10 Tips for Using Online Dating Sites to Find Long-Term Love

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About Mika Doyle

Mika Doyle is a communications professional based in the Midwest. She writes about dating and relationships, gender issues, and (as an added bonus) the horror genre at her website MikaDoyle.com. Her name is Japanese, so it's pronounced "Meeka." Follow her on twitter at @MikaDoyle.

Comments

  1. Oh well done. In my view this advice is far better than the previous article.

    I am still slightly confused why anyone would write an article on on line dating which isn’t specifically aimed at men or women, given that, currently, our experiences of it are so different. For example, point number 7 is clearly aimed at women, not men. To pretend otherwise is I think disingenuous. Men and women face different scenarios, face different traditional expectations, face different meanings being ascribed to their deviating of liberating themselves from tradition, and different ways of being castigated when they do.

    I await your article on ‘how to dress when going on a first date’ that is also aimed at both men and women, as well as ‘how to initiate a conversation in a bar’.

    • AnonymousDog says:

      I have to agree. Online dating would seem to offer a venue in which men and women could interact on a fairly equal basis, given that putting up a profile, or sending a message requires the same effort regardless of one’s gender. But it seems like most folks bring their offline traditional gender roles with them to the ‘net.

    • I would agree with that as well, Tibby. It’s pretty impossible not to bring gender roles into any discussion about dating, even online dating. The first article I wrote was to try to show men what kind of experiences women are having on online dating sites and what is forming their (often erroneous) assumption that the majority of the men on these sites are creeps. It’s another case of a few bad apples spoiling the barrel, you know? Now hopefully a man will step up with an article that starts the conversation about what men are experiencing.

      • I do like the ease by which you term men who look for non-relationship sex in places you consider non-appropriate ‘creeps’. Do you have a term you so easily use for women who seek non-relationship sex in ways and places you, or indeed men, consider non-appropriate?

        Shall we agree to call such women ‘sluts’? Or shall we agree that such terminologies are unhelpful?

        (Are you *sure* it is the few “bad apples”? My gut feeling – and i do not know, but then, I am not writing articles about this – is that the vast majority of men on such sites are looking for something other than a serious long term relationship. Purely because the number of socially competent men too busy to find love and whose friends are not pushing them towards dates is, from my experience of the world, rather dwarfed by the number of socially incompetent fumble-fingered sexually frustrated….hahah, creeps…. who would freeze in terror sooner than make a pass at a real live woman but who can type out ‘hi’ a million times and then take out their frustration at a lifetime of rejection on the poor unfortunate female who responds or doesn’t respond back. And if you add that to the number of men who don’t have those traits but whose public personas don’t let them act as lotharios in their own social circles….my image of online dating – not one on line dating sites would want anyone to have – is complete).

        • I can see where you’d have that impression Tibby about the men that use the sites, but I’d say actually it is VERY common now and most men use it as an add-on or a “why not?” approach to finding someone. That’s added on top of their regular social interactions, work, bar-hopping, etc where they might meet someone. Same for women.

          In fact, in some cases it’s almost like a singles directory I think –where you might see someone on the site that you already know. Their online presence than confirms they are single and fills in some details for you.

          My experience is that bars still dominate in the “quick hook-up” scene but that the majority (not all of course) of those online are looking for companionship in the form of a committed relationship –can’t tell you how many profiles, men and women, talk about having it all and wanting someone to complete the picture…

          Those you describe (I”ll avoid the risk of using a name label!) are relatively few in my experience.

        • Why would the “socially incompetent fumble-fingered sexually frustrated creeps” not want “serious long term relationships”. It does not follow that someone who lacks the social skills needed to find a mate outside the world of online dating wants to be promiscuous. Surely it is more likely that the more self confident and experienced men would want to be promiscuous. Based on anecdotal evidence it is mainly married men who use online dating for casual sex.

    • Thanks for writing this. Discussions like this are interesting and helpful to a lot of honestly bewildered and intimidated people out there in the dating scene. (As a totally non-serious tease, do you realize that Points 1, 2, 4, and 7 are still “don’t”s?)

  2. Love this, thank-you!
    On number ten it sounds like women expect online dating to be mostly creepy guys and that itself is offputting, I’d hope their are ways the dating sites can weed those guys out or direct them to a place where they can be “themselves” whilst leaving the rest of the people to engage in non creepy/sexual chatter.

    Thanks also for number 8, I didn’t realize it was that easy. I always found it hard to figure out what to say in the introduction, as the rest seems to flow naturally but the first step is the biggest/scariest!

    • Thanks, Archy! I can really only speak for myself and from what my female friends have told me, but we have encountered so many creepy guys on online dating sites that it didn’t take long for us to really start hating the experience. Not to endorse any one dating site, but so far eHarmony seems to be the best one for weeding out those kinds of experiences. It’s expensive, but more and more of my friends now swear by it after trying other sites first.

      As for the introductory message, I wish I could say, yes, absolutely, it really is that easy, but that example was simply what I preferred. I can’t speak for all women, but that kind of message is what worked for me. Hopefully other women will comment this piece with what worked for them. Who knows, maybe they’ll agree?

      • Hi there, Mika –

        I’m a writer, and I blog a lot about my online dating adventures. One thing that takes me aback is when guys (and I’m sure that women do it also) fib about their age.

        Though I’m a middle-aged woman, I state my age openly, and let the chips fall where they may. I’m interested that you didn’t mention that as a criterion.

        • Hi Elizabeth!

          I think it is interesting that you seem to be advising guys who have traits that women may not like to admit to them, and give the fact that you do as an example to follow.

          Yet as a woman you could write that you had a bad flatulence problem and *still* get dates. Men find it very hard to get dates on line.

          Look at the evidence that Leia gives below: “.One guy put up a photo that was 2 decades old, where he was 100 lbs lighter! She gave him a chance…”.

          Do you really think he would have got that date had he put a recent, obese photo up? Not only did Leia’s sister in law go on a date with him, once she was on that date *she gave him a chance*! Had he not been ” a psychotic maniac” he may have ended up in a relationship – whereas by putting his recent photo on, he wouldn’t have even had a date.

          Mika – this is the sort of thing I am talking about when I say that if you are going to advise guys, you really have to decide whether you are advising them how to act morally on these sites; act in ways which are effective; or act in ways which make the experience for women better. If your advice to obese guys with a body odor problem is ‘yeah, admit you are obese and have a body odor problem’, then you may as well suggest they don’t waste their time, and avoid heartache, by putting a profile up, don’t you think?

          • I have to admit that I don’t understand why the ratio for guys is out of balance and why guys seem to have a tougher time. Has anyone done research on the causes?

            • AnonymousDog says:

              I don’t know of any research as to WHY the ratio is out of balance on so many sites, it’s hard enough to get straight numbers as to the actual gender ratios.

              I have to suspect that the whole business of putting up a profile on a web site is to proactive for many women’s taste. For years I’ve been told that women don’t go to clubs, etc., for the purpose of meeting men, they’re “just there to dance with their friends”. When you post a profile on a dating site, it’s harder to convince yourself that you are doing it for some other reason than to meet someone. Having been convinced that actively looking to meet men is a sign of ‘desperation’, a fair number of women will avoid doing anything too proactive.

        • @Elizabeth: “I’m interested that you didn’t mention that as a criterion.” (about age)

          I think she did. She talked about being honest, and telling our age is part of the package.
          Personally, I think honesty* is just a smart move, since telling lies that would eventually be uncovered is a recipe for hard and humiliating rejection: being rejected by someone who’s pissed off by my lies cannot be nice. ;)
          OTOH, this can work when I have good self-esteem, so I don’t fell the need to lie.

          * With “honesty” I don’t mean “telling everything about myself”: that would be overkill and silly (I share some parts of me only with the most intimate).

          • Excellent points.

            The “shame” factor would get me — it would be hard to fib about age, because I personally would be so embarrassed when I had to confess I wasn’t that age.

          • Elizabeth – Crescendo hit the nail on the head. I think honesty covers all of that, but being *too* honest doesn’t do you any good either. I’m not suggesting you tell people you have an odor problem, as Tibby suggests. I’m just saying don’t post a photo of yourself from 10 years ago if you don’t look like that anymore. I think not lying about your age also falls into the scope of being honest.

      • Would it be possible for you and/or your female friends to run a tally for a week or a month on good messages, boring messages, scatter shots, creepy guys, etc that message you? I am quite interested to see the female experience, so far my experience has been 1 female has contacted me first, started a chat and disappeared after both saying hi so it’d be a very short statistic.

        Maybe we need some stats too on how many men are messaged first, vs women. If you know of anything like this, I’d love to read. So far the most common experience I see is women get a lot of creeps, men get a lot of nothing, onus seems heavily on men to initiate contact. Do women contact men first often?

      • richyree says:

        I use to believe that the men were creepy from what others girls said to me. I however have had to seriously contemplate the truthfulness of that. I know that im a great honest loving caring Christian man and I get insulted to no end trying to use these sights. I told one girl I was having troubles ever getting any responses to my messages and that it was kind of discouraging.I told here then that I thought a lot of women on here lie when they say there looking for a good honest Christian man ect.
        She said its not that there lying, its that you look like a Dog and that’s why no one will ever like you even as a friend, Never Ever! Then another girl I told here she has captivating eyes, she said “quit insulting me”..Some of this made me laugh but also wonder am I one of the creepy guys there talking about ..If so then it becomes really apparent that its the women that are creep.
        Not to mention , if a women is on a dating site then they must be messed up bad.Because theres no reason they cant have a man otherwise. I also notice that women on this site only look for the hottest guys even when they are very average or below average. I did this for fun, and have turned down many many women in real life, most of which were much better looking and personalities are 100 times better.So the women on these sites are usally self centered arrogant, different breed of women.So guys don’t put your heads down.I suggest you say screw these sites,and start putting yourselves in the proper places to meet women doing things you enjoy.

      • What exactly do you mean by “creepy guys”? Do they make indecent suggestions or is there something about their personality you don’t like?

        I resent the suggestion that only the men who participate in online dating are inadequate or repulsive in some way. My experience of Dateline before the internet age suggested to me that many of the women who use dating agencies have hang-ups about relationships or else are so unattractive that no-one would make a pass at them. For instance, I met two women who were depressed, and a women who was so plain she looked like a boy. I would have met a women who was afraid of men except that she stood me up twice.

  3. Archy – most women DO expect that. As Mika says, that is the landscape we face, and we need to accept that and be aware of it. We also need to recognise that it is as easy to ignore someone on line as it is to not watch an advert on TV. It isn’t rejection of you, it just a lack of interest in a bit of text on a screen.

    That said, were a guy to go on a feminist website and suggest that “women tell me all the time that xxxx is unfair, but you need to accept the harsh reality of it and rise above it” he would be slaughtered! Is the Good Men Project about gossip-mag style dating tips, or is it about confronting the realities that face men and accepting them as being painful for us unless we disassociate from them and, by disassociating, become lesser humans? Is the advice to ‘man up’ really what we want to hear here?

    Maybe it is. It is certainly the way I deal with rejection, both on line and off it.

    • Interesting point. I have a feeling many of the shy guys don’t approach as many, whilst the creeps scattergun like crazy so it makes it appear there are more creeps?

      • Shy men wouldn’t know what to do after initially approaching a woman, it’d show in their body language.
        So what they do would come off to some woman as creepy.

    • Tibby, I’ll ignore the fact that you reduced my piece to something that’s “gossip-mag style” and comment on what I think is pertinent. I’m not sure which part of my piece you’re referring to when you say “were a guy to go on a feminist website and suggest that ‘women tell me all the time that xxxx is unfair, but you need to accept the harsh reality of it and rise above it’ he would be slaughtered!” I’m seeing two different parts of my piece in your comment — the creepy guy stigma and dealing with rejection. I’ll respond to those two parts, and if I’m misreading your comment and responding to the wrong aspects, let me know.

      Creepy guy stigma: Just as I told Archy in an earlier comment, this is yet another case of a few bad apples spoiling the barrel. The reason I suggest “accepting the landscape” isn’t to be insensitive; it’s to acknowledge the injustice, which is the beginning of “confronting the realities that face men.” Yes, this is an unfair stigma, but there a lot of men out there who are creating this “creepy guy” image for you. I don’t have a good solution to this problem right now except to be a better man than the creepy guys so they have less power. Archy suggested online dating sites do a better job of screening people, which might be a start. What other solutions would you suggest?

      Rejection: You say “Is the advice to ‘man up’ really what we want to hear here? Maybe it is. It is certainly the way I deal with rejection, both on line and off it.” I don’t like the phrase “man up.” I think it’s unfair to men. I do think rejection is hard for both genders, and being a jerk about being rejected is not the way to go, whether you’re a man or a woman. Both genders should try to take rejection with as much grace as possible. Is that the same as “manning up”? Maybe. I guess that depends on your definition of that phrase. Personally, I don’t see a better way to deal with rejection than to simply hold your head high and keep going.

  4. MorgainePendragon says:

    Yes, I agree, well-done, Mika!

    #6 is particularly important, as I commented on the other piece. ;-)

    And as I also commented on the other piece, make sure the photo you put up is flattering. Also (and this is just my personal opinion but I know that other women agree with me): NO FISH in your photo. I like fishing and I like eating fish but 99% of photos of men with fish just don’t do it for me! ;-)

  5. Hi Mika, thanks for good publish. I found out your shared 10 tips are very helpful to find long time love. It’s good to see you’re giving attention on such project. Thanks again and keep up sharing. :)

  6. wet_suit_one says:

    Much better than the last article. Bravo. My advice still stands.

  7. Very good piece, Mika, thank you.

    I would just add a side note to the #2. Don’t skimp on your profile:
    In most dating sites I know, there are two different parts:
    - The (long) list of pre-set questions, usually with pre-set answers (you just tick the boxes)
    - What I call the “ad”, where you can freely write whatever you think about yourself

    My experience (here in Italy, at least), is that many people (both genders) just answers to the questions list, and forget about describing themselves in their “ad”; or, they just write a brief and trivial sentence in the ad.

    I know that describing yourself is even harder than asnwering all the pre-set questions. Yet, IMO it’s much more meaningful than those questions are: it’s the opportunity to be really personal and show what makes you unique.
    Reading (in the list) that someone goes to the movies or like pop-rock or love to travel isn’t telling me much: most people do.

    If one is looking for a meaningful relationship, I believe s/he has to put the best effort into the ad, and make it long, detailed, in depth.
    It’s a way to “stand above the herd” (this is especially true for men), and give your potential soulmate the opportunity to say “Wow! This is the kind of person I was looking for!”.
    Being short, quick and trite is not going to make anyone say “Wow!”. ;)

    When I point this out, someone usually says “But this sounds like selling. I don’t want to ‘sell’ myself”.
    Wrong. When you are on a dating site, you actually are “selling” yourself. You “offer” yourself to a public, and hope someone get interested and choose you.

  8. My sister-in-law tried Jdate for 3 years….mixed bag of results…the person in real life is many times way different from what you see in person….she is an artsy kind of person and tended to be drawn to quirky odd guys instead of the more seemingly stable and mature guys….One guy put up a photo that was 2 decades old, where he was 100 lbs lighter! She gave him a chance but he turned out to be a psychotic maniac and we told her to drop out of Jdate permanently…obviously there was something wrong with her as there was with him! Although my niece has found true love on there and we know two other close friends who have found their spouses on there…so yeah, it’s a crapshoot!

  9. mika, i am so glad to see women (like you) out there trying to help folks navigate the online dating scene. i’ve been online for the last five years on a variety of sites – match, eharmony, chemistry, plenty of fish and okcupid. i didn’t find good matches on eharmony or plenty of fish (for very different reasons), but have had a lot of success with match and okcupid. still looking for “the one,” but i believe including online dating in my adventure pack gives me more options in that direction.

    i want to note that, while i get a “creepy” vibe from someone every once in a great while, that is not at all my typical experience. and sure, there are guys who write who are clearly looking for just physical fun, but they are generally honest and straightforward about it – and tend to be very respectful of my direct, non-judgmental decline of their offer. i think this positive experience i am having has A LOT to do with how i have presented myself and worded my profile – romantic, practical, mature, unpretentious, specific with a healthy dose of frankness.

    unfortunately, scads of men seem to have a real disconnect when it comes to articulating themselves. sooooo many times, i know they have something special to offer, but they can seem to translate that into their profile. and the pictures they post – eek! i know they don’t usually look that scary!

    so i am thrilled to see you encourage both men and women to appreciate who they really are in order to find someone who is also excited by who really they are. in regard to some of the comments here, i think a few have taken your advice to an extreme. disclosing all your foibles and embarrassing aspects is not going to be helpful, but pointing out some of your unique (and even quirky!) qualities, may mean connecting with someone who can really relate to you. and i think it is important to leave space for some mystery, both positive and potentially negative. the experience of someone in person is never going to match their persona online and that is where life brings us all kinds of surprises. hopefully, good ones more often than not. it takes all kinds to turn this crazy, wonderful world.

    lucy

    • Thanks for sharing your experiences, Lucy. I would agree — I think many commenters have zeroed in on the “creep” part of both articles and taken that idea to the extreme, when that was only one small aspect of both pieces. I don’t think it’s as huge of a problem as it’s being made out to be; it’s just one of the *many* contributing factors for why I personally stopped using online dating sites.

  10. Talking about experience, I’m going to share mine.
    I’m thinking especially to Archy, who wrote: “So far the most common experience I see is women get a lot of creeps, men get a lot of nothing, onus seems heavily on men to initiate contact. Do women contact men first often?”

    - I think there’s no real “men take initiative first” on dating sites. If your profile looks engaging to a woman, she will contact you (how could you know, otherwise?). Some may use “winks” or the like, but that sounds bland and some people dislike receiving them (it doesn’t tell anything personal).
    - I get several messages from women, and the reason is my “ad” (my personal description) is long and catching. In it, I say many things most women are interested in. It’s good marketing ;) but it’s also true about me (I really love cuddling, for instance).
    - When I write to women, I receive a fair amount of feedback from them (I’d say 20-40%). I think it’s because I carefully select them (I write only to the most interesting), and I write something longish and very personal (I comment her profile and what we have in common). I don’t scattershot, I focus.
    - Of course, I can’t say about creeps :)
    But I think, the smartest a woman look on her profile, the less a creep might be prone to contact her.

    • Is this in a city? I am in a small town and not many people seem to be on the site I use in my area, which is probably quite a large reason for the lack of contact. :P I also did an experiment for the last year to see how many would message, and it’s been 1 so there’s definitely room for improvement and I’ll have to update it, using tips I’ve learned here. :)

      • @Archy: “Is this in a city?”

        Yes, I live in a 1 million people city. But I extend my search to the surroundings as well (like 20-30 miles around). Sometimes I write msgs to women living even further, if they are interesting enough.
        It’s all about quality. Good quality relationships are worth a trip. :)

        If you don’t get results within your area, you better extend your search; or, you’d better think about relocating. ;)
        Sometimes we just don’t fit with the area we are living in. When I lived in a small town in the country, I couldn’t find interesting people; I felt very lonely. When I moved to a big city, I met many people I felt in tune with. :)

        • Ah ok, explains it well. My town here is about 20-40,000, and the majority of people my age are already happily married. I do wonder how much that will change in my 30′s with all of the divorcing that goes on here in Aus. I shall expand my search however :D

    • Thanks for sharing your experiences, Crescendo. I was really hoping to see more men step up and talk about their firsthand experiences to balance out what we’ve heard from women.

  11. Interesting article! My husband and I are sort of pioneers of what is now the internet dating scene. We met on a MUCK in September 1993, met in RL on November 5, spent 4 days together before moving in, and got married the following November 5. Everyone thought we were crazy, as very few people had even heard of the internet yet – even my family members weren’t willing to give our relationship any credibility, because the way we met made it seem unreal, too bizarre for them to wrap their technologically illiterate heads around. Nowadays, it’s commonplace to meet people online. Back then *climbing into my rocking chair*, we had only text to go by, no pictures. My husband intrigued me by his writing style initially; he was very witty and deep. Part of what shocked people with our “sudden” moving in together was that we’d spent only 4 days together, but in reality, we had spent hours upon HOURS online (when the internet would actually maintain a connection, that is) writing back and forth. We knew each other without the benefit of a picture to cause us to possibly judge each other superficially. When we met in RL (we each drove about 4 hours to meet in the middle), we knew immediately that this was it, and we’ve never looked back. Ah, the good ol’ days. :)

    • @Barbara: “we had spent hours upon HOURS online [...] writing back and forth”

      YES!
      My best relationship ever began exactly that way, writing long mails to each other, often several times a day.
      We fell in love through our writing, but we became friends at the same time.

  12. The thing about online dating, especially when you’re running a 1st message, is that you have to come up with a way of presenting yourself in as few words as possible. I think it’s good to write about 100 to 200 words in your 1st message. This of thing lamer than a one line 1st message, unless it’s a one line message that really packs a punch. All in all great online dating tips, Mikka.

  13. @Elliott Gordon: “you have to come up with a way of presenting yourself in as few words as possible.”

    Why?
    Dating sites seldom give you a length limit (both for writing your “ad” or for messages); when they do, usually it’s around 2000 characters.

  14. Great post, Mika- this is exactly what I was talking about in your other article.

  15. A very informative article. I want to stress your points #2 and #4, Don’t skimp on your profile and Don’t write a novel. Too often people add the bare minimum to their profile to “see what they can get”. Unfortunately, this says that if they don’t put in the time to complete a profile, then who’s to say they will put in the time for a relationship? Also, I have seen quite a bit of dating profiles where people write too much. I think less is better. Don’t talk about your past, your sicknesses (if you had any), or anything that may keep a perspective person from wanting to contact you. Keep it simple. There will be plenty of time for full disclosure of the relationship as you get more involved.

    Thanks for ht list!

  16. For men I still don’t think this advise is that great. My advice to men would be to avoid online dating because it is a big waste of time for most men. But if you are going to do it than follow the following rules:

    1. Never ever respond to anybody else’s profile even if you are interested.
    2. Use Personal Sections like craigslist or even newspapers. Avoid interaction oriented online dating sites like OK Cupid, EHarmony, etc. You want to minimize online interaction.
    3. Use online dating in a passive broadcast mode. Create a good, distinctive profile than outlines exactly what you are looking for and then leave it there. Don’t change it and wait for people to message you.
    4. Don’t waste time with text or email. Always go for a face to face interaction. Ask for a date. If she doesn’t want that then NEXT.
    5. Don’t rely on online dating as your only way of meeting women. Think of it as a passive method.

  17. AnonymousDog says:

    Have to agree. Years ago I ran personal ads in the newspaper classifieds, and would get more responses in a week than I do in a year on Plenty of Fish. Don’t ask me why, but women are more likely to respond to a posting on craigslist or a classified than they are to send an initial message on a dating site.
    I think the key for a man to avoid being frustrated with online meeting is to have very low expectations to start.

  18. One of the biggest complaints I hear about online profiles is that when you meet in person they look different. Do not put pictures that are from 10 years or 30 pounds ago. Doing this will ensure that the person you meet will not be interested in you and will most likely not respect you. Be truthful about who you are. If you need to lose weight, then go get it done before putting your picture online.

  19. As a new and only temporary member of match.com. Temporary in that I think it’s a horrible site and I will not renew, I found several problems with the site. Specifically, men in their late 40′s and 50′s looking for women significantly younger than them. Well, yes, people have a right to their preferences, but I find it amusing that a good portion of these aforementioned men would have a very difficult time getting a younger woman interested in them.
    Another very off- putting thing about match, and I suppose it pertains to most dating sites, are the scammers. You know, the ones who are engineers and work in Africa.

    • “You know, the ones who are engineers and work in Africa.”
      No engineers in Africa?

      “Specifically, men in their late 40′s and 50′s looking for women significantly younger than them. ”
      Whilst it’s limiting, what is driving the men to younger women? Social expectations? Are those particular men sick of women their age? What would turn them off to women their own age?

  20. Anyone who wants to use online dating sites for finding partners should be committed in his or her search for love relentlessly. When coming to register with online dating, you need to ask yourself; if you are really ready for dating, just in case you have just broken up with someone; you need to know if you are really ready for dating once again. Online dating really demands for commitment. You need to use your photos on your online dating profile, using of images of animals or photos of superstars as your photos on your dating profile is not a good thing. With a great online dating profile, your online dating success will be a reality.

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