If you’re navigating the world of online dating, it can feel a little scary at first. You don’t know what to expect or how to turn passive dating into a long-term relationship.
Our dating experts have interviewed several successful couples who met online, and we’ve scoured the internet for extra tips and tricks. All that information is now compiled into this Ultimate Online Dating Guide. Check out these online dating tips that are proven to work.
Tips for Creating an Online Dating Profile
Your online dating profile is the first thing other people see before they talk to you. These tips will help you make a great first impression.
1 – Use Your Best Photo First
This needs to be a clear photo of your face, including your eyes and your smile. If you have artistic photos you want to include in the profile, save them for later in the line. The first photo needs to showcase who you are, just as if someone was meeting you in person.
2 – Avoid Using Group Photos
We love that you’re close to your friends and family, but…no one really cares about that. This isn’t a group dating profile. It’s all about you! Leave the group photos for fun stories you share in the conversation stage of online dating.
3 – Post as Many Photos on Your Profile as the Site Allows
If you can only post five photos, upload five photos. If you can have ten, use ten! The trick here is to include a bunch of different photos to highlight different elements of your life. One picture shows you hiking, and another shows you baking cookies at home. Avoid repetitive pictures that look like the same angle with different backgrounds.
4 – Make Your Unique Features the Star of the Profile
What sets you apart from other people on this dating site? And before you say you have nothing to offer, we’ll reassure you that you do. In the business world, these features are called “unique selling points.” You’re trying to “sell” yourself to other people window shopping for love, just like you are. It may feel self-absorbed to brag about yourself, but people want to know what makes you special. Own that and make it prevalent in your photos and online dating provide content.
5 – Use Concise Phrasing (Get to the Point)
About 56% of people say it takes 7 seconds or less to make a first impression. That timeframe is even shorter online. If your dating profile is a wall of text, people are likely to move on quickly. Make your descriptions as concise as possible, while still emphasizing your hobbies, talents and values.
6 – Ask a Trusted Friend for Feedback
Do you have a friend who’s not afraid of providing honest feedback? That’s the person you want reviewing your online dating profile. Let them look over everything as if they were someone interested in dating you. They’ll let you know what you need to tweak for the best results.
7 – Don’t Let Your Dislikes Make You Seem Judgmental
You want to be honest on your profile, but there’s a balance to keep in mind. Focus more on what you want out of a relationship, not so much your dislikes. If the profile leans on the side of negative, it may seem off-putting or judgmental.
8 – When in Doubt, Leave It out
Wait a day or at least a few hours after creating your online dating profile. Then look at it with fresh eyes. Edit anything that seems out of place, wordy or excessive. And if you feel iffy about one element, leave it out.
Tips for Matching on an Online Dating Site
You’ve created your profile and now you’re ready to meet singles online. Here are some steps to get the ball rolling.
9 – Keep an Open Mind
Everyone has a type, even if they don’t actively realize it. You may have an idea in your head of what you want out of a partner, but try to keep an open mind. The more options you open yourself to, the better your chances are of finding a true match.
10 – Don’t Be Afraid to Initiate the Conversation
If you’re a shy person in real life, the internet is the perfect place to grow your voice. Don’t overthink it. Just go for it! You miss all of the shots you don’t take in life. Don’t let your reservation stop you from pursuing a relationship.
11 – Don’t Assume Every Match Is a Good Option
It may take a dozen conversations to yield one potential date. As exhausting as this can feel, it’s important not to get discouraged. You don’t have the body language and natural chemistry to review like you would in person. You’re relying on digital conversations to sort through the dating pool. Whatever time you spend along the way will be worth the end result.
12 – If You’re Not Getting Matches, Change up Your Profile
It may be time to change your profile photo or update your bio with new information. Refresh the profile to capture new attention, and you’ll soon see your matches go up.
Tips for Online Dating Conversations
Not sure what to say for online dating? These conversation tips will help you through the awkward silence.
13 – Ask Questions That Encourage Discussion (Not Yes or No Questions)
The most effective conversation starters are open-ended questions. If your question has a yes or no answer, that chain of thought is going to end quickly. Rather than saying, “Do you like classical music?” say, “What are your favorite styles of music?” The second version leaves room for a more elaborate discussion, which you can use to learn more about the other person.
14 – Be Honest about Your Past and Your Flaws
A staggering 71% of online daters say that they worry about people lying about themselves to appear more desirable. You don’t have to put on a show. If this is truly going to bloom into a relationship, the person will have to appreciate your flaws and your features. Tell the truth without fear of judgment. The right person will embrace those faults because they’re a unique part of you.
15 – Know When to Call It Quits
If you find yourself constantly initiating the conversation with little effort from the other person, it’s probably time to move on. Cut it off if you feel uncomfortable, neglected, or ignored. In a good relationship, the conversation will flow naturally.
16 – Don’t Get Wrapped up in Finding Your “Type”
You may be asking specific questions to see if the person fits your type. Well let’s face it – your type hasn’t really worked for you yet! Keep the conversations loose, and be open to a different perspective. That might be exactly what you’re missing in your life.
17 – Be Respectful of Cultural Differences
Cultural differences may change the nature of a conversation or the pace of the relationship in general. This is especially true in international online dating where lifestyles may be drastically different. Familiarize yourself with foreign dating cultures so you can adapt to someone else’s needs.
18 – Make Your Core Values Known Early on
Is religion a dealbreaker for you? Do you know for a fact that you do not want children in the future? These are the core values that will dictate the success of your relationship. Don’t waste your time or someone else’s time if there are fundamental areas you disagree on.
Of course, if there are areas where you have some flexibility, don’t consider those dealbreakers. Maybe you prefer someone with the same political ideas, but you’re also open for political discussions. Perhaps you don’t care if someone isn’t religious as long as they have some form of faith. Be aware of what you stand firm on and what you’re willing to potentially work around.
19 – Leave the In-Depth Conversations to Face-to-Face Dates
Online conversations don’t always come across correctly. If you’re going to talk about something important, you may want to save that conversation for a phone call, video call or in-person date. Ideally, arrange for a face-to-face interaction so you can watch the person’s body language and better gauge his or her feelings.
20 – Transition to Face-to-Face Conversations Early on
You may be tempted to text and email for an extended period of time, but most successful online dating couples say it’s best to meet early on. This may mean having a video chat on the phone or an in-person date, depending on the context of your relationship. There is no substitute for face-to-face chemistry, and you’ll really be able to see how well you mesh with the other person.
Tips for Virtual First Dates
Are you dating virtually before you meet in person? This is common for long distance online dating, and it’s not exactly like dating in person. Here are some suggestions to make your virtual first date a success.
21 – Create a Tidy Background for the Date
The person you’re dating doesn’t want to see your dirty laundry or piles of junk mail. Take some time to prepare the background or clean your space as a whole. You want to establish a good first impression, and your empty soda cans just aren’t going to cut it.
22 – Set up a Charging Station for Your Phone or Laptop
You don’t know how long this date may last. What starts as an hour could turn into an all-night experience of deep conversation. If you’re using a phone, tablet, laptop or other battery-powered device, make sure you have access to a charging station. Hopefully you end up using it!
23 – Showcase Your Pets and Interests
A great way to liven up an online date is to let the other person meet your pets! If you don’t have pets, you can still show off something important in your life. Maybe you have a collection of coffee mugs or a wall of books you love. Let the other person have a glimpse in your daily life.
24 – Plan ahead If There Is a Language Barrier
If you’re dating someone who speaks a different language, plan ahead for how you can handle that. Are you going to use translating software? Do you need a video call that will let you type while you view each other? A language barrier doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker for a date. You just need to proactively prepare for it.
25 – Do a Test Run with a Friend
Ask a trusted friend to do a quick trial run with you. Make sure you can sign into your profile, use your camera, and hear the other person when they speak. Technical difficulties can kill the momentum of an otherwise good date, so it’s best to be ready for them.
26 – Dress Like You Would for an In-Person Date
Dress nicely for your first date. It doesn’t matter that you’re sitting at home. You still want to look polished and tidy. You may choose to have more relaxed virtual dates in the future, but start off looking your best.
27 – Plan an Activity for the Date
This could be eating a similar meal together, playing a question-and-answer game, baking your favorite dishes, or anything you want to do. The goal here is to have a foundation for the date – something you can use as a jumping point for conversations and fun. This will fill in the awkward silence that sometimes happens online, and it will make the date feel more real.
28 – Clear Your Schedule for the Date
Phone calls, meetings, appointments – none of these things should interfere with your date. You may even want to block the notifications on your phone so you can focus entirely on the person you’re talking to. If you come across as too distracted, your partner isn’t going to want a second date.
29 – Write down Conversation Starters to Use (Or Find a Game That Does This for You)
There is nothing wrong with having a list of conversation starters on hand. If you can’t figure out what to say, you could get an icebreaker game to use for the date. There are tons of options available, and most have basic cards with fun questions on them. Pull out a question, read it aloud and see where the conversation goes.
30 – Embrace the Awkward Moments and Laugh about Them Together
There’s almost no way to avoid awkward moments on a date. That’s part of life and getting to know a new person. Embrace these moments because they can turn into fun memories later on. Take joy in the journey.
31 – Make Plans for a Second Date If the First One Went Well
Studies show that it only takes 15 minutes into a first date for most people to decide on a second one. If you feel like the date went well, bring up another date for the future. “I really enjoyed this. Are you free on Friday for us to meet up again?” If the person agrees to a plan, you know they also enjoyed themselves. If they want to take things a little slower, you can proceed at whatever pace feels comfortable for you both.
Tips for In-Person First Dates after Online Dating
Whether you’ve had a ton of virtual dates or this is the first formal meetup with someone, you can benefit from these in-person first date tips.
32 – Ask in Advance If You Can Hug, Shake Hands, etc.
Every person has their own boundaries regarding physical touch. It would be wise and respectful to ask what your partner’s boundaries are before you meet in person. “Would it be OK if I hug you when we first meet?” Alternatively, you could research the dating culture for that person’s area and see what is customary for first dates.
The main point here is not to overstep someone’s physical boundaries early on.
33 – Turn Your Phone Notifications Off (Or Ignore Your Phone Altogether)
Keep the date as distraction-free as possible. Don’t scroll on your phone, respond to text messages, or answer emails on a date. If you work in an environment where you cannot turn off your phone notifications, such as the medical field, make your date aware of that from the beginning. You don’t want to seem disinterested because you couldn’t focus on the date you’re on.
34 – Plan a Casual Date Where You Can Easily Talk
Most dating experts agree that a casual dining experience is best for a first date. If you go somewhere formal, you may feel stiff and uncomfortable. If you go to a movie or somewhere loud, you may have a hard time talking to the other person. You want a date that will let you converse freely with the other person.
35 – Do Something to Calm Your Nerves before the Date
Take a bubble bath, get a massage, do a relaxing activity. Shake off the nerves in advance so you can enter the date with as little stress as possible.
36 – Tell Someone You Trust Where You’re Going
Let at least one other person know where you’re going to be on your date. You may even turn on a location tracker on your phone, just to be safe. If something goes wrong, you want someone to know where you are and how to find you. Safety is important, no matter how comfortable you may feel with this person.
37 – Arrive Separately and Meet at the Location
It may seem romantic to have the other person pick you up for a date, but that means you’re confined to that person if the date doesn’t go well. It’s best to arrive separately and meet at a mutual location. If you want to go to the other person’s place after the date, you can. But having your own means of transportation gives you a way out if things go wrong.
38 – Have a Second Activity Planned If the Date Goes Well
What if you really like the date and want to go beyond dinner? What are you going to do? Think of follow-up activities or places you could hang out to keep the conversation going later into the night.
39 – Actively Listen to What the Other Person Is Saying
Adults want to feel validated. Period, statement, end of discussion. You want someone who actively listens to you, and they want someone who actively listens to them. Absorb what the other person is saying, and ask questions to keep them talking. You’ll quickly see a spark in their eyes when they realize you find their words valuable.
40 – Be Prepared to Split the Bill
Some dating experts say that the person who suggests the date should cover the bill, but we think it’s best to prepare to pay your half. If the other person offers to pay for it all, that’s perfectly fine. Nevertheless, you want to be ready to cover your own costs.
41 – Avoid Excess Drinking, Even If You’re at a Bar
Bars aren’t ideal for first dates anyway, but that may be where the night leads. Monitor your alcohol intake and avoid drinking in excess. People say and do things under the influence they wouldn’t do otherwise. You don’t want to start a relationship off with regrets.
42 – Dress Appropriately for the Date’s Activities
Think about what you want to wear based on what you’ll be doing. If you’re going to an arcade, dress casually. If you’re going to a nice restaurant and a walk in the park afterward, wear something nice that comes with comfortable shoes. Thoughtful planning will go a long way.
Online Dating Tips for Long-Lasting Relationships
You’ve made it past the first date, and you think this might turn into a relationship. Congratulations! Here are some important online dating tips for a long-lasting relationship.
43 – Put in the Effort (This Goes for Both Sides)
Make time for the person you’re dating. Think of ways to engage in their hobbies and interests. Also keep an eye on how much effort the other person is putting into the relationship. If it feels one-sided, talk about that. You need to find a balance that work for both of you.
44 – Set Realistic Goals for the Next Steps in Your Relationship
What does the short- and long-term trajectory of your relationship look like? What can you do to reach those goals? This may include moving, job changes, financial preparation, and much more. Discuss these important topics so you can have milestones to strive toward.
45 – Have a Discussion about Transitioning to a Monogamous Relationship
This is one of the most important discussions a couple can have. If you’re ready to stop seeing other people, talk to your partner about that. It’s crucial that you get on the same page about this to avoid hurting each other’s feelings. You might not be ready at the same time, but you need to be transparent about your status.
46 – Meet In-Person as Much as Possible
This is tricky for long distance dating, but it’s important no matter what. If you ultimately plan to spend your life with this person, you need to see if your daily lives are compatible. This requires a lot of in-person interactions.
47 – Keep Going on Dates Even When Things Get Comfortable
In a good relationship, it’s easy to fall into a level of comfort that soon becomes a rut. This is when many relationships start to fizzle out. You can keep the spark alive by continuing to date your partner. Whether you’re married, engaged, or still in the early stages of courtship, plan dates that will fuel your relationship.
48 – Talk about the Boring Parts of Your Day
This sounds so silly, but talk about the boring stuff! That thing that happened at work that made your whole day feel off. That funny person you saw getting groceries. That weird dream you had the other night. These seemingly meaningless elements of your life are more important than you think. Your relationship isn’t always going to feel exciting, but the connection you have with your partner can be.
49 – Remember, It Won’t Always Be Easy
No relationship is perfect from start to finish. You are going to face challenges in your relationship, regardless of when or how you start dating. Push through the hard times to build a strong foundation for your relationship.
50 – …But It Will Be Worth It!
As daunting as dating may seem, the end result is worth it. Imagine coming home from a hard day of work ad seeing the person that instantly makes your day better. Think about how great it will feel to know you’ve found the person who completes you. It’s not always easy or predictable, but it is rewarding. We’re here to make the journey as easy as possible.