If you’d like to meet someone and have decided to go online you must be careful not to be lulled into habits that will undermine your online dating experience. You need to know The Biggest Online Dating Mistakes to Avoid having a nice online dating experience!
1. Don’t go crazy over the pictures.
If what you want is a real connection — a relationship with a person you hope to love and who will love you — you will have to bring your most mature and empathetic self to the project.
That means not saying, “Eh, she’s cute — but I prefer brunettes to blondes. Next!” You’d never behave this way in person, so don’t do it online.
2. Don’t obsess about the details.
Don’t worry too much about the particulars: which restaurants, bars, movies, or books a potential date likes. (“Oh, he lives in Queens” or “She prefers Six Feet Under to The Sopranos.”)
Instead, take in the broad strokes — does he live in the same city? Is she a reader? Does he seem intelligent? Don’t become consumed with the idea that someone out there corresponds exactly to all your tastes and preferences. You must think about The Biggest Online Dating Mistakes to Avoid!
3. Evaluate the tone of the profile.
What’s actually important in evaluating a dating profile is its tone. You want to try and get a sense of what the person is like, which can be truly difficult.
It’s a challenge as a novelist to convey characters in meaningful ways — it’s no less demanding for a person writing, or reading adult dating profiles. It’s key to read between the lines to get a sense of whether the person seems well-adjusted — pleasant, friendly, and reasonable, someone you would be drawn to if you met him or her in person, even if you didn’t know her top five favorite movies.
Look closely for signs of boastfulness, snideness, or bitterness. Also, insincerity: the person who claims over and over again to “absolutely love” his or her life just the way it is, to be “completely and totally” satisfied with everything in it. These people claim to have joined said dating site on a lark (“my friend suggested it and I figured why not?”). These behaviors suggest this person might have trouble being honest about his or her vulnerability or true motives.
Attention to tone when you read profiles will help you to ferret some of those qualities no one admits to (we often don’t even know we have them, sadly).
4. Ignore claims about personality.
Ignore most of the person’s explicit claims about his or her personality — for example, “I have a sense of humor about myself” or “I’m an optimist.” People are very unreliable self-reporters.
That’s not just because they lie (although that’s a possibility, too), but because the way we see ourselves often bears little relation to how others see us. And only external events provoke our negative reactions, right? (We humans are expert self-justifiers.)
It means nothing. The only explicit claims worth taking at face value are factual — job, age, education, and location. When it comes to less tangible qualities, people are just too biased.
On the other hand, it’s worth paying attention to what is implicit in a profile — e.g., a sense of humor that rises to the surface. (A friend of mine answered a question about his strengths this way: “I am responsible for refilling the Brita pitcher.” This says more about what he’s like in conversation than any claim of being a “funny person.”)
5. Don’t get attached based on a profile.
No matter how much of an expert you’ve become at reading profiles, and no matter how well this girl or guy corresponds to your dream match, there’s still a lot you won’t be able to glean until you sit across from him or her at a coffee shop.
It doesn’t matter how many delightfully winning asides he has included in his profile about his cute devotion to his 96-year-old grandmother. Think her passion for hot dogs and minor league baseball suggests just the kind of chill, fun-loving girl you’ve fantasized about dating?
You learn so much more from a person’s manner and demeanor — whether he makes eye contact, her tone when she speaks, how often she smiles. You also recognize social niceties; that is, what sort of effort he makes to ask you questions, whether she is constantly checking her phone, etc.
So much vital information is only disclosed in person. The goal shouldn’t be to find your perfect match but merely to winnow down the possibilities to a reasonable number, and then to meet those people IRL.
6. Don’t construct a fantasy after two dates.
You shouldn’t do this offline either, of course, but the temptation to fantasize can be even greater when you’ve met someone online. After all, in his profile, he claimed to be looking for a relationship (and why would he be online unless he really wanted to meet someone?) What more do you need? Answer: a lot.
Sometimes we get so tired of dating that we just want to be done with it, rush into the next thing: the relationship. But getting too attached too soon is often the worst thing that can happen to a budding connection. It tends to dampen flirtation or scares off your counterpart. After a few dates, you are still getting to know each other, no matter how perfect he or she seems. To become too attached suggests that you are projecting a fantasy onto the other person.
It can be hard when you so badly want to find “the one,” but getting to know another person, truly, takes time and patience.
What are some other tips you have for evaluating online profiles for compatibility? Let us know in the comments.
The Biggest Online Dating Mistakes to Avoid