The 3 Keys To Successful Online Dating

Last week I did a profile review for a woman. Before the session, she told me that she had done a decent amount of internet research and read over a series of customer reviews. Most of these reviews criticized online dating. She asked me my opinion of the various sites and said she wasn’t sure, based on the reviews, if she should bother.

In general, I tend to think that anybody who Googles customer reviews for online dating sites probably isn’t going to enjoy the experience. They’re looking for negative information, consciously or not. They have a specific idea in their head and they want to see that there are others who share such views. They want to be suspicious and overly-analytical. Much like the women who take seminars in how to find out if a man is a lying, cheating sociopath, they’re not really looking for information. They’re looking to find like minded people so they can all talk about how deceptive men are. That’s an example of confirmation bias in its purest form.

I was reading an article today about a new service that provides singles with an alternative phone number that they can have forwarded to their phone. The number is not connected to your personal information in any way.

On one hand, I get it. This way you can tell your date your name is Sally McSugarsnatch and they won’t be the wiser. But it also means that you can tell people that your name is Sally McSugarsnatch and nobody will be the wiser. Works both ways, you know?

I certainly understand the need for privacy. But, in my opinion, there’s a line of just how cautious one should be in order to have successful results. Scouring the internet for user reviews of dating websites is not going to turn up a ton of positive commentary. It’s rare that people who had a good experience with anything run to the internet to say so. It’s usually the more negative people who take that time. I can remember coming across a Yelp review of a supermarket in my neighborhood. The people were complaining about the skinny aisles and lack of corn muffins.  You would have thought someone shot their dog they sounded so personally offended. And forget about blogs of columns about dating. Most of them are going to focus on the negative because that’s a better read. (And because most people who regularly write about their personal lives are effing trainwrecks of epic proportions.) You don’t want to go in the other direction, either. (Dear D-Man…you’re an idiot.) Hand out your personal info to people willy nilly, like oh say, a lacking in boundaries dating columnist and you’ll be used as fodder and named and shamed. And yes, D-Man, I know you don’t see it that way. That’s the problem.

Then we have the grisly story here in NYC about the “Cannibal Cop.” Turns out, he had an OKCupid profile. Here’s a good example of how Google can not save you if someone is intent on causing harm. A woman who agreed to meet him would have not discovered one thing through a Google search. There was one red flag in his profile. A big one. He lists his status as “Seeing Someone” and posts a number of photos of himself on his profile. That’s not someone looking to cheat. That’s someone who doesn’t care that people know he’s cheating and doesn’t care if he gets caught.  There it is: arrogance, entitlement, lack of remorse. Done and done. Buh bye. Next. No Google required. You didn’t even have to read past the profile headline.

You can’t be looking for monsters at every turn if you want to meet someone. You can not be waiting for the other shoe to drop all the time.

Disappointment and deception are now all part of the process.

  • You’re going to hear from people that don’t interest you.
  • You’re going to meet people who just want sex or free meals.
  • You’re going to meet someone you really, really like who fades on you. Probably after sex.
  • You’re going to meet someone who has a partner.
  • You’re going to meet someone who lies about their weight, height or age.
  • You’re going to meet someone who tells you they’re not looking for a relationship.
  • You’re going to meet someone who texts you non-stop but never gets around to meeting you.
  • You’re going to meet someone who is socially awkward.
  • You’re going to meet someone who is “crazy.”

If you can’t handle the thought of encountering any of these people, and expect things to go smoothly and require minimal effort, then take down your profile and close up shop. Online dating takes patience, effort and a serious level of detachment. You have to learn how to not care about any of it. At some point:

  • Everybody gets blown off.
  • Everybody sends out messages to people and don’t get many replies.
  • Everybody gets the “you’re hot” messages.
  • Everybody gives out their number and never gets a call.
  • Everybody meets someone who says they want a relationship, but they really don’t.

As long as you’re getting a date or two here and there each month, you’re doing okay. Don’t expect to fill your calendar off the bat. That’s a misconception. Remember, people who write about dating need something to write. Many of those dates they accept, they accept to have fodder.

You also need to learn how to prevent these things – these experiences that are inevitable – from happening over and over again. To do so you need to be cautious when you encounter the following:

1. Lack of timely response to communications –  Anybody that takes more than 24 hours to respond to you, only responds late at night/early in the morning or never suggests a specific time/date to meet should immediately be flagged.

2. Turning the tables - I once had a guy that I was emailing with back and forth for a week. He rated me highly, I replied, he replied, I replied…then nothing for 2 days. It then took another 3 days to exchange two messages between us. I sent him my number. He sent me a text 24 hours later. He said he was out of town and would return Monday. Then he signed off with, ‘Have a great weekend.” I didn’t reply. Within 4 hours, he emailed me through the site expressing light-hearted dismay that I hadn’t replied to his text. Delete. Block. No time.

3. No follow through - If you have to chase someone down to confirm plans, they aren’t that interested. If they say they’ll contact you and don’t, block ‘em.

Don’t be scared off because they choose to get offline quickly. You have to be willing to jump right into the fire. You have to be. Should you accept a date at their apartment? No. But an invitation to meet for a drink after exchanging all of 2 emails isn’t a death trap. If you’re one of those people who alerts all their friends where they will be and gives friends photos of your date..just because…then pick a public space during the day in order to feel someone out.

Stop analyzing every aspect of the experience and just do it.

 

 

 

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19 Responses to “The 3 Keys To Successful Online Dating”

  1. DrivingMeNutes Says:

    I agree in principle with Moxie’s points but I also think followng rules too strictly will tend to exclude people who might otherwise be fine. The Internet is overrun with clowns but there is a smattering of reasonable suitors mixed in there, definitely engough for any person who makes a modicum of effort to find someone. When you hook a live one, you don’t want to blow it just because they triggered your spidey sense or “instincts”- which, personally, I think is a load of bullshit especially given the poor judgment most people demonstrate. It’s important to give people a chance. No real harm in that.

    So, my advice is patience. You set your trap (i.e. a good profile) and wait for someone acceptable to fall into it. It’s not going to happen right away necessarily – you will have to ignore and pass on a lot of clowns. You just can’t get completely preoccupied with the obvious clowns.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

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  2. D'Alias Says:

    I agree with Moxie and the above poster but just want to add: FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS.

    Instinct protects us. Always. It’s something we can’t explain – like faith to a religious person. Better to loose a few potentials than to place yourself in harm’s way. Honestly, if you’re instincts steer you away from a good prospect, it’s likely you weren’t ready for it anyway. If you get the heebie jeebies during a txtng session, don’t go on a date. If you get them on date one don’t I on date two. – its not normal to feel something is “off” with a potential partner (or even a ONS).

    If you doubt your own instincts, I think you should see a therapist or spiritual counselor who can help you ID the source of your thoughts – cuz doubt in yourself could just be your instinct to protect yourself shinning through your BS defense mechanism. . .

    Online dating is fun. Mostly, it’s harmless, but there ARE a lot of deranged people out there so be careful.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

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    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

      “Instincts” are only useful, if at all, in hindsight. Gee, I should have trusted my instincts. They are of no value in making dating and relationship decisions going forward. Wait, let me modify that. They are of value – but, the reality is, people are ALREADY following their instincts. Meaning, the advice “follow your instincts” is a useless platitude because people are alread doing that. “Instincts” are already leading people to make bad decisions. So, people with good instincts are already doing well and don’t need the advice, and people with bad instincts shouldn’t be trustng them.

      For the most part, you’re not avoiding dangerous deranged people, you’re just avoiding “bad” dates. And, by being overly cautious and avoiding these “bad” dates, you’re necessarily missing some good ones. Like I said, I don’t see the harm in giving people a chance.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

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      • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

        Right. that’s why i said to be cautious when encountering certain behaviors. I didn’t advise that people dismiss those who exhibit such behaviors all together.

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  3. LV Says:

    I think online dating is a mistake for most people. Men who are outgoing and good at dating go online to “slum” and don’t respect the women they meet there. You have no context to them, they know none of your friends, they don’t think of you as someone with a mother or a father. You are just a body attached to a head to them. Like a vacuum cleaner with attachments. [My experience.]
    If you can’t meet a man at work or through friends, my advice is just stay home and be single. It’s awkward having to go to weddings alone, but it’s not worth sacrificing your safety and self-respect for a plus-one.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 29

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    • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

      Like a vacuum cleaner with attachments. [My experience.]

      Exactly. Your experience. Which, from the sounds of it, had a lot to do with your own poor judgment and inability to discern who was out of your league and who wasn’t.

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    • LostSailor Says:

      Men who are outgoing and good at dating go online to “slum” and don’t respect the women they meet there… it’s not worth sacrificing your safety and self-respect for a plus-one.

      Wow. Someone has certainly been burned by online dating. But I agree with Moxie that it’s likely not the men who were the problem…

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

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  4. The D-man Says:

    The idiot checking in here. So far, in almost 17 years of being able to easily be found online, I’ve had no blowback. To the contrary, dates have told me it’s reassuring to know they can Google me. One girl I’ve been seeing recently even laughed about the xojane story.

    And, no, I’m not just a court jester to entertain bloggers. I met my ex-wife online and have had several serious relationships with others I met that way. I expect to have more.

    PS The first time I “found” myself online was in 1995. I had uploaded some music to Compuserve a couple years earlier, and a web site in Poland starting mirroring some of that content. That’s when I first got a sense of how big the Internet was going to become.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

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    • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

      One girl I’ve been seeing recently even laughed about the xojane story.

      Yeah. I remember when a guy told me that his girlfriend was reading my blog and laughing at what I had written about him. I wonder how hard she laughed when she read that the guy had a history of cheating on his girlfriends and had lied to her?

      My point? Directing the women you date to pieces written about you on the internet has a high likelihood of backfiring on you Especially when you you lack objectivity and common sense, the way both he and you do. That writer tweeted AND posted in the comments in that article that you posted an ad on Craigslist looking for a date when you visit NYC. Did you show the woman you’re dating that, too? That must have made her feeling good, huh? To know that you’re going to be trolling NYC for dinner whores? Wasn’t that the title you gave that author to use when tweeting out your ad?

      And, no, I’m not just a court jester to entertain bloggers.

      Then why do you have a history of asking bloggers to meet you for drinks, etc? Why do you frequently try to engage and meet women who write about dating on the internet? Because I know of 4 cases where you’ve done that. And I’m one of them. You like being written about. Period. Just admit it.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

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      • The D-man Says:

        You mean why do I have a history of asking out women I’ve met online? Because that’s where I met them.

        I don’t care about being written about. I care about meeting interesting people.

        As a gross generalization, writers are more interesting because they have spent years organizing their thoughts into coherent sentences. The downside is that they often live in their head. A few are delusional, dreaming of the book deal that will make them happy.

        Even if you could name 20 bloggers I’ve asked out, that’s still a small percentage of people I’ve met online.

        Hell, my first business was a direct result of asking out a woman I met online in 1995.

        We regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

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      • The D-man Says:

        Just realized I didn’t answer the question about showing it to the woman I’m dating it to. No I didn’t, but she asked me about it. We’re not in a serious relationship, so it’s cool. If I were in a serious relationship, I would not be asking other people out. See how that works?

        If you want, you can figure out exactly who she is by reading my Twitter feed. (I know that’s your preferred method of making judgements.) Tell her I said hello and that I enjoyed the concert last week.

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        • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

          No I didn’t, but she asked me about it. We’re not in a serious relationship, so it’s cool. If I were in a serious relationship, I would not be asking other people out.

          Well, I’m not in a serious relationship with the man I’m dating either, but I still know enough not to discuss anything I do with anybody that I’m dating on the internet. I don’t know why I’m bothering to explain this to you, because you display such shocking stupidity, but I will: the fact that she asked you about it means she’s not cool with it. She *has* to laugh it off or else risk looking jealous, insecure or possessive. But when she’s talking to her friends or even her family, she’s telling everybody what you’re doing and I can assure you she’s not 100% okay with it. I suppose it’s different for men because many women actually like the idea of being with a guy that gets that kind of attention. But to any reasonable, sane, secure, stable woman, you’re a liability. The only women who find guys like you impressive are insecure, inexperienced or immature ones.They either don’t know any better or actually believe they’re different. Or they, like you, don’t really care about you.

          This is an issue of basic human decency: you don’t rub stuff like that in the faces of people you supposedly like and care about. The only people who would find that appropriate are ones who are profoundly self-absorbed and stupid. You *wanted* this girl to know about this situation. That’s why you went public with it.

          If you want, you can figure out exactly who she is by reading my Twitter feed. (I know that’s your preferred method of making judgements.)

          There would be nothing to judge if certain people knew what was appropriate to share and what wasn’t. You share private details of your personal life because you like the attention it brings you, regardless of how that attention affects others around you.

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          • The D-man Says:

            Here’s the thing. Someone who Googles my real name is not going to find any of what you’re talking about. Period.

            Someone who knows my Twitter handle and who is extremely diligent will find out I posted a rather whimsical, not-sleazy ad on Craigslist. If they can’t handle that, I don’t want to date them.

            You happen to have a specific viewpoint about me because you have access to a certain persona. You also know my real name and can connect them together, but even if you Google the hell out of me you’re not going to find anything shocking, such as that I’m a cheater or liar. Because I’m not.

            I won’t discuss the particular woman in question except to point out that you don’t know the first thing about anything that’s transpired between us. Zero. Nor do you know anything about my interactions with other people outside the context of this forum and a tiny little slice of reality known as “dating advice blogs.” Zero.

            The person she’s dating is not discussing her on the Internet. Rather, someone who uses a certain nickname is talking in very general terms about someone he has dated, just like everyone else here.

            I’m sure I live outside the boundaries compared to a lot of people, but not extremely so. And I believe that in 10-20 years having semi-embarassing things about you online will be the equivalent of smoking pot. Once upon a time it would disqualify you from office. Now we have a president who admitted to using cocaine in his own autobiography.

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            • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

              Someone who knows my Twitter handle and who is extremely diligent will find out I posted a rather whimsical, not-sleazy ad on Craigslist. If they can’t handle that, I don’t want to date them.

              Lucky for her then that you just bypassed all of that and SHOWED THE WOMAN YOU’RE DATING THE ARTICLE. So, it’s not just a “not sleazy’ ad on CL. It’s an ad on CL and an obviously sexual conversation you had with a dating columnist. A dating columnist who pretty much humiliated you by calling you boring and stupid, who then thought nothing of sending out a tweet of a chat she had with a friend where in she included YOUR REAL FULL NAME and was clearly mocking you. And you, with all this infinite and worldly wisdom of and experience with the interwebs, think that someone should just get over that if they’re going to date you? That if they find that offensive or concerning, then THEY’RE the ones with a problem?

              Dude, you even commented on that article using YOUR REAL FULL NAME AND YOUR PHOTO. What the fuckity fuck fuck are you talking about when you imply it will be oh so difficult to find any of this? You WANT people to find it. Hello…cognitive dissonance, party of one please? Take that pic, plop it into Google image search…presto! Anybody you meet online will find it. All of it.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

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              • The D-man Says:

                Google me and see what you find.

                Google that image and see what you find.

                I’ll make it even easier. Do a Google site search of xojane.com and see what you find. Here’s the url to do that: http://www.google.com/advanced_search

                Now ask yourself, of all the women I’ve ever dated or even had a conversation with, how many of them do you think a) have ever even heard of xojane and b) would think to do a site-specific search of me there?

                And you know what? They still won’t find anything there.

                You’re trying to connect dots that simply aren’t connectable.

                I’m a web programmer and have been doing Internet software development for 17 years. In particular I know a lot about how commenting systems work and how they are indexed by search engines.

                I don’t recommend everyone do what I do, but my specialized domain knowledge means I know exactly what I’m doing.

                To everyone else: apologies for the threadjacking. She called me an idiot in the main post, so I thought it was appropriate to give my side of the story. I’ve avoided using inflammatory language and only provided information that reinforces my point. I’m sure you’re all tired of reading this and will refrain from any more comments.

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  5. Matt Says:

    How is only responding late at night or early in the morning a “red flag”? Some people have schedules that prevent them from messaging at other times. I personally work nights, and before I gave up okcupid, much of my activity was done at 6am, as that was the only reliable time I was home, awake, and at the computer.

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    • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

      Some people have schedules that prevent them from messaging at other times.

      Nobody in this day and age has an excuse for not being able to respond to an email betweent 9am and 9pm.

      I personally work nights, and before I gave up okcupid, much of my activity was done at 6am, as that was the only reliable time I was home, awake, and at the computer.

      Oh. Well then you must have a ton of time to date, then.You just answered your own question.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 0 Thumb down 17

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  6. LostSailor Says:

    Online dating takes patience, effort and a serious level of detachment. You have to learn how to not care about any of it…Stop analyzing every aspect of the experience and just do it.

    This.

    One of my cardinal rules is if you’re not having fun, why are you doing it?

    Some things, like work, we do because we have to, and while it would be great if everyone loved their jobs, that’s not going to happen all the time. But you gotta eat.

    And now I gotta run out to lay in some hurricane supplies. Mostly wine and whiskey…

    But if you’re anxious and over-analyzing dating, whether online or in the non-digital realm and not having fun, why bother?

    I consider myself a cynical optimist–or an optimistic cynic–and generally try to take a more of an optimistic attitude toward online dating, but when I hit a patch, like recently, where I’m working a lot and have a crowded social calendar, I’ll take a break. Dating shouldn’t be an all-consuming endeavor. You gotta live your life…

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