Next month, FindSomeone members will have the opportunity to get their questions answered by our dating and relationship psychologist, John Aiken. To kick things off, the team asked him some key questions about online dating, the best way to get started and common mistakes to avoid:
Q: How do you think most people perceive online dating when it comes to finding a serious relationship?
A: Generally speaking, most singles consider online dating as a very viable and successful way of meeting their long-term partner. Sure there are online sites out there that are more focused on casual short-term hook-ups, but you simply need to do your research to find the ones that give you serious relationships and then jump on board. You’ll find plenty of like-minded singles that want the same thing as you.
Q: How soon do you think people should try to meet in person after meeting online?
A: This will vary a lot depending on your experience with online dating, the amount of contact you have back and forth through messaging, your level of phone contact, your intuition and how ready you are to take things to the next level. Generally I would say give yourself time to get to know them online, have several phone calls with them, and then after a week or two set up a face to face meeting.
Q: What are some good ways for people to stay motivated when dating online?
A: Don’t take the dating process too personally. Have fun with it and know that you’re in a process of elimination. You’re simply sifting through the bad to get to the good. You’ll have good and bad days – but it’s a numbers game and you need to stay patient. Lean on your friends to stay positive, laugh, approach different types of singles, and if you’re feeling a bit jaded – have a rest and come back to it when you’re ready to jump back in.
Q: Do you have any tips for sending a great first message?
A: First impressions count so make an impact with your first message. Make sure you’ve read their profile and comment on the aspects of this that really appealed to you. Show that you’ve thought about your response by avoiding spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Be respectful and polite. Be interested and ask them something about themselves, and tell them something interesting about you.
Q: What is a good way for someone to make their profile stand out?
A: Profiles that stand out begin with great photos – avoid shots with sunglasses, hats, drinking alcohol, showing too much flesh, or standing with an ex or in a large group. Don’t use a cheesy or sexualized online handle (e.g. lovefox99), check your spelling and grammar, keep it short, and be specific about your likes and experiences rather than being general. Once you’ve done this, get a trusted friend to check it to make sure you’ve hit the mark.
Q: What are some common mistakes that people make when dating online?
A: Where to begin! Some of the common ones I see include not posting a photo or using ones that are unflattering, having long and wordy profiles that use a list of generic/ boring adjectives, having spelling and grammar mistakes and showing desperation (e.g. you could be the one for me!!!). Other problems I see is over sharing with your messaging, using sexualized language, pushing too quickly to meet, giving out financial and personal details, and meeting up in unsafe places (e.g. over at their house late at night).
Q: How important is it for people to be honest about themselves on their profile?
A: It might sound like a no brainer – but if you start off lying on your profile then you’re going to get found out when you meet up with your love interest. Stay away from the lies and instead start out how you mean to go on. Be up front and honest about who you are and what you want out of online dating. This creates trust and security right from the outset.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about trying online dating?
A: I would tell them to do some research before getting into it. Get familiar with the different online sites out there and be clear about what you want – casual or serious, being matched up or doing it yourself. Check out other people’s profiles and pictures, and talk to people that have been doing it for a while and learn the ropes from them. Then take a deep breath and jump in. Go at your own pace, treat it as a numbers game, have fun with it, and be patient. Your ideal partner is out there, but you need to be selective and give it time.
John Aiken, Findsomeone’s dating and relationship expert, as seen on the hit TV 3 show Married At First Sight. He is a best selling author, appears regularly on TV, radio and in magazines, runs a clinical psychology private practice in Sydney, is a sought after speaker, and offers intensive couples retreats. (www.johnaiken.com.au). Click here to read more articles and expert advice from John Aiken.