Having trouble navigating the murky waters of online dating? Online dating can be fun and rewarding when done correctly, but for first timers it can lead to a lot of disastrous dates and disappointment. Fortunately, there are simple and effective ways to screen potential candidates that will improve the odds of finding someone who is right for you!
1) Read between the lines
How to read an online dating profile
First, start by looking at the name. Does it seem like the name of someone you’d like to get to know better, something like JimInNewYork, or MovieLover123? Or does it reek of ego and attitude, e.g. SuperHotBuffMan99 or SexiestLadyEverToWalkTheEarth? You’d be surprised how many profiles can be successfully eliminated at this preliminary stage, depending on what you’re looking for.
Second, what does the profile say? When people don’t post a shred of information about themselves, they aren’t really putting themselves out there, or else they are expecting the other person to take all of the initial sharing risk. On the other hand, there is such a thing as “TMI”, otherwise known as “Too Much Information.” Overly wordy profiles with very specific criteria for a mate or date often belong to closed-minded narcissists who aren’t interested in learning about other people. A big red flag is any negative or detailed information about a previous relationship or the opposite sex in general. Someone who initially displays negative information on their profile is probably not a lot of fun in person.
Look for someone whose username and profile has a similar vibe to your own, and you’ll be much more likely to find someone who is a good match.
2) S/he’s got the look
Not all photos are created alike
Sometimes photos don’t do a person justice so it’s good to keep an open mind. That said, it’s important to pick someone that you could be attracted to, who has features that you appreciate. While that can be difficult to figure out from a photo, there are signs in the types of photos themselves. Is the photo a head shot? If so, chances are higher that the person may look significantly different (read, less attractive) than they do in real life. Is the photo completely blurry or taken from very far away? This is probably not someone who is very confident about their experience. If the photo does not show the person from the neck below, they may be insecure about their body type. Does the photo have a cut-out of a person who was probably an ex girlfriend or boyfriend? Pass. Is the person doing a body shot in the photo? Next. You get the idea.
3) Communication is key
Matching your writing styles
Are spelling, punctuation and grammar important to you? Do you like being called Baby or Sweet Cheeks? The way a person communicates tells us a lot about them. Look closely at the messages you’re reading and the profiles you’re viewing, and make sure that the style of writing is one that you’d expect to see in an email or IM from an acquaintance. If it’s not up to par, move on.
4) Under pressure
Does this feel like an obligation?
If you’ve waited a day to respond to someone and they’ve gone ahead and sent a second, third or fourth message pleading with you to get back to them, you should strongly consider looking elsewhere. This indicates desperation, a quality that is not attractive in anyone. The same applies for texts and phone messages. The minute you feel overwhelmed or pressured in the slightest, cut it off, because it is only going to get worse.
5) Let’s have a chat
Screening with IM
A lot of people will try to insist on having a phone conversation immediately. Don’t succumb to this pressure. It is much more efficient to screen via an online conversation initially. This way you can conduct more than one conversation at once. multitask in other ways, or leave the conversation quickly and easily if need be. This also gives you a chance to screen their chat style as described above, and to gage whether you’re feeling any pressure. Most importantly, this gives you time to think of an appropriate answer if you’re put on the spot and the other person asks you on a date when you’re not sure if you like them. If you’re still interested in the person after 10-15 minutes of chatting online, have a quick conversation on the phone to see if they sound okay, then schedule a date somewhere public. Do not plan on anything lengthy like dinner or a movie, because you may instantly dislike the person and you want to leave yourself lots of options to escape after 30 minutes.
Conclusion: Trust your gut
It won’t let you down
Take your emotional temperature at every stage of the game – from viewing someone’s profile, to deciding who to correspond with, to meeting in person. If you’re getting an unsure or bad feeling, this probably isn’t the right person for you. If you get a good feeling, congratulations – you’ve successfully screened an online date!