The Unwritten Rules: How to Win at the Online Dating Game

This article appeared first on The Huffington Post:

I am here to tell you that the dating game has changed.  Can you still run into the love of your life at a grocery store or local nightclub?  Yes.  But waiting for that to happen is no longer your only option.  Online dating has become one of the most popular ways of meeting a dating candidate, and is not going anywhere anytime soon.  In fact, internet and social media dating have cast an even wider net to capture a potential significant other.  But as the times have changed, so have the rules.  Here are ten tips for successfully navigating the world of online dating.

  1. Make an actual commitment to take it seriously. So what if your bestie begged you to do it or you only made a profile after your younger cousin’s wedding.  You have now made the decision to give online dating a try, so don’t sabotage yourself by having a cynical view from the outset.  Give it a real chance and see what happens!
  2.  Manage your expectations. Similar to offline dating, you cannot expect to meet your match on day one.  You will likely interact with a number of individuals before meeting someone that you will click with.  So be patient and do not give up too soon.
  3.  Be thoughtful in creating your online profile. Ditch listing “I love movies” or “hanging out with friends” in your info section and get more real.  Reveal your favorite restaurant or a secret hobby that your coworkers do not know about.  Not only do these things make you stick out, but they are also a great conversation starter or date idea!
  4.  Be mindful of the content on your social media pages. With the increasing number of dating sites being linked to social media pages, it is imperative that you are careful with what you divulge on social media.  Be consistent in the persona you are looking to portray across dating and social media sites, and this includes your username.  You never know who your admirers are acquainted with or what other dating sites they are frequenting.
  5.  Scrap the checklist. We all have one. That list of the qualities we seek in our perfect mate.  But guess what?  This is real life, not a movie so no one will be perfect.  If you are too stringent in your search criteria you may miss out on meeting an amazing individual just because they were an inch off or 5 miles outside of your radius. Stick to actual deal breakers when searching and listing preference.
  6.  Only interact with people that you are actually interested in. It is fine to be respectful and let candidates down easy, but you have no obligation to carry on conversations or respond to individuals that you are not interested in. Your time is valuable, so do not waste it in order to entertain yourself or make someone feel better.
  7.  Do not ignore red flags. People generally reveal their character in words and actions; however it is human nature to see the best in someone or hope for the best.  Evaluate your candidates by present circumstances and how they are treating you, not by their potential.
  8.  Make use of technology to feel out your connection. Technology has finally caught up to help you determine if there is a spark prior to your first date. From FaceTime to Snapchat, there are various ways to interact with your potential suitors to gauge your connection.  It also doesn’t hurt that you can prevent a catfish scenario by checking out the true visual.
  9.  Take things offline as soon as you feel comfortable. So once you have determined that you are ready to meet someone, put the phone or computer down and get out there! It is easy to stay online to prevent disappointment or not be letdown, but you are just preventing the inevitable.  If you are worried about your safety, meet in a public place and be the last to leave.
  10. Do not invest high levels of energy until after meeting in person. Building a relationship takes more than an endless chain of emails and nightly phone conversations.  Until you have met in person, you do not truly know someone.  So before ignoring other admirers online or telling your friends how great an individual is, be sure to meet offline first to confirm mutual interest.

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