The Four Online Dating Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

by Elizabeth Phillips

It may seem scary, and honestly, sometimes it is, but online dating doesn’t have to be a disaster. Take it from a serial online dater like myself. The scary part usually involves opening up to something and someone new. And that can be terrifying in any situation.

If used correctly, online dating can be a useful tool that you can utilize to find a new boyfriend/girlfriend, someone to hang out with, or even a potential life partner. Best of all, it can be fun.

And if you still need some convincing, according to, 40 million of the 54 million singles in the U.S. have tried online dating. That means the majority of single ladies and gents have at least created online dating profiles sometime in the past, not just the creepers and crazy cat ladies.

So, if you stick with it, chances are you’ll meet some amazing people. And maybe even that one especially amazing person.

No matter what you’re looking for in a relationship, however, there are some basic dos and don’ts you can incorporate into your online dating strategy. Here are a few of the more common “don’ts” and how you can avoid them next time you try to find love online.

You treat your online dating profile like your autobiography

I get it - you’re interesting. You’ve accomplished a lot, met some great people and been to some incredible places. It’s a good idea to highlight some of your noteworthy undertakings, but make sure you only include those that let a potential match know what makes you different and someone worthy of his/her time.

A dating profile works much like one side of the conversation that occurs during a first date. It’s your way to tell your date - or, in this case, your potential date - who you are and what you’re looking for from that special someone.

Pertinent details are enticing, like a story about how you hiked part of the Appalachian Trail last summer or how you and your siblings sing in a quartet. However, you may find that, in an online dating profile, less is more. According to, you want to come across as interesting, “but still leave questions unanswered to stimulate curiosity.”

And always – always – use correct grammar and punctuation. If you’re unsure about all those commas and semicolons, have a trusted, grammar-savvy friend look over your profile before you publish it.

You seem too persistent or too uninterested

Once you’ve written your fabulous dating profile and the dating requests start coming in, it’s important to quickly learn how to manage your profile effectively.

This means striking a fine balance between communicating with potential dates like Overly Attached Girlfriend and a disinterested sloth. Respond to dating requests in a timely manner. Be polite if you aren’t interested in meeting someone.

Never use a form email to respond to someone’s dating request or to initiate contact with someone. If you wish to continue online interaction with someone, you’ll need to be present online daily or however often you two seem to want to communicate. Don’t force it, but make sure you keep the conversation flowing.

Sending a few emails at work might be okay, but you’ll need something better than dial-up if you want to exchange funny photos or articles you’ve come across online at home. Fiber optic internetor high-speed from your local provider is a must for today’s online dater.

At the same time, don’t overdo it. If you’ve reached out to someone and they’ve politely denied interest or – more rudely, ignored your request, just brush it off. Don’t badger the person or become hostile. According to, “Dating online takes a thick skin and a lot of patience.”

You take out your past (a.k.a. horrible) relationships) on your profile readers

Bitter much? I understand. You’ve turned to online dating because you want to steer clear of the drama queens/kings, the overly-attached, the emotionally detached and every other bad relationship stereotype there is.

However, filling up your profile with a ton of negatives, such as “I don’t date worriers,” “I can’t be with someone who doesn’t shower twice a day,” “My last boyfriend cheated on me so cheaters, stay away!” won’t just keep the undesirables away. It might also scare off Mr. or Miss Normalcy or even worse, Mr. or Miss Perfect-for-You.

So, stay positive. Let your readers know what you are looking for in a potential date/partner instead of what you aren’t. You wouldn’t bring up previous boyfriends/girlfriends or husbands/wives on a first date (or at least I hope you wouldn’t). If you wouldn’t say it over a getting-to-know-you dinner, don’t say it in your online dating profile.

You overwhelm your readers with adjectives

You’re sweet! Funny! Cleanly! Easy-going! Romantic! Athletic! Anyone can say these things about themselves. And often, as individuals, we perceive ourselves differently than others would. For instance, you may think that taking out the garbage for your previous girlfriend makes you romantic. Others, maybe even that ex-girlfriend, might not agree.

Don’t hit your profile readers over the head with a bunch of vague exclamations about how adventurous, clever or funny you are.

Instead, wow them with a story about how you white-water rafted down the Colorado River and had to rescue a rafting buddy (but don’t embellish – falsehoods on dating profiles are always revealed). Or maybe talk about how you’ve received recognition for your stand-up comedy.

Take the time to jot down some of your more interesting hobbies and more exciting stories. And then, as you write your profile, talk about the time a celebrity asked you for a pen on the subway, or about how you collect old movie props and costumes, or how you refurbish furniture. Anyone can be adventurous or crafty. Only you can be you.

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