Online Dating: Eight Tips for Guys

If only it were so easy...

I’ve been actively online dating over the past month but, more importantly (or shamefully) I’ve been on and off of various online dating sites for years. While I’ve met a few decent guys this time around, it seems that guys change very little over the years. I’ve been seeing/experiencing the same annoying behaviors for a long time and I’d like to share some tips. This isn’t to say that women don’t make mistakes too, and I may make my own “lessons learned” the subject of a future posting, but I’m sharing things from my perspective–and I hear these complaints from a lot of other women, too!

  1. Cell Phone Self-Portraits Are Soooooo 2003. Back in the days of MySpace, I understand that holding your cellphone at arm’s length or using it to snap your pic in the mirror might have been your best chance at a good shot. But there are options now. Look at your laptop. It probably has a camera. If you have an iPhone, the front-facing camera will let you take a picture of yourself without being obvious. Or, here’s a novel idea–find a friend and actually have them take a picture of you doing something. It appeals to women when you look like you have a job, or a hobby, or friends and you don’t spend all your time trying to make your best Jersey face for the ladies on OK Cupid. A plus if the picture is well-lit enough for me to: a) be able to pick you out of a line-up and b) determine definitively that the photo wasn’t taken inside of a jail cell.
  2. Shirtless Pics–Also a Bad Move. Women are not men. I’m sure some of us are looking for a casual connection, but those ladies are probably in the minority. If you’re taking your shirt off for me before we’ve even met, it makes me wary that you’ll be expecting me to do the same on our first date. Not into it.
  3. Read My Profile Before You Contact Me. There’s a reason we have a profile and not just a picture. Though it may seem unfair at times, photos are undoubtedly important on a personals site–that goes for all genders and preferences. However, they’re not the only thing. Even if you picked me out because I’m a pretty face and have a nice body, I don’t want to know about it. Take the time to learn something about me. This will also help both of us not to waste our time if one of us violates a deal breaker. If I’m not interested in guys over 40 and you’re 55, if you only want a Christian girl, if I don’t want to date a guy with kids and you have seven, know that I’m not going to write you back if you message me. Save us both some time and move on.
  4. Give Me Something to Read, Too. In case it’s not clear from items 1-3, women are not purely visual. A great photo might grab our attention but it’s often not the only reason we’ll write to you or write back. Say something, anything on your profile. And try to do so in relatively clear English. A profile with one or two typos can be overlooked. A profile with seventeen is a hot mess. Also, one-word answers imply poor first-date conversations down the road.
  5. You’re Not Looking For a Girl From Your Past, So Don’t Put Her in Your Profile. This is one women are definitely guilty of, too. It’s likely anyone over 25 has had a bad relationship and carries some baggage, but no one likes to be reminded of that. No reference to or bitterness about past relationships should appear anywhere on your profile. If you’re talking about women who aren’t “real,” your painful divorce, etc., it tells me that at best that you’re not fully over someone else and worst you have some potentially dangerous feelings about women and relationships. As I said, women often complain about men, too, but women are especially on-guard about who they meet online and about the potential for violence. Any woman with sense will see this and run, not walk, in the other direction.
  6. Be Prepared to Convince Me. Let’s be honest. Any woman on a dating site who is even moderately attractive is going to get a lot of visitors and a lot of messages from guys. That means you need to stand out. This isn’t as hard as it sounds–since at least 80% of guys who contact a girl are probably making one of the mistakes listed here. You significantly up your chances of a girl writing you back by doing a few simple things. In addition to heeding notes 1-4, when you message me you should tell me why we’re a good match. Why are you contacting me in the first place? Is there a hobby we share? Did something on my profile make you smile? What do you want to know more about? If you can’t talk to me in your first message, I’m going to wonder what we’ll talk about on our first date. Fill me in. And, unless you’re under 18 (in which case, why are you writing me anyway?), don’t message me and tell me “let’s text.”
  7. Never, Ever Send a Form Letter. This should go without saying, but a lot of guys do this and the vast majority are not smart enough to pull it off. Form letters have a distinct and unsavory flavor, and they will end up where the rest of my spam goes.
  8. Understand That I Received Your Message and if I Don’t Write Back, Just Move On. As the saying goes, there’s a lot of fish in the sea. If you take the time to follow these steps, odds are you’ll stand out from the crowd. But if a girl who strikes your fancy doesn’t write you back, cut your losses and move on. This practice may seem unfair or rude, but think about it: Do you respond to every unsolicited piece of e-mail or junk mail you receive? The guy who sends me a rapid-fire string of increasingly insistent/hostile messages gets blocked. Then the party’s really over.
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