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I'm New To Online Dating. Help!

Dear CMR,

I recently started considering online dating but it feels intimidating. Can you give me any advice that will make it easier to find a person worth getting to know?

Signed,

New To This


Dear New,

That is a great question. There are arguably many people you could potentially be lifelong partners with, but you also don’t want to get coffee with everyone who messages you claiming you’re “the one.” So how do you thin the herd and have a couple of good dates with people that actually stand a chance?

While no method is perfect for the madness, here are four simple online dating tips you can try to weed out most of the wrong ones and limit your interactions to only Mr. or Mrs. Potential.

Online Dating Tip #1: Pictures are worth a thousand words:

While a profile picture online says very little about how someone may look, act, or sound in real life, it’s still the picture that he or she chose to represent themselves with. If the only pictures that they have on their profile are selfies or bad quality, cell phone shots than they really haven’t invested much into putting their best foot forward.

Initial vibes are also very important. If you’re getting a bad feeling just from looking at his or her picture, they’re probably not right for you. Sometimes we unconsciously pick up on things that trigger warning signals in our minds. If the alarms are going off don’t waste your time and energy figuring out why. Just pass on the bad vibes and look for someone else.

Online Dating Tip #2: Initial interactions and first messages:

If you're a lady, most of the time the guys will initiate a conversation with the ladies. Unfortunately, because we live in a hook-up culture, 80% of those messages will come from the wrong guys. These guys will send a copy/paste message to every girl they’re attracted to without reading about who she is – at all.

That being said, most of your messages are going to be along the lines of “how you doing” or “what’s up?” Spelling errors, cheesy pickup lines, and general comments on your appearance are also good indications that they’re not all that interested in getting to know you.

By sending these short, uninteresting messages they’re weeding out those of you who are actually looking for a relationship and limiting their interactions to those desperate enough to respond.

Instead of taking that kind of message seriously, wait for the people that show evidence of reading your profile. If they read your bio and found something to connect with you on, there’s a much better chance that he or she is actually interested in talking with you.

Online Dating Tip #3: Read their profile:

There’s not always a ton of relevant information in an online biography, but even though that’s true it doesn’t make it less valuable to read. Quickly reviewing what someone says about themselves (and how they say it) is a good way to hint at whether you two would get along.

Does his lifestyle match my own? If she lives far away, is a long-distance relationship something that I would consider? Did they mention God or complain about their past relationships?

Look for things to connect on. Online dating tip 101: if you are struggling to find any common point of connection, it’s likely you won’t find much to connect on in real life either. If they hate nature, never go to church, exercise once a year, live in the Timbuktu, or talk way too much about their exes in their profile, they may not be a good match for you.

Alternatively, if they haven’t written anything at all in their bio (yes this happens) than just pass. Insufficient effort is the easiest way to see that someone is not serious enough for you or a real relationship.

Online Dating Tip #4: Come up with at least one difficult, deal-breaking question:

Some people are desperate enough to say whatever they think you want to hear. Once you’ve decided to message them back it’s best to get some indication of where they stand on the particular issues that you find important.

Views on politics, God, family, theology, or future goals can all be good ways to make sure they’re truthfully on the same page as you. Some examples of questions you could ask would possibly be:

“On a scale of 0-10, how important is God in your everyday life?”

“How many kids would you like to have someday?”

“Do you think our government should be providing universal health care?”

“If you had the choice of retiring in a big city or a rural country setting, which would you choose?”

Questions like these can go both ways. When there’s no obvious ‘right answer’ the other person is forced to be honest or guess at what they think the correct answer will be. Nine times out of ten, if they don’t know the answer, they’ll answer honestly and you’ll better know if you’re compatible or not.

These online dating tips may seem somewhat exhausting, but don’t get discouraged. If you’ve signed up for an online dating site in the past, you know you’ll get a significant number of terrible matches and only a few that just might work. Those few are well worth the wait!

Even if dating online doesn’t lead to a significant relationship or a future marriage, your interactions with Mr. or Mrs. Potential will be uplifting and encouraging rather than draining and regretful. Your time is valuable and your heart is fragile, don’t waste them on the people who fail to meet your standards. So try out these online dating tips, and see how it goes.

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