The ultimate guide to finding genuine people when looking for love online
Updated: Mar 27, 2019
So many singles I talk to are tired of internet dating and its various irksome challenges and find it a real turn off.
But in lieu of the various social structures that used to exist to help single people meet, it really is one of the most practical ways of meeting new potential romantic partners.
So how you can overcome your mental barriers to online dating and feel positive and empowered about dipping a toe in that water?
I spoke to some experts to put together the ultimate guide to help you get the most out of online dating and cut through the riff-raff.
A turn-off factor for mature women is a belief that ‘resorting to’ online dating means they are somehow a failure. Or they think finding love “should” happen organically, without conscious choice and effort. If this sounds like you, please actively challenge their beliefs so that you’re not shutting yourself off to what’s potentially the way you’ll meet your special someone.
Take a leaf out of the little black book of love-seekers in their US and UK whose attitudes to online dating are more open, positive and proud.
“Australia is still a little behind the likes of the US and UK where online dating is concerned and we’re still a little shy about having to resort to it,” says Tiffany Villaluz, director and founder Of DateMyFriend, an online dating site that showcases single people through the eyes of their friends. “In the US and UK, it’s more like you are considered a little odd if you’re single and not using online dating!”
According to Relationships Australia, in 2017 around 4.5 million Australians were using online dating sites each year, with online dating being the second most preferred way to meet a new partner behind introductions through family and friends.
BE CLEAR ABOUT WHO YOU’RE LOOKING FOR
Online dating without clarity about the type of person you’d like to meet is like shopping with a cashed-up card and no plan for what you’re going to buy: you could come out with anything!
While it’s not advisable to have an exhaustive list of what you want in a partner (this can narrow your field of vision too much) it’s important to have at least five core qualities or “must-haves” in a partner and relationship and five dealbreakers. Core qualities are things like: honesty, integrity, financial stability, kindness, openness, good communication, affectionate, mature. Deal-breakers are whatever things you just will not abide in a relationship, things like: drug use and/or alcohol use, untrustworthiness, infidelity, racism/bigotry, anger issues/abusive behaviour, unfinished business with an ex. Dealbreakers are often related to relationship pain you’ve experienced in the past. For example, if part of what hurt you in a past relationship was your partner’s alcohol use, alcohol use/abuse would be your dealbreaker.
Self-love and relationship coach, Anastasia Frank, says having your five core qualities gives you “xray vision” into the dating pool so even though you might have fireworks going off in your body when you meet someone, it becomes evident very quickly if they don’t have the core qualities, so are not the person you’re looking for.
BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR INTENTION FOR DATING
Why are you dating? Turns out not everyone on dating sites is looking for what you’re looking for, so best be clear about your motivation for online dating so you're more likely to attract interest from people who are up for what you're up for.
“Whether it’s for fun, love, sex, a serious relationship or you’re dipping a toe in after recovering from a breakup, be clear about what you’re dating for and be OK with wherever you’re at,” says Karina Pamamull, a dating and romance influencer and the founder of Datelicious. “If you’re not clear, you’ll get a mismatch.”
BE GROUNDED IN YOUR VALUE
Arlene Vasquez Washburn, master executive certified matchmaker and a science-based relationship expert, says a common mistake made by women is that they show up to first dates like it’s an audition, which devalues who they are. She says rather than evaluating the other person, they’re more concerned with what the other person thinks about them.
Change the underlying question from, Does he like me? to Do I like him? This way you are less likely to go into audition mode, which can make you a little inauthentic. It also reduces the risk of you becoming emotionally invested in someone before you know who they really are.
Also, remind yourself of this truth: I am enough and worthy of love, whether this person likes me or not.
“You have to go into online dating with resilience,” Villaluz says. “It’s competitive and not everyone is going to respond to you or like you back, so you have to have thick skin.”
MAKE YOUR PROFILE AUTHENTIC
If you’re looking for a genuine person with whom to have a long-term relationship, Vasquez Washburn says it’s vital that you make your profile authentic. “Don’t write a profile that makes you sound like you’re just up for fun and a good time, because you’re more likely to attract people who just want to have sex,” she says.
And if there’s a lot of focus on physical attributes in your pictures and in what you write, you’re more likely to attract someone who will value you on the physical level.
From her vast experience, she says women who are bombarded with unwelcome sexual messages or pictures from men are often those who are portraying themselves as just wanting to have fun or whose profile photos are super-sexy.
Vasquez Washburn encourages her clients to have a very specific "target market". “This means that you need to polarise, to some extent, the people who aren’t right for you,” she says. Make it clear in your profile that you want a serious relationship and the guys looking for a fun time will see that you’re serious and move on.
Villaluz says more photos correlates with receiving more messages, so she suggests using about five profile pictures. Include a headshot, a full-length shot and an action shot.
“Ensure they are a true reflection of what you look like now,” Villaluz says. “This eliminates the problem of someone turning up to meet you and not recognising you from your 10-year-old photo. There’s nothing more of a turn-off. This automatically tells the other person you are not genuine in your representation of who you are.”
Pamamull says it’s critical that people see your eyes, so take your sunnies off for photos.
The most important part? Choose photos where the essence of who you are is shining through.
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
We all know by now there are lots of unsavoury and unsafe shyters out there who use online dating as a platform to display their questionable wares and generally upset people. Here’s the unanimous advice from the experts: don’t take things personally. They are not trying to upset you in particular, so don’t give them that satisfaction.
“Don’t take it personally if someone’s not a match for your values,” says Vasquez Washburn. “You only need one person and every person who’s not the one brings you closer to the one.”
And if you’re not having success on one dating app or site, move on and try another one. “Sometimes there will be great people. Sometimes there won’t be anyone you’re interested in,” Pamamull says.
KEEP AN OPEN MIND
Online dating requires that you keep an open heart and an open mind. And don’t dismiss good people too quickly.
“A lot of people get nervous and are not good at first dates,” Vasquez Washburn says.
“Cut people some slack. As long as someone doesn’t physically repulse you, give it three or four dates to peel back the layers. Keep your emotions in check: you want to evaluate before you engage emotionally.”
Pamamull advises not to rule someone out because they have a different look to the type you usually go for. Dating a particular “type” could be part of an unhealthy pattern you have, so dating someone who’s different could be part of breaking that pattern.
Villaluz says don’t be too quick to just look at the photo and swipe away. “Go into this with an open mind and don’t judge a book by its cover," she says.
KNOW YOU’RE IN GOOD COMPANY
While there are no official statistics on the number of Australians using online dating sites, in 2017 industry bodies estimated that around 4.5 million Australians were using this dating method each year, with online dating the second most preferred way to meet a new partner behind introductions through family and friends.
Tinder claims 15 per cent of Australia’s population (almost 3.5 million people) use their app. RSVP says that 1200 new singles join the site every day, while eHarmony claims they are responsible for 11,000 Australian marriages since 2007.
Have fun! Get together with a friend, help write each other's profiles and take some photos. Be brave and try it out!