This article was co-authored by Chloe Carmichael, PhD. Chloe Carmichael, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist who runs a private practice in New York City. With
over a decade of psychological consulting experience, Chloe specializes in relationship issues, stress management, self esteem, and career coaching. Chloe has also instructed undergraduate courses at Long Island
University and has served as adjunct faculty at the City University of New York. Chloe completed her PhD in Clinical Psychology at Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York and her clinical training at Lenox
Hill Hospital and Kings County Hospital. She is accredited by the American Psychological Association and is the author of “Nervous Energy: Harness the Power of Your Anxiety.”
There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
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Online dating can feel a bit overwhelming or alien at first, but it's a great way to meet new people! To improve your odds of finding a good match, start by creating a profile that reflects your personality. Browse through your potential matches and start some conversations to begin putting yourself out there. Once you feel a connection with someone and would like to meet up, decide on a safe, public space to get together for a friendly date.
Method 1 of 4:
Creating a Dynamic Profile
1Choose match-generating sites for a more tailored approach. Many dating sites use algorithms based off of your answers to quizzes and surveys to generate potential matches for you. If you would like to be paired with someone who has similar interests and beliefs right off the bat without having to screen their profiles yourself first, this may be a great option for you! X Research source
- There are broad-based match-generating sites as well as ones that focus on a particular niche (like location, age, sexual preference, religion, income, and so on). You may want to create profiles on both broad-based and niche sites to optimize how many matches you have to choose from.
- Match, Elite Singles, Zoosk, and eharmony are well-rated match-generating sites.
2Opt for "see and screen" sites for fun, fast-paced connections. Unlike match-generating sites that do the initial screening for you, "see and screen" sites give you a more active role in matching yourself with other individuals. With these sites, you get to view profiles and pictures and make a decision yourself about whether or not you think you'd be a good fit. It can be a fun way to meet people you might otherwise not have matched with. X Research source
- Bumble, Tinder, OkCupid, Hinge, The League, Her, and Chappy are popular “see and screen” dating apps.
Tip: If you're just starting out as an online dater, pick just 1 or 2 sites to sign up with in the beginning so you don't get overwhelmed. As you become more comfortable with the platforms, you can sign up for more.
3Highlight your own unique personality rather than listing what you want. Nearly all dating sites require you to write a profile for yourself, and this is a great opportunity to showcase who you are! Spend 70% of the space introducing yourself and 30% of the space writing about what you want in a romantic partner. X Research source
- Someone might be a great match for you but could skip over your profile if they feel you're too picky or that they don't exactly match what you wrote you want.
- Each site has different profile guidelines, so write a unique, tailored bio for each dating site you use.
4Write honest and specific examples rather than generic descriptions. Avoid cliche statements like, “I like to have fun,” or “I love to laugh.” These kinds of lines don't reveal very much about who you are. Instead, say something like, “I love rock climbing and watching old black and white movies,” or “I enjoy going to comedy shows and open mic nights, and I'm always down to try out a new restaurant in town.” X Research source
EXPERT TIPMaya Diamond, MA
- If you love to travel, write something about where you're planning to go next. If you have pets, write about them. If you love reading, say what you're currently into. The more specific you can be, the better.
Be honest about why you're on a dating site. Dating and relationship coach Maya Diamond says: "A lot of people are afraid to say why they're really online because they want to cast a wide net. Unfortunately, what really happens is that you end up attracting the wrong people."5Choose high-quality photos that show your face and your body. Even if you're a skilled selfie taker, use a high-quality, high-resolution image with good lighting and detail. Avoid using group photos, as someone looking at it won't be able to tell who you are right away. X Research source
AdvertisementMethod 2 of 4:
- Don't conceal any part of your face— especially your eyes—with things like sunglasses, hats, or hair.
- For a full-body shot, consider using an action shot taken outdoors—for instance, rollerblading on the boardwalk. Doing so helps you seem energetic and fun-loving.
Method 3 of 4:
1Look for profiles that are distinctive and descriptive. Whether you're screening potential candidates yourself or are being provided with potential matches, prioritize profiles that are detailed and well-written. A profile that doesn't include much detail might indicate that the individual isn't really interested in connecting with another person on a deeper level. X Research source
- The more detailed a profile is, the more likely it is that the person is interested in more than a hook-up.
2Make your “eliminate immediately” criteria limited and specific. If dating a smoker or a non-vegan is an absolute no-go for you, then it's fine to eliminate candidates immediately based on that criteria. Overall, though, keep your list of criteria for immediate rejection short and specific. Otherwise, you may dismiss some good prospects without even giving them a chance. X Research source
Tip: You might be confident that you want to date someone the same age as you, but consider giving yourself a little wiggle room. You might set your limits at no more than 5 years older or younger, or even 10 years.
3Avoid using “points” or “pros/cons” rating systems. It's tempting to assign point values to different candidates and then choose the one with the most points—or, similarly, the one with the most “pros” and least “cons.” However, when it comes to finding a romantic match, it's usually better to rely more on overall “feel” than numerical evaluations. Also, there's nothing wrong with matching with more than one person at a time! Until you're in a committed, monogamous relationship, feel free to keep the playing field open. X Research source
- While it's true that some dating sites essentially use points systems to find your potential matches, keep in mind that their algorithms are much more complex than your pros/cons list. Also, it's still up to you to evaluate your potential matches to find the best option.
4Imagine yourself on a date with each candidate. Read the profile, look at the pictures, and envision going on a date with this person. Can you think of a few topics to talk about based on their profile information? If you can't help but imagine yourself smiling and having a good time, give them a shot! X Research source
- If you feel you have nothing in common with your match but are really attracted to them physically, you could always try messaging with them for a while to see if any commonalities pop up. Give yourself permission to talk to lots of people!
Method 4 of 4:
1Keep your eyes open for signs of a scammer. While most people on dating sites are there for legitimate reasons, it's true that there are scammers, stalkers, creeps, liars, and just plain bad people out there. Even the most cautious and careful people can be “played” sometimes, but you'll improve your odds by trusting your instincts and looking for signs like:
- The person's profile seems exceptional yet generic and not revealing.
- They're overly eager (or even pushy) about meeting you in person right away.
- They press you to reveal personal information immediately.
- You do an image search and find their pics with different names and profiles on other dating sites, or search key phrases from their profile and find them repeated with different pics on other sites.
2Make your first contact brief and friendly and ask a question. If you're the one making initial contact, limit your message to 40 words or less. That way, you'll have to get to the point quickly. Reference something from the person's profile so they know you read it, and proofread your message for typos and to make sure you spelled the person's name right. X Research source
- For instance, you could say something like, “Hi Jake. It's great to meet a fellow fan of French New Wave cinema—they're hard to find in Elmhurst! What's one of your favorite films?”
Tip: Avoid sending short, generic messages like, “What's up?” or “Hey.” These kinds of comments don't start a conversation and sound a little lazy.
3Respond to messages quickly and genuinely. If an intriguing match makes initial contact with you, don't try to “play it cool” or play “hard to get.” Instead, respond within 24 hours with a message that makes it clear that you've checked out their profile and are interested in them. X Research source
- If you wait a few days, they'll likely either move on or assume that you're really not that interested.
- As with a first contact message, an initial reply message should be 40 words or less, friendly in tone, and written specifically based on the person's profile and initial contact.
4Keep the conversation going until you decide if you'd like to meet or not. After sending 20 to 30 texts back and forth or interacting for 2 weeks, you should be ready to make a decision about whether or not you'd like to move forward with getting together in person. Ask questions, tell anecdotes from your day, and try to find out if this is a person you think is compatible with you, your lifestyle, and your interests. X Research source
- For example, you could ask the person what they like to do on the weekends or share funny anecdotes about your lives to see if your senses of humor line up.
- Do your best to be honest about things going on in your life that might make getting together difficult, like an upcoming trip, a busy season at work, or an ongoing family situation.
- If you decide you don't want to meet up, tell them. Say something simple like, “It's been nice talking with you, but I don't see us vibing in person. I wish you all the best, though!”
1Meet in person sooner rather than later. In most cases, the goal of being on a dating site is to go on a date with someone you'll enjoy spending time with. Assuming that this is your goal, don't wait around—make it happen! Dragging out your communications online is likely to weaken the enthusiasm on both sides before you even get a chance to meet face-to-face. X Research source
- Everyone has their own ideas about the ideal first date location. You might want to try a low-pressure option like going for coffee, taking a walk in a park, or checking out a local museum.
- If you're having second thoughts about wanting to meet the person, don't drag things out. Simply let them know politely: “I'm sorry, Jake, but I've decided that things aren't going to work out for us. Best wishes, Jamie.”
2Choose a public location for your first get-together. For your own safety and to make your date feel more comfortable, too, arrange to meet in a public space, like a coffee shop, museum, or restaurant. Take your own transportation, and don't give out your home address. Also, tell a friend where you'll be and let them know if your plans change. X Research source
- Chances are, everything is going to be perfectly fine! It's just better to be cautious when meeting someone new in person for the first time.
- Avoid over-imbibing while you're out. In case you want to leave early or feel uncomfortable, it's important to have all your wits about you.
3Be attentive and ask lots of questions. This is a time for you and your date to really get to interact! Keep your phone away so that you're not distracted by notifications and really pay attention to what the other person is saying. When you're asked questions, give full answers rather than one-word answers or short statements. X Research source
- Keep in mind that your date might be really nervous (and you might be too!). Give them a little bit of time to warm up and ease into the conversation. Even if things are rocky at first, they should get better within 10 to 15 minutes.
Tip: A great line to use to keep the conversation flowing is “tell me more about that.” You can use it in almost any situation to get a person to open up more.
4Follow up on the date the next day and decide if you want to meet again. Even if you hated your time with your date, it's a good idea to address the situation right away. If you don't want to see the person again, send a gentle message that says something like, “Hi Julie, thanks for spending your Friday evening with me. I had a good time, but I don't think I see us connecting on a romantic level. I wish you all the best!” If you do want to see the person again, you could say something like, “Hi Ryan, I had a great time connecting last night. I'm going to that festival we talked about next weekend—do you want to come with me?” X Research source
EXPERT TIPChloe Carmichael, PhD
- If the person doesn't feel the same way as you, that's okay. Be gracious and move on to the next date.
- If the person never responds to your message, take it as a sign that they're not interested and move on.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Be careful about opening up too soon when you start dating someone. Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Chloe Carmichael says: "For many people, especially women, it's hard to learn how to open up to someone in a nuanced way. They'll end up dating someone exclusively, then end up committing to that person as if they're engaged or married. That fierce commitment makes it hard to walk away if the relationship isn't right for you."Advertisement
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QuestionI'm 20yo I met someone online but my mom don't like him even they've talk to each other already 'cause we have 12 yrs gap but I really like him and want to meet him, what can I do with this situation?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff Answer
QuestionI get a lot of likes from men and I reach out to them and I never hear back from them. It makes me want to give up.wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerKeep trying! While it can be frustrating to reach out and not hear back, your patience might be rewarded with a really great match!
QuestionIf someone claims that he loves me after chatting for few days online is the person really serious or a joker?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerLove is a mysterious thing, as they say, so anything is possible. However, it seems unlikely that someone could legitimately fall in love after just a few days of online chatting. The best advice is probably to trust your instincts.
QuestionHow do I deal with someone asking for pictures when online dating?Top AnswererAsking for pictures is often a normal part of online dating, however, you should only do things you're comfortable with. Be honest and firm. Tell them when you may be ready to send them pictures, but don't give exact dates if you're not sure. If they're asking for sexual pictures and you're not comfortable with that, tell them bluntly. A good match should accept these boundaries.
QuestionIf someone views my profile many times but doesn't send a message, what do I do if I'm interested?Community AnswerHe or she might be too shy to initiate a conversation. Send a message and see what happens!
QuestionHow can I tell if someone likes me online?Community AnswerThe person will like your profile and hopefuly be in contact. Beware of scammers, though -- they all like you.
QuestionIs it a mistake to praise someone's beauty during the first weeks that you chat with the person?Community AnswerNo not all. You are both there to date, and it's good to share those things. It makes a person feel good.
QuestionIs it okay to text a guy whom I met online that had a recent break up?Community AnswerIt's better that they contact you when they're ready to get emotionally involved again. You should also be sure that they are who they say they are.
QuestionI've already made the mistake of emailing too much after second date. Is this fixable?Community AnswerYour zealousness probably scared the person off. Back off and wait for them to respond. Be patient. Wait about a week or so, and then contact him/her again if they haven't gotten back with you--or longer depending how deep you got with them during your last binge! In this email, be simple, not excited or pushy.
QuestionWhat do I do if scammers create other profiles on different sites?Top AnswererYou will always have to be on guard for scammers when dating online. The best you can do is try to notice similarities between scammers' numerous profiles, use common sense and listen to your gut, and do not do anything dangerous (send money, meet someone in a secluded area, etc.) If you're suspicious of a profile, then block them if you can.
About This Article
Online dating can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but once you know what to do, you’ll have a much better chance of finding someone you really like. When you’re looking for potential dates, choose profiles that are unique and detailed. This generally means that the person’s interested in more than a hook-up. If you can imagine yourself on a date with them and having plenty to talk about, they might be a good match for you. Once you’re matched with someone you like, keep the conversation light by asking them more about themselves. For instance, say something like, "That's such a nice view in your rock-climbing picture. How long have you been climbing?" If messaging goes well, invite them on a date to take things to the next level! For more tips from our co-author, including how to set up an engaging dating profile, read on!