Online Dating: How to Succeed While Barely Trying


Phone in grass with a heart on the screen
[Image via Pratik Gupta]
Dating, in general, isn’t always easy and when you add the online element to it, it can be either a curse or blessing. Yet Online Dating doesn’t have to be so hard, though. The best thing about dating online is that you can set up hookups or dates in literally minutes. Now, some of you are sitting there going: “no way! I use all the apps possible and never hear a word back!”

Believe it or not; there’s a science to online dating and it’s simple enough to have you asking: “Well, why didn’t I think of that before!?” Let’s get right into the ways you can score dates that are backed up by science.

The first thing you’ll do on any dating site or app is to set up a profile. Most of the time you’ll pick any username because who cares about a username. Simply choose a sexy or interesting picture, and fill your profile all about you or what you are looking for. This may work for some people.

However, studies on online dating show that your picture, your username, and what you put in your profile are essential to receive a reply.

Your Username Means More Than You Think

Mock login in screen for website
[Image via Achin Verma]
Your username is the first thing you’ll create and the first thing a potential partner will notice. Now you’re probably like: “okay so what’s the big deal?” but it turns out there is a science to creating a desirable username. Straight men tend to gravitate towards female usernames that display attractiveness such as “pretty”, “sexy” “brunette”, etc.

Straight women, on the other hand, are more attracted to usernames that display successfulness and intelligence like “driven”, “ambitious”, “cultured”. Research shows that our brains associate names that are at the beginning of the alphabet with success. Many dating sites will list profiles in alphabetical order.

Having a username that appears near the top can increase your profile views and maybe even secure you a reply.

A Picture Says A Thousand Words

Man holding a photo of himself with a graffiti background
[Image via Jakob Owens]
Uploading the right pictures can be the reason you even get a view on your profile or not. On average, people make judgments about who you are within 40 milliseconds. Judgments are based on your posture, clothing, and micro-expressions on your face. When taking a photo, you want to come off as competent, trustworthy, and attractive.

Many people run straight for the selfie they feel they look best in, but research shows that you should let someone else pick the photo for you. Those that participated in that study believe their selfies were more attractive. However, strangers who saw photos taken by someone else thought they were more attractive than the selfies.

There are more tips that you should follow if you want an increase in profile views, matches, or interactions. One study found that both sexes had increased attraction to those that were wearing the color red versus wearing neutral colors. The same is true for wearing professional outfits over causal ones.

When it comes to showing your fun side, it’s better to leave the drinking photos out. Research has shown that people who had alcoholic beverages in their profile pictures are perceived as less smart than those who don’t have any alcoholic visible. As the saying goes, “you’re never fully dressed without a smile.”

Studies show that those who are smiling or happy in their profile pictures are perceived as more likable and attractive.

Your Profile Should Focus More on You

Hands with words describing a person
[Image via Lisa Runnels]
While some do write too little about themselves, many tend to overwrite. You might be thinking: “Shouldn’t I get more interest if I’m explaining exactly what I want and who I am?”

By writing too much, you actually reduce the chances to receive a lot of messages. It turns out there’s a science to how much you should be sharing and what to share. Research has found that the most popular profiles only share about talk about themselves 70% of the time while the remaining 30% goes over what they are looking for.

As for what you want to say for that 70%, it varies based on gender. For example, men are more likely to respond to profiles that show approachability, kindness, and women who have an interest in fitness. Women are more likely to respond to those who can show courage, risk-taking, and bravery.

Interestingly, both sexes preferred “simple language with humor added in.” An example of what to put on your profile can be: “I’m a daring person who loves to spend time traveling and am looking for someone like-minded whom I can share new experiences with.”

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when writing your profile is lying. If you aren’t looking for anything more than a hookup, then just state that you’re looking for something casual. By lying, you’re only going to cause a headache for yourself and the other person if they are looking for more.

Time To Make The First Move

Close up of message app
[Image via Viktor Hanacek]
Now, it’s time to message your potential date.

It’s not surprising that men tend to message first. Meanwhile, women often respond less than men. Basically, women who reach out first have a 50% chance of receiving a response while the odds for men are lower.

First contact messages can be tough.

However, just saying “hi” won’t cut it. Studies have shown that your first message should highlight your humor or kindness. However, there’s a less obvious way to get attention.

Instead of saying the generic crap like “you have a great body” or “you look smart,” you should instead write your message based on something their profile says. For example, use their hobbies, career, or profile pictures to carve something out.

If your interest is an animal lover, you can comment on how awesome their pet is (if they have one in their photos). You can also mention how you love animals too. Maybe even ask what their favorite animal is. This can also apply to hobbies, like traveling. So ask them where their favorite destination was or their dream vacation.

If they’re more career-orientated, you can ask them how they decided on it or if it’s something that you have an interest in too (Psychology comes to mind). Maybe mention how you’re fascinated by how the mind works.

Perhaps career probing and their interests are tough for you to discuss. If so, being witty and funny is always great.

You can try rhyming their username or headline or simply make genuine compliments. When making the first contact message, studies found that both sexes tend to send longer messages to those they find more desirable. Sadly, it didn’t increase their chances of receiving a reply.

The main lesson here is to keep it short while personalizing your message.

Don’t Be Afraid To Message Someone Hot

A man looking at his social network connections
[Image via Jack Moreh]
When it comes to messaging the person you’re interested in, some people may get cold feet reaching out to those they consider out of their league. Both sexes that use dating apps or sites have been found to message potential partners that were 25% more attractive than them.

The desirability in this study was ranked by the number of messages you received from others who have received many messages themselves. Studies have been conflicted on whether ethnicity matters or not when ranked for desirability.

In this study, white men and Asian women were found to be the most desirable even when the other races in the study had a college degree. Men that reached out to women that were perceived as more attractive than themselves have a response rate of 21%.

This may not seem like the odds are high. Yet it does show that those who are looking “outside their league” can still receive replies from whom they desire. In fact, they may even make a connection.

Online dating has boiled down to a science for the most part. What science can’t predict is how someone will react or respond since each person is different. This doesn’t mean it can’t come close to accurately predicting certain traits, levels of attractiveness. Nor does it account for what people tend to gravitate towards in terms of personality or physical attributes.

At the end of the day, it’s up to the person. Hopefully, this guide can help you at the very least, get more responses in the world of online dating.


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