 new things 2 try, & new ppl 2 meet. Im very easy go n & easy 2 get along wit. Im lov b n outdoors i hav a street bike quad & jetski, i lov camp n, hike n, fish n, but im still very romantic. Dinner, dance n, trips outa town, i like 2 cook & hav some wine. Im at a time n my life tht i jst want 2 enjoy it. So if u like wht ur hear n "Lets Do This"!!!

Umm…need I say more?  NEXT!

5.  Don’t get professional pictures taken

This may be OK for women, but anything that resembles a glamour shot isn’t quite socially acceptable for a guy.  Yet.  Or ever, I hope.

Getting good pictures is a numbers game.  Have you noticed that your friends that seem to always have great pics are ALWAYS taking pictures?  It’s because they know that in order to get one good one they need to take about 50 bad ones.

If you’re going somewhere, bring your camera and ask someone to take a couple quick shots of you.  Do this over and over, and eventually you’ll have a file of really good pictures that you can use on your profile.

It may seem girlie to be taking pictures everywhere, but you don’t have to do it forever—just until you get some good ones to put up on your profile.  Isn’t meeting a great woman worth that little bit of effort?

So there you have it.  It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but these are five major guidelines you can follow to avoid the mistakes that 99% of guys make in the online dating world.  Sometimes all we need is to be pointed in the right direction, so use this as a guideline and start building a profile that gets results.