Let's face it: much of your Match.com time probably takes place after 11 pm on a weeknight while you’re just in underwear and eating Ben & Jerry's straight from the pint while flirting with attractive strangers. Because of this, it can be easy to forget that the goal of your pursuit is to actually meet people in real life and for that meeting to be successful.
That's hard work, though.
Fortunately, you can instantly enhance your online dating life without having to leave your house by making sure you haven't fallen prey to these seven common mistakes in online dating:
1. You're lying or misrepresenting yourself.
It's common for people to post pictures on their profiles that flatter them but look nothing like how they really look in real life. That's all well and good as long as you never meet that person, but isn’t that kind of the point? How can you have a successful first date with someone if you don’t look like who he agreed to meet? Change your picture to one that looks like you and you'll attract people who are interested. You'd certainly expect the same courtesy of others.
A lot of people misrepresent themselves in other ways, too. For example, if you are a smoker who has no intention of quitting, make it clear on your profile that you smoke — you want a partner who’s okay with that. Do you really want to go to the trouble of meeting someone who won't be interested he know's the truth?
If someone is going to immediately lose interest when the real you emerges, the entire pursuit becomes a waste of both people’s time. Refrain from other needless lies like saying you spent your weekends climbing mountains or running marathons when you actually spend 99 percent of them out drinking with your friends.
You are not online dating to attract as many people as possible — you're there to attract someone who's right for you, which will never happen if you misrepresent yourself. Confidence is one of the most attractive traits a person can offer, so get out there and be unapologetically you.
2. You're not disclosing your intentions.
People are online dating for all kinds of different reasons. Maybe you just got out of a long-term relationship and you just want to get back in the game but aren't looking for something serious or maybe, you're looking for Mr. Right. Whatever it is, it's not a bad idea to be explicit about it. This will show confidence because you're not afraid of the rejection, and it acts as an automatic filter for people who aren't looking for the same things as you are.
3. You're airing your dirty laundry.
We all have relationship baggage. It's one thing to be honest about what you're looking for and another to publicly announce that you would rather not date a cheating b*tch again. People like to surround themselves with positivity and are turned off by those who seem to have issues to work out. Plus, writing something on your profile about a past relationship shows an incredible lack of social tact, which is unattractive. If you can't write your profile or get through a first date without mentioning your ex, you might need to take some time to yourself before trying to navigate the dating world.
4. You're not being specific enough about yourself.
In another effort to cast a wide net, you omit quirky things about yourself in your profile like that polka band that you’ve traveled to see a dozen times, your love for World of Warcraft, your addiction to reality TV or your position as president of the Cyndi Lauper Fan Club.
Obviously, you don't need to post the most embarrassing things about you for the world to see, but if it's something that most of your social circle knows and is a big part of who you are, you should put it on your profile. The right person will love those things about you.
Common areas of "not enough information syndrome":
Musical preferences. Instead of saying "I listen to everything," try being specific. You'll stand out from the crowd and instantly have a more interesting profile.
Hobbies. If you have trouble with this, spend a few days, including a weekend and weekdays and write down everything you do in your spare time. You might not realize that you spend 2 hours reading blogs on Saturday mornings or an hour on the phone on Sundays catching up with friends. What you do with most of your time says a lot about what's important to you. Let dating prospects know about it.
Generic-isms. Certain portions of your profile do not list specific things, like hobbies or music, but instead, provide a sense of who you are. Whatever you do, make those parts of your profile stand out. Instead of "there's a lot more to me than meets the eye," say something about a specific quality that many people don’t know about you.
5. You're narrowing your search too much (women).
When you first start online dating, you'll be overwhelmed by the possibilities "you mean I can filter for ONLY guys who are taller than 6' 2", who are Catholic, who like dogs, hate cats, have green eyes and blonde hair, who don't smoke and have never been married and don’t have kids?!" Yes, you can, but this doesn't mean your should.
Have you ever ended up dating someone who you never thought you'd date because he didn't fit your criteria? If so, you probably got to know him and realized that you were great together, even if he wasn't exactly what you thought you wanted on paper. Next time you're online, try to keep an open mind by getting rid of some or all of your filters and see what you find. You might be surprised.
6. You're not narrowing your search enough (men).
Men and women definitely date online in different ways. While women tend to be too choosy, men tend not to be choosy enough. Think about what compels you to send someone a message. If your only criterion is that she is hot, start narrowing your search. “Attractive” can only take you so far in a relationship with someone. If you can't handle being around her because she is too annoying, loud, quiet, intellectual or dumb, then the whole endeavor will be a waste of your time.
7. You're getting distracted.
People embark on online dating with the best intentions to find a partner. But, then the emails start pouring in. You go on a date with a perfectly decent and attractive person, but you received four new emails while you were on that single date! How can you commit to this person, when an even better one might land in your inbox tomorrow? Next thing you know, you've been online dating for a year and you haven't gone on more than 2 dates with the same person.
I know it's difficult, but keep your goal in mind. Why did you sign up for online dating in the first place? What were you looking for? If you're still looking for the same thing, evaluate your process and decide whether that will get you closer to your goal. You won't have the chance to meet every eligible person in the world (or even your entire city) before deciding with whom to pursue a real relationship, so learn when to stop the dating conveyor belt.
Photo via We Heart It