5 Signs You’re Terrible At Online Dating (And How To Change That)

Online dating can seem a lot like online shopping, (So much selection! So much fun to scroll through shoes, er.. men!), but the similarities end there. If you’re treating finding a relationship like a casual browse for sale items, it’s time to shape up! Take a look at these signs that you’re headed for trouble with your online dating profile and what you can do to fix it.

Problem: You have a strict list of criteria that you’re not willing to budge on

We hear from our girlfriends all the time that we shouldn’t compromise on what we want in a partner. But who’s perfect? I certainly wouldn’t want to be held up against that standard. Be realistic with your “dealbreakers.” Does he really have to be at least 6 feet tall? Will that matter when you’re 70? Having a strict list of criteria that you’re unwilling to compromise on, (“I would never date someone who drives a jeep,” or “He’s just a carpenter.”), means that you’re discounting a huge number of people right out of the gate that could be great for you. Having hard and fast rules about who you are willing to date will only hurt you in the long run.

Exercise: Try going on a date with someone that your friends pick for you. No arguments!

Problem: You focus on the negative

Your profile reads like a laundry list of everything you don’t want in a partner, relationship, or on your pizza. While you might think you’re being specific, all that negativity is off-putting to any potential partner. Online dating is all about being positive. You should always be honest, but no one wants to date a complainer. This goes for messages too. Stay away from negativity in your first interactions and instead focus on what you like to do and who you want to date.

Exercise: Start a new conversation where you don’t make any negative comments in your chats.

Problem: You go online exclusively for validation or positive reinforcement

Swipe, swipe, swipe, get match, experience surge of endorphins, repeat.

We all know that little twinge of excitement you get when you get a message, match with someone, or when you get likes on a photo; it can be a little addictive. Some argue that there are online daters out there who aren’t even interested in a relationship, but only in making themselves feel good with a bit of attention. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the little ego boost when you get a new message notification, if you’re barely serious about finding someone, you’re just wasting everyone’s time. Channel that positive feeling you get from online interactions into meeting someone new; it might be just the thing you need to approach dating with fresh energy!

Exercise: Actually go on a date. Just one 🙂

Problem: You stop responding just because it feels like too much work

We’re all busy, and it can be hard to feel motivated to continue that conversation. I’ll be real with you: online dating can be a lot of work. This might mean you have to have a few boring conversations or go on a couple of bad dates before you find one that makes it worth it, but bottom line: you have to put in the effort if you expect anyone else to. If you stop responding to messages or go AWOL on someone, you’ve stalled before you even get rolling. As challenging as it may be, if you want to be successful, you have to keep your energy up, keep responding, and keep going on dates. It WILL pay off in the long run.

Exercise: Don’t let 24 hours go by without sending a reply.

Problem: You stand people up

This is just bad manners. If you’ve committed to making plans with someone else, show up. If you really can’t make it anymore (and I mean really, not just that you decided to stay home and watch Netflix instead), then give them as much heads up as possible. Think about how much energy and preparation goes into a first date, and be respectful of other people’s time. Nothing leads to Online Dating Burnout and feeling discouraged faster than feeling like you’re wasting your time.

Exercise: Don’t back out of any dates for a whole month.

The 5 Online Daters You Should Avoid

With both personal and professional involvement in online dating, I have come to realize that while it can be highly rewarding, it can also be highly frustrating. The most common feedback from successful PlentyOfFish couples (as well as my own observations) is that when it comes to online dating, you get what you give.

That said, there’s a shortcut to navigating the time wasters from those who are actually worth your valuable time and effort. It all comes down to some very simple, very common traits that we see online everyday! To save yourself from endless profiles to pick through each day, here are the top 5 online daters you should avoid:

1) The Negative Nancy

Modus operandi: The person who has all the negative things to say in their profile. They have a laundry list of things wrong with online dating or the idea of how online dating should work. They have a wishlist of their perfect match and will always list it in point form on their profile. They will always state in their profiles “I’m not here for hook ups”, “Don’t message me if”… No matter all your redeeming qualities if you’re a tad on the flirty side and you’re not out to get married tomorrow, don’t have a beard, tattoos and a motorcycle you’re OUT. No if’s, ands or buts.

Why you should avoid them: They will bring you down. Online dating is hard enough as it is without having a pessimist in your midst. Trying to live up to their 500 deal breakers / makers listed in their profile is frustrating at best. While I strongly agree that intentions should be clear, a profile is supposed to put your best (positive) foot forward. Decision making to carry on a conversation or to perhaps meet should come at a later time.

2) Spammy Steven

Modus operandi: The person you know has sent you the same thing he’s sent to about 500 other people..and you know it. The classic spammy message that is obviously just bait.

Why you should avoid them: I always say “Quality over quantity”. A spammy steven has definitely not read your profile and is just pulling generics out of the air. This is not only annoying, it’s discouraging as well. Throwing out lines in hopes to catch something is like picking low hanging fruit and it shows they aren’t necessarily trying to put in any effort. What does that say if you’re trying to find prince charming? Creativity in a first message is the make or break, your first impression! Make it count.

3) Persistent Pablo

Modus operandi: Messages you over and over and over again, most of the time it’s with the same line they used 2 weeks ago (do they not realize you can see the conversation thread?). You’ve ignored them or declined their invitation to chat once and here they are again. Often linked with a spammy steven, they have definitely not read your profile.

Why you should avoid them: Hello, future restraining order. If you have politely declined them, then that should be enough.

4) Boring Beth

Modus operandi: The person who has nothing interesting to say but keeps responding to your messages with one or two words max. Riveting stuff.

Why you should avoid them: You can’t be the only person initiating conversation, if they have nothing to bring to the table, they can eat alone. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are boring but it definitely doesn’t make them interesting, either. If they aren’t asking about your interests or have nothing to contribute to the conversation other than your regular “YES, NO” they probably aren’t that interested and you should probably move onto the next.

5) Phone Number Phil

Modus operandi: The person who gives you theirs or asks for your phone number on the first message without really conversing with you first. “I’m not on here much, call me at….”

Why you should avoid them: They are probably nuts or have a serious inappropriate picture collection / porn site subscription they wish to share with you. People often forget about the safety tips that should go along when online dating including not sending out your phone number to EVERY person you think is attractive. Consider using alternative options like a voice chat feature if you’re really interested in hearing their voice.

The BEST Online Dating Advice: From Online Daters

There’s no shortage of online dating advice out there for singles, but like anything else, sometimes the best advice comes from someone who has been down that road before. We asked some real life, seasoned online daters who have found success on PlentyOfFish to pass on some of their best advice. If we do say so ourselves, it’s pretty bang on!

On manners:“Just act like a sane, normal person. And use your manners! Never say anything that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face just because you’re behind a computer screen.”

On keeping it real: “Online dating provides a process for evolution and learning. You learn by establishing some guidelines. For example, if you haven’t both agreed on a date and time to meet within a few weeks, you should consider ceasing contact. And like anything in life, while you can accept help, read books, and get advice from friends, you have to participate in the process.”

On the no-nonsense approach: “Keep writing decent and heartfelt messages to whoever you want – so forget your “type”. Mention something that stood out about their profile.”

On keeping your image game strong: “Be yourself but understand that images come first. If someone is not attracted to you, it won’t matter if Hemingway wrote your profile.”

On being tech savvy: “Download the PlentyOfFish app! It’s a totally different experience (in a good way) and you can meet way more people, even faster.”

On assuming gender roles: “Don’t fall into the thinking that men should always make the first move. If you see someone who interests you, message them! Also, let’s just be real and admit that people aren’t impressed by lists and stuff, they want to know what you feel.”

On smiling: “You have 8 seconds to make a good impression. Women will see your main image as a tiny pic the size of a saltine cracker on their cell phone screens. If your main image is not clear, bright and attractive, they move on. A genuine smile is inviting, warm and attractive. Women want to see your eyes and smile.”

On making plans: “NOTHING IS REAL UNTIL YOU MEET. Don’t waste your time on endless text messages. After three or four solid messages, ask for a phone number. Call to arrange a first meeting. Connect in a safe, quiet place like a cafe where you can talk and get to know each other.”

On what it should all really be about: “Above all, keep a sense of humor. Have FUN.”