Whoa, she is actually interesting besides being cute. I think to myself if I could at least meet her, the thirty dollars I have to peel off my credit card for joining will actually be worth it.
That one profile got me hooked. I sit down and craft a profile that I think describes me and I upload a variety of pictures that I suppose represent me fairly well. I excitedly send out a ton of emails to everyone I want to meet in anticipation of some incredible dates.
Twenty unanswered emails later I cancel my account; I admit defeat. I did not meet the woman that I was hiring to meet; I did not even get one date. My first attempt at online dating was an utter failure. I was disheartened checking an empty email box day after day, wondering if my send button was even working.
After months of experimenting I have more dates than I even have time for and am meeting fascinating intelligent beautiful women every week.
Success is all about putting your best face forward while differentiating yourself from the crowd of faces.
Part 1 – Photos
A friend of mine once told me she made sure she put pictures up that represented her in a variety of looks, so that no one would be surprised when they met her. She did not want to put up only her best shots. While I applaud her sense of honesty, people online have a "Next!" mentality. Any little thing will cause someone to delete your email or pass over your profile. Putting yourself forward both good and bad is great in person, and in fact makes you more attractive. Putting up your faults, or non-flattering pictures online is a recipe for failure. The idea is to get them to meet you, and then you have a chance to find out who that person is and vice versa.
The most successful online daters are people with good photos. If you are serious enough to try online dating, be serious enough to go take some professional photos. Do not do glamor shots, have the photographer take photos that may be candid, or less posed. By having a professional do it, the photos will be much more flattering. Black and white close-ups are a very flattering shot to add your other photos as well.
Try adding some photos of you in your travels or doing sports to show your active and adventurous side. These should be flattering but usually are easier to take yourself or pick from your photo collection because they often are not close-ups.
Part 2 – Profile
I am fun, optimistic, adventurous, down-to-earth, and love life! Sounds like the perfect person does not it? Well then there are millions of perfect people out there for you because just about every profile online says this same thing in different ways. There is a lot of advice out there on writing a good profile but I want to give you a format to write something actually interesting and different while still presenting who you are.
Start with one of those character traits about you. Instead of just saying you are that, give us an example with a quick anecdote that shows it. Examples from my profile:
I once told a jungle shaman to put two cats in his mouth; I was a bit embarrassed when I realized what I had said in Spanish.
I find that doing a John Travolta dance move in the middle of a busy intersection does not attract as many strange looks as I would have thought. No wonder I like a bad pun so much, at least I get a groan.
The strangest person I have ever given a hug to was the man who did a handstand for hours upside down with his head on the bottom of a corona bottle in Union Square last year. He was standing up sharing with me his philosophy of the upside down people in a right side up world, with me appreciating the poetry of his slightly insane worldview.
"You are an individual, just like everyone else."
The key to making a profile is stop TELLING them who you are, and instead SHOW them who you are with examples and experiences. There are tons of adventurous people out there. How do YOU manifest that?
Do not explain every detail. Leave some mystery; give them something to ask you about. Make it easy for them to email you with questions. There was nothing more frustrating to me than finding a person I liked, then scouring the profile just to figure out a question to ask them. "I am fun, lively, and down to earth" leaves me with only the question "How are you that way?" Unfortunately that is just a little too big of a question for a first email.
Step 3 – Email
I wrote a lot of interesting, witty, funny, insulting, bizarre, emails all in attempts to get responses. In the end I found no one thing got me any more responses than another. In fact the more witty, clever, and humorous I tried to be the more I screwed it up. I made a lot of discoveries through my online dating adventure. One is that the email is a lot less important than the picture and profile. Here are some other insights:
No one likes a form letter.
Actually read the profile for a quick question about something they put in there.
Keep the questions in your first email short.
I hate close ended questions (yes or no) in real conversations; they shut down conversation instead of stimulate it. The interesting thing is that in an email no one will reply with just a yes or no, and because the question is short and quick it is easy to answer. Start with a quick question like "When did you in Peru do you make it to the Amazon?" They will answer more than a one-word answer yet will not feel like they have to write a book. If you ask "What was your experience like in Peru?" they may just put your email on hold for when they have more time to reply. Hopefully they find that time.
Keep all your emails short.
I like to ask a quick question then refer to it with a very short experience or example of mine. Do not take up more than a paragraph. Remember the longer the email the more someone will feel like they have to write back to you. Short emails get more response than long emails.
Build relationships in real life, not online or over the phone.
The internet is a scary place. Many people recommend taking your time to get to know someone before meeting them in person. While I agree with that, the reality is most of the time you will know in a couple emails or after a phone call. Do not be afraid to move to coffee at a public coffee shop after a few emails. In fact it can be a huge waste of your time to build a relationship over email or phone. I rarely meet someone who is the same in person as they are online, over the phone, or in email. Sometimes that is a good thing, other times I found I got too wrapped up liking the person only to find that in person we had no chemistry. I always tried for two or three emails from me then suggesting we meet for coffee.
Put these online dating tips into action and start getting better dates!
Be safe and do not take any of it too seriously. I found that the people I was most excited to meet often did not measure up and often I was surprised that I liked some more than I would have thought. However online dating is a numbers game even more so than meeting people in real life. Do not get too attached to getting a reply or date from any one person. If you keep that in mind and realize that it can be very empowering to have more dates than you have time for, online dating can be a very rewarding experience. You never know who you might just meet!