Online dating can be empowering, with thousands of potential dating partners just a few clicks away. But it can also be daunting, leaving you feeling overwhelmed by the choices and underwhelmed with the process.
Dating online gives you access to a much larger pool of potential romantic partners than meeting people through conventional methods, and it gives you a peek at your compatibility before you commit to a date too.
With that in mind, we’ve scoured the research for the best ways to improve your odds of finding someone special. Here are a few tips to help boost your online dating game:
'Offline, physical characteristics play a critical role in attractions for both men and women,' researchers wrote in a 2008 study. Not surprisingly,the same is true online.
For their study, researchers surveyed 30 men and 30 women about their online dating experiences, and found that having a good photo was more important than any other aspect of their profile.
If you're not pulling info direclty from Facebook, the username or handle you select can make a big difference in how potential partners perceive you online.
Research suggests straight men are more attracted to women whose usernames suggest physical attractiveness (such as 'Blondie' or 'Cutie'), whereas straight women are more attracted to men whose usernames suggest intelligence (such as 'Cultured').
Alphabetical order matters too. Some research suggests that names in higher in the alphabet may be linked with measures of success such as education level or income, and these names are also likely to show up higher in search results.
Wired asked the dating site OkCupid for photos of 400 of the highest-rated profiles in 10 major US cities, and the results were intriguing.
They found that over 80% of users with the hottest ranked profiles had strong eye contact. Moreover, 54% were smiling with teeth, compard to 23% who weren't smiling and 13% who were smiling without teeth. And skip the duck face, ladies -- only 6% of the hottest profiles had a pic of one.
Wired's analysis of the hottest OkCupid profiles also found that 32% were wearing a T-shirt, and 28% were wearing a collared shirt.
And if you're a guy who likes to show off your muscles, you're better off keeping your shirt on -- just 6% of people with the hottest-ranked profiles were shirtless.
We've all done it -- relied on that one photo where we look amazing instead of uploading any realistic images of ourselves. And while it can be tempting to present only the parts of yourself you think more people will like, research suggests it's better to be upfront.
A 2002 study that surveyed more than 500 users of Usenet (an early kind ofinternet forum) about their online relationships found that people who revealed their true self online were more likely than others to form close online relationships, and these relationships were more likely to persist once they met face-to-face.
Still, that doesn't mean people don't exaggerate their best qualities a little. But your date is less likely to work out if your real self is too different from the version you put online.
Providing a good description of yourself is important, but don't forget to also write about what you'd want in your ideal partner.
The best online dating profiles contain both self-descriptions and information about the ideal mate, and research has shown that the optimal ratio of information about who you are vs. what you're looking for is about 70:30.
Once you've found someone you want to get to know, it's time to craft a message.
Everyone thinks of themselves as special, so you'll want to personalise your message to make it stand out.
The best introductory messages include a short, positive remark about a person's character or photo, experts say. But don't go overboard: messages that are unrealistically flattering can be seen as suspicious, research suggests.
Eventually, you have to meet that special someone -- in person. While it might be a daunting prospect, studies suggest you shouldn't put it off too long or the person may lose interest.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and meet the person of your dreams!
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