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7 Things to Know If You’re New to Online Dating

A woman who's new to online dating setting up her profile.

If you’re new to the world of online dating, welcome! Online dating can be a wonderful way to meet great people. Chances are you’ve heard a lot of advice and stories—both good and bad—from your friends. The truth is, online dating is different for everyone, and not all advice applies to every situation. You won’t know what works for you until you try it. As you navigate the waters for the first time, here are seven things you should know as someone who’s new to online dating.

1. You probably won’t find your ‘perfect match’ right away.
Unfortunately, when you join a dating site or download a dating app, you probably won’t be presented with your one true love’s profile right away. If only it was that easy! Dating apps help introduce you to people so you can discover who you want to date, but instant love connections don’t usually happen at first click. You’ll likely browse profiles, chat with people, and maybe even decide to meet some people in person before finding somebody that really intrigues you. But that’s part of the fun! Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find “the one” right away and just try to enjoy the ride.

2. It’s normal to try a few different dating apps.
Not all dating apps are created equal. Some have you “swipe” through potential dates, saying “yes” or “no” to many profiles in rapid succession. Others let you take more time to search for matches based on variables like age, location, and interests. It’s totally normal to try out more than one type of dating app to see what you like best.

3. Err on the side of caution.
After you put yourself out there in the online dating world, it’s important to remember that people aren’t always what they seem. Unfortunately, even though most dating sites work to protect their members, there are still scammers out there. If you’re ever unsure about somebody, err on the side of caution. If somebody’s online dating profile seems too good to be true or if they’re dodging meeting you in person, it might be for a reason; they could be lying about something. If somebody sends you a message that makes you uncomfortable or pressures you for too much personal information, you have the option to block or report them. Have fun, but also be careful.

4. Online dating can be incredibly time consuming.
Once you join an online dating site, there’s seemingly no end to how much you can do. It’s fun to search for new people, message potential dates, and tinker with your profile. But there’s also a flip-side to having so many options, and you can easily get sucked into an online dating vortex. If you find yourself spending more time looking through profiles, chatting, and returning messages than actually meeting people in person, it might be time to take a step back and cut down on the screen time.

5. It’s okay to say no.
As you familiarize yourself with online dating, you’ll quickly realize that you aren’t going to want to date every single person you see. And that’s okay! Don’t agree to a date with somebody just because you feel bad saying no.

6. Kindness counts.
You can say no without being rude. If somebody sends you a message and you’re not interested, there are ways to decline without hurting feelings. We suggest keeping it simple and direct: Hi, thanks for your message, but I think we’d be better suited as friends. Good luck out there!

7. Remember to be true to yourself.
It’s not a good idea to fill an online dating profile with what you think other people want to read. Instead, be honest with yourself about what you’re looking for in another person. If you’re ready for a serious relationship, that’s great! If your ideal date is making dinner at home and watching a movie, speak your truth instead of pretending to be a big partier. When you fill out your online dating profile honestly, you’ll attract more people who like the same things that you do, and you’ll have a better chance at finding true love that lasts.

When you’re new to online dating, it’s easy to get intimidated and maybe even feel overwhelmed. Don’t! The power is in your hands—you can date as little or as much as you want, talk to who you feel like, say yes or no, and take breaks too. It’s a tool to help make dating easier, and you’re the one wielding it.

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