I’ve previously written many a post about my experiences with internet dating, some good, some bad, some rather bloody ugly. After moving onto such new fangled dating/encounter sites as Tindr and Badoo (and coming to the conclusion that their primary purpose is “a booty call with someone you don’t know yet”) and after receiving messages from guys who make me want to scream into my pillow in despair I thought maybe I could use my experience on (all of the) dating sites to give a bit of an Internet Dating 101.
Usernames are important. If I receive an alert on my phone which says “BIGSEXYGUY4U” has sent me a message, chances are that even if the guy is a perfect gentleman, impeccably good looking with amazing manners and a sense of humour to have me rolling on the floor laughing, that username is going to instill a seed of URGH. REALLY? If you don’t want to reveal your actual name use a jumble of initials, something neutral. Want some bad examples of usernames?
heretofindyou (stalker), toyboyforssbbw (fetishist), scifisexfantasyfan (weird), bigblkguy4u (4me? no), couldibetheone (IS THAT YOU DANIEL BEDINGFIELD?)
Select your profile pictures carefully. I think I speak for men and women alike when I say that even if you have an amazing written profile, your profile pictures are going to play a big factor in whether you get a message back. Some sites advise that you “upload pictures of yourself smiling and having fun” – I don’t really smile, but I tend to just upload my standard (non filtered) selfies or pictures from my outfit pictures on my blog in a “Hi this is me and my face and this is what I look like with clothes on” idea & you’d think that would be the same for everybody, right? No. Let me give you a run down of the sorts of pictures I’ve seen as peoples “profile” pictures: bitstrip cartoon, a picture of their cat, a picture of their bed with fairylights on it (yes, a man), his car, his motorbike, a jet ski, his house (caption: “our humble abode” – sorry, what?), tattoos, his abs, him with his a selection of women (are these your friends? sisters? mum? exes?), his baby pictures, soppy Tumblr “quote” pictures, last years Halloween outfit, a snowman.
Your face or a full body shot will suffice. Clothed.
If by some miracle you are willing to feature your own FACE as a profile picture, please don’t use every single Instagram filter conceivable. That is false advertising.
THE OPENING MESSAGE
The first message is a clincher. I still find it hard to think of the perfect opening message and 9 times out of 10 someone will make a judgement based on if they’re going to reply to your message (no matter what it says) based on your profile picture, shallow, yes, but I’m sure we’ve all done it.
Dos for the first message?
1. Read their profile, pick up on an interest of theirs and ask them about it. If they say they’d like to travel ask where? If they say they can cook, whats their signature dish? If they say they like Breaking Bad lead with a question about that (go for the first series, you don’t want to drop any spoilers).
2. KISS. Keep it simple, stupid. By simple I don’t mean “Simple Simon” – make the message friendly and light hearted, throw a bit of personality in there, try and make them laugh – you want them to find you intriguing… “Hello” may have worked for Lionel Richie, but it isn’t inspiring at all.
Don’ts for the first message:
If you saw an attractive person in the street would you walk up to them and say “I would” to their face? Probably not (if you would, you deserve to be single) so what makes you think it’s okay to do so on an online dating platform? Same goes for sexual advances. I was once received a message asking if a gentleman could insert his finger into my bum (no) and one asking whether I’d accept £80 a piece from 10 “hot guys” to spend the night with me (no).
If you do message someone and they don’t reply they probably aren’t going to reply, no matter how many times you message them. I don’t send replies to people I’m not interested in, I know it’s a little cut throat, but sending a message to say “you seem really nice but I’m just not interested, sorry” only acts as an opening of communication lines. Don’t take it to heart if they don’t reply you’ve not lost anything by sending one message and not having a reply, after all you’ll probably never end up seeing them again. Don’t be the person who sends message after message in the hopes you’ll eventually get a reply, that just makes you look desperate.
The chances are that the people you’d want to attract on a dating site are there because there is a lack of “decent” potential partners they come across on a day to day basis. Therefore, coming across like a decent human is probably going to bode well (although I suppose it all depends on what you’re looking for from the dating site, I’m presuming you actually want to find someone to date/more).
Again: Keep it simple. Paragraphs and paragraphs about your entire life story, listing all of your likes and dislikes, your favourite film, what size trousers you wear, how you like your tea, what bread you buy from the supermarket is probably over kill. Basically, make it interesting enough for someone to want to know more about you but don’t give too much away – after all, learning someones little likes and dislikes are all part of the fun of getting to know somebody. On the same note, at least write SOMETHING. “Just checking this place out” or “message me if you want to know more” would give me no message insipration whatsoever. Dangle a carrot, instill a little intrigue in visitors to your profile.
With all of the above in mind, just remember than although it’s called a dating site, you’re not guaranteed to find a date on there or Mr/Mrs Right. I’ve always looked at such websites as somewhere which opens you up to the opportunity of connecting with people you wouldn’t usually connect with. Treat it as a pub or your workplace online, you’re not guaranteed to find the love of your life (although you might) and you may speak to (or even kiss) a lot of frogs.
The important thing with internet dating is that if you do manage to find somebody who’s profile doesn’t bring you out in hives, who looks vagueley attractive without filters and who is capable of holding a conversation/makes you laugh and you do decide to go on a *gulp* date, for gods sake, make sure you stay safe (and I don’t mean ensure you fill your pockets with Durex). No matter what your age or how street wise you may think you are, you’re still talking to people you don’t know on the internet (remember what happened to Sarah Lou in Corrie?).
Arranging a date? Meet them somewhere in public, tell somebody where you’ll be and at what time (I’ve even given my friend my dates username and any information I’ve had about them JUST IN CASE he turns out to be a murderer) and for godsake, if youve learnt nothing else from my blog and previous dating stories, make sure you arrange a friend who can call you at the drop of a text to tell you that “something bad happened” and you have to leave, immediately (just incase his photos are 20 years old/he has a funny smell/he’s more boring then gardening).