How to Not Suck at Online Dating

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Men in online dating are normally split into 2 categories. Those who seem to succeed with ease and those who have a hard time forever. Both camps have no clue what is getting them those results.

Seeing dozens of people's profiles and messages to each other I've come to

Men in online dating are normally split into 2 categories. Those who seem to succeed with ease and those who have a hard time forever. Both camps have no clue what is getting them those results.

Seeing dozens of people's profiles and messages to each other I've come to realizations about how to take your online dating from frustrating to fulfilling.

Profile photos

Take your pictures seriously! I can not say this enough-- pictures in online dating are everything. They're more crucial than anything in your profile and even your messages.

Women get dozens or more of messages a week. You need to stand out. Without flattering photos, women won't even open your messages or take a deeper look at your profile.

You don't need to be incredibly attractive. You do need to find pictures that present you in the best way possible.

Browse your computer and social networks. Each time I work with an online dating client, I ask them to find other pictures not already on their profile. They send me pictures from Facebook, Instagram, digital cameras, and hard drives. We almost always find better pictures than what they have added to their dating profile.

Choose only clear, high-quality shots. Discard all low resolution, grainy, washed out, off-color photos. Pictures that used flash usually do poorly as well. I don't care how much you love the content of the photo, if the quality sucks, get it out of there.

Your main pictures should be taken with a good point-and-shoot camera, recent smartphone, or preferably a DSLR. Even OKCupid's studies have demonstrated how much of an impact this makes.

Pick photos where you're dressed well. You don't have to be donning a dress shirt or a designer outfit. But your clothes should be fitted and match appropriately.
Do basic touchups. Seriously, why are every guy's pictures not edited? It takes one minute and makes your pictures instantly better. Whether that's on your smartphone, computer, or even with a free web-based app such as Pixlr.

At the minimum, use the "auto-enhance" or "auto-correct" functions. Use the shadows and highlights functions to eliminate any dark or over-exposed areas.

And please, crop your pictures to the main content-- yourself. Unless the picture is supposed to be a distant landscape shot, eliminate any distractions. No one wants to see the 5 feet of ceiling above you, the empty space to the sides, or the clutter in the room.

Select the best close-up photo for your primary photo. Pictures where you're smiling at the camera or looking away from the camera without a smile tend to be the strongest. This has been verified by OKCupid's study as well as my personal findings over the years.

Adjust the thumbnail box as close to your face as possible. You need a clear headshot to draw people in as they scroll through profiles.

Profile content

As compared to the significance of your photos and first texts, profiles come last. They're mostly used by women who read your messages and debating. Having a good, non-threatening profile is all you need.

It also helps to have a bit about personality and specific details about you. That way she has something to talk about in her response.

Keep it positive and interesting. Complaining, cynicism, pretentiousness, self-deprecation, and overall negativity turn women off. Being enthusiastic about your life and who you are is appealing. You need to entice women to be a part of it, not scare them off.
Get rid of excessive swearing. It doesn't make you sound cool. It comes off crude and intense. You can drop in a swearword if it truly adds emphasis to a story or a point.
Explain your job in relatable terms. Keep the technical talk to a minimum. Instead, focus on how it benefit others or express why you're so passionate about your job.


" During the day I work with scientists and software developers at a bioinformatics research lab. We focus on ways that the discipline of informatics can directly contribute to medical diagnoses and treatment. I work on software that runs our sequencing pipelines, create visualizations for scientific publications."

There's just excessive factual information here. This isn't supposed to be a resume. Save the specifics for the date.


" I work on software that makes complicated medical data easier to visualize and understand. Our research helps doctors diagnose and treat patients more effectively."

Simple, easy to relate to, and interests her to know more about your career.

Be specific. This makes you different than the million other guys noting the same normal stuff. It also gives her content to comment on. For example, if you were to list some of your interests ...




Cheering on the Patriots on a Sunday afternoon
Spicy Tuna rolls from Sushi Chef
Quality time with my brothers and nephew

Speak with feelings, not just facts. Another variation of this is "show, don't tell." Think about the "why" behind your hobbies, interests, and passions. What motivates you? What excites you? What do you love?


" I am a good listener. I consider myself to be very open and sincere. I'm a pretty ambitious and loyal person for many reasons.

I've also been trying to do standup comedy in my spare time."


" I'm a good listener and I 'd like to think it's because I love hearing people's stories-- what they think and what makes them who they are. I can be direct and to the point but always thoughtful.

Dependable and determined, my father's work ethic has always inspired me to make a difference.

I've also been facing my fears by doing standup comedy. I enjoy acting and pushing myself to get into a character's head."

Position yourself as a prospective romantic interest. Women use online dating sites to find men they might date. They're not looking for a new male bestie. Eliminate anything about being her friend, requesting recommendations on restaurants or food, or offering to be a tour guide.
Don't mention your income if it's low. Leave it blank or choose the "I 'd rather not say" option instead. I'm all for being real and upfront with who you are. But I also understand basic marketing techniques.

Some women automatically overlook men under a certain income bracket. Those same women would be open to connecting with you if given the chance. Don't eliminate your value before she's had the opportunity to be attracted to your other qualities.

Be the buyer, not the seller. Don't try to prove why you're good enough. Don't beg for a woman to go out with you. No one finds that attractive.

This most often comes up at the end of guys' profiles. They write stuff like, "You should message me if you want to or think we 'd get along."

Instead, be challenging and list some qualities you want in a partner. "You should message me if you're someone who's not afraid to push yourself and do silly things with me-- whether that's singing karaoke or dancing in the streets."


Follow ups

I've discovered the most effective messages follow a basic formula:

  1. Joke/ humorous observation from her profile or photos/ tease/ playful flirtation
  2. Open emotional question. (optional)

This structure works with minimal effort. You should be able to send off a great message in under 5 minutes.

Send out way more than you think you should. You can write the best messages ever and a lot of women just won't reply. In fact, I don't think I've seen a guy consistently get over a 40-50% response rate.

Online dating for men is a number's game. If you aren't sending at least 5-10 messages a week, you aren't going to see much progress.

You need to stop waiting for women to communicate to you first. And if she does "like" your profile, that's her stating she wants you to message her. Stop making excuses that you don't have the "perfect" message to send. Because all that time you spend waiting, she's getting messages from other guys.

Don't take it personal if you don't get a response. You can't let anything deter you from sending out messages regularly.

Make your messages fun. Your # 1 priority in online dating is to convey that meeting you will be a positive, enjoyable experience. That's it. Showing how you're a great fit and share similar values comes second and often can be saved for a 1st date. You just need to assure women that a date with you will not be intense or awkward.

The simplest way to achieve that? Humor. If you can make a girl smile or laugh when she reads your message, your chances escalate. Laughter is the quickest way to get someone to drop their defenses.

Many guys understand this concept but it stresses them out. They worry about trying to find out how to make girls laugh online. But that's the opposite way to think about it.

The trick is to concentrate on making yourself laugh! Because if you're genuinely having fun with the experience, she'll pick up on that and have a good time, too. When crafting a message, my thought process becomes "Would this make me laugh? Is there a joke? Is it lighthearted, silly, or playfully challenging?" If the answer to any of these is a yes, I know I'm on the right track.

Customize them to each profile. Generic messages have the lowest response rate. You need to refer to something specific about the woman you're chatting to.
My method is to quickly scan a profile, find one or 2 points that really attract me or make me laugh, and write my humorous message from those.

Keep them brief both in length and wordiness. 1-4 sentences are more than sufficient to make a strong impression. Eliminate excessive words that aren't essential to the core of the message.

" You should never need to apologize for your interests to anyone. Personally, I think reading is for the cool kids.

I like to read a lot over the summer. So what cool book world are you escaping to currently?".


" Never apologize for your passions! Reading is for the cool kids.

What world are you escaping to these days?".

I removed all the excess while still retaining the same message. The fact that you read is already implied. Also, the specific time of "over the winter" doesn't matter and isn't pertinent.

Double-check your grammar and typos. Use spell check. Don't let a simple mistake eliminate you before you get an opportunity.

Provide her something to respond to. This usually is in the form of a question at the end of your message. Even if a girl's interested, you want to make it very easy for her to reply.

This should relate to something about her and follow the basic guidelines from my article on mastering conversations:.

Make it open-ended so she has to give you a more honest, deep answer. Try to inquire about something new or unique so she hasn't heard it a million times before. And structure it in a way that evokes emotion from her-- that could be passion, nostalgia, or humor.

Push to meet soon. Go for it by your 2-4th message. Don't forget the entire point of sending messages: to setup real-world dates.

I know when you get a response the attention feels great. Maybe you're scared to screw it up or hear a rejection. But if she likes you, she will want to meet. I see too many men hook a woman's interest only to stop getting replies because they didn't push forward.

When suggesting to hang out, offer a real plan. This can be as simple as drinks, ice cream, an outdoor hike, or something you both have in common from your profiles.

Assume she wants to meet and don't ask her if she wants to see you. Sound confident in the experience you want to have with her. Don't say you can do whatever she wants or give her a dozen options.


" Do you think you 'd want to meet me in person? I understand if it's too soon. Maybe we could get a drink or a coffee or take a walk or something. Or if you have any other ideas, too. I understand if you want to meet in a public place or if you just want to keep talking.".


" Wow, you just actually made me laugh out loud-- bravo. We should continue this over drinks. Are you free Tuesday?".