Online dating presents a relatively new method of meeting people and is still perceived as risky by some. I’ve heard everything ranging from what should be in your profile to how you select whom to meet or even message — most of which sounds reasonable, but can actually limit the results women can see from using an online dating service effectively.
To make sure you’re getting the most out of your online dating experience while staying safe, here are seven commonly followed rules of online dating — and why you should purposely break them.
Rule: Feature your most flattering photos on your profile at all costs.
Why You Should Break It: It may seem like the photos of you at your sorority formal will attract the most men to your profile. But whether or not it’s a mere coincidence you also happened to be at your skinniest at the time the photo was taken, if it’s clearly an old photo, any savvy online dater will assume you have something to hide. Instead, select flattering photos that are as recent and as authentic to how you look in person as possible. You are beautiful just how you are; it will be easier than you think!
Rule: Include your weirdest, quirkiest characteristics in your written profile.
Why You Should Break It: I understand that you want the right guy to love everything about you, but remember that your written profile is your very first impression and even the most lovable quirks don’t always translate seamlessly to the written word. The way you describe yourself on our profile represents an important deciding factor for whether or not a guy will pursue a conversation with you, so keep the information you share true to your personality while staying relevant. The wrong guys will filter out naturally so the RIGHT guy can discover and fall in love with your cute habits on his own.
Rule: Wait until after you’ve met the guy in person to give him your number.
Why You Should Break It: Unless you’re giving out your landline or your cell number spells out your home address, you’re good. Sharing your digits can also give you a better idea of whether or not you vibe with a guy; many just happen to be fantastic writers or may even have someone else writing messages for them, so opening up the possibility of chatting over the phone will reveal whether or not your witty repartee merely exists on the Internet.
Rule: Don’t reveal too much about yourself before your first date.
Why You Should Break It: The fear of having nothing left to talk about on your first date can cause you to clam up, but one of the many beauties of online dating is that it’s acceptable to unabashedly screen your dates before you even agree to go on them. Take advantage and converse with him a bit before meeting in person and while taking note of personality traits, hobbies or anything else you deem important. Go easy on him; but if you find him to be fundamentally incompatible in some way, move on to the next one.
Rule: Have a trusted friend or two accompany you to the first date venue and stay undercover until they’re sure you’re safe.
Why You Should Break It: Though appealing for safety reasons, this “rule” is not only unnecessary but will affect how you act on your date. Unless you have concentration of steel, knowing your friends are there and watching will be a significant distraction and may impact everything from your mannerisms to what you say to your date, depending on your friends’ proximity. As long as you’re meeting your date in a public place, driving yourself home, or even keeping a friend or two on call, you’re safe handle your dates solo.
Rule: Take his photos into serious consideration when deciding whether or not to begin conversing with a guy.
Why You Should Break It: Physical attraction is undeniably important when dating, but it would be naive to assume that the perfectly gorgeous man you see in photos isn’t at least a couple inches shorter, a few pounds heavier, or a bit balder than he appears. Even if he ends up closely resembling his photos in person, looks fade. Decide if the physical attraction is there once you’ve met and gotten to know him a little better.
Rule: Date as many men through the site as possible.
Why You Should Break It: Online dating does open your dating options to an impossible number of men, but that number is just that: impossible. Racking up as many dates as possible takes a lot of legwork; no matter how naturally witty you are, carrying on multiple conversations via various mediums is more time-consuming than you might think. More importantly, it becomes easy to mix up little details you’ve picked up from the various men you’ve been talking to straight, which can make you come across as inauthentic or result in some embarrassing situations. There’s nothing wrong with considering your options, but be sure not to bite off more than you can chew.