Dating Guide – How to Find a Date Online and Offline

We all want to find that special someone, don’t we? That perfect partner that we can go out with, stay in with…and maybe even spend forever with, if we’re lucky. It can be pretty tough sometimes to navigate the dating world! There are so many ways to meet people, and each way has its own challenges and benefits. It’s a lot of fun, but can of course be a little bit overwhelming at times. Never fear, dear reader! By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to dive into the sea of dating! Whether it’s online through websites like OKCupid or dating apps like Tinder, or good old-fashioned offline dating (yes, people still do this!), by the end of this article you’ll be ready to face any challenge the world of dating has to throw at you, and you’ll be equipped with everything you need to make a great match!

Online Dating

It’s 2017, and online dating is more popular than ever, with some dating websites boasting more than twenty million members! In the era of Netflix and Chill, finding a date can be as easy as swiping right. But maybe you want to learn a little more? You have tons of options in how you go about dating online, and they’re not limited to swiping left and right or sifting through millions of profiles. You can date based on your interests, or find events tailored specifically to those looking to find a mate! Read on for more about the world of online dating.

Types of dating sites

You’ve decided to give online dating a try, but you’re probably wondering: where to begin? Most people will start by using an online dating site. But there are so many– how can you choose? Some sites are focused on interests, values, or even food preferences! Some sites center around events, getting people out into the real world. Some sites like to act a bit more like a social networking site, with articles that you can like and comment on. With all these options, it can be hard to decide! Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. Here’s a little bit more on what the different kinds of online dating sites are, so you can pick one that will work well for you.

Profile Matching Sites:

These sites are a little bit like old-school matchmakers: you fill out a profile and often a number of questionnaires. In your profile, you talk about yourself in your own words: your likes, dislikes, preferences and more. In the questionnaires, you go a little more in-depth, answering questions about your preferences and values. And of course, you put up a photo (read on for more on this important step)! Once it’s all in place, you can search for your prospective mate using all sorts of criteria: things like religion, interests, location and tonnes of others. Some of the classics of online dating sites fall under this umbrella: EHarmony, Match.com, OKCupid and more.

Social Networking/Dating Sites:

These online dating sites are hybrids. They blend the look and feel of social networking sites like Facebook or Myspace — for example, with articles and blog posts that are shareable, or things like statuses or “likes”– with the ability to make profiles that have different privacy settings– you unlock them as you get to know the people you are talking to and as they trust you more. Sites like PlentyOfFish.com, while they do also fall into the first category, also work somewhat along these lines. Other examples can include niche sites like Fetlife.com.

Interest- or Preference-based Sites:

Profile based sites can sometimes feel like a bit of a numbers game, and just because a site has tons of subscribers, doesn’t mean there will be a large number of folks who match what you’re looking for in terms of sexual preferences, religion, or other values. If you have particular needs, they can be a bit more challenging to navigate. Never fear, there are plenty of sites that zero in on these criteria, from religion to sexuality to political alignment and more. They generally have fewer folks subscribed, but these dating sites will give you a more focused group of prospective dates. ChristianMingle, Doomsday Dating, PositiveSingles, JDate, Bicupid, Geek2Geek, Farmersonly.com, and Miss Travel are just a few of many dating sites that set people up based on their mutual interests,

Meetup Sites:

Another challenge of online dating is the fact that the whole thing is done…well, online! So much of human interaction (and therefore dating) is based on things that only come across in person: posture, tone of voice, body language, facial expression, and more. If you’re using a profile-matching website, it’s possible to bump into folks who seem great “on paper” but it just doesn’t…click in person. Event-based dating sites like 8MinuteDating, TheStir.com, and many Meetup.com events help to negate this. You pay a subscription fee or search for dating events. Depending on the site, you will still have an online dating profile, but the twist is that you get event notifications! Show up, talk to people, and meet prospective dates without the pressure of only looking good “on paper”. Since everyone is there for the same reason, it also takes off some of the pressure around approaching someone. You get more real-world interaction in a fun, innovative blend of online and offline dating.

Tinder and Other Online Dating Apps:

Online dating mobile apps such as Tinder and Bumble have been getting more and more popular as more people go online for dating. With Tinder and many dating apps like it, users swipe left or write to accept or reject prospective dates based on their profiles. If two users swipe right on each other, it’s a match and the users can message each other! Many people like dating using apps like Tinder because it is quick and easy, and because users have to match with one another, it minimizes the potential for unwanted messages. With Bumble, the potential for unwanted messages is minimized further, since ladies have to send the first message. The rapid increase in online dating apps means that there’s something– and someone– for everybody!

Now that you’ve had an introduction to the world of online dating, you probably want to fire up your computer or phone and do some swiping of your own! But before you jump into the online dating world with both feet, here is a little bit more advice! From your photo to the first message, here are some important tips to keep in mind on your online dating adventure.

Online Dating Sites and Apps Tips

How to choose your dating profile photos

A recent poll on dating revealed that 71 percent of people believe in love at first sight. Humans are visual creatures, and the online dating game is no different. The photos on your dating profile can make or break the whole shebang– and it’s not just because of your looks! Things like It almost goes without saying that your photos should be clear and recent— that five-year-old vacation photo with the thumb in the corner where you’re squinting into the sun might not be the best idea.

Most dating sites will let you have at least a few photos (Tinder lets you have six). Take advantage of that! As they say, a picture’s worth a thousand words— do you really want all six to ten thousand of those words to be blurry bathroom selfies? I’m guessing not. Your photos don’t need to be professional (though there are services that do just that), but they should convey who you are and a bit about your interests. They should make you seem personable, confident and relatable– because those traits are super attractive!

Quick Photo Tips for Online Dating Sites and Apps

Here are some rapid-fire tips to make sure you put your best face forward while navigating the online dating world.

Let’s See That Smile: It doesn’t have to be a big cheesy grin but having a genuine smile does wonders for a photo.

Get Active: A photo of you doing something you love, whether it’s rock climbing, playing board games, playing an instrument, baking cookies, making an omelette, riding your bike… the list goes on. Basically, a photo of you engaging with your passions shows that you’re a person who has a full life! A person who does things! In other words, not boring. A shot of you holding a beer? A little less so. Plus, a photo of you engaging in one of your hobbies makes it a little easier for your prospective date to send that all-important first message (more on that later, I promise).

You’re On Candid Camera: If you have a candid (unposed) shot that you feel like you look good in, it doesn’t hurt to include it: Studies have shown that candid photos are met with 15% more approval than posed ones. They show that you’re spontaneous and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Have Fun With Your Pals: This one is a bit controversial and comes with a couple of conditions. Please make sure everyone in the photo is okay with you using it! Also, your group shot should absolutely not be the first one. Most people agree that it’s a huge pain trying to pick someone out of a group photo. Not only should it not be your first photo, but it should not be your only photo! All this being said, if you have a good group shot with your friends and you have at least two other photos of just yourself– use it! First of all, it shows…well, that you have friends. People like knowing that you’re social and that you can have healthy friendships. Showing off your social side is great for letting prospective partners know that you’re a people person (and that you’re not a narcissist). But beyond that, it shows that you know how to let your hair down from time to time! By the way, a “good” group shot means that you are clearly visible. Well-lit, clear shot from a party night or event? Go for it! Professional or well-lit shot of you onstage with the band you sing for? Absolutely! Group photo of your 100-member choir with your face circled or an arrow pointing to you? …maybe not so much.

Don’t Worry About Looking “Perfect”: The people who will be looking at your profile are looking for human beings. Less than 50% of people surveyed in a recent poll on dating said that physical appearance was the most important trait. That’s right, I said LESS than fifty per cent. Most human beings don’t look perfect 100% of the time. It’s okay if your hair is messy because you’re playing soccer, or you’re a bit sunburned in that clear, well-lit shot of your vacation in Maui. These things show that you’re human, and I’m pretty sure that most of us out there are trying to date humans (though, if anyone wants to jump on AlienMeetups.com, I’m pretty sure the domain name is still available).

Be Honest: It might be tempting to only post photos from the neck or chest up, or to hide your crooked teeth or any number of perceived “flaws”. But guess what? If you end up meeting this person in the real world, they might not feel great about how different you are in person. Some might even consider it being lied to or deceived. Wouldn’t it be nicer to go on a date with someone who thinks you’re attractive, “flaws” and all? When you’re honest in your photos, you give people the chance to see and become attracted to the real you– and maybe what you see as a flaw, someone else sees as a great feature! So show what you look like honestly. It will also show that you’re confident– and confidence is very sexy.

Tips to Send The First Message in Online Dating

So you’ve found someone who looks like they’d be a great match! Maybe they’ve swiped right, or you just liked their profile. Enter another challenge of online dating: that oh-so-important first message. What do you say? If you’re on a site like Bumble, maybe you have a limited time to say something. Or maybe you just hate staring at that empty screen, wondering how on earth you’re going to break the ice. Here are a few tips to remember while penning that first message on your online dating site of choice:

Keep it short and sweet– but not too short! One-word messages are generally a bust, especially if that word is “hey”, “sup” or “nice”. Two-word messages also tend to be frowned upon. To be blunt, a one or two word message does not make a great first impression! They can make someone seem uneducated or lazy, like they’re not trying to impress the person they’re sending a message to. And don’t you want your potential mate to be impressed? Plus, people like to feel a little special, especially in online dating where it’s easy to feel like just another number. That being said, maybe don’t get too wordy. Maybe now is not the time to wax poetic about your intended’s beautiful hair or play a one-sided game of Twenty Questions. A salutation and a couple of short sentences can go far.

Compliments are always great– but be genuine. Most folks who are dating online can smell a generic, copy-pasted missive from a mile away. Don’t send the same message to every single prospective! It gets boring for both parties when people run through boilerplate lines. Remember that there are real people on the other end. Be real. You’re talking to them for a reason, right? What drew you to their profile? If you want to compliment them on a physical attribute, go for it– everyone loves feeling pretty or handsome! But remember to stay out of the realm of being creepy or objectifying: “You have a great smile” or “That dress looks great on you” go a lot further than “nice butt” or “I bet that you look great naked”.

Include a question: It’ll be way easier to start and keep a conversation going when you include a question about your prospective partner’s profile. This shows that you actually read their profile, which puts you head and shoulders above many people in the online dating world. It also makes it easier for your intended to message back, putting you less at risk for the dreaded radio silence. Questions about their photos work well, but don’t get creepy. An example: “Great picture of you playing soccer! What position do you play?” This gives the person an opportunity to tell you a bit about their soccer hobby, maybe even opening up a conversation about how you both love soccer. You get the idea. Speaking of photos…

Now is not necessarily the best time for photos–requesting or sending: Seriously. So many women have become turned off of online dating because of the unpleasant experience of opening an inbox, only to find it flooded with shirtless photos– or worse! Don’t be one of those guys. If there’s a spark, there’ll be plenty of time to exchange naughty photos later– if that’s what you’re both into!

Taking it Offline : How to Meet an Online Date in Real World

You’ve been chatting up a storm and want to meet up? Amazing! Of course, this presents another challenge: how to bring it up? Well, keep in mind that most people using dating sites are hoping to move things offline. You can say something like “This is a great conversation! I’d love to continue it over a cup of coffee”. Hopefully, you’ve taken some time to learn about your prospective date’s interests, and can make a suggestion that works with them. For example, if they love a certain musician and they’re coming to town, maybe suggest grabbing a drink before the show? If she’s a foodie, maybe a hot new restaurant has opened up. So many options! And if romance is what you’re after, there’s no harm in getting a bit more flirty and bringing a compliment into it. Saying something like “You seem like a fascinating person, I’d like to get to know you better. Would you be interested in meeting up for coffee or ice cream,” will flatter the person and make it clear that you’re interested in them romantically.

Safety first!
Remember that even though you’ve been chatting on the dating site of your choice, this person is technically still a stranger. Remember to keep yourself safe out there: things like letting a friend know where you’re going, meeting in bright, public locations, and other safety precautions are key. Use caution when accepting dates where you go to people’s homes, avoid getting into cars with people you don’t trust, and trust your instincts.

So there you have it. Your primer to the world of online dating. They say the best way to learn is by doing, so get out there, set yourself up an online dating profile, and have fun! Or maybe you want to learn more about other ways to meet a match? Prefer to keep it traditional? Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. Read on for more dating tips to keep your courtship game on point!

Offline Dating

Maybe you want to try dating the “old-fashioned way”, off of the Internet and in the real world. Dating offline still has plenty of charm and potential, as well as some unique challenges that online dating may not present. Where do you go to meet someone? How do you approach someone? Is it okay for a woman to make the first move? When do you ask for their number? Read on for more about offline dating!

Where to find your partner

First things first– where do you go to meet somebody? There are so many answers to this one. How do people even meet one another in this world of online dating? Who is even dating offline these days? Lots of people. Most people, in fact! So let’s dive right in and find out where they are!

Where would they be? Think about your “Type”. Is your ideal match nerdy? A jock? Into music, art, science, history? A social butterfly? A bookish person will probably not be turning it up at a club night, but the foodie of your dreams might be at a Scotch pairing event or chili cook-off. Check out new places and events that are aligned with your interests, or with things that you might want to try. It works not just because the sort of people you want to meet might be there, but you’re also changing it up. You won’t meet your new dreamboat by going to the same places day in day out, so change it up! You just might learn something, and you’ll definitely have fun.

Expand Your Social Network: Making platonic friends is always helpful. Expanding your social network works because of course the people you meet will know people that you don’t know. It makes your social life more interesting and you’re more likely to meet people. So if you’re at an event and there isn’t anyone that you’re interested in or who are available, don’t let it get you down! Focus on the interesting people at the event, regardless of whether or not you want to date them.

Go to Events Alone: While flying solo can be a daunting prospect, this is actually a great way to meet new people. When you go out with friends, the natural instinct is to stay with those friends– of course, because you like them! But this also makes it harder to meet new people. While bunching up with your pals can show that you’re social, it can also make you seem a bit unapproachable. So try flying without the safety net of your friends and see what happens!

Ask Your Married Friends: Enlisting your friends who are already happily coupled up can be an ace up your sleeve, especially if you’re dating with the intent of settling down: Single folks with lots of married friends will be more likely to want a serious partner. Let your married friends know the kind of person you’re looking for, and ask them if they know anyone who they might be able to set you up with. Blind dates can be more fun than you might think!

Dating Meetups and Singles Events: If you want a little bit more structure to your offline dating adventure, consider meetup events. While some of them can be considered an extension of online dating in that they have profiles, many offline meetups do not use the same tactics as online dating, instead putting everyone together at the event so everybody is on an even playing field. The facilitators of these events are often great matchmakers, and can be very helpful. Try looking up singles meetups in your area!

Go to Your Friends’ Birthday Parties: Seriously! Everyone loves a birthday party, and because the focus is on someone else, it makes conversation way easier. So give it a shot!

Tips for Real World Dating : When Meeting Face to Face

So you’re out in the real world, things are going great, and you’ve just laid eyes on someone you want to talk to. What now? How do you break the ice? Here are some tips.

Look Approachable: Try to appear friendly and approachable. That does not mean grinning like a maniac, but having relaxed, open posture and body language.

Find a conversation starter: Maybe you both ordered the same drink. Maybe they’re wearing cool glasses. There’s something about them that caught your eye– try to bring that into it. Avoid cheesy lines and be genuine.

Be friendly, be honest, be yourself: Don’t “neg” people. Many dating and pick-up advice givers will tell you to gently insult the person as a means of breaking down their defences. Don’t do it! Most people can see right through this tactic and it will rarely go over well. Be pleasant and honest, don’t play weird mind games. And while you want to show the best part of yourself to someone, make sure that you’re still being yourself.

Ask Open-Ended Questions: And give your prospective partner time to answer them! Remember to exercise active listening.

When it comes to actually asking someone out: Be polite, be friendly, be pleasant. Perhaps consider something like “I’d love to get to know you better– would you be okay with exchanging numbers so we can meet up for coffee or a drink”? You could try asking what the person did this past weekend– and then suggesting a similar activity for the upcoming weekend!

Group Dates: This old-fashioned dating approach works well for the shy. Suggest something that would involve a group, like a board game or trivia night. You have a chance to get to know each other better in a lower pressure setting.

Dating Tips For Guys

Be Respectful: Remember that it can be all too easy to come across as creepy. Be respectful and polite– you don’t have to run around throwing your jacket onto puddles or leaping to open doors(but if you can, that’s nice to do), but you should be courteous at all times.

Be Presentable: You don’t have to be on the cover of GQ to look presentable! If you’re going on a date with a woman, it’s likely that she put a lot of time and effort into hair, makeup, clothes and grooming to look nice for you– you should try to look nice for her, too. And not just her, but for yourself. If you know you look good, you’ll feel more comfortable and confident– and like I said before, confidence is sexy! So wear something sharp but comfortable and make sure you’re well groomed and smell nice, so you come across as the handsome fellow that you are.

Don’t Play Games: If you’re into someone, be clear about it. The rule of “wait a week” is dead in the age of texting. You don’t have to be a keener, but don’t intentionally make people think that you’re not into them. Conversely, make sure that if you’re not into someone, that you’re clear about that too. No “ghosting”! Even if you don’t see a future with that person, it is the decent thing to do to let them know. This one goes for the ladies as well. Speaking of…

Dating Tips For Girls

Ladies can make the first move: In this day and age it is totally acceptable to approach a man that you’re interested in if you’re a woman. Some men love it when a lady is bold and confident. That being said, some men may be more traditional than others, so in those cases, it may help to take a more indirect approach, like suggesting a group date.

Wear what makes you feel confident: It can be pretty stressful getting dressed to go out and meet people or to go on a date. If you’re wearing clothes that make you feel like the gorgeous woman that you are, you’ll feel more confident and be much more successful.

Where to go on a first date – Hint: it’s not the movies. An ideal location for a first date depends on if you’ve met them in person before. If it is a blind date or you are meeting someone from an online dating website, somewhere bright, public and not too loud is ideal. A coffee date is a bit of a standby, but it’s a classic for a reason. Change up the coffee date by suggesting something quirky like ice cream, a waffle bar, or a board game cafe. Or maybe a museum, with a stop for coffee beforehand. Many bars have board game nights– this is a fun, no-pressure event as well. If it’s someone you’ve been talking to for some time, you probably have an idea of their interests. Tailor your suggestion to their interests. Does he love cats? What about a cat cafe? Does she love to play video games? There are lots of video game bars out there. Do they like poetry? Maybe there’s a book signing or poetry reading that you can grab a drink after. Speaking of drinks: This depends a lot on the person but it’s generally a good idea to steer away from first dates that encourage drinking. It’ll be easier for everyone to keep the conversation flowing if they minimize their drinking. Speaking of conversation…

First Date Tips: How to Start a Conversation

Remember Open-Ended Questions: Asking open-ended questions is a great way to keep the conversation flowing. Make sure you’re listening actively and asking questions that show you’re listening.

Don’t Keep It One-Sided: Try to make sure you’re not dominating the conversation. But also make sure you’re not being a shrinking violet and forcing your date to do all the talking!

Keep It Classy: There will be plenty of time for the raunchy stuff later. This is an opportunity to get to know your prospective partner a little better, keep it light and friendly.

How To Lock It Down: Getting a Girlfriend or Boyfriend

So things have been going well for a few weeks or months, and you want to make it official. In this case, we’re using the phrase “girlfriend/boyfriend” to mean “serious, exclusive partner”. How do you bring this up? How do you ask your partner to “go steady”? Let them know that you’ve been enjoying your time together, and ask how they feel about the way things are going. If they seem positive, you could ask about being exclusive. It’s important to have a conversation like this, as making assumptions can be harmful to both of you.

Overall, remember that dating is not just up to you. It’s important to remember that your prospective partner is a person with wants and needs and feelings and values of their own, and that dating and relationships are a mutual endeavor. A partnership involves working together, and when it works out, it’s amazing! So get out there and try your best– don’t be scared!

You Made It! You’re probably ready to take on any challenges that the dating world can throw at you. There’s a lot to know but it can also be very rewarding. Stay safe, and have fun!