Online dating, AKA a needle in a haystack

We all know how difficult dating has become over the years. Gone are the days of blind dates and parental hookups. Nowadays, we rely on our computers to find love. The internet gives us hundreds of dating apps from eHarmony, Match, and Plenty of Fish, we are thrust into a pit that will overwhelm even the best of us. I’ve tried multiple sites looking for a kindred spirit to keep me company, and while I’ve met plenty of great people, I have met some not so great people as well. If you have ever joined an online dating site, you know how frustrating it can be to find the right match. Fake profiles, misleading photos, or just flat out lies lead to frustration and deleted accounts.

The trouble with online dating

If you have ever joined an online dating site, you know how frustrating it can be to find the right match. Fake profiles, misleading photos, or just flat out lies lead to frustration and deleted accounts. This is not a sprint. This is an ultramarathon. You must prepare, build up your endurance, stay vigilant, and then race day, expect to finish last. There are winners, of course, those mythical couples who meet online and end up happily ever after. I hear they have pet Unicorns as well. While successful online couples may not be that mythical, there are definitely more failed attempts than successful. Hence we keep playing The Game.

You get what you pay for

When starting a new venture into the online dating world, remember that you get what you pay for. There are plenty of free sites like Plenty of Fish or OKCupid where you can email members without paying a monthly fee, but the thing to remember here is you’re going to run into more fake or misleading profiles than you will with a fee-based site. You’ll find an attractive someone and craft a great first message only to get a response saying they need to “verify” you by going to another website and signing up with them. This bait and switch routine is pretty common with free sites, and while the site may say they regulate members and delete fake accounts, it’s up to other users to report them.

The monthly fee sites such as Match and eHarmony will cut out these trollers and allow you to get a better chance to find someone special to spend your life with. The monthly fees start at $41.99/month for Match and $59.99 (3-month membership) for eHarmony. Pricey, but worth it as paid members are ready to put some serious effort into finding a relationship. While you will find more accurate profiles and more recent photos on these fee-based sites, you still may find you are not getting any responses. Online dating is a numbers game, unfortunately. You have to play a lot to get any response. Like any sport, you will need to prepare for the Big Game. Here’s what you can do:

You won’t succeed if you don’t try

You’ve all heard the horrific online dating stories before. Most are funny, some disturbing, and a few are just wrong in every way possible. This one unfortunate fellow had the fun pleasure of picking up his date for the first time, and while on the way to the bar, she kept saying, “There’s no way you think I’m pretty enough.” She repeated this several times, even after he assured her that she was attractive, but she kept insisting she wasn’t. Clearly, her self-esteem was very low, and she sabotaged what could have been a fun evening.

You can’t let all of the negative stories you hear about dick pics, rude behavior, or lack of common sense when talking with someone. You still need to make that first step and sign up. Typically, signing up and filling out your profile can take 1-2 hours. Longer if you’re going with eHarmony. I would suggest completing your profile before contacting anyone. Just like walking up to someone in a bar, you want to make the best first impression.

Craft a well-written profile and email

You get what you put into it is very true here. No one likes talking about themselves, and writing about themselves is even worse. Many sites will give you suggestions about what to write about and make for beneficial guidelines. There are even services out there that will craft well-written dating profiles for you.

This is where you get to shine. Don’t be afraid to be boastful about your accomplishments, but in a humble way. Favorite hobby? Talk about why you enjoy it. Talk about what you want out of life and what makes you smile. Be personable and positive, and do it all within 2-3 paragraphs. Any more and you’re liable to lose interest in the reader. Remember, most people scan photos first before reading profiles. If the photo entices them, they’ll start reading. If you don’t capture them within the first few sentences, you’ll most likely be passed by.

The first email should be written with the same care. Don’t throw out one-liners, and Hey, you’re hot, kind of emails. How would you approach a woman in public? Would you ogle them and make rude gestures or noises? Well, some of you would, but try to avoid do that. Think about what you would say to someone who is standing next to their parents. In other words, be respectful. Start with what drew you to their profile besides their photos. Make the email personable to that one person.

Be Patient

When it comes to online dating, men are at a disadvantage. It’s customary that men make the first move, leading to women receiving an average of 10-20 emails per 1 email received for men. Imagine if you had to go through 10-20 emails a day, no matter if they are all supermodels, it’s going to wear you down.

Don’t expect an answer within a few hours. If they are interested, they’ll call back. If not, move on. Don’t send another email asking if they got the first one. I’ve heard plenty of stories about women getting three or four emails within 24 hours, starting with a polite hello to calling them names and other nasty words simply because they did not get a response back.

This patience does not stop after the first date either. Like any living thing, relationships need to grow, and if you don’t take special care while it’s growing, it will never reach its full potential. A friend of mine went on a first date up in Denver, and before the first drink was even finished, he dropped this little bomb – “You would be so perfect barefoot and pregnant in my kitchen.”

I’ll give you a minute to pick your jaw up off the floor.

What’s the worst that can happen?

There is such a fear of hearing the word no. It’s just a word. A powerful word, but it is just a word. George Lucas was told no when he first brought Star Wars to the Studios. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books received numerous rejections before being published. No does not mean stop trying. One person’s opinion of you is based solely on some photos, and your words are simply that, an opinion. How many times have you made a bad first impression and ended up becoming good friends with that person? You will receive more No than Yes in your life, and you cannot let it stop you from reaching your goals. And dating is a goal, not a hope, a wish, or a dream. You want to find someone to spend your life with, that is your goal, and you do not give up until you reach that goal!

Setting expectations

Physical attraction is a chemical response that you cannot get across a computer screen. I’ve met plenty of attractive women that we got along great online, and when we first meet, no chemistry. That Spark you feel when you first meet someone that gets your heart racing isn’t there. I won’t get into the why’s and how’s here, but needless to say, you can only go so far talking online and on the phone.

Please don’t go into a first date thinking stars will align and little Cherubs will be playing music as she walks through the door. In fact, please don’t call it a date at all. This is just a Meet & Greet. Plan for a drink and then go from there. You don’t want to hours with someone you don’t get along with. Buti things go well, great! Let the date continue, but if not, no harm, no foul, and you’re not stuck wishing you had asked your friend to call you during the date for an Escape Plan!
Just as you need to give some time to find the right person and meet, it will take time to build that relationship. One date, no matter how great it is, will never give you the whole picture.

Never give up

Dating is hard, no matter the forum. Online dating has not made it any easier, but it has made the rest of the world more reachable. If you go into online dating with an open mind and an easy-going attitude, you’ll do fine. If you obsess over how you can never find anyone, it will show in your profile and on your dates. Relax. Take a deep breath. Enjoy.