Guide to Social Activity/Dating online

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Once considered a thing for loners and desperate people, online dating is fast becoming just as widespread and socially acceptable as going to a nightclub.


Pros[edit]

  • Saves money and time.
  • For women: Male users tend to be in the majority on online dating sites
  • If your tastes are very specific, you'll spend more time interacting with your target peers. There is no need to go to endless cocktail parties where nobody is interesting.
  • Gives you a chance to practice courtship skills in a non-intimidating environment, without the danger of suffering public embarrassment

Cons[edit]

  • Communicating over instant messaging or email can be more time-consuming and tedious than talking to someone face to face.
  • For men: Female users tend to be in the minority on online dating sites
  • Online dating sites tend to attract a disproportionate number of single parents.
  • Online dating sites tend to attract a disproportionate number of users from certain subcultures.
  • It is hard to verify whether users are being insencere, however such users are a minority.


The one-paragraph ad[edit]

In the context of discrete personal ads, such as craigslist (www.craigslist.org) and the newspaper classifieds it is modelled after, the format limits the amount of information you can share. It's often customary to chat online using email or instant messaging to make up for this, without having to invest the effort of becoming dressed and going out to meet someone. The goal in writing an ad may be to present a topic that you're enthusiastic about in a way that's both interesting and accessible, or to describe some activity that a person might find appealing. It's important that something stand out and catch the attention of a person, but feel free to try different "hooks" in several consecutive weeks if the first ad doesn't bring the kind of response you would want.

When you finally do make contact with a person, and it seems that there's mutual interest, try as much as possible to balance the conversation between talking about you, talking about the other person, and small talk about movies, sports, politics, or whatever your social group talks about most.

The goal is not to be an interrogator, but to discover a rough sense of the identity and appearance of the person. Suppose that you arrive at a bar or pub to find a person who is entirely unattractive, and whose career aspirations entirely counter your ideals. You might be able to have an interesting conversation and successful date, but only in the sense that you learn about what is important to you. One author of this book experienced such a scenario, and made a list of what was important: a good education, critical thinking skills, a humane way of thinking about strangers, and a single chin. Your own list may vary.

Dating and networking sites[edit]

At social websites like Friendster (www.friendster.com, Orkut www.orkut.com, Myspace (www.myspace.com), and tribe.net (tribe.net), there is room to present a lot of information, including who you know and the finer details of your interests. A profile on such a site is generally the same as one on a dating site like OkCupid (www.okcupid.com) or the many pay-for-communication dating sites; most of the same rules apply, except that some effort should be put into giving complete and honest answers to any "match test" or "compatability questionaire". Persons are more likely to be interested if the computer says that you match them. There is also the chance that whoever wrote the personality test knew how to make such a test.

What is the difference between Free and Paying?[edit]

In general, paying sites advertise, and free sites don't. In fact, advertising is normally the main expenditure of paying sites; in effect you are paying them to advertise your profile to the largest possible audience on the web. Free sites rely on original web page designs, niche markets, and network effects to succeed.

Paying sites tend to have a bigger database of users. Free sites have fewer users signed up, but tend to be more casual, with many users joining for other reasons than dating, such as networking, fun, and taking tests.

Before you decide to pay for dating online, do make sure that the database of your service of choice is large, otherwise you're wasting your money. An easy way to check is to verify traffic ranking of the dating site on alexa.com

Dos and Don'ts[edit]

  • Perhaps the most important thing is to post a good photo of yourself. If you know a good photographer, who really enjoys their work, you should consider asking them to take a picture of you the next time it's convenient. It really is an art form, and if you go to someone who knows what they are doing, the result will look more like you, and more datable as well. Often, student photographers need models of "normal" or "interesting" people for classes, so you can usually find someone who will work pro bono even if they know you not personally. But, if the students that have projects due soon often accept anyone who will sit in front of a camera. Also make sure to include a portrait shot that shows your face clearly, as well as a full body shot.
  • Don't post pictures showing you amongst large groups of people. Remember that the user doesn't know you yet, so they'll have trouble to pick out which of the people is you.
  • Also include some photos that reflect your personality. One author of this book posted a photo of a tiny paper crane perched on a coin, along with a note that the paper was smaller than a fingernail. Persons that like your photos will tend to like you.
  • Go not into too much depth in listing your favorite bands or books. Fifteen or twenty examples is plenty; if they have that kind of attention span for your interests, it's best to talk with them face-to-face. Pare it down to the best in every general category, so that you can present the most important parts of each facet of your personality.
  • Make sure your spelling, grammar, and punctuation is correct. At the very least run a spell checker through your profile. Do not write in txt spk, and do not use overuse "lol" and exclamation marks!!!!!!! You might think that spelling isn't that important, but remember that your picture and those few paragraphs of text are all the other user sees of you, so it's important to make the most of this small window. Bad English will give many users a bad first impression of you. Some users might not be fussy, but good English will certainly not put anyone off, so it doesn't hurt to use it.
  • As in the rest of life, authenticity is important. Let your quirks show. There's such a (potentially) wide audience out there. Even if you think your traits are not popular, there is going to be that one person out there who is attracted to exactly those traits, and the more honest you are the more likely you are to find them. If all you say is that you're friendly and outgoing and that your interests include reading, pubs, clubs and movies, not only will your profile look like a million others, you aren't actually revealing much about yourself.
  • Be yourself. Rather than lie about your flaws, show that you're a strong person by stating them openly, along with your strengths. Or simply leave them out if they're not that important. Trying to be "a better version of you" might attract more messages, but you'll just be wasting both parties' time once it comes to meeting the person.
  • Do try to contact more than one person you may be interested in at a time. A given post may have been there for weeks or more. It may not be active anymore, she could be currently involved with someone she just met, and no longer responding to replies, or she may not be interested in you, etc. If you ask one woman out, then wait for several days for a reply, you may well have wasted/missed an opportunity to meet another woman. Alternatively, you may converse online with one and find out after a few cybermeetings that you two aren't hitting it off. You are not truly dating them until you are in person anyway, and success rates for meeting people online tend to be lower than in person- it is quite possible that it gets called off after a first real date or two. It is better to anticipate that this may occur and have another potential date in the wings than to have to start over again from scratch wooing another woman for several weeks before you finally meet. Worst case scenario, both of them do like you enough to have a long-term relationship, you would have to choose the one you liked more, and call it off with the other. This is not exactly a horrific position for you to be in. You don't have to tell her that she was second choice, and if you're doing your job right, she won't know.
  • Don't use online dating as your sole channel of courtship. It should be a supplement to traditional ways of socialising, not a replacement.

Meeting[edit]

Meeting someone for the first time can be a little uncomfortable, especially if neither person is really sure about interest. It is best to choose a place where a date can end suddenly without anyone losing face, such as a coffee shop or bar.

If you find that you are not interested in the person, do not arrange for future contact, or claim that you contact the person later, by telephone, email, or otherwise. Instead, finish your beverage, state that the meeting was nice, and wish a good day to the person.