The dos and don’ts of online dating

Girl smiling using laptop

Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Have you kept it? We thought you’d say no. They’re tricky blighters to stick to, and apparently four out of five people will have given up on theirs by the beginning of February. What you need is a bit of help and encouragement along the way. If your resolution was to get out there and find someone new in 2013, then Quidco, in association with mysinglefriend.com, are here to hold your hand.

Get a helping hand

Writing an online dating profile can be tricky. How on earth can you convey to potential dates that you are gorgeous, witty and intelligent, like the mongrel love child of Beyoncé and Stephen Fry, but without coming across as monstrously big headed? The answer, as with most other difficult tasks in life, is you get someone else to do it.

Mysinglefriend.com is unique among dating sites because your friend writes your profile for you, thereby saving you the agony of describing yourself. It’s important that you pick your friend wisely; you may be drawn to ask your absolute bestest mate who’s known you since you were knee-high to Kylie Minogue but if they can’t string a sentence together, they won’t be doing you any favours. Dating requires strategic thinking, so consider which of your friends is a bit of a wordsmith and makes you laugh, and ask them.

Picture perfect

The next thing to consider is your photos. We know that looks aren’t the most important thing in life or a relationship, but it’s a fact that online dating is a very visual experience, so the importance of a good photo can’t be stressed enough. However, it’s crucial to remember that it’s the photo itself that has to be beautiful, meaning that you don’t have to have the model good looks of Ryan Gosling or Mila Kunis to attract a date.

There are three main rules when choosing a primary photo for your profile: make sure it’s well lit, make sure it’s a head and shoulders shot and make sure you’re smiling. A bright, colourful shot that clearly shows a happy face will always be more successful than a gloomy, moody one, however sexy you think that pout is. It’s also a good idea to add plenty of secondary photos as these are a great indication of the type of person you are and the things you enjoy doing. Showing yourself with friends, family, pets, at work or engaged in a hobby give potential dates a better idea of who you are, as well as something to talk to you about, which leads us onto…

A good first impression

Whilst getting your profile right is vital to making a good first impression and therefore securing a date, writing a great first message can also be make or break. Firstly, the basics: don’t cut and paste messages, as potential dates can spot this a mile off and they don’t like it; don’t LOL – internet acronyms are annoying and make you look a bit silly; use your spell check, and keep it brief – a short, funny message that keeps them wanting more is likelier to get a reply than an essay detailing the finer points of your last appraisal at work or your opinion on the decline of British farming; you can save all that exciting stuff for later.

It’s also important to consider your message title, as introducing yourself with a message beginning ‘Hi’, ‘Hello’, ‘Hey’, ‘Howdy’ or any other similarly generic greeting is slashing your chances already. Inboxes are stuffed to bursting with messages titled like this, and if you do the same, you’re just going to blend right in with everyone else. If you can think up something witty then all the better; if you can raise a smile with your potential date at this stage then they’ll certainly open your message and most likely send one back. If you don’t feel you can be funny then pick a message title that relates to something in their profile – that way they’ll know that you’ve read their description are genuinely interested.

Seize the day

The best bit of advice we can give you is to be proactive. At the risk of sounding like a particularly irritating teacher, there’s a lot of truth in the maxim that the more you put in, the more you get out. We recommend favouriting loads of people (we’re talking pages here) and sending a message to every single person who you even vaguely like the look of. Don’t be too picky and get rid of that dating checklist, as it will only decrease your options. You know the scenario: Brown hair? Check. Not too tall? Check. Sharply dressed? Check. Outdoorsy? Check. Loves obscure electronica? Oh no - they've confessed to a love of Ace of Base and Katy Perry. No check there, so they're immediately written off.

The problem with this approach is that you're limiting yourself and the best route to success when on mysinglefriend is to cast your net as widely as you possibly can. No doubt we all have an idea of the type of person that we're looking for, but if you can forget that, or at least vague it up a bit, you're going to have a better time. When you're looking through your search results, resist the temptation to scan pictures for the type you usually go for, and click on those that you'd normally skim over. Have a good read of their profile and see if there's the tiniest detail that sparks your interest. If there is, jump in and send them a message. Once you abandon your checklist and look beyond your usual parameters you might be pleasantly surprised by the people that you find.

A second opinion

And last, but certainly not least, get your friend involved! They may think that their bit is over and done with once they’ve written your profile, but actually they can help you out further by logging in, searching the site and recommending people for you to get in touch with. If they’re in a relationship they get the vicarious, but totally legit, thrill of looking at single hotties, as well as the cockle-warming feeling of helping out a mate, and if they’re single it might just inspire them to join themselves.

So, if your love life needs a bit of a lift, why not join mysinglefriend.com. Join now through Quidco and you could get paid up to £46 cashback. That's more than enough cash in your pocket for a hot date...