I've been online dating for... awhile now, and over that time, I've seen probably hundreds of profiles. Some are great, most range from alarming to horrifying, with a solid core of the simply misguided. I have officially thrown in the towel in the online dating arena. Too many disappointments after hopeful daydreams. Don't take that to be pitying, what I mean is, well, let's let tip #1 speak for itself.
1. Post a picture that actually, you know, resembles you. This means, no matter how cool you think that picture of you standing in front of [insert famous international landmark here] is, if it's older than two years old (less if there've been significant changes to your appearance) save it. No, looks aren't everything, but when you're standing around in front of a bar at 9pm, it's nice to know who you're looking for. Also, smile! Four pictures of you scowling and one of your abs impresses no one. Related: Make sure your face is visible. It's cool that you ski/surf/like to look out pensively at the ocean, but include a standard, full-face picture too.
2. Be mindful of what's happening in your picture. Specifically, check your background. We've all seen the pictures with dogs humping in the background or someone photobombing. If there are other people in your picture, identify them. When I see a picture of a guy with a girl on a dating site, my first thought is that she is an ex-girlfriend or former date. Seeing another girl on your arm doesn't make me feel competitive or make you more desirable, it makes me click by. If that's your goto photo, you're probably not over her. Related: Posing with strippers doesn't make you seem classy or worldly. It screams, "LOOK AT MY WILD WEEKEND JUST LIKE THE GUYS FROM THE HANGOVER." Or, it screams that you wish your life was like that, which makes me think in reality your typical nights are spent shoveling fist fulls of Funyuns down your gullet while you watch ESPN in your underwear.
3. Look at who you're sending a message to. I don't mean the picture, though that's clearly what most guys do. Look at the girl's profile before you send a message. Do you share any of the same interests? Is she looking for the same things you are? Theoretically, dating websites are awesome because you can see general information right upfront, avoiding the classically awkward Star Wars/Star Trek debate first date. People who are seriously looking to date someone tend to have well thought-out, detailed profiles. Use these to your advantage.
4. Think about your first message. I can't even tell you how many (I'm just gonna say it) idiotic messages I've received on these sites. They all start to blend together in their awful banality. Words to avoid: cutie, hot, sex, and wife. I've gotten several messages from guys insisting their wives are cool with them dating, insinuating that there's something wrong with me if I'm not down for it. First of all, grow up. I am a self-respecting grown woman, I don't need your approval so your threat of disapproval doesn't faze me in the least. Secondly, any douchebag at the bar at last call can call a girl a hottie. Unless the girl has spectacularly low self-esteem, this won't impress her. I mentioned the profiles before, seriously use them. What do you find interesting about her? What do you have in common? The only messages I ever respond to are ones that ask me something about my profile. Also, keep track of who you write to. I once got a long message from a guy I had nothing in common with, so I didn't respond. Two weeks later, I got the exact same message, word for word. He'd copied and pasted it to me twice. Me and who knows how many other women. Related: Unless the girl's got something in her profile that specifically says she's down for it, don't message for hookups.
5. Don't bring up sex. Really, just don't. The most humorous message I got was from a guy whose profile was all about how he was so tired of women using him for sex, and just because he was so amazing at it didn't mean women should just use him like that. I know I was being judgy, but this guy was wearing a security guard uniform, posing with a horse, wearing a Tom Sellack moustache (Tom himself can barely get away with that and he's a sexy bitch). So I immediately doubted how many ladies he had been able to pick up. On top of that, ew. We're all grownups here. We know that if we meet up and click, eventually it'll happen. Trust me. You don't have to talk about sex to get it on a lady's mind. We're already thinking about it too.
6. Finally, think about your username. Dating sites tell you to choose this carefully. It should say something about you. Some iteration of your name, a pop culture reference that means something to you, a personality trait. Even just a random combination of words can be a jumping off point to a conversation. But please, for the love of god, don't use words like "unhappy" in your username. It tells the world that you're looking for someone to save you. It says you're desperate, that you'll settle for anyone. Women, even the ones on dating sites, want to feel important and special. I don't want to think that a guy is hanging out with me because I'm the first girl who responded.
I could probably write an entire blog on all of the bad dates I've been on, just through online dating, but as I said I'm done with it. And all of my disillusion is due to the tips listed above. I haven't actually deleted my profiles (on Plenty of Fish and OKCupid) because the emails I get are too amusing, but I'm so jaded that even when I get a good message now I question it. I've heard stories about people finding true love on the Internet, but I think they're a lot like the fabled tales of finding a Chanel suit at Goodwill. You have to be willing to riffle through a whole lot of shit first.