It’s no secret that technology has revolutionized the way we date. It seems so quaint today to look back on the early aughts and the 1990s, when there was such a stigma attached to “online dating.” Today, if you tell people you met someone in real life versus on an app, they look at you like you caught a unicorn out in the wild.
But that doesn’t mean that online dating doesn’t have its downsides, most notably the fact that it feeds into the paradox of choice, and makes people seem disposable, and—according to studies—negatively affects our mental health.
But it also has its significant upsides, the biggest of which is that it provides a bigger pool of candidates to those who aren’t as comfortable scouting for love in bars as they were when they were in their 20s and 30s.
Online dating has its own set of rules, and they’ve changed a lot in the last ten years. So if you’re re-entering the scene for the first time in a while and you’re over a certain age, read on for the 40 online dating habits you need to break by 40. And for more expert advice on finding love, don’t miss these online dating tips from an elite matchmaker.
1. Picking the wrong app
You can try your luck at Tinder, but your chances of finding someone in your age group might be better with an app like FirstMet, which has one of the highest percentages of users who are 30 or older. If you’re really feeling confident, you can give Raya a shot, though be warned that it’s harder to get into than Harvard.
2. Posting “sexy” photos
According to Sameera Sullivan, a dating coach whose clientele predominantly consists of people over the age of 40, you should put up natural photos that showcase your personality. She advises against posting selfies, topless pics, or bikini photos, as they will make you seem vain.
Instead, try to post photos that would inspire a talking point. For example, if you put up a photo of you sailing or hiking in a stunning vista, it could lead someone to ask, “What a great photo! Where was that taken?”
3. Posting official work headshots
According to Sullivan, they make you seem stiff and boring, which is the last thing that you want.
4. Not posting enough photos
Most experts say that four or five photos is ideal, but it never hurts to link your Instagram account when that’s an option. As they say, a picture’s worth a thousand words, and you want to provide as much information about yourself as possible. Make sure to include some realistic versions of your face (sans sunglasses or hats) and a few full-body shots.
5. Editing photos
One of the reasons Sullivan advises against selfies is that they often present a distorted version of your face. No one wants to show up on a date and get the sense that their match is disappointed that they don’t look at all like they do in their photos, which is why it’s better to put up recent, realistic pics. You’re beautiful just the way you are!
6. Making your bio too short
As with your photos, you want to provide information that will lend themselves easily to talking points. So if, for example, you say you like whiskey, someone can then ask you “What’s your favorite kind of whiskey?” Or if you say you love camping, they can ask “Where’s your favorite place to pitch a tent?”
7. Making your bio too long
You always want to retain a bit of mystery.
Sullivan advises against listing accomplishments, degrees, financial status, and education, because it can make you seem boastful, which is often a turn-off. Let your intelligence and awesomeness shine through via the conversation instead.
9. Using negative language
Sullivan is against listing disqualifying characteristics, because you want your profile to radiate positivity.
No one is into those profiles that say things like, “Online dating is terrible but I figured I might as well give it a try.”
“Use some sense of humor, of course, but nothing negative and don’t try to explain why you are there,” Sullivan told me. “You are on the app or dating site so take responsibility and don’t whine! No one likes whiners!”
11. Sticking to one app
One of the great things about online dating is that you can fish in several bodies of water at once. So cast a wide net and see what the tide brings in!
12. Concealing important information
One of Sullivan’s biggest tips is to be up front. We all have our insecurities, but if you’re bald or have a child, say it loud and proud. Confidence is always hot.
13. Concealing what you want
If you’re polyamorous or going through a divorce and not looking for anything serious, it’s best to put that in your bio. The last thing you want is to message back and forth with someone and then meet up with them and find out you’re not at all on the same page in regards to what you’re seeking from a relationship.
14. Making too many rules early on
You don’t want to seem too rigid either by sending a bunch of messages emphasizing that you’re only interested in something super casual or super serious before you’ve even met. It’s always better to go with the flow and see how the dynamic shapes out. Maybe you fall in love in spite of yourselves. Maybe you’re better off being friends. It’s always better to follow the vibe than try to mold the relationship into something it’s just not meant to be.
15. Creating several profiles on the same app
The goal is to meet someone you connect with, not to get a bunch of matches purely for an ego boost. So don’t create several profiles that would appeal to a variety of people, one in which you’re more athletic, another in which you’re more cultured, etc. Just be yourself! One of you is enough!
16. Using fake photos
This will only be embarrassing later on. Trust me.
17. Swiping right on everyone
It’s a strategy many men often do, swiping yes to everyone and then only taking time to sift through the matches. Though it seems like a good idea in theory, studies have shown that playing the numbers game isn’t the best way to go about it.
18. Swiping right on no one
You can be picky, but not too picky. Remember, there’s no fast track to getting to know someone and love doesn’t always happen at first sight.
19. Sending a boring first message
No one is compelled to respond to a message that says, “Hey, how’s it going?”
Instead, Sullivan suggests a message that indicates you’ve taken the time to read their profiles, like, “What’s your dog’s name?” or “Where was the photo of you in the woods taken?”
20. Sending a creepy first message
It’s 2018, and yet many men still like to send icebreaker messages that sound like catcalling and run along the lines of, “Hey sexy, I love that plaid skirt on you ;)”
This is not effective.
21. Assuming men need to initiate contact
Again, it’s 2018, and studies have shown that even older men like it when women make the first move.
22. Being insecure about your height
Studies have shown that height is not as important as you think it is.
23. Hiding your kids
Being a single mom, or single dad for that matter, doesn’t make you dating leper.
24. Using emojis incorrectly
Nowadays, it’s common to communicate via emoji. But it’s worth noting that a lot of them have a salacious double-meaning, so use the eggplant emoji wisely.
25. Staying off the app for too long
Just like Twitter and Facebook, online dating apps have an algorithm, and they give preference to people who get more right-swipes. The more time you spend on the app, the more right-swipes you’re likely to get, so it’s worth investing more time on the app if you’re looking to have a high success rate.
26. Shooting for people who are “out of your league”
A recent study found that both men and women tend to pursue partners who are, on average, about 25 percent more desirable than they are.
Previous research on “mate value” has found that, when it comes to long-term relationships at least, the most successful pairings occur between people who have a similar desirability score. By constantly trying to punch above their weight, online dating users may be dooming themselves to an endless cycle of unanswered messages and first dates where the other person is not that impressed.
27. Taking too long to answer messages
If you’re anything like me, you’re busy and wary of tech addiction, and are therefore reticent to spend any more time on your phone than you have to. While that’s not a bad thing, it’s not ideal for online dating, because it means you can go a full week without responding to someone’s message, thereby losing the thread to the conversation.
28. Taking too long to make plans to meet in person
This is one of the biggest problems with online dating, and many apps—like The League and CoffeeMeetsBagel—are combatting the issue by imposing limits for how much time you have to chat with the person before you have to switch to text and they disappear into an abyss.
The whole point of matching is that it serves as an introduction and enables two people to confirm that they find each other interesting and potentially attractive, but the goal is still to meet in real life sooner rather than later to see whether or not you actually have any chemistry.
29. Asking for someone’s number too fast
All of that being said, it does come off as a little desperate when you immediately message someone to ask to “switch to text” after matching. No one wants their phone inbox clogged up with messages from a rando before assessing whether or not they seem somewhat sane and pleasant to chat with.
30. Spamming someone’s inbox
Sometimes when someone takes a while to respond, you might be inclined to send a follow-up message to remind them that you do, in fact, exist. There’s nothing wrong with sending another message, but if they don’t answer after that, there’s no reason to write “How’s your day going?” over and over again, ad nauseum.
31. Engaging in “the chase”
This is one of those old-fashioned dating rules that has no place in today’s no-means-no culture.
32. Playing “hard to get”
Science says playing hard to get isn’t an effective strategy anymore, and it sends people mixed signals. No-means-no cuts both ways.
33. Not knowing the lingo
If you’re messaging with someone under 40, it can sometimes feel like they’re literally speaking a completely different language, so it’s worthwhile to brush up on Millennial lingo, especially the words that are so commonplace they’ve actually been added to the dictionary.
34. Assuming older people don’t have sex
If you’re over 65 years old and you’re thinking, “What am I doing here? No one my age is looking for a sexual relationship,” you’re wrong.
35. Assuming you’re going to have lots of casual sex
Contrary to popular belief, online dating apps don’t result in as much casual sex as you might think, and there are actually a lot of people on these apps who are looking for meaningful connection instead.
36. Ghosting, breadcrumbing, etc.
One of the worst aspects of online dating is that it’s made it socially acceptable to “ghost” people (i.e. flat-out ignore their messages). Follow the old rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you’ve gone out and you’re not interested, simply say so.
37. Making Excuses
Nowadays, it’s common for someone to “R-Bomb” you, meaning that you will receive a read receipt proving they have read your message but are willfully choosing to ignore it. Sometimes, the recipient will throw you a bone and write back in a week saying, “Sorry, I was just busy!” giving you hope, only to disappear again for several days. No one is that busy, and people make time for the things that they want to make time for, so if someone is ignoring your texts, delete their number and move on.
38. Building someone up in your head
When you start messaging back and forth with someone, it’s easy to get lost in a whirlwind of excitement and start fantasizing that they’re the one. But, as one woman’s viral online dating experience taught us, you have to try to avoid projecting qualities onto them that they might not have or reading too much into every little exchange in order to avoid disappointment.
39. Sending unsolicited nudes
This one should be obvious, but for some inexplicable, godforsaken reason, people still do it all the time.
40. Playing games
Whether or not you believe in karma or energy, you have to treat people the way you want to be treated. And that means having the courtesy and courage to respond to someone and politely say that you don’t want to meet up again for whatever reason. The other person will respect you for it, you’ll relieve them of frustration or anxiety, and you’ll leave a nice legacy for yourself in their mind.
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