If I was to split my dating life awkwardly into percentages of where I’d sourced dates from, it’d be 75 percent/25 percent erring on the side of online dating. I’m not a bad-looking guy, but I also spent a great deal of my life being quite scared of people until I realized that, in fact, death is certain and, in the end, it’s totally fine to be rejected by a nice young lady, even if you find her attractive. However, online dating combines the convenience of sitting on my ass with the ability to not have to come up with something to say in person, from my face.

After a while on said networks, the most apparent problem came in the face of the damned ratio problem. Though these networks claim to have “fair” ratio splits in which women and men are equally present, that negates the fact that men on these websites are truly awful, that women are consistently bombarded with messages (Tinder skips this, but we’ll get there), and that the men on these websites are actually pretty awful in many ways.

The Annals of Online Dating is probably the most damning of the recordings, but merely scrolling through my timeline I’ll run into a few choice cuts of guys negging and just being straight-up weird with their come-ons. At my absolute kindest, which I engage once every few hours for a minute, I’d say it’s because they don’t know what they’re doing and are simply reading stupid stuff or are getting bad advice. At my most realistic, there are many, many, many, many, many, many guys on these websites looking to get laid as fast as possible who say really horrible, disgusting things to women. I don’t know what sort of fucked up perspective it takes to say to a woman online that you’ve never met—and I quote an Annals of Online Dating message—“Letmegetupondembuttcheeksgirl.”

Don’t immediately jump into sexy-talk. I know. I know you like sex almost as much as you like money, but no girl wants to hear you go straight into talking about your big ding dong and how you’re going to throw a pokéball at her pokémon or whatever it is you say.

Let’s stop a second for the one guy who is gonna say this has worked once, or takes umbrage with this statement or thinks it’s a good idea: Hey man! Has this ever worked for you? What’s your gambit here? Do you think the girl is going to say, “Oh damn, sure, this guy wants to have sex, no guy ever wants that! What a rare opportunity!” In the case of the opportunity above, do you think said girl is going to say, “Mmm, okay, you can get up on these butt cheeks”? Just think about it for a damn second. You’re embarrassing yourself.

Alright, back to the other bad guys.

They do things that, at best, annoy and, at worst, scare women. They are intimidating or desperate or maniacal or just completely dumb. They say nasty things to the girl in the hopes that somehow this will break down her walls and, er, they can have sex I suppose?

Poison like that is stuff you’ll find in The Game and other Pick-up Artistry materials (not gonna link it). And it has got to even guys I’d consider good fellows—a friend in New York extolled the benefits of one book to me about how a supposed PUA picked up some girl who was actually a Playboy model in a Walgreens and they totally did it and it was marvelous. This was a guy who hadn’t had sex in a while and was desperate. There are a lot of these guys on OKCupid and Tinder and the like.

So, if you’re a guy not knowing how to online date, well, here I am to give some advice from someone who has been on plenty of successful online dates, and met someone I fell in love with on Match.com. She’s a model, too! You wouldn’t know her! She lives in Canada!

Some Initial Tips Of Things To Do And Not Do:
1) Your profile should be honest; it should be filled out but not too filled out. (Dude, if it’s a 600+ word profile, that’s an article.) Be blunt, be you, be honest.
2) Now, that being said, don’t put stuff like, “I don’t like conceited girls who are into expensive brands.” Or, “I am a heartbroken man fresh from a terrible, abusive relationship where I was forced to clean the bathrooms eight times a day because she was a nutcase.” Or anything involving the word “bitch” or denigrating women. They don’t like that! Surprise.
3) Conversely, though this will lower your chances (this is a good thing), do feel free to (in short) put your political, social, musical and other likes/dislikes in there as bluntly as you want. If you’re a guy that loves to go shooting, most likely you will not fit in with a girl who is scared of guns, or finds guns bad, or wants to ban guns entirely. If you’re a guy who’s into movies, you probably won’t fit with a girl who hates movies. If you’re a vegetarian, you wanna mention that because it may make a meat-eater unhappy. It may not! But this kind of honesty will save you some time. There’s nothing wrong with you being a gun-toting vegetarian movie-lover who votes conservative; you just want these facts out there so she can say no to them if she isn’t into them.
4) I know it’s time-intensive, but in all cases, read her profile. It’s easy. It’s right there. On the more long-form networks, you’ll find this is more time-consuming. This will become exhausting.
5) Don’t make a form. Just don’t do it. Don’t copy and paste. I know it’s time-consuming, bro, but get over it.
6) Don’t immediately jump into sexy-talk. I know. I know you like sex almost as much as you like money, but no girl wants to hear you go straight into talking about your big ding dong and how you’re going to throw a pokéball at her pokémon or whatever it is you say.
7) Your pictures should be of you, just you, or if it’s a group of people crop it to show you. If it’s a picture of you in a group of four guys, I guarantee one is better looking than you and will disappoint the lady. Note: No pictures of you with your shirt off. The only permissible one I can imagine is that you’re at the beach with your friends. Make this one not your main one. Even if you have a rockin’ bod, that’s not all you are. Don’t lead with that. Don’t even mention it. It should come through in your pictures without your shirt being off.
8) Just… Don’t send a picture of your dick to her out of nowhere. Just don’t do it. I’m sorry, guys, but don’t. I hear tales of this from women way too consistently. Why do it? What’s your goal there? Do you think your dick is some magical divining rod for sex? Do you think it’s a wizard’s wand that magically creates a sex-having situation? Or do you think someone’s having their dinner and PING there’s a penis? That’s what happens. Unless she’s very clearly saying the words “send me a pic of your dick,” in which case, do that I guess? I don’t know.

But seriously folks, here you go.

Tinder is an interesting beast in that there is an insane, addictive immediacy to it.

Tinder, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge and Other “Swipe Sites” – The Real Time Chat Apps
Disclosure: I worked with Coffee Meets Bagel a long, long time ago.

Let’s break the above down:
Tinder: Swipe right if you like lady. Swipe left if you don’t like lady. If they swipe right you can chat.
Coffee Meets Bagel: Each day you get a few ladies; you like them or you don’t. You get the chance to try again with ladies that said no to you, and you can also see a few extras each day. The goal is that your Facebook graph is also used to judge why someone would be better or worse as a fit for you.
Hinge: Hinge uses your Facebook graph to match you with potential ladies who are, theoretically, friends of yours or friends of friends. The result is that you apparently get better results.

I don’t want to go network by network, but Tinder is a valuable place to start as it has some particular issues. Tinder started as a place where guys and girls—according to people who I’m not sure were ever correct—could go to find a “hook up.” I’ve personally rarely heard an actual story of someone who regularly went on Tinder to get someone new to bonk regularly.

Tinder is an interesting beast in that there is an insane, addictive immediacy to it. There’s always a potential girl out there and thus there’s always hope. This is great news, but it’s also a point in which guys get a little, how you say, thirsty. This leads guys to jump straight to sex, as there’s such a feeling of immediacy and, well, hook-up culture within Tinder that they think that’s all anyone’s on there for.

Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel stick to some of the same principles, but I’ve found people are more open to having a conversation there—the lower amount of choices means that someone is more likely to really want to talk to you versus making just a physical judgment. Someone given one or two or three choices a day is a lot more likely to actually read your profile and look at more than one picture. Perhaps they may like your personality!

I call bullshit on the close to 50/50 ratio on this site, and thus the amount of effort (large, if you want to write a good message) you’re putting in to get actual responses is brutal, and demoralizing.

How To Talk In These Crazy Real-time Apps
Slow down, try and have a real conversation with her, talk to her about her day, ask her about herself. Don’t tell her immediately, “YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL MWAH I AM TO LOVE YOU.” Don’t call her sexy. If you somehow feel the urge to say something nice, perhaps say she’s pretty—but even then, why are you saying that? Are you already flirting? Do you know what flirting in textual conversation looks like? Because if you don’t, it’s probably a bad idea (especially in the first few lines of conversation) to launch straight into the “you’re pretty” angle.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t say it. If she compliments you, compliment her back. This isn’t about women dominating men, but you need to fundamentally understand that women are beset with weird dudes on these apps, many of whom are creepy dudes. Though I’m sure you’ve watched Ryan Gosling smoothly say someone’s eyes are beautiful in some movie sometime, you’re not Ryan Gosling and conversations don’t work with that. Just talk to her, man. Ask her about her day, what she does, if she has a thing in her profile she loves that you love. Talk about that, and don’t force it. If she isn’t responsive for a few minutes, don’t send rapid-fire messages (oh, we’ll get there post-online…), and, by all means, don’t flip out if she stops talking to you entirely. That’s both her choice and, frankly, good in the long run as she probably doesn’t like you anyway, so why bother?

Importantly, don’t go for the “what’s your number” too quickly. It’s a classic error across all platforms that says, “Hey, I want to get you out from the safe, protected zone of online dating sites and onto your personal cell, which is real information about you I can, somehow, use.” I know you want to believe you’re different, and you certainly may be, but have a conversation and say, when it’s clearly going well (ie: She’s responsive. She’s having a conversation that isn’t “lol” or “ok” or you’re doing most of the talking, which might mean she doesn’t like you). Say, “Hey, wanna chat over text?” Perhaps ask her out then get her number.

And now, to the rest of ‘em.

OkCupid, Match.com, eHarmony.com, et al. – The Asynchronous Cabal
Note: I’ve never used PlentyOfFish, because it looks like a website that was built using Frontpage Express.

OkCupid is a good place to start here, as it has one key difference—it’s (mostly) free. You can do extra things if you pay money, but most don’t. The result is it’s a mess with girls constantly pilloried with guys doing exactly what they do on Tinder, but at times far worse, as the girl has put details in there that the guy can then pick apart and say are bad, or use to be creepy as hell. You’re fighting a tide of guys. I call bullshit on the close to 50/50 ratio on this site, and thus the amount of effort (large, if you want to write a good message) you’re putting in to get actual responses is brutal, and demoralizing. You’ll consistently be putting in effort to write good messages to people who will read them (yep, you can see) and get nothing back. Or something back and it’ll go nowhere.

This isn’t to say that there’s no chance in hell. It’s just that OkCupid, for whatever reason, is just that much more competitive for guys. I assume it’s because of the mass of “free” users. The good news is that it’s still a great place to try and date, another option which has in the past been fine for finding dates and potential relationships. It’s just kind of a slog – response rates are lower (I’ve found this and male friends have too – female friends complain about having way too many messages most of which are garbage), and girls that turn on the realtime chat feature generally get 40 guys saying, “HEY HI HI HI HEY.”

Match.com, where I met my current girlfriend (and… an ex or two), in my experience has a higher percentile of people actually looking to date, who want to read messages, who want to engage in a conversation. No, I’m not a shill for Match, as I also met a truly terrible ex on there that one time punched me right in the damn face and had a far stronger punch than I do. It’s costly—$42 a month (there are bulk packages that are cheaper), which I imagine is somewhat a barrier to entry for dudes who want to say, “Mwah hello sweetie I am to make love to you.” When real cold, hard cash is involved, it changes things. I don’t know.

I have never used eHarmony or Chemistry, but I have heard similar things.

How To Write A Message On These Websites
Well, it’s kinda like sending an email. To someone you’ve never met. Someone you potentially would imagine going out with to a place and maybe kissing in the future. However, you wanna get past the “I must smooch” feeling in your underoos and look at her profile. What does she like? What does she not like? Your first message should be with the intention of starting a conversation, so ask her some questions that aren’t “What’re your favorite foods?” And good lord, if she’s mentioned loving books, do not ask her who her favorite author is or if she’s reading anything or read anything good lately. Heck, say some good things you’ve read recently, and if you’re approaching a girl who reads a lot of books that had better not be one of the following (said in the voice of Mr. Plinkett): Harry PotterCatcher In The RyeAtlas ShruggedThe Game or any other PUA books, A dating book in general, The Road or basically any generic “everyone probably reads this book, especially a guy” book.

Do you cook? How do you cook? Signature dish? What’s hers—and has she ever tried sous vide or something like that?

I choose this particular example because I’ve seen it a lot. I’ve heard it a lot. “The girl didn’t like me because I said I liked Atlas Shrugged!” “I didn’t know you liked Atlas Shrugged, and now I’m disappointed in you.” “She asked if I read any female authors and I said JK Rowling and she got mad!” “Probably because that’s literally the only female author you’ve read.” “No, uh, you know, there was this one other one sometime I forget.”

And so on.

Basically, you should try and communicate with her as if you were walking up to her at a bar, except you can be blind drunk and vomiting and she’d never know unless you told her!

Don’t do that by the way.

Put together a 150 word message, something short, sweet and easily read that will say to her, “Hey, this guy’s got a brain, but he’s not writing me a letter that reads like a serial killer!” If she’s put YouTube videos in there, watch them, perhaps say something about them. If she likes a thing you like, say something that’s not surface-level (ie: She loves the Foo Fighters, you say you love Everlong; she says she loves movies, you say you love Casablanca; she says she loves food, you say your favorite food is steak). Do you cook? How do you cook? Signature dish? What’s hers—and has she ever tried sous vide or something like that?

I realize these are deeply anecdotal examples, but the point is to start a real conversation with her. Imagine you get sent a random email from a random person asking you to do something (in this case, engage in a conversation) —what would it take for you? The answer is not, I warn you, “She has boobs and I like those.” It’s probably that the person has taken interest in you and has seen things they like and understand and, in turn, wants to talk to you about them, but really wants to talk to you.

Once the conversation continues, just talk, back and forth, roughly in the cadence that she does. Does she respond one sentence at a time? Do the same. Don’t send her a paragraph in response to her one-sentence, and vice-versa. And, just like on Tinder, don’t immediately attempt to get her onto it—It’s an intimidating jump that you don’t want to force on her. Just try and have a conversation. If it goes dead, by all means send one final message just trying to strike up conversation, then move on. Sorry buddy, it ain’t happening.

You don’t want to be desperate in the sense that you don’t want to write some vast, endless novel about her immense beauty and digging into everything she’s written in her profile like an FBI agent.

In Conclusion, And Once You Move Offline…
Online dating is normal now, many years divorced from when it was considered a weird thing that losers did because they “couldn’t meet normal women.” It’s got all the tenets you have of walking up to a girl in a bar and messily trying to talk to her, except much less pressure. None of what I’ve written is to suggest that you, dear reader, are the worst man alive, but there’re so many out there with so many bad habits that I just had to mention them.

Basically, the real core of succeeding in online dating is to be yourself, sure, but also know how to create an actual conversation. You don’t want to be desperate in the sense that you don’t want to write some vast, endless novel about her immense beauty and digging into everything she’s written in her profile like an FBI agent. But you also don’t want to be a brusque, oafish dope that says one line and hopes it pulls her in. Learn to live with the fact that instead of the usual rejection you’ll find at a bar, the girl sort of smirking and walking away, or just saying no, or not giving you her number, you will oftentimes find silence or a general-purpose “No, thanks.” It’s a different kind of minefield. Have fun, I suppose.

Photo Credit: Twenty20/@jsdaniel

Like this advice? Let us know!