I’m going to break out the ‘old biddy’ card here and say that, when I was younger, online dating wasn’t a thing. Or it was but it wasn’t as vital as it is now. To be noticed, you had to walk into a bar and make yourself seen. If you were creative then you’d wear something so vibrant if you moved too quickly it would have a strobe effect. Phones were only used to ensure you got the number of the person so you could call or text them. (Yes I’m not that old that Texting is a crazy new way of communication for me.) And pick up lines…well they were a little more creative. People who hide behind screens seem to be under the illusion that they can say whatever is on their mind and not even bother to spell check. Where’s the romance people? Why would I swoon over the line “hey what ur cup size”? Be still my beating heart, I think I’ve found my future husband!
1. Spell check!
For some, this isn’t a big deal. The written word isn’t for everyone. If, however, this is the only method of communication, then it’s best to make it legible. Unless you know the person on the other end is a fan of puzzles, don’t make it impossible for them to read. Some don’t have a handy cipher and hours to decrypt what you’re trying to say. So take those extra few seconds to read what you’ve typed out before sending it. Spell check, edit and maybe use a wider vocabulary. There are over 722,000 in the Collins English dictionary, 171,476 in the Oxford dictionary and for the tech savvy, you have Google. One of those should tickle your fancy. Get adventurous with your wording. (There’s also the complication of going too far the other way. Don’t go overboard with long winded complicated words or you’ll just sound pretentious. Know where the line is.)
2. Backhanded compliments are risky
There are situations when a backhanded compliment can be seen as cheeky teasing. Personally I don’t get along with that, but there are a few less sensitive types who find it amusing. If you’re starting a conversation that way, however, you’ll probably just insult them. I’m pretty sure it goes without saying, but not everyone can read your tone of voice in a text or see your expression. If they’ve never met you, how are they supposed to know that’s how you have a little fun with people? Be careful with this one, it’s risks you getting a slew of insults back. If that’s how you flirt, then at least check the person you’re communicating with is open to that humour. Don’t go in guns blazing and get annoyed when someone takes it too seriously. These people don’t know you, you don’t know them. That’s why your on there in the first place!
3. Think of something original
There are around 7 million people in the UK who are registered to dating apps. That’s a lot of people fishing for someone to pass the time with, get married to or simply befriend. So when you go on to check your messages there’s usually a few waiting in the inbox. Unfortunately, most of them are duds. There’s nothing more boring then getting the fiftieth message saying; “Hi” or “hows it going” or “how are you finding using this app” or the best one “wow you look great”. Thanks for that Shakespeare, that’s outstanding conversation starters. Getting statements like that doesn’t inspire you to say anything back. Or for some, it’s just awkward. What am I supposed to say to those statements? “Hi” or “it’s going good thanks. And you?” or “still fishing and so far only caught shrimp” and finally “thanks”. If you’re going to stand out, then add a question which shows you’ve paid attention. Look at their profile, see what they like and work with that. Tailor your opening line to suit them. Don’t put down something generic. Give the person your messaging something fun to read at the very least.
4. Pay attention to the profile
It’s just good manners to pay attention to what someone has said about themselves. They have taken the time to give you clues about their nature and thought about what they believe is the most interesting facts about themselves. Take the time to peruse their page, look at more than just their photo. You can tell a lot about a person from simply reading what they’ve said. There’s also an art to reading between the lines. Their word choice, for example, can give you a lot of insight. There’s also the sentence length, how they structure the paragraph. Do they write in bullet points? They may be organised or like making pros and cons lists. Do they write in short sentences? They’re concise and possibly a little abrupt at times. There’s also how much they say about themselves. If they’re serious about wanting to find someone to connect with, they’re more likely to expand on how much information they give. The people who put little to nothing, are usually not as serious about finding anyone to really connect with on a less superficial level. (Just to note: This is not fact for everyone. Some are either paranoid about giving away too much information online or simply want to remain mysterious.) Also, it’s obvious when you message someone after only looking at their picture. Don’t be openly superficial and try to make an impression with your eye for detail not for how great their cheekbones are.
4. Don’t lie.
I really shouldn’t have to mention this but it’s amazing how much it happens on dating apps. Don’t ruin this experience for everyone by writing fiction. It not only results in people getting hurt for no reason, but it also increases paranoia. It makes online dating a nail biting experience. You wonder what’s true and what’s an over-sized ego at play. Some even tick the ‘I want marriage’ box when really, they’re just looking for someone to willingly strip naked for them. If they want that then there is a few strip clubs they could check out where trickery or flirting isn’t needed. (In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s a rule that you don’t chat up their dancers.) I have had a few run-ins with these types of people and it’s not pleasant. You’re on these apps to find someone who you’ll eventually meet in person. Lying about your height, the fact that your photo is fifteen years old and looks nothing like you now, the job you do and what you’re actually looking for out of the experience, is idiotic. The moment they meet you they’ll know you’re lying through your teeth. The biggest lie is usually what someone’s intentions are. If you’re only looking for a bit of fun, say so. I was chatting to someone a while ago and he told me after a few minutes that he didn’t want anything serious. He was more interested in having some fun. I declined but I was actually rooting for the guy by the end of the conversation. There’s plenty of other people on these sites who are looking for the same thing. Don’t waste time, be honest and just say what you want. Easier than getting a black eye for being a manipulative jerk.
5. Don’t be so sensitive
Ah, the crutch to being human. The ability to overthink things. Reading a message without knowing the tone of voice can be tricky. The mood you’re in can change how you interpret what the other person is trying to say. Try not to read between the lines too much. Sometimes, what someone is saying is actually what they mean. There’s no hidden code for you to crack. You’re not dealing with an international spy…or I don’t think you are. Just take whatever they say at face value until you have proof they’re being antagonistic, sarcastic or rude. The same goes for how you respond. If you’re in a terrible mood, it’s probably best not to say anything right away. Or be honest and ask if they’re being sarcastic or if they really do like your hairy feet. The good thing about online dating is that you don’t have to have the perfect response at the tip of your tongue. You can walk away anytime and think rationally about what you want to say. Learn to speak up if someone is saying something that makes you uncomfortable. You never know, they could be nervous and text vomiting what they think is funny but is actually a little insulting. Teach them it’s not okay. Or better yet, if you’re not happy with it, stop communication. Also don’t get bent out of shape if someone is honest and tells you they’re not feeling it. Not everyone is going to feel a connection and if that’s the case, move on and find someone who will. They’re civilised enough to tell you the truth, so don’t be a dick about it.
6. Slow down!
Everyone has different speeds when it comes to dating. Some are no nonsense and want to find that perfect partner within a few minutes. (Good luck with that one buddy.) Most, however, need a little time to get to know you. They’re not going to accept a marriage proposal after an hour of good conversation. People can get a little caught up in the moment and start going a little crazy. We all know how it feels to find someone you have an instant connection with. The type you talk to so much, sleep has become a fond memory. That’s great but also remember that you haven’t met this person yet. This is the beginning…hopefully. Don’t get clingy or demanding the moment you feel a connection to someone. No one wants to sit down for a meal with the smell of desperation hanging around. Don’t get upset if they’ve been online in-between messaging you. For a start, you’ve also gone online to check, which is a tad creepy. (Or borderline stalker.) It also shows you’re still playing the field too. It can’t be one rule for you and another for them. Don’t assume that just because they’re looking it doesn’t mean they’re uninterested in you. If you’re not talking to anyone else, then it might be worth mentioning it. The other person will either be happy with this and stop looking themselves or they’ll be honest and tell you it’s too soon. Either way, you’ll know where you stand and you can go from there. Main point: Ease them into the ‘inner crazy’ portion of your personality.
7. Be considerate
This is something I have heard my friends complain about a few times over the years. There are a few people online who don’t understand that being persistent is different to being a pest. Just because you’re interested in someone, doesn’t mean you can spend all day spamming their inbox. The downside to using these apps is that it’s easy to shut down a conversation without needing to do anything. It’s as simple as not responding. Personally, I would take that as a hint to call the flying monkeys and go home. I have, however, come across others who don’t quite get that hint. Sending four or five messages because someone isn’t responding after a day, is a bit much. If they still don’t get back to you then it’s a clear signal for you to keep looking elsewhere. Remember, there’s millions of people out there so don’t get hung up on one who isn’t putting in the effort themselves. It’s also not fair to pester someone for not responding straight away. They might have personal problems going on and haven’t got the time or energy to check their messages. There’s people who work different hours or are out with friends for the night. You don’t know what’s going on with them so don’t get aggressive if they haven’t said anything immediately. A friend of mine tried to be considerate by telling the guy she wasn’t interested but good luck for the future. The response she got was awful and he sent her countless aggressive messages back. A little maturity in these situations wouldn’t go a miss people.
So, good luck to all of you fishing and thanks for reading!