“Should I try online dating?” It’s a valid question. We turn to our smart phones and tablets for almost every decision in life, so why wouldn’t we turn to our screens to find romance? Plus, finding a potential date online is more prevalent than ever – about 36% of adult Americans are actively seeking love online.
But if you’re still uncertain whether you should take the “plugged in” plunge, we asked Laurie Davis, founder of eFlirt, an online dating concierge service, and author of Love @ First Click, what you really need to know about online dating before you start snapping your profile picture.
You’re taking control. By creating an online dating profile, you’re no longer leaving it up to chance to create your romantic future. “Online dating is the best way to be proactive about your dating life,” says Davis. “After all, meeting someone meaningful takes action — and in a digital world, that means joining a dating site in addition to meeting people offline too.”
You will (and should) meet people. There’s no sense in creating an online dating profile if you’re wary of meeting people IRL. “The term online dating is all wrong — it should be online meeting and offline dating,” says Davis. “It’s just a way for you to meet real people to connect with offline. If moving beyond the message with a match seems scary to you because you’re still only dipping your toe into your singledom, perhaps it’s not the right time for you to date online. That’s the point of online dating!” She recommends moving the conversation offline after six messages (three per person) is what works best.
You’ll date more efficiently. One of the perks of online dating is your ability to stipulate height, education, location and basically anything else you require in a partner. “You can be specific about who you want to meet, making sure you have common interests, values, etc.,” says Davis. “This is what separates online dating from meeting someone at a bar – you lead with this information and so do others.”
You’ll be active by taking it slow. If you’ve been out of the dating game for a while – or you’re just plain excited to be trying something new — you might want to go buck wild by signing up for every dating site out there and going on as many dates as you can. Davis says, slow it down. “It’s best to begin online dating by joining one site. I’ve had a few clients who started with too many accounts on different platforms and it quickly became overwhelming!” She also notes that online dating sites are communities, and in order to get something out of a community, “you need to be an active participant within it. On a dating site that means searching and sending messages to matches who seem interesting. I suggest to my clients that they send no less than 10 messages to new matches per week. When you focus on your outbox, your inbox will fill up … and so will your dating calendar!”
You can take your time. Though a lot of singles have compared online dating to a second job, Davis says searching for love online shouldn’t be exhausting. In fact, the more stressed you are about finding a match, the less likely you’ll find a suitable one. She refers to psychological studies on the time spent online dating that showed the longer you spend scrolling through matches, the more judgmental you become. “So rather than sitting down on Sunday night for two hours and sending dozens upon dozens of messages at once, space it out throughout the week,” says Davis. “Commit to online dating for 20-30 minutes per day, and it will feel more manageable.”