Rules of Online Dating

Rules of Love and Lust

It's one of the fastest and most profitable industries in the world and it's here to stay. With the burgeoning use of digital devices as a new social platform it's challenging to know what is right and what is disastrous for your online social love life.

Having been dating for well over 7 years (I love being single) I've tried almost every avenue you can think of when it comes to finding those two ever elusive four-letter-words love and lust. These past few years I've decided to put traditional methods such as meeting people at streets, bars, clubs and what not in the back seat and online dating at the front passenger's seat, just to see what all the fuss is about.

Here's a comprehensive guide to some of the most useful rules to help you get the most out of your online dating experience and what not to do to avoid destroying your chances at finding love or lust.

Know What You Want

Whether it’s casual sex, short-term dating, long-term dating, or finding that one true soulmate you must know what you want. I don’t just mean ‘I want a girlfriend/boyfriend’, it must be clear and precise about what you want, for instance ‘I want to find a kind, caring and independent woman/man that is ready to settle down and raise a family’.

The clearer and precise you are the better you are at filtering out those that don’t meet your criteria. It’s also important to keep an open mind and focus on the deeper intrinsic qualities of a person rather than solely superficial things such as income, attractiveness, height etc. By all means have standards however they would benefit you only if you deserve those standards, in other words be realistic about what you want.

I believe at the end of the day it truly comes down to the one subject most people probably skipped out on in high school, that is, chemistry. Chemistry is connection, it is what set’s our hearts on fire and breathes new life into our beaten souls. Human beings are primarily driven by emotions rather than logic, the heart simply wants what it wants and all reasoning goes out the window when we feel connected to someone intimately.  

There is no harm in being picky but having a realistic ‘wish-list’ is far better than having an unrealistic ‘check-list’.

Find The Right Platform

Now that you have a good idea of what you want you can start looking into appropriate platforms. Just like how you wouldn’t (typically!) look for a wife or a husband at a rave party, you wouldn’t just go for any platform to find a partner. Each platform exists for its own set of reasons such as targeting certain markets. Your job is to find the ones that suit your purpose. There are literally hundreds out there however I have listed a few online dating platforms just to give you an idea.

Tinder: Primarily a ‘hook-up’ app based on people around your area, although it’s possible to get people are looking for friends or dating, the pretence behind this app is based on ‘rating’ people based purely on their photos and/or their short description.

Plenty of Fish: A fully functional website/app that is catered for all types of people looking for all types of situations. There is a lot more interactivity that helps filter the potential matches.

OKcupid: A website/app that primarily matches people based on their answers to a whole database of questions. This gives the site a more robust appeal as it is free to use and has a comprehensive list of features to help you find potential matches.

Lovestruck: A subscription based website that is free to register however to interact with potential matches you will need to use ‘credits’ that are pre-purchased. As you would expect from a paid service you will find users that are more serious about dating.

As you can see you will need to do a bit of research, nevertheless, given that most of the platforms are free (some limit the features you can use as to promote paid usage) you can always try and see if it works for you, just be wary that not all platforms were created equal.

Create An Awesome Profile

Now here comes the fun yet challenging part. Creating a profile can be challenging if you are serious about finding someone especially if you are not too familiar with the platform you are using. Before you create a profile and get familiar with the platform, check out other people’s profiles and see how they ‘sell’ themselves. The awesome profiles easily stand out from the crowd whilst the bad ones are instantly ignored (unless you have a penchant for checking out bad profiles). See what the awesome ones do and try to emulate them but add your own personal flair and style to it. After all, online dating is a lot like any other business out there trying to distinguish themselves from the competition.

Here are some useful tips for an awesome profile.

Awesome Profile Photo

Use Your Best (Natural) Photos

This is possibly the most important element of your profile! What you put as your first photo can make the difference between someone clicking on you or just scroll past you. You want to be able to grab the person’s attention and create a strong desire to find out more about you.

Your photo should be preferably a natural one that is, without post-processing in Photoshop or with heavy make-up. It should also be as natural as possible because at the end of the day people want to date you not your make-up and awesome Photoshop skills. There’s nothing worse than going on a date with someone that looks completely different to their photos, trust me.

At the most simplest and most effective is a shot of just you smiling at the camera with some natural warm lighting. Then again, it really depends on who you are trying to attract. If you are trying to attract someone more outgoing and wild then the shot of you jumping off a raging camel whilst doing the splits in mid-air might be appropriate or if you are trying to seduce people with a dim-lit, sensual and partly revealing shot of yourself then so be it.

Your expression is very important in shaping the photo’s vibe or feel. Find a photo of yourself that gives off a positive vibe rather than a plain or frowning expression, this way you will get a lot more people that will open up to you than ignore you.

Remember your outcome and do what seems appropriate, find something that would make you go ‘wow! That’s an awesome photo’, you could always change it if it doesn’t work out.

Add 'Some' Variety

I know there is a lot of emphasis on the visual aspect but you’ve got to remember that most people are visual creatures and process visual information far quicker than words, after all a picture is worth like a million unspoken words! So what better way to sell yourself than with a variety of photos in different interesting situations.

What you really want is a range of photos to show off your personality however this isn’t a online photo album like Flickr nor it is ‘selfie heaven’ like Instagram. I normally put around 3-4 photos just to show a glimpse of my real self to the world (i.e. one exotic, one social and one hobby you're passionate about) you want a hint of mystery so that your potential suitors have something to look forward to rather than showing all your cards in the beginning.

Your photos will do most of the promoting without even expending any mental effort on coming up with descriptions of yourself however there are a few things you should think twice about before you upload random photos.

Having photos of cute animals might be fun for you but really doesn’t serve any purpose in selling yourself as a potential partner. Some platforms (particularly adult oriented ones) allow the use of scantily clad photos however most of them frown upon these types – if you need revealing photos to get attention you’ve got to ask yourself again who are you really targeting? Your photos are supposed to be of you, nothing else (not pictures of landscapes, puppies, or groups of people), and each one will create a certain impression so take care in selecting what kind of message you want to send out.

Paint Your Masterpiece
Credit: yellowcreekartstudio

Paint Yourself With Words

This is where I see a lot of people ignore or simply fail.

People who write things such as ‘I don’t know what to say’, using other quotes to describe themselves or leaving it blank/minimal might be interpreted as being boring character or lazy to come up with anything to say about themselves. Your description is your chance to tell the world how awesome you are as a person! You can put your own words to the pictures and express yourself as an inventive and unique individual with something interesting to say. Sure enough you can tell yourself ‘I’m an average person with nothing interesting in my life’ then what kind of person would you be attracting? I am not saying you have to be an artist with words, just be yourself the words will come out and that will attract like-minded individuals – Trying to impress by exaggerating or fabricating might be tempting but ask yourself how long can you keep up that façade? Like anything in life, honesty is always the best policy even when comes to randomly meeting hook ups.

Just write a few sentences and let the words flow, then get someone to read it and give you feedback. If you don’t like it, scrap it and try again until you are happy with it.

AHF - Always Have Fun

Have fun with your descriptions (especially if you are a fun person) and be as descriptive as you want. Your words are like a paint brush where as your profile is your canvas – your job is to paint the most captivating and alluring piece of art anyone has ever seen. I personally put completely random yet relevant answers to my description boxes because I’m genuinely a quirky guy, so if are a serious person put serious answers, it’s all about being yourself irrespective of what platform you are using.

Hard work

Do The Hard Work

At the end of the day people are judgmental creatures, what they see is what they judge. It doesn’t matter if you are the one and only for them, if you can’t communicate your true self and intentions through your profile your potential soulmate might not even know you existed. Take some time with your profile and know that with each extra effort you put in painting that delicate masterpiece you call yourself, the more chances you have at finding what you are looking for.

Some sites/applications have matching systems based on personality tests. If the dating platform functions based on this then it would be a good idea to complete these tests as it helps match you to more compatible individuals. These tests are usually quite accurate provided that the answers they receive from you are an accurate reflection of your personality. Apart from helping you to match with potential partners, these tests are fun and give you some good insight into your own personality so why not spend a few minutes?

In the next part let's look at how to optimize your search efforts in finding a suitable partner.


Online Dating For Dummies
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The Rules for Online Dating: Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right in Cyberspace
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(price as of Sep 27, 2015)