Online Dating for Beginners

You know that saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”? Well, I have a new one for you guys: “Sometimes it takes 8 women and a couple of bottles of wine to write a really great online dating profile”  & that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Let me explain:

A friend of mine recently decided that she wanted to start actively dating again. However, as I have explained before, male – female relations in my hometown are slightly perplexing. Flirting seems non-existent and I’ve been told by several friends that it’s incredibly hard to meet people. Therefore, online dating is actually one of the more viable ways to get a date. Since my friend has been out of the online dating scene for a while & wasn’t quite sure where to start, she invited a handful of her girlfriends over for a fun night of moral support. The goal? Help her craft the perfect online dating profile that reflects her awesomeness.

I have almost zero experience with online dating. My one and only online dating experience more closely resembled an episode of Criminal Minds than modern romance. I wasn’t quite sure what I’d be able to bring to the table (except maybe comic relief?) however, I’m glad I participated – it was a lot of fun! I even learned a few things about online dating from some of the more seasoned daters.

After lots of good wine, food and some serious flip chart & marker action, we came up with some helpful guidelines for online dating:

{Me, proudly standing in front of one of our many flip chart creations}

 

1. DO list interests like running, swimming, travel & foreign films if that’s what you’re into. They may sound general but by including some common search terms like this it will help people find you. DON’T list hobbies that make you sound like you’re a senior citizen (Victoria is already overflowing with them!) or anything that suggests what you are really looking for is a new Gay BFF.

 

You may secretly love Twilight, 1990’s boy band dance parties and making snarky comments about reality TV while drinking candy colored martinis….but the person you’re dating doesn’t necessarily have to. That’s what your friends are for! Your gay friends. 

 

2. When it comes to describing the first date: DO keep things simple & playful. DON’T mention a super specific scenario that involves consuming your favorite vegetable or showing off your impressive collection of __________ (Shoes/Rock-climbing Photos/US Presidential Action Figures). Remember, you’re trying to keep things open ended!

 

When it comes to online dating chat and/or the first date, always refrain from talking about your ex’s. You also might want to use your discretion when discussing your love for rodents or a bizarre/unusual pet. Unless of course, your master plan involves spending the rest of your life living alone with Iggy, your pet Iguana.

 

3. Final words of advice:  Be open-minded but always keep your values, standards and integrity intact. Have faith – the right people will find you….and if the wrong people find you, at least you’ll have some great blog fodder.

 

To see if we were on the right track with all this online dating stuff, I turned to Kimberly Moffit, Match.com’s “Canadian Relationship Insider” for an expert opinion. As a psychotherapist and counselor, based in Toronto, Kimberly has studied the ins and outs of romance and relationships and has the answers to love’s toughest questions. She offers cheeky dating tips in her signature voice on her blog, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Life, Love and Relationships, and is a regular contributor to Match.com’s blog, Up to Date.

If you’re curious to see how we did you can read Kimberly’s answers after the jump!

What are your suggestions for choosing the perfect profile photo?

The perfect profile photo is a good headshot. It’s important to look like your best self at the present moment. And make sure you smile! Don’t choose a photo with your dog, children, or ex-partner as your main image and avoid pictures which might obstruct your best features or distract the viewer (for example, no pictures skiing where you’re wearing heavy gear!) Many sites like Match.com will allow you to upload several photos, so you have ample opportunity to showcase different facets of yourself and your life.

Those initial ice-breaker emails are tricky. You don’t want to say too much but you also don’t want to come off as unoriginal. What are your tips for writing an attention grabbing ice breaker message?

Initial emails can be intimidating at first – and it can take a bit of practice to pull them off! Spilling your life story in the first few emails is bad news, as is asking really personal questions about your match. My best advice is to find something interesting in their profile that you can spring from. If your match has mentioned that he or she likes snowboarding and you used to do it professionally, challenge them to a race! Connecting on hobbies or interests will help you establish a rapport before setting up that first date. That also means you should give people a reason to e-mail in you back. Try asking a question – where to get the best poutine in town, for instance. Or keep it current – mention your opinion of a movie or concert you went to last weekend, and see what they have to say about it.

Same goes for the “about me” section on an online dating profile. I think a lot of people (myself included) have a hard time writing about themselves. What are your tips for composing a online dating profile that will set you apart from the pack?

The best profiles I have seen are the ones that may not be catchy or flamboyant but are honest and detailed. Start by stating clearly what you’re looking for and be sincere. Some people think that your interests need to sound like a movie script (“I love long walks on the beach and a good sunset”) but this type of cliché can end up sounding insincere. Tell the reader what you’re actually interested in: comic books, that you grew up on a farm, or that you make a mean margarita. You want to talk about yourself but also be sure to describe the kind of person you’re looking for and spell out the traits you seek in a romantic partner. Grab attention and where possible, keep it short and sweet. On search pages only a small portion of your profile will show, so pack good information into that space.

Finally, the best advice I can give is to consult your friends. Nobody’s more honest—or knows you better—than your best buddies. Plus they can spell check! At the end of the day, you are trying to attract someone who shares your interests and values, so being as honest as possible will bring you one step closer to finding that special someone.

(See!! We were on the right track!! Power in numbers!)

In your opinion what are some “red flags” that first time online daters should be aware of?

Be careful of getting too attached to someone before meeting them – it can turn into a time-suck that can be a waste of time when you haven’t developed a physical rapport. Instead, focus on taking things from online to offline at a comfortable pace. Generally after about 5 emails you’re ready for a coffee date. Match.com always recommends talking to someone on the phone before investing your time in a real-life date and I couldn’t agree more. Voice and sound are great way to judge chemistry. When you’re getting ready to meet someone in person, above all, trust your instincts. Be open to sharing information about yourself, but – as with anyone new you meet – it’s smart to be cautious about disclosing personal information.

Do you have any other advice for singles who will be online dating in the New Year?

Absolutely. According to a recent Match.com survey, 42 per cent of single Canadians will resolve to fall in love in 2012. The ones that succeed will have focused not just on the goal itself, but on the process, effort, and time involved. Instead of saying “My goal is to fall in love this year,” say “My goal is to go on four dates per month this year.” Instead of expecting to find the love of your life in two weeks, give yourself six months of continuous dating and work at it. Setting reasonable goals for yourself and taking action will improve your chances to be in the successful group of Canadians who do find love in 2012.

What do you think? I think we did pretty good! Maybe online dating parties are going to be the next big thing! Have any of you ever been to a similar event? 
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