When I was single I was, naturally, online trolling for girls. At one point, I may have been guarded about this fact, but it’s 2018 and what single person hasn’t tried to find better loving through technology?

If you claim otherwise, I don’t believe you! There’s no shame in online dating anymore. Hell, I’ll show my mom my profile. Who cares? It’s kind of fun that way. Non-single people like to live vicariously through us searching for romance.

But truth be told, online dating used to be brutal for me. Dating involves some measure of rejection. It’s not for the thin-skinned. I used to wring my hands writing carefully curated emails to all the hot chicks on a site. It was a part-time job going through all the profiles of girls living in Chicago.

I can’t predict when you’ll find love, but I’m confident that you won’t find the girl of your dreams while staying home and playing with yourself. So get back online and keep looking.

I estimate in 10 years, I sent messages to thousands of women. I’ll use 1,000 in the theoretical example below to show how rough it was:

1 in 10 girls responded, if I was lucky: 100

3 in 4 of those agreed to go on a screening date like happy hour (preferably) or coffee (lame!): 75

Let’s pause for a second and recognize the chances are already 7.5 percent. Ouch! That’s a lot rejection, but that’s the easy part. Getting ignored by a girl you’ve never met is annoying but not heartbreaking

1 in 2 of the girls looked like their photos: ~38

A 30- to 60-minute date may not sound like a very long time until you show up for your first date and figure out in less than 5 seconds that her pictures were 5 years old.

1 in 4 of the girls who look like their pics show interest in going on a second date: ~10

And this is where things can start to go off the rails. If you would ask me after the second or third date what the chances were of going on another date, I would usually predict it at a near certainty (i.e. 99.9999999 percent). In reality it was less than 10 percent.

1 in 10 of the remaining girls make it beyond the third date: 1

One in a thousand… so you’re telling me there’s a chance?! No not, really. This is a bitter pill to swallow because most of the girls disappear never to be heard from again. No responses to texts, emails, phone calls, Facebook messenger, Twitter, etc. It would be nice to get a polite and clear rejection but I guess that’s too much too ask because it rarely happens.

More often women will respond with a manufactured excuse about how it’s not a good time for them. My favorite excuse is a faux family emergency. It’s comical how often girls draw from that well. That’s even more insulting than being ghosted, especially when you find out the emergency is that her 90-year-old great uncle is on his deathbed. Meanwhile you can see she’s still checking her dating profile every day.

This kind of rejection used to have me running for the hills and hiding from online dating for extended periods, but I would inevitably return because I realized online dating is the most effective way to meet single women. It took me years to learn my methods and perspective conflicted with each other. I took a shotgun approach (because dating is a numbers game), but I overanalyzed the minutia of every interaction. It was a recipe for disappointment.

Since that revelation, I have reinvented myself. Dating is now fun in spite of all of the rejection. Maybe even because of the rejection. I’ve hacked online dating and since I’m not one to hoard knowledge, I am sharing it with you now in open source in hopes that you can use it too. Here are 6 tips I apply regularly that you can steal and make your own..

1. Own Your Bad Attributes
I get that you want to put your best foot forward in your profile, but there are some things you can’t hide. For example, I’m bald. I make a special point of selecting that attribute for hair color. Any girl that isn’t blind will figure it out the instant we meet in person. It’s better to own the bad attribute beforehand because if she filters out bald from her search it’s a deal breaker.

Be conservative on the attributes. You won’t be able to win her over with your charming personality after she’s branded you a liar. If you just finished a Couch to 5K program and decided to sign up for a marathon four months away, don’t delude yourself into saying your Athletic and Toned. Admit to yourself that you’re Average or even A Few Extra Pounds. You may get fewer responses but you’ll have better first dates and more frequent second dates.

2. Dare to Be Different
Most of the girls’ profiles say the same things. Anecdotally I estimate 90 percent of profiles say some version of 8 of the following statements:

  • I love my family and friends
  • I’m tired of the bar scene
  • I’m a bit of a foodie
  • I’m a jeans type of girl, but I also like to get dressed up
  • I’m pretty low maintenance
  • I love to travel
  • I’m really into yoga…or running…or yoga AND running (Wow! She must really be in shape!)
  • I’m looking for a partner in crime

What do any of these statements tell you? Nothing. Any girl that proclaims she’s low maintenance is by definition NOT low maintenance. What girl advertises that she’s high strung and hates her family?

I don’t know what kind of generic bullshit the bros I’m competing for attention with say to pimp themselves, but I bet it’s something about being into sports and not taking life too seriously… in fact, I’ll show you how carefree I am by posting a shirtless bathroom selfie. (Seriously. WTF! Why would anyone do that?)

I make a point of saying things that no one else would ever say. For example:

I have a Spotify playlist called Happy Dance filled with dorky songs from the 80s that I listen to when I need an escape from work.

I have a standing game with friends where we text obscure words we discover when reading. (Even before Words with Friends) My most recent word is inchoate. Do you know what it means without looking it up?

I have a wellness plan (I seriously call it that. I’m not joking). I practice it daily. It includes sleep hygiene that I follow religiously every night.

You might be wondering why I would admit to any of this. It’s a fair point. But guess what? Cute girls contact me all the time. Why? I’m different. Girls would rather talk about wellness plans than receive dick pic texts.

3. Standardize Your Intro
Time is a precious resource. Why waste it crafting original artistic prose for a girl when chances are she’ll never reply? You’re better off with a basic template that you can customize in 3 minutes. It doesn’t have to say much. In fact, less is more because she’s busy too. She’s not going to spend more than 60 seconds reading it and thinking about you. Your only mission is saying that you’re interested in her. The following has worked well for me.

Hi! I enjoyed reading your profile. [Insert whatever common interest you think you have. Pose a playful question if you can think of one.] Anyway, I think we’d get along. Feel free to check out my profile and respond if you agree. I hope to hear from you soon!Don

Done and done. Forget about it as soon as you send it because you’ll probably never hear from her. At least you didn’t waste 30 minutes writing creative nonfiction to impress her.

4. Meet In Person ASAP
You might get a glimpse into a girl’s personality by exchanging a bunch of emails and texts, or even having long phone conversations, but don’t pretend that you’ve established a real connection. All that fake rapport goes out the window the moment you meet in person. There’s no reason to be coy with online dating. You’ve both already established you’re looking and interested. Quit jerking around and suggest the two of you meet for drinks. If she thinks it’s too soon then she’s not serious about dating or she’s hiding something.

5. Standardize Your First Date
Right or wrong, guys are expected to take the lead here. You come off as an indecisive wimp when you force her to decide what to do and where to go. Even if the girl pretends you’re an open-minded male feminist who lets her choose, you’ll be unhappy with her decision. Eighty percent of the time it will be meeting for coffee at lame-ass Starbucks. Don’t get me started on why coffee dates suck.

You want to do something you will enjoy. I take first dates to my favorite dive bar that has a wide beer selection. I’m my best self at this bar and my date picks up on that. It maximizes my chances for a second date. It also filters out the girls because if she dislikes my favorite bar we won’t work as a couple. The sooner I know that the better.

6. Rotate Apps and Sites
Online dating is fun at first, but the new person effect wears off quickly. After a few weeks you notice that it’s the same girls logging in day after day. You’ve already swung and missed with the pretty girls and filtered out the rest. New girls can’t show up soon enough and even when that happens every other dude pounces. It’s last call at the 4 am hookup bar, but online the bar never closes, forcing you to go home. You’re stuck in singles purgatory.

It took me a decade to figure out the mistake I repeated over and over again. I was always on the same site. That’s like going to the same bar 30 nights in a row and expecting the next time would be ‘the big night,’ which of course never happened. In the analog world I’d wise up and pick a different bar to mix things up.

The same option is available online. There are multiple mainstream dating websites and apps, and dozens of niche ones too. You can switch from one site to another when things get stale. Many sites are pay to play, so it makes sense to pace yourself. I focus attention on a single site for three months and if nothing happens I’ll move on to another. By the time I’ve batted around and am back at that the first site, I’m the new guy again and there are plenty of fresh faces to keep me motivated.

Final Thoughts
It’s easy to make online dating the scapegoat, but it’s a red herring you’re using to dupe yourself. Dating is fundamentally the same whether you meet online or in the real world. The obvious truth is that rejection is painful. You can run from this harsh reality by logging off. It’ll feel good in the moment, but that relief will turn into dread when you go dateless for six months. That’s because logging off is giving up. It’s the digital equivalent of taking your ball and going home.

I can’t predict when you’ll find love, but I’m confident that you won’t find the girl of your dreams while staying home and playing with yourself. So get back online and keep looking. If things get hard remember these six steps because they work. How do I know? While writing this article I found the girl I was looking for, no joke. Good luck out there!

Photo: Getty Images/praetorianphoto