Internet dating often gets a bad rap. From stories about catfishing, stolen identities, and the rise of syphilis it’s not hard to see why.
But as someone who met the love of her life and husband of almost 10 years online — he even happens to be the same person (bonus!) — I’ll sing the praises of internet dating to anyone who’ll listen.
Dating coach and owner of dating service Dinner for Two Katja Rembrandt says that the problem with online dating is not the platform, it’s how people use it.
“My clients are often disillusioned with the swipe right swipe left, but I encourage them to continue with internet dating. But they have to make it work for them,” says Rembrandt.
Rembrandt, who has spent 30 years helping men and women play the dating game, has Ten Commandments for internet dating.
- Thou shalt be organised
Would you bash out a job application at 2am while you’re watching advertorials for non-stick fry pans and funeral insurance? Not if you actually want to get the job.
The same applies to online dating. If you’re serious about finding a partner, don’t write your profile on a whim. Put as much thought and care into your dating profile as you would a job application.
And have a friend check it over before you publish it.
“Don’t make it a hidden taboo thing,” says Rembrandt. “Share your profile with all the people that care about you so that your profile reflects who you are. Pick five core characteristics and make sure they are reflected in your profile. And make sure that it’s optimistic and easy to read.”
- Thou shalt treat online dating as a game
The road to internet dating is littered with the bitter and the cynical. This isn’t surprising: putting yourself out there is hard, and facing the inevitable rejection is even harder. But the disgruntled don’t make great dates.
Lighten up and inject some fun into the whole enterprise. Not every date is going to lead to Happily Ever After, but it is an opportunity to meet someone you wouldn’t otherwise meet, and to take a break from binge watching Game of Thrones. Again.
“You just basically say, ‘Hey, I’m going to fill in some time with a game,’” says Rembrandt. “But it’s a strategic game that you prepare for.”
- Thou shalt turn thy bullshit detector up to 11
Are you sitting down? Good. Because the next sentence may shock you. The internet is full of fake stuff. This even applies to online dating sites.
“There are lots of fake profiles, lots of people not telling the truth,” says Rembrandt. “You want to get really good at filtering those out.”
Rembrandt says that you also need to be wary of profiles where the person is real and some of what they say on their profile checks out. Even they might not be telling the whole truth, so take your time and suss them out.
- Thou shalt be truthful
Just because other people are lying online, doesn’t mean you should too. In fact, don’t. Just don’t. Not only are you wasting other people’s time, you’re also wasting your own. As Shakespeare once said, “What is light, if Sylvia be not seen? What is joy if Sylvia be nothing like her Photoshopped Tinder pic?”
- Thou shalt present your best self
Presenting your best self is not lying. It’s not selling out either. Rembrandt says that some of her clients make no effort with their appearance or their profile on principle. Their reasoning is that a prospective partner should take them as they are, or not at all.
But you wouldn’t meet a prospective employer wearing your tracksuit with yoghurt stains down the front. Why would you present your unkempt self to a prospective partner?
“A picture that was taken at three o’clock in the morning with no light except for the light coming from the screen from a bad angle doesn’t work. Have a real photo but make it a flattering one. But no glamour shots, because people still need to recognise you when they meet you.”
- Thou shalt not be a cliché
Rembrandt says that it’s amazing the number of people on online dating sites who like nothing more than sitting by the fire, enjoying a good red or going for long walks along the beach at sunset.
“Boring,” says Rembrandt. “Make your profile original and make it light. But also make it meaningful.”
Rembrandt’s tip is to find five meaningful things that represent you and your core values, add include them in your profile instead of all the romantic clichés.
- Thou shalt be safety conscious
Yes, there are creeps on the internet. There are also a lot of really lovely people online too — just like you!
Rather than getting turned off by the internet’s seedier side, take steps to feel safe. Rembrandt’s advice is that you should never give your identity away to someone you haven’t first met in real life.
Before you start internet dating you need to get yourself three things: a nickname, an email address that you will only use for internet dating, and, if you plan to communicate via the phone before you meet your dates, get a prepaid phone and separate phone number too. Also think about where you plan to meet.
“Before you even build your profile, make sure that you think of a couple of locations where you can meet that are both pleasant and safe,” says Rembrandt.
Only when you have met your date and you feel comfortable with them should you disclose your real name and contact information. And if things happen to go bad, then you can shut down your dating email and phone number.
- Thou shalt not be ashamed
Despite it being 2018 and everything, we’re still wondering if we should lie about online dating.
It’s time to move on, people. Don’t let the meeting story hold you back from finding a partner.
When I met my husband there was no serendipity, no love at first sight across a crowded room. It was just a calculated search based on my deal-breaker criteria.
While I don’t have a romantic meeting story to tell, I did manage to meet my perfect partner who, without internet dating, I would never have met.
- Thou shalt not swipe too quickly
Rembrandt says that when you are scrolling through dating profiles, judge them the way you would like to be judged — not too quickly, or discounted for not being perfect.
“People can miss out on the opportunity to meet someone who could be really great for them because they swipe too quickly or judge too superficially,” says Rembrandt.
“The elimination should be based on things that really are problems that can’t be overcome. None of us [are] perfect, so if there’s someone that has some appeal, give them a chance.”
- Thou shalt rise above (even, and especially, when others are playing a low game)
Rejection sucks. But that’s not a reason to be nasty — whether you’re the rejecter or the rejectee.
“Always do things with good manners,” says Rembrandt. “Don’t leave a trail of pain or anger.”
Sure the online nature of dating sites can create a distance between you and the other person but remember that there is a real person with real feelings on the other side of those pixels.