Online dating is becoming more common by the day but it's not exactly clear how to do it right. Everyone has their own opinions on what works and what doesn't, but who to believe? Lavalife offers its expert insider thoughts on how to be effective in your online love adventures.
"During the holidays, people tend to reflect on the past year. Singles especially are inclined to look back and relive relationship mistakes, bad dates and try to figure out why they are still single," explains Kim Hughes, Singles and Dating Expert for lavalife.com. "We want to encourage singles not to dwell on the past but to be proactive about the future," continues Hughes. "Right after the holiday season, we see a spike in our membership numbers. This is the time when singles are ready to get online and find love."
Lavalife gives 5 tips for creating better online profiles - a key component of the experience, because first impressions are everything and this is truer online than anywhere.
Add more photos or video. In the age of digital photography, there is simply no excuse for not having multiple images of yourself engaged in your favourite hobby, traveling, or out on the town. Need more incentive? Research shows profiles with pictures get eight times the response of those without.
Treat Your Online Profile Like a Resume. When you apply for a job, you highlight your achievements, competencies, and strengths while spelling out why you are the ideal candidate for the post. Do the same with your online profile, showing potential dates all you have to offer and why they choose someone else at their peril.
Set an Intention for Your Search. In yoga, practitioners are encouraged to visualize a positive intention for each class. Do the same with your online searches. For example, on Thursdays, vow to only browse profiles of people who are smiling. Make Fridays the day you reach out to someone who's not your normal type but seems interesting. Make Mondays your 100-mile radius days and so on.
Be specific. Generalizations such as 'I like to have fun' or 'I love hanging out with my friends' don't tell the story of you because everyone likes hanging out with friends and notions of fun are subjective. Be granular. Describe your ideal Sunday morning or best-ever vacation, guilty-pleasure reality TV show or secret nerd crush.
Use a trusted friend as an editor. It's hard to write about yourself but a pal can make constructive suggestions about where to add detail (your humor/compassion/killer stroganoff recipe) and where to back off (carping about exes, presenting a rigid grocery-list of must-haves).
And the company also suggests five ways to improve the single life (that should, in theory, lead to you being a more desirable candidate).
Lose the grocery list. We all have core needs and values that must be met before we can look at a partner as a long-term prospect. But until that stuff is nailed down, open up your criteria. You may prefer dating guys over 6 feet tall, but Mr. Five Foot Nine might have the best sense of humor ever. The more flexible you are, the wider your dating circle will be. Plus not every date has to lead to marriage. Loosen up and view dates as fun nights out, not big events.
Get a Hobby. The adage, "If you cultivate an interest, people will find you interesting" really is true. Get yourself involved in something that will get you out the door and engaged while broadening your social circle. Take a cooking class, sign up for language lessons, learn to skate or join a book club. Hobbies also provide handy conversational fodder for first dates.
Don't Avoid Couples-centric Events. Nobody likes to feel like a fifth wheel but no one can diminish you without your consent. Couples have friends, acquaintances and co-workers, some of whom are bound to be single. So get out there and circulate. Accept every invitation that you possibly can - from backyard BBQs to community clean-up days.
Volunteer. It doesn't matter what you do (dog walking at the local shelter, serving soup at the homeless kitchen). Volunteering will put you in the path of like-minded people with good hearts and a strong sense of community. What's hotter than that?
Keep it in perspective. Yes, dating can be a grind but so can laundry and we still do that every week. Take good dates and bad dates in stride, try to remain upbeat, extract humor from any source and remember: the moment we're not searching for love is usually the moment we find it.