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New to Online Dating? Read This.

New to online dating? Here are some tips to help you make your first experience as painless as possible.

couple in a restaurant having a date

So you’ve decided to embark on the journey of online dating. Congrats! Maybe you’ve heard success stories from friends and are ready to jump in yourself. Maybe you’ve heard the stat that almost one third of new relationships start online. Or maybe you’re starting a new phase in life and haven’t been on the dating market in a long time. Whatever the case, the prospect of venturing into the digital dating realm may seem daunting, especially for first-timers. But we believe in you! As seasoned online dating experts, we have a few tips for you to keep in mind when you’re new to online dating.

Choose the Right Platform

a woman new to online dating showing her smartphone with the tinder dating app on the screen
Tinder has a reputation for being a hookup app.

With a plethora of different online dating platforms available, selecting the right one can be overwhelming. Consider your preferences and interests when choosing a platform. Some platforms focus on casual connections, while others cater to those seeking serious relationships. Research different options and read reviews to find a platform that aligns with your dating goals.

Create an Authentic Profile

a person lying on sofa holding a smartphone with a person dating app profile on screen

Your dating profile serves as your introduction, so make it count. Use genuine and engaging photos that accurately represent you. Craft a captivating bio that highlights your personality, interests, values, and sense of humor. And don’t expect to keep the same profile for the entire time—have fun with it! Think of it as a creative exercise, not a tedious form.

Set Expectations

Depending on what you’ve heard about online dating, you may be expecting it to go a certain way. Before diving into the world of online dating, it’s crucial to set realistic expectations. Online dating should be an enjoyable experience, not a source of stress or anxiety. Approach it with an open mind, seeking genuine connections rather than chasing validation or immediate gratification. Remember, it’s about finding someone who resonates with you, not trying to be someone you’re not or impressing everyone you meet.

Don’t take things personally.

Someone didn’t respond to your message? Unmatched you? Wrote only one word answers in response to your thoughtful questions? Tried to neg you, said something nasty, or cancelled right before the date? Don’t take it personally. Give them the benefit of the doubt—assume that everyone who doesn’t respond to you is having a family emergency that has nothing to do with you. Assume everyone who unmatches you just accidentally deleted the app. However, some people will just suck, and it will be hard to give their behavior a kindly explanation. If there’s no way to give people grace, try to let these people be an amusing memory rather than a source of baggage.

There is no “right” way to date.

side view photo of smiling woman in a black and white striped top sitting on a bed while using a laptop

Be wary of advice-givers on the internet telling you that all men are like X or all women like Y. In fact, be wary of any dating advice you come across! (Yes, even ours.) Read with a critical mind. The person giving the advice is biased by their own experiences and worldview. You need to make sure that their advice fits your situation and the mindset you want to have. We don’t all want the same things from dating, and different advice fits different types of people. Who are you looking for? What kind of person are you? This poor advice giving happens IRL too—our friends give us advice on how to find the person of their dreams.

First Date Jitters are Normal

It’s understandable to be nervous on your first ever online date. It’s rare that we ever have to meet someone new one-on-one and talk to them alone for a whole hour! If you need to, admit that it’s your first online date ever. They’ve been there! Ask them if they’ve had any wacky stories, or even what their first ever date was like. You’re not alone.

Safety First

It can be easy to get carried away after a few successful dates on a dating app and assume that everyone you meet is going to be wonderful. However, it’s important to not let safety concerns slide, especially on first dates. It’s best to meet in a public place both of you can get to and leave from on your own. Stay sober enough to take care of yourself, and if you feel uncomfortable with someone’s behavior, don’t hesitate to block or report them on the app, or leave the date early. We have an article about online dating safety tips.

Don’t Get Too Attached.

In time, people who have been online dating for a while learn not to get too attached in the initial stages of dating. This doesn’t mean they aren’t open to becoming vulnerable when they meet someone they connect with—it means they understand that, for reasons that are out of their control, the timing, circumstance, or mutual attraction may not be right for every person you initially have a connection with. We can get excited after only one good date and make assumptions that we are on the way to a deeper connection, then be let down during dates two or three or seven. Remember that it takes a while to get to truly know someone, no matter how good your first impression is, and don’t make assumptions about where you stand with the other person—clarify. We have an article about emotional mistakes while dating.

Embracing Patience and Enjoying the Process

asphalt road between trees

Online dating is a journey, not a destination. Embrace patience and don’t get discouraged if you don’t meet your soulmate overnight. Take your time, enjoy the process of getting to know new people, and learn from each experience. Remember, there’s no right or wrong timeline for finding love. Just because your friend married the first person they met on Tinder doesn’t mean you will, too. Remember: the only way to be certain you won’t find someone is to give up.

Consider Creating Time for Reflection

woman new to online dating reflecting in a journal

Dating has the possibility of changing your life more than almost any other activity. Yet we often don’t take the time to truly think about what we want and how it’s going, aimlessly hoping that the right person will just show up. Consider journaling after dates to process the difficult emotions that can come with dating, and take the time to truly understand what you’re looking for. We created our dating journal as a guided journal for online dating to help you do just this.

Online dating can be an enriching and rewarding experience, allowing you to connect with all sorts of people. By approaching it with a positive mindset, setting realistic expectations, and prioritizing safety, you can navigate online dating with confidence, joy, and energy—having a good time along the way during this exciting period in your life.

Good luck, and happy dating!

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