Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Too many fish in the sea

Online dating is pretty big business these days. Any time you turn on the TV or travel on public transport, there seem to be ads everywhere for Match.com, eHarmony, Plenty of Fish and even Uniform Dating. It appears that the stigma associated with meeting someone online is well and truly forgotten.

In 2009, eHarmony claimed that on average 542 people were getting married in the US every day as a result of meeting on the site. I personally know quite a few people who either met their partner online, are currently online or thinking about going online. And yes, I have tried it myself too.


But with so many people signing up (according to their homepage, POF reckon they have 50,000 new singles registering every day), how on earth are you meant to stand out enough to get noticed?

Now, please bear in mind that I haven't met the love of my life online, but I do know what it is that's grabbed my attention, so here are my tips on how to make a good impression:

PROFILE PICTURE

I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't start with the picture but let's face it, most people do. If you don't have a good picture, chances are potential matches aren't going to click on your profile. For your main profile pic, a head and shoulders shot is ideal, particularly if it shows you having a good time somewhere. (Although maybe not one of you and your ex...) A series of photos of you taking pictures of yourself in the mirror, however - not so good. It looks like you have no friends to take a photo for you, and you never go anywhere interesting. Pictures with a story to them are the best, as it gives you something to talk about.

TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF

Nobody likes doing this bit. In fact a lot of profiles start with the words 'What do I put here?' or 'This is really difficult.' You don't need to write a lot, just make whatever you do write interesting and intriguing enough to make someone want to contact you. Please don't lead with 'I like going out and I like staying in.' So does everyone. Say where you like to go out, describe an unusual hobby, talk about your last holiday and something funny that happened. Throw in a few random facts about yourself, they're always fun and they show you've got a sense of humour. But try and draw the line between a bit random and completely mad!

BE PROACTIVE

Don't just browse profiles waiting for someone to notice you. If you see someone you like, go for it. What do you have to lose? It's online so it's not like approaching someone in a bar where everyone's watching. Sure, it might be a bit disappointing if you've got your hopes up and the other person doesn't reply, but nobody will know except you. And you might just find they've been waiting for you to get in touch with them...

FIRST MESSAGE

If you've found someone you're interested in, sadly, just as in real life, it doesn't mean that they're automatically going to be interested in you. Especially if you send them a forgettable message like 'Hi, how was your day?' Just as you should when applying for jobs, read their profile, pick up on anything that particularly interests you and mention that. Ask questions to show you're interested. For instance, I'm in a book club, so an obvious question would be to ask me what we're reading this month. I'm happy to talk about that because it's something I enjoy and it means the guy's paid a bit of attention to what I've written. Also, don't send the same message to more than one person (especially if that message is 'Luuuuussssssshhhhhhh' - yes, that happened) - chances are, especially if they're local, they may know each other (this also happened)!

DON'T BE A PEST/STALKER

If you get a reply to your message, great! You've successfully broken through and stood out from the crowd, and now you can get on to the fun part of getting to know each other. But don't get noticed for the wrong reason. If you've sent a message and not got a reply, don't nag. There may be a perfectly legitimate reason, or they just may not be interested. Accept it gracefully and move on.

So those are my hints on how to stand out online. Once you get to the chatting and meeting up part, you're on your own...

Any online dating success stories? What attracted you to your partner?