No matter how you slice it, online dating is daunting. With an overwhelming number of digital dating platforms and an endless stream of prospective partners, how will you ever stand out?
The Huffington Post caught up with Ryan Jakovljevic, an award-winning relationship expert and couples therapist, to learn the do’s and don’ts of online dating — suited for the average straight man. So keep these tips and tricks in mind next time you find yourself swiping away.
1. Know what you’re looking for.
Before diving into the online dating sea, Jakovljevic says you should be aware of what type of relationship you’re after. Whether it’s a no-strings-attached rendezvous, casual dating or a serious relationship, pick one and create your profile with that in mind.
For casual hook ups, Jakovljevic recommends Tinder for straight guys (or Grindr for gay guys). If you’re in search of a serious partner, Jakovljevic suggests eHarmony or Match.com since paid sites tend to filter out the not-so-serious people.
2. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential match.
To take your online dating game to the next level, try putting yourself in your prospective partner’s shoes. For example, to gain insight into a woman’s perspective, Jakovljevic suggests creating a female profile for a day and observing how men talk to you.
“Most women are getting dozens of messages, only a few of which stand out. It can be a real eye-opener,” says Jakovljevic.
3. Show, don’t tell.
The number one mistake guys make is writing about their traits rather than demonstrating their traits, Jakovljevic says. There’s a difference between saying “I’m a really funny guy,” and sharing a hilarious story on your profile.
“If someone tells you they’re really cool, one thing you can be sure if is, they aren’t,” he advises.
Think about what you want to communicate, and show that instead of flat out saying it. It’s also helpful to ask yourself, “What kind of introduction would I want to keep on reading?”
Steer clear of eliminating prospective dates, e.g. “must be down for a good time” or “have to beadventurous before swiping right.” The last thing you want is to come off as critical or bossy. Keep it positive.
4. The best type of profile picture may not be what you think.
You may be surprised, but the worst picture you can post if you want women to respond is one of you smiling and looking at the camera, according to Jakovljevic. The best performing photos show a guy looking away from the camera, and not smiling.
“Women love to see a man’s sense of focus and intensity. Imagine a shot of you in action playing pool, focusing on making a shot,” he says.
For optimal results, add a photo of you in a social setting and another showing you doing something interesting. The key for the latter is to spark curiosity and create topics of conversation. Good photos, for instance, will show you backstage with a band or in a remote area less traveled-to. You want your prospective match to wonder, “How did he pull that off?” or “What was he doing there?”
5. Personalize your greeting.
Ditch the generic “hey, what’s up?” and opt for sending a personalized message. Putting thought into your initial greeting shows you’re interested and that you’ve taken time to read through her profile.
According to a study by dating site OKCupid, messages that include the phrase “you mention”along with an interest listed in her profile, or messages that suggest you have a common interest, have a much higher chance of getting a response.
6. Converse as you would in real life — in complete words, in good taste.
When exchanging messages, it’s important to avoid text speak and physical compliments, Jakovljevic says. Poor grammar and incorrect spelling are also a huge turn-off and make an awful first impression.
So while you may think phrases like “ur hot” and “omg so sexy” flatter the receiver, Jakovljevic says women read these types of messages all the time. If you want to stand out, get more creative and address their interests over their looks.
And while this may be obvious, it’s worth repeating: Do not go straight for the “nudes?” message, and for the most part, refrain from asking for sex at the initial stage. It’s one of the worst ways to start a conversation, Jakovljevic says.
7. If you like her, ask her out.
If you’re feeling a connection, Jakovljevic recommends making a concrete plan to meet up. Don’t just ask for her digits as a next step. Why move potentially awkward conversation from one platform to another? Getting to the point and meeting up to see how you jive IRL is much better than waiting for the nerve-wracking iMessage ellipsis.
8. Don’t play games.
Online dating is a different experience for everyone, but there’s one rule Jakovljevic encourages his clients to follow: Don’t play games. No one wins.
“If you don’t like someone, be mature enough to tell them you aren’t interested. If you’re interested, don’t try to be unavailable or hard to get,” he says. “If you’re honest and straight up and it doesn’t work, that’s okay — you’re filtering out people who don’t fit what you’re looking for.”