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Successful Online Daters Reveal Their Secrets


Men and women who’ve found lasting love (five are married!) reveal how they did it—and you can, too!

By Laura Gilbert

ttention! What follows are the success strategies that people just like you used when looking for love online. All of them are now at least at the one-year mark in the relationships they forged via the Internet. Try their advice and see if it doesn’t help you reap similar results.

1. List your deal-makers—and don’t waver
“I think too many people don’t go after what they really want in a relationship and settle for someone early on. Then, they get deeper in and realize it was a mistake. I avoided that by writing down what I
“I think the key to us finding each other was that I’d just completely rewritten my profile.”
wanted in a partner. Either post it in your profile or just keep it in mind when you’re meeting people. My dream guy, for example, had to be liberal, a nonsmoker, and he had to eat healthy and love kayaking, among other things. Some of my friends were a little shocked that my list was so long. I guess if you’re just looking for a good time, then having a list doesn’t matter as much, but if you’re looking for a sustainable relationship, you have ask yourself: What qualities are really important for the long run? I did all my searching based on those key attributes, and I’m now engaged to a guy I met online who meets all ten requirements on my list, including the last one, which was to adore me!”
—Michelle Tennant, 35, Flat Rock, NC; met her fiance online

2. Post a good, accurate photo
“When I decided to put up my profile, I had a friend take lots of shots of me and help me decide which ones to post — other people’s opinions can help a lot. To give potential dates a good idea of my physique I made sure to include one that showed my body in a way that was eye-catching but also represents what I really look like. It’s important to be honest in your profile, and that includes pictures. When I looked at guys’ profiles, I was always suspicious if they only had shots that were from the neck up, seen in profile in a dark setting, or one that looked ten years old. When I met my husband for the first time, I think we were both relieved that we closely resembled the image we had of one another in each of our mind’s eye. In fact, I think he actually looked better in person!”
—Michelene Wasil, 33, Atlanta, GA; met her husband online

3. Make your profile stand out from the pack
“True story: My wife and I got engaged just two weeks after we’d first spotted each other online. I think the key to us finding each other was that I’d just completely rewritten my profile. Before this point, my profile was filled with the typical things: what I do for a living, what I like to do on dates, what books I’ve read recently — perfectly polite, charming stuff. Problem is, it looked like every other profile out there. I realized that in order to find my soul mate, I needed to bare my soul a bit and be more emotional. So I went back into my profile and instead of talking about what I did or liked, I explained why. Everyone likes to walk on the beach; but if you explain it’s because you and your dad used to do that as a kid, suddenly you’re revealing something that’s unique. By listing the whys instead of the whats, one is more likely to craft a more unique profile which should attract people who are uniquely drawn to you.”
—Steve Peha, 42, Carrboro, NC; met his wife online

4. Keep it short and sweet
“I think the most important thing to remember in online dating — whether you’re creating your profile or sending an initial email to someone — is to keep your writing succinct and tidy. I don’t want to read five hundred words on why I should get to know a guy; a couple of smart, juicy details work much better. My current boyfriend’s initial email to me was not much more than a hundred words, but it was really thoughtful. He paid attention to what he wrote, so I did, too.”
—Mary Schas, 29, New York, NY; met her boyfriend of one year online

5. Have an online-to-actual-date deadline
“If I think I like someone, I always make sure to meet them in person within a week of the first email contact. Otherwise you get into an ‘online relationship’ and have expectations that might not be met. You have to know how you’ll get along with someone when they don’t have time to compose the perfect email.”
—Gilbert Johnston, 26, Covallis, OR; met his wife online

6. Take breaks to keep things fresh
“If you’re surfing profiles and checking your inbox for responses multiple times a day, online dating can start to feel routine and a little disappointing.
“An activity date can really help shy people relax and open up, too.”
To avoid burnout, I’d suggest taking a break for days or even a week. That way, when you do get back online, you’ll have a lot more responses in your inbox and there are a lot new profiles to browse. It will keep the experience exciting, and — for me — that kept me involved till I found my guy.”
—Julie Wilson, 39, Decatur, GA; met her husband online

7. Do an activity on your first date
“For first dates with people I met online, I usually tried to do an ‘activity date’ like a music festival or amusement park. The advantage is if there’s something to do, even if there’s a lull in the conversation, it’s not awkward. An activity date can really help shy people relax and open up, too. I often suggested activities we’ve both expressed interest in, since that way we’re both in our comfort zone. For example, my boyfriend and I are both gadget freaks, so on our first date I suggested hitting the Sony store that had just opened up nearby. We both worshipped the flat-screen TVs. Now that we live together we talk about getting one.
—Matt Kennedy, 24, Orlando, FL; dating someone he met online for one year—and has just moved in

8. Make it a team effort
I found online dating got even better — and I got even more successful at it — when I got together with a couple of friends who were also online. We would comment on each other’s emails, scan for cute new guys online as a team, or arrange double dates. I think we really boosted one another’s efforts!
—Dana Meyers, 29, Los Angeles; met her husband online


New York City freelance writer Laura Gilbert has one online dating rule: Please don’t email her double entendres, emoticons, or both, if you know what she means. ;-)
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