Session after session, I listen to clients feeling frustrated, rejected, and hopeless about the online dating process. They feel that they have created a decent profile, put up some pictures of themselves looking their best, initiated unique messages, and yet, no dates.
After recently reading a valuable study on online dating profiles and success factors, I was inspired to share a summary of findings from Khalid S Khan, and Sameer Chaudhry in their study titled “An evidence-based approach to an ancient pursuit: systematic review on converting online contact into a first date”. The study summarized specific steps in the online dating process and how to facilitate success moving from a profile to a digital conversation to a meaningful date.
Below you’ll find a summary of the behaviors and success factors based on the study from Khan and Chaudhry, and how using them might enhance your online dating experiences.
Create a likable profile
First impressions are essential and in the online dating world, this starts with a profile. This study concluded that an attractive profile included a description of who you are and what you want in a relationship in a 70:30 ratio. Other positive profile attributes included headlines with simple language, humor, and a desirable screen name. Playful screen names were universally attractive, and screen names that suggest physical attractiveness were more coveted by men seeking women, while those that suggest greater intelligence were preferred by women seeking men.
Although not in your control, your name also effects online dating success. Names higher in the alphabet are correlated with greater desirability and often associated with greater achievement, income, and success.
Photos are of course important to cultivating initial physical attraction, which is essential to most individuals. Choosing a photo that includes a genuine smile, with a slight tilt of your head, was a bonus. In men seeking women, red clothing was more attractive. Beyond profile photos, group photos that display friends and colleagues having a good time alongside your potential match, especially other women smiling at men, were attractive images to include in a profile. Subtle things like being in the center of a group, or lightly touching someone on the shoulder in a photo were also surprisingly correlated to likability, as well as the use of video when possible.
Beyond this, sharing familiar activities is key to cultivating mutual attraction. Sharing mutual interests, looks, and activities is the primary means by which a potential match will choose your profile over another. This has been confirmed by a variety of other sources and studies as well. Oddly enough, sharing dislikes is even more powerful than sharing similarities.
Genuine profiles were also some of the most attractive so spend some time thoroughly reflecting on who you are and what you want, without projecting who you want to become. Get input from a few of your closest friends and feedback on your profile before going live with it.
Craft an effective first message
Now that you have identified a potential fit, the next essential step is sending the right message. Send an initial message that is short, personalized, and includes a specific comment related to your interest’s profile. When these criteria were met, this study confirmed that the potential a response was greater. Including a genuine compliment also improved the rate of a response. It’s essential to make communications customized so the recipient feels special.
Once communication begins, open-ended questions are key and often lead to more honesty and personal disclosure than the potential couple would experience in person. Eagerness, wit, humor, spontaneity, and disclosing personal information are all correlated with sustained communication between potential partners. Don’t be afraid to dive in with meaningful, written communication up front to increase your chances of success.
Ending every conversation positively, both in this phase and when finally meeting in person is essential. People remember the feelings at the end of an experience more than the beginning and middle. We recall a situation as pleasurable or not far more by the ending of the interaction than any other part of the experience. Unusual experiences are also remembered more vividly.
Don’t overlook timing
Besides genuine interest, scheduling a date sooner than later resulted in more in-person meetings and more positive long-term outcomes. Avoiding criticism, employing humor, encouraging mutual self-disclosure, and even mutual uncertainty about the potential attraction all correlated to more first dates. It’s important to remain positive, attentive, and make the first date a priority. If you sense uncertainty or concerns, it’s best to overcome those with digital communication before the first date.
The first date
Have a plan and discuss topics and interests that you have in common. Brainstorm some ideas beforehand based on profile details and you’ll have more success on this initial meeting. Once again, stay positive and upbeat to improve your chances of success.
While these are the typical phases and important considerations of an initial connection, anything and everything can happen. Always follow safe online dating protocol and if you find yourself constantly challenged to find a good fit digitally, contact our team of experts at Center for Shared Insight for additional support. The initial connection is sometimes the easy part and as the relationship unfolds, challenges are certain to arise. Our team of relationship specialists are here to provide the insight and therapy you need to reach your relationship goals.