Ever since your cousin met her now-fiance on Match.com, your boss met his wife on OKCupid, and your mailman met his girlfriend on eHarmony, you’ve decided to go ahead and give online dating a try. However, after six months of being on the site, you still haven’t had much luck with snagging dates with (somewhat) normal and attractive people. As an experienced online dater–who has met lots of handsome, successful (and yes, even some of them were Black!) men online–I have some advice to help assuage your dating woes–or to help you get your online dating game started off right.
10. Not spending enough time hanging out in the virtual bar. If you showed up to the club, looked around stank-facedly for fifteen minutes, and then left, you wouldn’t sit around at home confused about why you didn’t meet anyone in that fleeting quarter-hour you socialized with your fellow man. But this is exactly what lots of people do with online dating. They pop into the site, click around for a few minutes, and then leave disappointedly when they don’t immediately spot their Digital Denzel. Online dating sites use algorithms to surface the most active members, and many sites highlight when a particular member is currently online, which I suspect makes men much more likely to message women, and women much more likely to reply. If you’re serious about trying to meet someone online, be sure to log in at least twice a week for an hour at a time. You can just leave the window open while you answer emails in another tab if you are too busy to actually click around and look at people.
9. Undersharing. When I a receive a message from a man that has barely filled out his profile, I know that he’s just fishing, and as Steve Harvey says, I’m no “throwback chick,” so I don’t even bother replying. Whether you are male or female, having a sparse profile makes you seem boring or like you’re trying to hide something.
8. Oversharing. Even worse than undersharing is oversharing. We don’t need to know that you slipped into a yearlong depression when your wife left you for your daughter’s fifth grade teacher, that you have a crusty foot fetish, or that you intentionally watch Intervention when you need a good cry. Some things are better left unshared until you’ve been dating the person for several months. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable discussing the topic with someone you met at a cocktail hour, you probably shouldn’t include it in your online dating profile.
7. Replying too quickly. Both men and women can get overwhelmed when a simple introductory message turns into a three-hour late-night chat session. Messaging back and forth frequently during a short period of time often creates a false sense of intimacy that often does not hold up in a face to face meeting.
6. Replying too slowly. Each person on an online dating site is communicating with a number of other people, so if you take two weeks to get back to someone, they will likely take it as an indicator that you aren’t interested–and that you only decided to reply because you didn’t find anyone better. In order to avoid replying too slowly or too quickly, I recommend replying to messages within three days of receiving them if you plan to reply at all.
5. Being too negative. Don’t fill your profile with all the things you aren’t looking for. (By the way, who is looking for someone who lies, plays games, doesn’t like to have fun, and is emotionally unavailable?) Keep your profile focused on sharing your positive qualities and the key qualities you are looking for in a partner.
4. Exhibiting poor spelling and grammar. Of course as a writer, I am biased, but as a woman, I can promise you that we absolutely loathe when men misuse the words “their” and “there” or write using high school text language. Unless you are filling out your online dating profile while driving (which would make you a very bad person anyway), take the time to run spell check and to fully spell out words. Proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation is not just a requirement for the fellas. Ladies, the last thing you want is to be put in the “dumb and pretty” box, so be sure to right-click on that questionable word and make the red squiggle disappear.
3. Communicating with no personality. It can be hard to reveal your personality through the strokes of a keyboard, but it’s imperative that you make the effort to show what you’re like in the way that you communicate. As much as you can, write the way that you speak, and don’t be afraid to use an occasional emoticon. You also want to make sure that the initial message that you send to someone doesn’t come off as if you copied and pasted it to a dozen women. When messaging people, reference something in their profile, and share something interesting (but not too interesting) about yourself. Write messages that people feel motivated to reply to.
2. Using unflattering pictures. Pictures of you leaning on your buddy’s muscle car, shirtless iphone bathroom shots, and pictures of you leering drunkenly in your Halloween costume from three years ago do not do you justice. Post clear, well-lit smiling pictures of you that give visitors a clear idea of what your face (currently!) looks like as well as a full (clothed) body shot to give an idea of your physique. Avoid posting pictures of you with children (unless they are your own), with people of the opposite sex (even if he or she is related to you), and with your better-looking friends.
1. Giving up too soon. Lastly, the number one mistake I see among my friends with online dating is that they give up too soon. Yes, you bought the six-month package, but you stopped updating your profile, visiting the site, and replying to messages after four weeks. Hundreds of people are joining each of the major dating sites every single day. Even if the current crop feels stale, you never know when your future special someone might log on, so be sure to supplement your offline dating activities with an active online dating life for as long as you are single and looking.
EBONY family: Have you ever made one of the above online dating mistakes? Got any more online dating mistakes to add?
Kaneisha Grayson is a writer, entrepreneur, coach, and the author of Be Your Own Boyfriend: Decide to be Happy, Unleash Your Sexy, and Change Your Life. You can follow her on twitter @KaneishaD and join her daily discussion on life, love, happiness, and achievement on Facebook.