What You REALLY Need to Know About Online Dating

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(Photo: iStock)

Dating has changed since the days of writing letters à la The Shop Around the Corner or receiving instant-messages like Shopgirl did from the ever-charming NY152 (F-O-X). Social technology has enhanced our lives with online dating becoming the second most common way of relationship building.

Growing at 70% a year in the U.S., dating sites and apps are making it expedient to connect with “the one” without the hassle of time, space, or even dad out on the porch - chaperoning. Online dating is an effective tool for building confidence, testing compatibility before physical meetings, providing reassurance in candid conversation, and reducing the personal rejection rate.

An important factor to consider in the shift from bar to app comes from the economic slump affecting so many across the country. Chief Executive Markus Frind of Plenty of Fish told the New York Times that the hustle of work and the recession played an important part in the spike of online dating, noting that most won’t pay to go to bars but instead go online, where they can save money, time and meet others economically.

Sites and Apps

Much has changed since Match.com first launched on the Internet 20 years ago (think back to Ross and Rachel’s first breakup). Today, there are many safe dating sites and apps for the nearly 90% of online Americans, ranging from the personal ad-types to the algorithmic that create a formula, to the quick and easy apps.

eHarmony is one of the most popular sites around, specifically designed to match single men and women with each other for long-term relationships. Tara of Indiana calls her match with husband Ben, “true destiny” as she met him a week before her subscription expired. Married for three years, the pair is expecting their first child this winter.

OKCupid acts as a social network for dating and finding friendship, featuring member-created quizzes and multiple-choice questions. Karen of California enjoyed building the fun and concise profiles that let her personality shine. “I was able to meet a few great guys in person, including one I really liked but alas, it just didn’t work out,” she says. Though currently in a happy relationship with someone she met from speed dating, Karen recommends the site, noting the simplicity in finding that ideal match.

“To the left, to the left” might be fun to sing while on Tinder, but the location-based dating app is a favorite among many. Cece of New York regards it as a fun social experiment more than a legitimate way to meet someone. “Not that it can’t happen. I have friends who are engaged because of Tinder and others in long-term relationships, but overall I found it more to be a thing to pass time, mindlessly swiping left or right—since most matches are almost entirely based on looks,” she laughs. Having been on three Tinder dates in total, Cece didn’t necessarily find romance but she did end up being good friends with one of her dates.

Touted as the “only dating app women love,” Coffee Meets Bagel is a safe and private dating service mentioned by TIME as one of the best apps to fall in love. Utilizing Facebook information to identify potential matches, users are exposed to one match a day but can only contact them if they “like” them and if their matches “like” them back.

Do’s & Don’ts

For the Womanista looking to build her online profile, here are some do’s and don’ts:

Do:

  • Smile in your photograph
  • Showcase an active lifestyle
  • Fill out your profile as much as possible
  • Communicate with your match a lot before heading on the first date

Don’t:

  • Overshare too soon
  • Mention past relationships just yet
  • Take bathroom selfies—at all
  • No duckface!