Online Dating: The Do’s and Don’ts Everyone Needs to Know

Smiling couple

Couple on a date |

If you’ve been growing tired of the dating scene, you may be thinking about trying online dating. It can be a convenient way to meet new people, especially if you’re busy and find it hard to get out on the weekends. But how do you get started? Relationship expert Lisa Concepcion chatted with The Cheat Sheet and shared her best tips.

The Cheat Sheet: Why is online dating a good way to meet people?

Lisa Concepcion: You can connect with more people online and some sites have algorithms in place to identify people with commonalities. This allows you to get specific with criteria and interests. There are also interest-specific dating sites. This is great for people who, let’s say, are into fitness, and it’s a huge part of their lifestyle.

Smiling couple

Honesty really does matter |

CS: What are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to meeting people online?

LC: Have an accurate profile picture. You are not fooling anyone. And when you meet, the truth comes out so what is the point of posting a profile picture that is 10 years and 20 pounds old? Also hire a marketing pro to write your profile. Through my coaching business, LoveQuest Marketing, I apply my 20 years of public relations and brand marketing experience to write dating profiles that position people as products trying to stand out in a highly competitive dating marketplace.

I interview my client and get them to communicate in emotional language, which people bond with. Then I post a profile that is more about what the person brings to the table as opposed to writing a list of what they are looking for. Like attracts like, so talk about who you are and what you have to offer. Many people want to meet you by explaining what time with you will feel like for them.

Some other tips:

  • Don’t linger too long in cyberspace! Think of it as fishing. When the fish takes the bait, you reel them in. You don’t keep them on the line, dipping them in the water. Arrange a phone call or a casual coffee date.
  • Do arrange a phone call. Once you met someone you think is interesting, after a few messages take it to a phone call. That is when you get their energy and vibe. People can be very charming while hiding behind a keyboard. When you get them on the phone for an actual conversation, this is when you know if a face-to-face date is going to happen.
  • Do meet in the daytime! People rush to the dinner date. That’s a three-hour commitment. What if you realize you’re not into them before the appetizers arrive? I suggest a daytime lunch or more casual bite for a first meeting. You can always turn a lunch date into a whole day together if the chemistry is right and you’re both having fun.
  • Do set boundaries! Online dating can become a whole other job. Dedicate time to checking your profile but don’t let it run your life. This is why I suggest taking interactions off of the dating sites and to a phone call fast so you can swiftly decide who to meet in person.
Couple holding each other

Couple in love |

CS: What should you do if when you meet your date, he or she does not look like the profile picture?

LC: Be polite but point it out. If your date looks better in person, say so. It’s a nice compliment. If your date doesn’t, say something like, “so tell me where you were in that profile picture. You seemed happy with a great energy in it, which caught my eye.” That is a kind way of saying, “look, you’re not fooling anyone, you look different, what’s up with that?” See what they say.

I had a client who was 40 pounds thinner in his profile picture and refused to take it down. He wanted to use it as motivation to get back into shape after having lower back surgery. So I used my public relations and marketing messaging skills. I told him when the woman brings it up, to reply with the following honest message.

My profile photo was a year and 40 pounds ago. I had back surgery a few months ago and I couldn’t work out at all which pained me because I’m really into fitness. Anyway, the man in front of you right now is the same soul as the man in the picture, but the packaging is a bit different. I’m actually stronger in my mind because of the surgery. I really lucked out. It could have been a lot worse. I kept the profile up because I am committed to being the best I can be for myself in body, mind, and soul so I can share that with the woman I choose to be in a serious relationship with. I have finally recovered from my surgery to do physical therapy, swimming, and weight training. I’m really excited about my comeback and all the great new things I’m inviting into my life after going through the ordeal of surgery. Did you ever have a major surgery?

This response does three things:

  1. It’s shares an ordeal which he’s overcome and growing from as a person. This is always a good thing.
  2. It establishes that he’s committed to getting back to looking as he did in his profile picture so she knows she wasn’t duped. It was a health matter that he is coming back from.
  3. It engages her and elicits compassion by asking if she ever had a major surgery to recover from. This also keeps the conversation going.

Source: iStock

Couple on a first date | Source: iStock

CS: How can online daters stay safe?

LC: Here’s how online daters can stay safe:

  • Meet in a neutral place where there are other people.
  • Arrive early and tell the hostess, server, or bartender that you are meeting someone in person that you met online and to check in.
  • Post your whereabouts on social media. If you’re meeting at a restaurant, post a selfie of you there before your date arrives.
  • Tell a friend or relative where you are meeting.
  • Interact with people wherever you go. The bartender, the servers, the barista — make your presence known.
  • Be mindful but not fearful. The Law of Attraction says that which is like itself is drawn. Focus on fear and “crazies” and that’s exactly what you will attract. Instead say, the following dating affirmation: The world is full of beautiful, kind, fun, souls and I am open to attracting these people into my life. The better and more peaceful and at ease I am with myself, the more amazing, wonderful people I meet. I’m excited about meeting new people. Dating is such a fun thing. I love how free I am to meet someone. I can feel I am getting closer and closer to meeting my right person. It’s on the way to me. All is well.

Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo

[Editor’s Note: This story was originally published May 2, 2016]