Online Dating Tips That Don’t Suck
Did you know that over 40 million people across the United States have used an online dating platform?
Yet, talking about online dating with your friends and family can feel a little taboo.
Why is that?
Whether you’re looking to casually date someone or are seeking a long-term relationship, online dating isn’t weird.
Whether you’ve been on the apps for a while or are just getting into the online dating experience, we’ve put together some of the best online dating advice and tips we’ve come across.
We’re not here to make the rules or tell you what to do — but if you’re looking to build a happy and healthy online dating life, then you should definitely review these online dating tips.
Online Dating Tips
Okay, okay. Online dating rules sound a little stuffy and strict.
And we’re not here to cramp your style.
What we are here to do is to help empower you to have the best online dating experience possible.
And, hey, you’re the one reading this article….which probably means you are looking for some guidance on your love life.
So, let’s start with the basics. If you’re more of a seasoned online dater, jump down to the sections that make the most sense to you!
Online Dating Tips for Beginners
Alright, so you’re just getting into the online dating world. It can be a doozy if you don’t know where or how to get started.
Here are our main online dating tips for beginners:
- Choose your dating app(s) - Selecting which apps you’re going to create profiles on is the first step. Each dating app has its own unique features and audiences. Some are known more for hookups while others are designed to foster long-term relationships. At this point, there is pretty much an online dating app for whatever, or whoever, you’re into! Don’t overwhelm yourself with choices - do some research and pick which one(s) you think align with your values and goals.
- Pick your photos - Okay, this is HUGE when it comes to online dating. Make sure you include candid photos that show the real you. Selfies are… kind of lame. No hunting or fishing pictures (some platforms even ban these!). Don’t include others in your profile without their permission (blur out their faces!). Don’t have up to date photos? Ask a friend to help you out.
- Create your profile - Every dating app profile is unique. Some are more focused on appearances while others ask a lot of personal questions. Find the balance between letting someone get to know you and not revealing too much personal information. Try to be genuine and show your personality. We’ll talk more about this in a second.
- Verify your account - Not every app offers this feature and you personally may not feel comfortable verifying your personal information. But, if you do feel comfortable, this can make the folks you’re matching with more relaxed, knowing there is a real person behind the profile.
- Set your preferences - Many apps enable you to choose the types of people you want to date. This could be location-based, if they want children, their age range, and much more. Each dating app is unique so check out their filtering systems. (But don’t be TOO picky - keeping an open mind is critical to online dating success)
Some dating apps require identity verification. Some apps are more anonymous than others. Some apps require your location. Each online dating app or platform is unique and that’s why doing your research before downloading them is critical.
Always be cautious when downloading any new apps or technology. If it’s brand new, created by a weird sounding app developer, or super niche it could be potentially dangerous!
Okay, you’ve got the basics down. Now what?
Tips for Online Dating Profiles
Once you’ve created a basic profile and selected your photos, it’s all about amping up your profile to be the best representation of you.
Here are our specific tips for writing the best online dating profiles and making the most out of each app!
- Have at least 5 photos - Each photo should represent your personality in a unique way. Do you like traveling? Cooking? Running? Show that off! Everyone also loves a photo featuring a cute dog. Babies are still humans and they can’t consent to being on your dating profile. So leave them off. (Unless you have children, in which case you may want to be transparent but still blur their faces)
- Think about connecting Instagram or Spotify - Dating apps are now enabling you to connect other platforms to show off more of your personality. Maybe think about creating a Finsta (fake instagram) just for your online dating profile.
- Don’t be sarcastic - Many dating apps provide prompts or questions to answer on your profile. While you might think you’re being witty, chances are it’s not going to land.
- Don’t be generic - Be YOU! Don’t try to think of something clever because chances are it’s boring AF.
- Limit personal identifying information - Many apps ask for your school, company, and job title. While this can help someone get to know you, it also enables them to find more information about you online. Trust me, your matches are Googling you. Be careful what you put out there (but also don’t try and hide your identity...that’s a red flag!)
When doing research for this article, we noticed a lot of individuals searching “online dating tips for women” and “online dating for men” — so while we know that this is very binary thinking when it comes to genders (and we’re not into that!), we wanted to include this section to help individuals gain access to the information they’re looking for.
Online Dating Tips for Women
These aren’t your typical (somewhat sexist) online dating tips for women. These are tips to help you attract your kind of person while staying safe online.
- Be cognizant of matching times- Some apps only allow you to start a conversation shortly after you match with someone else. Make sure you’re checking your dating apps on a regular basis or have notifications set up.
- Limit your likes - Some apps only allow you to swipe on a certain amount of individuals in a given time period. Be choosy but not too choosy!
- Manage your preferences - Don’t waste your time swiping on folks you won’t actually meet up with! But, be willing to go outside of your comfort zone and try new things - like dating someone older or of a different background.
- Block and report - If someone says something rude, off-putting, or just not your vibe, push that block button. If they do something real raunchy, illegal, or obscene, report and then block.
Online Dating Tips for Men
Online dating isn’t always easy — and sometimes men feel like it’s set up against them.
Especially when you realize 46% of the time men swipe right, meanwhile women swipe right 14% of the time… Women swipe yes to just one in 20 people while the majority of men swipe yes more often than no.
Which has a lot of men saying “why is online dating so hard?!”.
So what are some online dating tips to increase your chances of finding love (or simply a date) online as a man?
- Validate and verify - Online dating, especially for women and LGBTQIA+ individuals, can be a little scary and many individuals are weary. Calm your potential match’s nerves by including clear photos, a real bio, and think about verifying your identity.
- Stop fishing - Yes, we just said that men pretty much swipe right half the time. Save you and your potential match time by only matching, or swiping, on individuals whose profiles really interest you. Casting a wide net is important but trust us, not everyone is your type.
- Personalize your responses - REPEAT AFTER US: DON’T USE GENERIC OPENING LINES! Especially copying and pasting the same GIF to every match. Also don’t sexualize or comment on someone’s physical appearance in the first message.
- Be careful about sending “special likes” - Whatever the app calls them (roses, super likes/swipes, etc), sometimes these can be more off-putting than a turn-on.
Still feel like you need a bit more advice on setting up your dating profile? ASK A FRIEND!
Now that your profile is set up and you’re ready to get to swiping (or matching), let’s dive into the deets of online dating tips once you’ve swiped right!
Making the Move: From Online to In-Person
So you’ve matched with someone - hurrah!
Well, we already told you to send an ORIGINAL message to each match. Yeah, it’s much harder than sending out the same GIF / message to everyone, but the juice is worth the squeeze here.
What are some online dating conversation tips besides being original?
Setting the Stage
- Compliment but don’t creep - When first messaging someone, DON’T compliment their physical appearance. Instead, think about other compliments you can give like their witty profile answers or their hobbies.
- Keep the conversation going - Make responding to your messages easy. Being a conversion killer by either not responding in a timely manner or not making it easy for someone to follow up with a response is a quick way to keep being single.
- Focus on the positives - Even if you’re having a bad day/month/year...your new found match doesn’t want to hear about it. Keep the conversation light-hearted and fun.
Making the Move
Online dating is all about DATING - not becoming a pen pal with someone.
You want to make sure that the conversation is progressing towards an eventual meeting — whether that’s digital or in-person is up to both parties.
So… how do you make the move to set up something more?
- Give it a few days - Keep chatting in-app for a few days after you match. If there is a spark, ask to move over to text messaging.
- Be clear - Both parties should go into a first meeting understanding what the other person is looking for. If you only want a hookup, be upfront.
- Move slow (but not too slow) - Nowadays setting up a video or phone call prior to meeting in-person is becoming the norm. It’s also a good way to judge if the person is who they say they are and talking shows more personality than texting. Everyone moves at their own pace (but not wanting to get on the phone or meet in-person can be an early red flag!)
Now, let’s talk about video dating safety tips for a second. Video dating rose in popularity during the pandemic and many think it’s here to stay.
Video Dating Tips
- Use a trusted platform - Either use the in-app video features or a platform like Zoom for your first date.
- Get outside - Rather than being at your home for the first video call, try going outside to a coffee shop, park, or some other public place. A stranger can get a lot of information from what’s going on behind you or the type of furniture, etc you have in your home! Getting outside can create a more neutral environment.
- Blur your background - Whether you choose to have the video date at home or somewhere else, blurring your background is one of the safest things you can do when video dating. If this is not an option, try utilizing a blank wall or a generic setting.
- Set a time limit - This is a get-to-know-you conversation; not a tell-all. When setting up the video date, say that you will talk for up to thirty minutes on a given date and time. Even if the conversation is going well, setting these types of boundaries early on is important.
- Don’t use a filter - You want to present your best self; not a fake version of you. Utilize things like good lighting and have clear audio, but don’t use something like SnapCam to make yourself look better. Be you!
Some folks aren’t into the whole video dating thing. Many find it invasive and creepy while others simply want to see if there is in-person chemistry. Make sure both parties are comfortable and into each step of the online dating process.
Now it’s time for the real first date!
This sets the stage for the rest of the relationship - so there are some hard and fast rules we recommend following.
Many of these rules come from the online dating aficionado Lindsey Metselaar from the We Met at Acme podcast. If you’re dating in today’s digital age, you really should give this podcast a listen.
Online Dating Tips: The First Date
The first date really starts before the actual date.
Here are the ground rules:
- Always a weekday - NEVER waste your weekends on a potentially bad date. Weekends are reserved for only the creme de la creme (aka someone you’ve seen a few times and your friends).
- Keep it conversational - While you might think splurging on some super cool first date that is related to a hobby of theirs is a good idea, keeping it casual and conversational is best. Think coffee shop, a favorite bar, or grabbing lunch.
- Start no later than 8pm - This gives your potential partner time to get ready after work but shows that you’re not going to be out all night.
- Say no - This was a TikTok dating tip we heard recently, and it’s a good one! Find one opportunity to say no during a date. It could be the day of the week, time, location, or something else. But standing up for yourself and seeing their reaction is a good way to get to know them.
- No more than two drinks on the first date - Yes, the nerves are probably getting to you… but that doesn’t mean you should keep drinking. If you’re feeling extra thirsty, think about a mocktail or a shot of espresso (decaf if needed).
- Set a time limit - Either have something else planned for afterwards (like going out with friends) or have an excuse ready (“I have to wake up early”) so there is a clear time limit on the date. Usually we suggest not going over two hours.
- Don’t go home with them - One, it’s simply not safe to go over to a stranger’s house alone. Two, the other person can make some heavy assumptions about what going back to their place means.
- Think twice about doing the deed - We’re not here to sex shame at all. But, sleeping with someone on the first date can set a bad precedent in a relationship. It’s much hotter to make them wait!
- Don’t send a thank you text - You had an amazing time - great! That doesn’t mean you need to thank them after you leave their presence. Don’t always pursue - be pursued.
Every rule is meant to be broken - but some of these online dating rules are less about being cool and more about setting boundaries and being safe.
After the first date ask yourself this one critical question: did I like them?
So often we’re in our own heads on the first date thinking “do they like me?!?!” and we forget to ask ourselves if we even liked them.
Once you are home from the first date, take some time to reflect on your online dating experience so far.
The first date might not go perfectly - rarely in life do things ever go as we planned.
But if you had fun, felt respected, and hit it off, now it’s time to think about what’s next. Each online dating experience is different, but if you were clear about your goals and expectations before the first date, chances are things will progress in the way they’re meant to.
Our goal is to empower safer online dating experiences for all. We’re sure you’ve heard the traditional online dating safety tips like telling someone where you’re going, meeting in a public place, and always taking your own transportation.
But, here are a few other online dating safety tips.
Online Dating Safety Tips
- Know the signs - Before you dive head first into online dating, know the red flags of online dating. Online dating scams are a real problem.
- Keep your guard up - Online dating scammers are good romancers. Be cautious about what you reveal before, during, and after meeting someone online.
- Reverse image search - Prior to meeting someone in-person, run a reverse image search on them to see if profiles under different names pop up.
- Search them online - Their profile should have enough information for you to perform a Google search on them. If not, be cautious!
- Run a background check - You deserve to know if someone has a history of violence! Garbo has the most criminal records of any background check.
- Always carry cash - Cash is still king, especially when it comes to safety! Be sure you have a working debit or credit card and cash on you when meeting someone new.
- Leave - If you feel uncomfortable, disrespected, or are simply just not feeling it, have a plan to safely leave the date. This could be having a safe word you can text a friend so they call you with an “emergency” or simply saying ‘I’m not feeling this!’ and offering to pay for your portion of the bill.
Online dating should be a happy and healthy experience for everyone involved.
If you do have a bad online dating experience, there are a few things you can do depending on the situation.
- Ghost - Ghosting isn’t nice, but sometimes it is necessary! If you don’t want to block / report them but also don’t want to continue the relationship/conversation sometimes ghosting them is the safest thing to do.
- Block - Bye, bye, bye! You don’t have to give someone a reason for blocking them if they disrespected or pushed your boundaries. You should block their phone number and their profile within the app.
- Report - Most platforms have built-in reporting functionality. If something dangerous occurred, you can also think about reporting to different authorities.
Creating a Safer Online Dating Experience for All
Garbo is a new kind of online background check designed for the digital age. We empower people to make informed personal safety decisions by providing easy access to information.