Thought Catalog
January 8, 2016

9 Online Dating Mistakes You’re Most Likely Not Aware You’re Making

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Flickr / Johan Larsson
Flickr / Johan Larsson

Since Tinder launched in September of 2012, it has attracted more than 50 million hopeful daters. I signed up at the peak of Tinder’s popularity, hoping to find a special connection. I began contributing to the millions of matches Tinder facilitates each day, but it wasn’t long before I realized that I was rejecting at least five times as many guys as I was swiping right. I also learned that I wasn’t matching with guys that were worth my time and effort, and it all had to do with a few mistakes I could easily remedy.

A Few Things You Should Know About Dating Apps

Tinder is a dating app that presents you with potential suitors. First, you see a photo of the guy in question. You can choose to swipe the photo to the left to decline interest or to swipe the photo to the right to show interest. You also have a third option: click on the photo to read a brief photo and browse additional photos before making a decision. If you and Mr. Right both show interest in each other, it’s a match. You will then be able to send messages back and forth.

While Tinder is one of the most popular dating apps out there, it certainly is not the only one. Most apps operate along the same lines, making it easy to browse possible Prince Charmings. Happn is similar to Tinder, but it is much more specific in terms of location. Hinge only shows friends or friends of friends to match with, meaning that you will only connect with people you are already linked to in some way. One of the new leading contenders is Bumble, which allows only women to send the first message.

Signing up for a dating app is a great way to dip your toe into the dating pool, but you don’t want to pick up bad habits that leave you right where you started. As you learn how to date online, it is important that you avoid making the same major dating app mistakes that I did.

Mistake #1: You aren’t making a good first impression.

Men tend to make the decision to swipe right or left based on the first photo they see. This decision is often made in less than one second, with a swipe to the left indicating that his first impression of you just wasn’t very welcoming.

Are you wearing sunglasses in your photos? Is your face always partially covered? Are you avoiding showing your face to the camera? These are big no-nos. I’ve seen both men and women wearing goggles, scuba masks, and Halloween costumes in their profile pictures. In short, these photos always give me cause to back off.

Men have candidly told me that if you are covering your face in the photo, they will assume you are unattractive or simply not confident and swipe you to the left. It’s better to show off your pretty face from the very beginning. I love my collection of sunglasses, but I’ve accepted that my dating profile isn’t the place to show it off.

Mistake #2: It’s too hard to figure out who you are.

Are all your photos featuring you and your 12 closest friends, making it hard for Mr. Right to tell which one you are? One of my friends once told me that she purposely takes photos with her most attractive friends in an effort to make herself look more desirable. Unfortunately, guys see right through this tactic. In fact, one of my roommates told me that he no longer swipes right on women with group photos.

You don’t want to make your suitor play detective just to find you in a photo. If you must post a group photo, indicate which one you are in your bio below it. Something like, “I’m the one with brown hair!” is helpful.

Another bad idea? Posting photos with a man that guys are going to assume is your ex or current partner. Make it clear that you are single or you might risk some left swipes from the more suspicious guys.

Mistake #3: Your profile is generic.

What do you actually mean when you say that you are looking for a “partner in crime”? This cliche is widely used but actually expresses nothing. Instead of using this generic phrase, let readers know exactly what activities you would like to do with your partner. Are you looking for a tennis buddy? Are you hoping your date will like to hike? Say so.

I see a lot of guys saying that they “love to travel,” but I have no idea what that means. Do you love visiting Sedona for regular hikes? Are you hoping to meet somebody who dreams of going to Paris with you? Have you been all around the world and are looking for somebody with similar achievements? Just say what you mean so you can stand out in the crowd.

I try to make my profile as specific as possible, and guys find that it allows them to make conversation. I let them know right away that I love (and have) cats, and they respond with cat pictures or stories of their own.

Mistake #4: Your profile is totally empty.

Sure, you have some lovely pictures, but looks aren’t everything. What else do you have to offer? Don’t make your date guess. An empty profile is the only thing worse than a boring one. When I come across a profile that is void of any text, I instantly pass. It doesn’t matter how good somebody looks. I’m big on personality and having common interests.

Spend at least 15 minutes adding some information to your profile. Think about your expectations for the guys you view, and create the profile you would want to find in your dream guy.

Mistake #5: You are setting up your date for disappointment.

You don’t want your date’s first thought to be, “Wow, she doesn’t look anything like her pictures.” You’ll be able to see the look of disappointment in his eyes, and he likely isn’t going to ask for that second date if he thinks you manipulated him.

You don’t want to be caught lying about your age or weight, even if you use deceptive lighting and angles to do so. I feel so much better when I know that my date knows what to expect. This means that I post photos up close, far away, and from various angles. I only post photos with my current hair color, and I always post a photo that shows my body type and clothing style.

How can you prevent a disappointing date disaster? Post a recent body shot taken in the last month or two rather than the photo you find most flattering.

Ultimately, my date should be more impressed by seeing me in person than by looking at my pictures.

Mistake #6: You are stressing about when to communicate.

It’s time to forget the games of dating methods in years past. Tinder and other dating apps are designed to make it easy to meet up, and there is nothing wrong with that. People want instant gratification, which means that there is an expectation that you will get back to messages within 24 hours.

I grew up hearing that you should keep a guy on his toes for a few days after a date. With the ability to respond to a text in a matter of seconds, I just don’t see that as an option anymore. I find it’s best to respond when I feel it’s most appropriate.

Competition is fierce out there. There is no time to play games that were once common while dating. You might be stressing about how texting back to soon, but it’s unnecessary. The goal is to meet somebody you feel comfortable with — not somebody you have to play games with.

Mistake #7: You respond to manipulation tactics.

Are you on the prowl for red flags? You should be.

Guys who tack on manipulative messages at the last moment are bad news, as are those who have to keep reminding you how much of a catch they are or who send you sleazy, unsolicited messages.

Looking for a few examples of red flag messages? Here are a few to watch out for:

A salacious first message that is inappropriate to send a stranger.

“I am a nice guy. Other women don’t see that.”

“You probably won’t write back.”

“I’m married, but I’m not happy.”

When I get a message that just doesn’t sit right with me, I don’t feel obligated to write back. On Tinder, you can “unmatch” somebody and stop receiving messages in the event of harassment. I do this anytime it feels like a guy is being a jerk, and I no longer feel guilty about it. You shouldn’t either!

Mistake #8: You insist on going to dinner for your first date.

I learned right away that dinner as a first date goes out the window when you are talking about meeting people online. The biggest reason for this is that dinner does not afford you a quick exit strategy if you just aren’t feeling it with this guy.

I once showed up to a coffee shop to see that my date had arrived in his pajamas with a book to read in case he got bored. I was never so happy to have planned for a quick escape. From that point on, I have always suggested meeting at a nearby bar for a glass of wine and a chat.

The best first date ideas include casual drinks and coffee. It is best to think of the first real-life interaction as a meeting rather than a date to take off some of the pressure. Show up to the meeting with the intention of determining whether or not this guy is worth additional time and effort.

Mistake #9: You aren’t engaging with suitors on an emotional level.

You certainly don’t want to lay all your cards on the table at the very beginning, but you also don’t want to be totally stiff in your first interactions. For instance, I never respond to, “How are you?” with a simple “fine.” I try to be funny and witty whenever possible.

The key is to get involved. Quick, witty banter is excellent because it allows you to unveil bits of your personality to see if you are a good match. If your sense of humor just isn’t a match, it’s time to hit the road. If my jokes are falling flat in the first few interactions, I know a guy isn’t going to find me interesting or funny — and that just isn’t going to fly.

Approaching dating apps with a good attitude and a sense of humor is essential. I have met plenty of duds along the way, but there are also plenty of great guys out there. I am still single, but I’m learning every day that dating is a constant experiment. Your chances of success increase dramatically when you kick these bad habits to the curb. TC mark

This post originally appeared at Attract The One.

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