Creating an online dating profile is like opening Pandora’s box: you have no idea what chaos you are introducing into your life. You install this app, you install a lifestyle which may become an addiction. The stakes are high, the possibilities endless. This seemingly harmless form of accelerated dating is really a game of possibility.

In my previous article, I listed seven good reasons why introverts can be in on the online dating game as well as anyone else. Now, if you’re feeling confident, you may decide to test the waters yourself! So how do you get started? How do you avoid falling into a trap I call ‘The Fisherman’s Net’?

#1 Consider your Expectations

Before you download the app, ponder on your reasons for doing so. What are you hoping to gain from this experience?

Do you want to make friends? (If so, Tinder is probably not the best place for that!) Are you looking for casual dates? (If so, would you be fine talking to multiple people who may want something more than an online pen-pal?) Are you going to make a splash in the dating pool? (If you’re in it for the fun, do consider others’ feelings and expectations before diving in!) Or do you wish for something long-term? (Is that possible?)

Before you embark on your voyage, know why you’re there in the first place. What motivates you? What are your intentions and what is your mission?

#2 Set your Expectations

After determining your reasons for surfing the online dating ocean, it’s time to set expectations for yourself by focusing on the qualities you are looking for in a potential date.

Yes, while most dating platforms offer shallow, surface-level first impressions, most of the time, that’s enough material for us to identify red-flags. Don’t like something in his/her bio? Easy, ignore their profile right off the bat! If we approach online dating with a clear set of expectations, we are less likely to disappoint or confuse others and vice versa.

Unfortunately, not everyone you meet on online dating platforms will be mature and respectful enough to be upfront about their intentions. Nor can you expect them to communicate their expectations. Hence, you need to be wise about who you choose to interact with and in what ways.

Many a time, those who create online dating profiles are not there for a lasting relationship but a variety of personal (maybe selfish) intentions. We want to avoid getting played and heartbroken over unsavoury intentions. This is why you need to openly clarify expectations if you wish to find compatible matches.

#3 Craft a unique Profile

After setting expectations for yourself and getting excited over the possibilities, it’s time to finally put your oar out and row right into the dating pool!

Many people complain that the online dating pool hosts a shallow and disappointing selection. If you want to stand out and slay the online dating game, you’d want to put out your best side. Create a bio that shows who you are. Be honest, yet elusive. You don’t want to hide, yet you shouldn’t give away too much at first glance!

Find two or three good photos of yourself *note: of yourself only!* and upload them. Make sure they are of good quality as a quality photo reveals a ton about the quality of effort a person is willing to put in self-presentation.

Next, think up some interesting things to write on your bio. It could be anything from a couple of interesting, unusual facts about yourself (don’t create a list!) to something that reveals a little of that quirky personality of yours! Don’t reveal too much, but create a teaser that will make others want to know more!

Also, if you are certain you are only looking for something casual, be sure to mention it in your bio! Don’t lead someone on by wasting their time and effort if you don’t want anything more than one date!

#4 Swipe with your Filter on!

Fishing in a sea of people has become a sport in online dating. A fisherman (or woman) casts his/her net, reels it in, filters the catch, shows them off, and dumps the netful of gasping fish back into the water. The worst part? The fisherman/woman feels rewarded and validated by the quantity and not the quality of the catch.

If you don’t want to get played by strangers on the Internet, be careful how you approach the idea and culture of online dating. Evaluate each potential match with your filter on by considering your expectations. If they stand out to you in a good way, don’t be shy to make the first move and swipe/like/message them!

#5 Talk to People

Image result for tinder best texts

If you do match with someone, first: don’t panic! Second: think of a unique opening text. Look for something unique in their bio and compliment them about it. Let them know what it is about their profile that caught your eye and intrigued you! They will feel flattered that you’ve actually paid attention and is making an effort to connect with them on a more personal level than a ‘hey, where are you from?’.

On that note, try not to give a generic greeting such as ‘hi’ or ‘hey’. It gets boring especially if he/she has several other conversations going on at the same time. Also, it traps them into feeling they have to be the one to think of something creative to continue the conversation.

However, beware smooth-talkers who slide into your messages with sleazy texts or cheesy pick-up lines. They may be flirts who’ve used the same one-liners to score tons of dates! Don’t be fooled by too much flattery early on in the conversation. The more heartfelt compliments should be reserved for when you two get to know each other better, that way it’ll mean more to the two of you.

#6 Meet up!

If things work well on the dating app, it’s time to take your conversation outside! Ask permission to follow their social media accounts (if you haven’t already dug those up!) and start more personal interactions there. Tinder is a creepy place for two romantically-involved people to converse for longer than two weeks. If after this period the person you’ve been talking to refuses to take up the conversation elsewhere and feels ‘comfortable’ remaining on Tinder, you may want to slowly back off on the texting there.

If he or she doesn’t want anything serious with you, they wouldn’t want to give you a glimpse into their real, personal life! They could just be keeping you around for validatory texts or a second option. This is why it’s important to discuss intentions and expectations early on in the text. After all, everyone knows it’s a dating platform. If you’re not looking for a relationship, you’d better be clear from the get-go!

However, if he/she is interested, you may pick up a better conversation elsewhere, even text if you’re comfortable! Once you’ve established a more personal method of communication, you can arrange to meet up in person! If they are nearby, why not drop by a cafe for a get-to-know-you session? Nothing scary, just a light meet up with no strings attached.

First dates are an offline extension of the selection process for potential dates. Bear in mind that you are in no obligation to perform boyfriend/girlfriend duties and actions on your *first* few meetups. They should be a time to sit down and chat or do some fun activities to know more about each other. No one is obligated to more commitment at this stage. You should, however, work to find out if this is the person you’re looking to date indefinitely.

Progressively spend more time together and learn about each other’s personalities. It’s a rewarding process and the common goal is to gauge your compatibility. Don’t worry about doing or saying the right things. Be open to share and listen, and you’ll know in your heart if they’re someone you could date!

#7 Know your Worth!

Lastly, if things go well, congratulations! You can move onto the next stage of dating! Take your time to explore the relationship before jumping in too soon. You can save yourself plenty of heartbreak and hurt if you are intentional in every stage of your relationship.

However, if things don’t turn out well for the two of you, it’ll be better in the long run to part ways now than to drag on a relationship that you aren’t sure about maintaining.

Read: When to end the relationship.

In every step of the way, most importantly, you need to know your worth. It’s one thing to desire love and companionship and another to search for love in the wrong places at the wrong times with the wrong heart.

I will elaborate on this point in my final article on the Online Dating series, so do look out for that! 🙂

If you’re interested in trying out online dating, my best wishes are with you! Remember, it’s not about the destination but the journey 🙂 Don’t feel bad about yourself if you can’t make it work for you. Maybe your true love awaits you in other places!

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