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A Guide to Online Dating

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a guide to online dating

A Guide to Online Dating

It’s a method fast growing in popularity, especially after the pandemic of 2020. Online dating has been around for as long as there’s been guys and girls using the internet, and for much of its lifetime has been met with not a little scorn by the general public. But as technology becomes a bigger part of our lives, as our time becomes more valuable and as the happy endings are more numerable and unavoidable than ever, online dating has become a staple of the modern world. In fact, some studies claim up to 1 in every 5 relationships now start online.

Dating is hard enough in person, let alone trying to pick up social cues, communicate jokes and express your true nature through the medium of text and images. So, how do the rules change when we’re using a dating app compared to looking for love in the outside world? How do we attract the kind of partner we want, and what do we have to bear in mind when communicating through this medium?

Let’s take a deep dive and guide you through this scary process, step by step. Remember, although you can screen and meet hundreds more women online, this should be no substitute for approaching women in real life. It can be a great supplement to your search for love, but don’t fall foul of the mindset that, ‘I don’t need to approach that beautiful woman at the bar, there are plenty more online.’ You should always be practicing your social skills on people in person, as dating apps are just a means to organise dates in person anyway, so that’s where it really counts.

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I. Mistakes Most Guys Make

Let’s start with what NOT to do. A lot of these can come from being overwhelmed with the sheer choice and potential. Sometimes it can be exciting when you’ve got your first match and you want to try hard to impress her. Following these tips, you’ll be seen a cool and collected.

  • Don’t tell her your whole life’s story. If you’ve just met someone, they have no motivation to hear everything about you. They want to know just a few interesting things about you to get what you’re all about. Think of the 3 most interesting or unique things about yourself and keep them in mind. Put a couple of these on your profile and save the details for the first date – if she asks!
  • Showing off too much. If you have a lot of money, have met certain celebrities, even if you just have massive muscles, it’s not attractive to show off. Whether it’s in your profile pictures or over-mentioned in conversation, it just comes off as boasting and arrogant. The only thing you’re really advertising is that these are the things that matter to you, rather than personality. You can scare off the kind of person you’re trying to attract, and if somebody does show interest in you because you have a lot of money, are they really the kind of person you want to enter in a relationship with?

What’s much more attractive is subtlety. If you have a Greek-god level physique, you can show it off with the right fit of clothes. Trust me, it will be obvious but you won’t be slapping people in the face with it. The same can be said about money. Your clothes can say a lot about you. We don’t need to see your collection of Lamborghinis.

  • Seeming desperate and needy. These are not attractive traits. We all want to feel like it will be an even relationship. By pushing for a reply or begging to meet up soon, you actually push the other person away. By retreating a little and holding back, this makes them more intrigued and actually pulls them more towards you. Just don’t retreat fully or you may miss your chance!
  • Being too generic. We all want to meet someone special. This means finding someone that’s not like everyone else. If you remind her of every other guy that’s ever tried dating her, she’s not even going to give you a chance. Couple this with the fact that she could have looked at 10 other guys in the last 5 minutes, and you’ll realise you’ll have to stand out from that crowd.

Have a look at online profiles from other guys and avoid what everyone else is doing. No car pics – she wants to date a human, not a machine. You like dogs? Congratulations, you’re in a group that’s about 7 billion strong. And liking coffee is not a personality trait!

You can do this through your ‘about me’ section as well as in your pictures. Remember those 3 most interesting things about yourself. If you can’t think of many for now, just make something up! Something that’s obviously meant to be a joke, which will get a reaction from her and provoke a question. Go against the grain. Maybe your favourite holiday is National Talk Like a Pirate Day, or you think Game of Thrones Season 8 was better than Season 1. If it’s true, even better!

  • Sending her long messages. A big draw of online dating is the speed and efficiency by which you can meet and screen potential partners. If you send a match a huge essay to read, and she leaves you on read, guess what? She hasn’t even tried to read it. Just one look at a big commitment like that and most people lose all motivation. Just like sounding desperate, this is one more way of pushing her away.

Don’t send rapid-fire short messages either, as the notifications can get really grating. Instead, let the messages naturally grow in intensity and meaning as the conversation progresses, never letting them become a chore to read. Only add something if it genuinely needs to be added. If the messages do gradually keep getting longer and she’s still reading them, success! She’s still interested.

II. Mindset

I’ve talked a lot about mindset before, but that’s because it is absolutely the first step in any endeavour. If you’re going in to a situation with the wrong mindset, it’s like going into battle without a weapon. What are you even doing there? Before you even sign up, you’re going to have to get into the right mindset. This is the solid foundation on which to build your dating journey. Without starting here, it’s impossible to get the rest of it right.

  •   Screening women. As much as women will be screening men, you should be screening them too. Think of the kind of woman you want to attract. What does she look like? What personality traits does she have? What kind of a person is she? Dating apps give you the opportunity to screen women for these traits quicker than you can do in real life. Don’t waste yours or their time if they don’t meet your criteria.

If she’s not what you’re looking for, swipe left. If after a short exchange you realise she’s not for you but she wants to meet up, politely let her down so you can both get on with your lives. Respect and honesty are positive, attractive traits and should be practiced at all times.

  • Don’t take it too seriously. If you put your expectations too high, you’re just setting yourself up to fall harder. This is how you avoid seeming needy; by genuinely not being needy! If you believe this online dating thing is your last hope to find true love, then you will exude desperation - and what have we said about desperation?

Treat it like a game. You signed up with nothing to lose, so if you gain nothing out of an interaction, you’ve not lost anything either. So take risks, be daring. If you ever find your thumb hovering above the ‘send’ button, thinking, I can’t say this, can I? Here’s what to do:

Press send!

What’s the worst that can happen? She blocks you? So what? As long as it’s respectful, there’s no reason not to. Be playful and funny in your profile and in your responses. In doing so, you will be seen an easy-going, fun guy, which is attractive. He who dares, wins. Dating is supposed to be fun, so have fun! Just remember that on the other end of that phone is a real person.

III. How do you choose the right online dating platform?

  • Dating Apps

There are nowadays so many dating apps and websites to choose from. Each specialises in a particularly area, making each one unique. Finding the right one for you can be a hard decision but if in doubt, spread yourself out. Sign up to a few of them, see if you like them. You can always delete the app at any time.

But how do you decide which one is for you? By no means an exhaustive list, here’s a quick rundown of some of the most popular dating apps:

If you’re looking for a casual free dating app that’s got proven clout, try Tinder.

If you like the idea of Tinder but fancy something a bit more serious, then Hinge could be the one for you.

For men young men who want a lot of choice, go for Plenty of Fish.

For those who want to try a dating app but don’t like the idea of dating apps, Inner Circle is great.

By letting them take the first step, Bumble empowers women.

And for the elite amongst us, there’s Raya or EliteSingles.

  • Social networking sites 

Many social networking sites have capitalised on the new trend and started their own brand of dating sites. They benefit from a more casual, friendly approach that takes some of the pressure off of finding a partner by being first and foremost about meeting new people. This can help get you in the appropriate mindset as described above.

The most well-known by far is Facebook Dating, which is great for people who are new to online dating and just want to try it out for the first time. It has incredible ease of access – who doesn’t have Facebook already? So most of us will be familiar with the layout and find making a profile easy.

There’s also Meet Me, which is great for making new friends as well as dating. It has a huge userbase so there’s plenty of opportunity, and it even rewards users with credits and cash! These are others such as Tagged, which focuses on meeting people with similar interests, but the market is pretty much taken up by these first two.

  • Forums

If common interests are something extremely important to you in a relationship, why not cut out the middle man and go where those people meet? This is the online equivalent of taking salsa classes to meet women. These days there are forums for absolutely every topic and interest you can imagine. Maybe your love of coffee really is important to you after all. Well, there’s undoubtedly a forum for that. Sign up, introduce yourself, engage, and keep an open mind.

This doesn’t just have to take the form of a dedicated website for that specific topic. Social media sites usually have pages or groups for fans of anything from poetry, Beyonce, or going out of your way to step on a crunchy-looking leaf. Certain apps are geared towards collecting strangers with a common interest together, such as language learning apps like Lext Talk or image sharing sites like Instagram. Spending time on these sites and consistently engaging by making posts, commenting, and replying can connect you with people with common interests.

  1. Free vs Paid

Most online dating sites and apps are completely free, or at least offer free messaging. Some offer a subscription service to unlock further features. With so much easy access to free sites, is it worth paying? Let’s take a look.

  • Free

With free sites, there’s no barrier of commitment. Some women are on there just for validation, or a quick fling. If you’re looking for something serious rather than just having fun, I’d advise going for a paid site. That way you can be more certain that you’re not wasting your time.

It tends to be a younger crowd frequenting the free sites, partially for the reasoning mentioned above. This is something bearing in mind, whichever age group matches your idea of a perfect partner.

As it’s less of a commitment, you may as well try it. If it goes wrong, you haven’t lost anything.

Top free online dating sites and apps include: OKCupid, Bumble, Plenty of Fish, Hinge, Tinder and Happn.

  • Paid

In comparison to the free sites, if someone is paying for a subscription they’re probably more serious about finding someone to love. They’re more likely to filter out potential matches and only pursue the ones they genuinely have a good feeling about. Because of this, you may be less likely to go on dates but each date has a lot more potential to be the start of something magical.

Aside from being more serious, the paid sites tend to attract more of an older age group. In some places you’ll also find yourself amongst a more elite crowd, such as on Elite Singles.

Most subscriptions are anywhere between £12.99 to £44.95 a month. You’ll have to decide how much you can afford to put towards your goal of finding love. Can you really put a price on it?

Top paid-for online dating sites and apps include: Match, eHarmony and Elite Singles.

So, free or paid? Only you can answer that question. But if you want my advice, try a few free ones out. If it’s not for you, you’ll very quickly find out and then you can decide whether or not to take the plunge with a paid site.

  1. Learn about the competition

Here’s a crazy idea. If you want to really stand out from all the other guys, you have to learn what all the other guys are doing. Set up a fake page on a free dating app or site as a woman.

Take some model’s image from Google or ask a female friend if you can use their photos for this social experiment. Fill out the profile with a few made-up details, it doesn’t matter what they are.

Now you can see things from her eyes. You can see the kind of thing guys start up a conversation with, and the kind of things they write on their profiles. This gives you a fresh insight and genuine examples of what not to do. If any two profiles say the same thing or you get any two similar messages, avoid that in your own pursuits.

  1. Basics

Okay. So you’ve chosen your preferred app. You’ve got an idea of what NOT to do, and you’ve got yourself in the right mindset. Let’s get started on your first online dating profile! The main things to remember at all times are; be brave, be specific, be positive.

  • Wording is key. For example, if you’ve recently come out of a marriage, you don’t want to use the term ‘divorced’. This conjures up images of the ex and might make the potential partner think you carry baggage. Instead, simply say you’re ‘single’. It’s no less true, but makes you look independent.
  • Keep it short. Just like in messages, don’t put walls of text explaining your views on animal testing, or endless lists detailing every musical artist you’ve ever listened to.
  • Here’s a hot tip: Edit your profile often. This tells the algorithm that your profile is new, so it will boost you to the top of the searches.

VII. Pictures

  • I know it’s tempting, but remember, no showing off! Leave the shirt on. If you’ve got a great body, it’ll still be obvious with the right clothes. By leaving it up to the imagination, you’ll make her intrigued and want to see more.
  • For best results, use action shots, rather than something you’ve posed for. Women want to see a candid snap-shot into your life and what you do, more than what you look like. Great examples are something like performing on stage or travelling out in the world. You could be leading a group or discussion in some way, maybe as a public speaker.
  • It’s good to include a friend or two. This can be a female friend. Women want to be with someone who’s social. By showing yourself around people, you’re telling her you know how to communicate. With other women in the picture, you’re telling her you’re comfortable around women – so she has nothing to worry about when it comes to the first date.
  • Include animals in the picture to show your soft, nurturing side. This triggers a deep part of the woman’s brain linked to her motherly instinct.
  • Your main profile picture should, if possible, show all these features. As an extra tip, make sure it’s not a close up. If it’s from a little far away, she’ll have to click on your profile to get a better view. Most women will want to see, rather than skipping a potential match.

VIII. ‘About’ Me Section

Now it’s time to put into practice what we’ve learnt. We want to screen out women we don’t want to attract, while attracting the women we want. We’re going to show we have standards, we have a light-hearted side but we’re not desperate either.

  • Here’s a few examples of what you can put on your profile to filter out different types of women:

“Not fond of the bar scene, guess I’m just seeing if there’s anyone out there that breaks the mold. Please do not message me if you are a stripper, Virgo, Gemini, or if you’ve had plastic surgery.”

“I love talkative, outgoing women…..but that doesn’t mean you can call me 50 times a day!”

“No psychos, weirdos or stage five clingers!”

The main thing to remember is to make it clear you’re not a mass market product. You are a catch and it’s your job to communicate that to everyone who reads your profile, while not showing off. It’s a fine line to tread.

  • Not taking it seriously. Now here are a few things you can say to get across a light, non-desperate tone:

“I don't feel like typing a long paragraph, so here are some emoticons that might describe me…”

“This is the kind of girl I'm looking for… interpret that as you like.”

“I honestly don't go on this site a lot... but send me a message and I might get back to you.”

  • Being playful. Lastly, let’s keep the mood light. Show her you have a sense of humour. Show her your first date will have her smiling every minute and won’t be a total bore. This can be used as another filter to find a women with the same sense of humour as you.

“I want a woman to crap out at least 10 kids in the next 3 years so I can start a child work factory like the ones in Beijing.”

“Don’t even try to message me if you’re just another one of those horny chicks cruising the internet looking to take innocent guys like me back to their sex lair and take advantage of them.”

“If you think you’ll have any thoughts of grabbing the knife and letting loose on my little - I mean - big friend when I’m sleeping after our first fight then let me say this: get in touch!”

“I know that you and I are gonna get married on top of a mountain, and there's going to be flutes playing and trombones and flowers and garlands of fresh herbs. And we will dance till the sun rises. And then our children will form a family band. And we will tour the countryside and you won't be invited!”

Whatever your sense of humour, let it shine here. But keep it simple. You can even use movie quotes.

  1. Interests

Here you can list a few real interests of yours, as long as it actually is interesting. What do you do that nobody else does? Playing an instrument is always a good one. Teaching of any type shows intellect and a caring side. A man who travels is one who has a more rounded world view, but don’t put up a picture of you in front of the Mona Lisa or the Eiffel Tower. Millions of people do those things every year. Spent a month in the Himalayas? No? Say you have anyway!

Now you can list a joke interest. The point is to provoke a message asking for clarification. If it’s so outrageous that it’s obviously a joke, then great, but if they have to send a message to find out for sure, even better. Say you like to ‘ride unicorns through Pleasure Town’ or you love Britney Spears but only when she was bald. Or maybe in your spare time you like to read the Bible in ancient Aramaic. Now you’ve got her attention.

  1. Openers

You’d be surprised how many men start the conversation online with just ‘Hi’, or ‘Hey, how you doing?’ If you don’t start this way, you’re already heading in the right direction. Here’s a few ideas for openers that catch her attention, provoke a response, and show your nonchalant, playful mood:

“Are you one of those girls who takes forever to do her makeup or does it just look that way?”

“I’m gonna be super original and say ‘hi’. Don’t read too much into that. In fact, I’m not sure if this is gonna work out anymore. I feel like things are just moving way too fast. It’s not you it’s me.”

“You look like you’re sitting on the toilet in that pic lol”

“Wow, I love your hair. Is it a wig or is it real?”

“You can’t just stop by my profile without saying hi! That’s -2 points. It takes 10 points to get my number. You’ve got a lot of catching up to do.”

“Tell me something cool about you I wouldn’t know from reading your profile.”

“Wow checking out your page you actually look like you have a good head on your shoulders, which is getting harder to find these days. So what’s the catch?”

If she doesn’t respond, don’t worry. Remember, we don’t actually care! Don’t take it personally. She might have misinterpreted your message, or was already speaking to someone else that she’s more interested in. Either way, there will always be another opportunity. Simply leave her alone and move on. Don’t give up. Keep trying different openers on different women, see which ones work, which ones don’t.

  1. Taking the next step 

So, you’ve liked her profile, and she’s liked yours. You’ve sent an opening message, you’ve been chatting for a bit and there’s clearly some kind of connection. You’ve got to get her off that dating app or dating site so your communication can be a little more intimate. Whether it’s her number, her email, or her favourite messaging app, it’s best to do this straight away. Then, you’re not just another ‘match’ that she only speaks to while she’s on the app, surrounded by other ‘matches’. Instead, you’re on her phone as a contact she can speak to at any time.

  • Just throw it out there

“My fingers are aching from typing all day. I don’t want to associate pain with talking with you, here’s my number…”

  • Don’t ask 

“You know what, you seem pretty cool…lets exchange numbers and if you’re cool on the phone maybe we’ll hang out. Do you text?”

  • Keep it light and low-commitment

“Hey I’m not on here much…just heard about this crazy new fad called Facebook. Doubt it’ll catch on. What’s your fb name?”

XII. Assignment 

Now that you’ve learnt how to create the best online dating profile and to attract the women you want online, it’s time to put it into practice.

  1. Make an online dating profile if you don’t already have one. Use the guidelines from this article and my other online dating articles to choose the best one for you and fill it with appropriate information.
  1. Post 5 – 8 pictures of yourself. You can choose those already on your social media profile but if nothing matches my advice, it’s time to get well-groomed and take some new photos.
  1. Send out 5 messages a day using your online profile. If you get no response, you’ve still gained valuable knowledge. Just try again the next day.
  1. Approach 1 woman in the outside world every day. This is to keep your social skills sharp. Remember that online dating is not the be all and end all to your love life.

I hope that by the end of this, you will have found true love, either online or in person. If you require further advice on lifestyle and dating, whether online or in real life, check out the wealth of articles on my website.

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