Dating Online: using social media to reel in a date

Written for Metro News.

I’ve found the perfect match. If Plenty Of Fish were to search its databank to find the perfect partner, it would no doubt find true love with Facebook.

To illustrate why, I’ll paint a picture of an online dater — in this case scenario, a 20-something female in front of her computer screen conducting a search on one or more of her favourite Internet dating sites. She’s searching by where he lives and his age. At least 50 profiles appear but she doesn’t even bother reading them until she spots a look that appeals to her.

Then she reads his profile and if she’s still interested, sends him a message. He writes back and after several days of back and forth messages, she moves in a little closer. At this point, she likely asks if he wants to Skype or if he has Facebook.

Facebook, it turns out, is her screening tool. There’s so much to learn from reading a potential lovers wall. If she’s looking for a mature gentleman, she is totally turned off if he swears gratuitously or uses his wall to share half naked pictures of himself and his friends in a drunken stupor. On Facebook, she’s able to read between the lines instead of  just knowing him through polite online conversation.

So, here are some tips for anyone looking to meet a mate online:

Post a picture

Even though it may seem shallow to only respond to people who have posted pictures of themselves, it appears suspicious if you don’t. People might wonder what you’re trying to hide. Besides, when you’re trying to meet someone through the Internet, visuals are key. Since beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, there’s opportunity for everyone to meet someone.

Don’t drag your feet

If you’re serious about meeting someone online, expect to move fairly quickly from that first stroke on the keyboard to meeting in person. If you’re still in the chatting online phase after weeks of first connecting, it’s likely that the person you’re talking to may lose interest and move on.

Be prepared to share more than your name

Even before meeting, be prepared to move beyond chatting on your screen to chatting via Skype, for example, so that each of you can hear the others voice or see each other live. Also be prepared to share other information such as your Facebook page or other profiles.

Be courteous

If you decide, after knowing more about someone, that you’d prefer not to continue talking, don’t just stop. Share that you feel that you’re not a great match after all, wish him or her well, and then move on. Same idea for after a first date even.

Have an escape plan

When you do meet, do so in a public place that you’re familiar with. If you’re a student, meet close to your university or college. If you’re working or at home, meet at the coffee shop in your building or close by. That way, you know where to go or turn to if you feel vulnerable. Also, let a friend or family member know who you are meeting and where.

One dater shared that she had a friend contact her a half hour into each first meeting so that she had a way out if she wasn’t comfortable or enjoying herself.

No escaping yourself

One of the great things about social media, Facebook and the Internet is that your date  can’t hide from who he or she really is. Chances are that if you have a bad reputation or  treat people poorly, your potential date will figure that out pretty quickly.

So, even if there are plenty of fish, if you’re looking to catch a really good one, you may want to take a fresh look at what others are seeing, and think about whether you’re attracting the kind of attention you had hoped for.