Find love online: tips from the research

(Originally written for the Irish Psychologist)

Online dating is so popular, it’s now the second most likely way for couples to meet. If you’re looking for love, you’ll want to know how you can make your dating profile as successful as possible. Here are some quick tips based on psychological research to help you make the most of your profile.

1. The photograph is (nearly) everything.
Your profile photograph is the single most important piece of information on your profile. If someone likes how you look in yours, they will extend that liking to everything else that you reveal. Everyone likes attractive photos in online dating, and most of all people who are attractive themselves.More than one photo helps reduce uncertainty in potential mates by showing that you have a variety of facets to your life, and that you actually do enjoy the interests you talk about in your profile.


2. Positivity is attractive.
People who write positively about themselves are perceived as more attractive. Write about what makes you happy, what excites you, and the parts of your life that you can’t wait to share with the right person.But make sure to watch your spelling and grammar! Online the person reading your profile can’t use your body language, tone of voice, or other cues that they use offline to interpret a message. Instead, we rely on other cues we pick up in text, and interpret those based on what is important to us. So bad spelling may be interpreted as lack of education or lack of interest. Be careful what you’re communicating without realising it.


3. What’s your strategy?
You might want to attract as many potential partners as possible to give yourself choice, or you may prefer to attract a smaller number of daters better matched to you. Your strategy needs to match your goal.If you want a lot of suitors, your profile should be short and intriguing, about 100 words, and evoke curiosity more than satisfying it. Keep the information about yourself vague.If you want to attract fewer, but more likely matches, then you should be more specific in your profile. The more information you give, the more likely another dater is to read something in it that they don’t like. But if a dater likes the profile, they’re likely to be a better match for you.


4. Making contact.
Men send four times more messages in online dating than women, so while women spend all their time sorting through all the messages they receive, men wonder why they don’t receive any. When women do initiate contact the chances of creating a connection are twice as high as when men contact women. Ladies, get messaging!


5. Taking things offline.
How fast is too fast? Actually, the real problem happens when you wait too long. As you read messages from a potential mate you use the cues in those messages to fill in the gaps in your knowledge about them, and you imagine an idealised image of the person. The longer you spend doing this, the more idealised that vision becomes. So after many weeks messaging when it finally comes to meeting the person, your expectations are likely to be dashed by the difference between the reality and the fantasy you have created. Somewhere between 17 to 23 days is that tipping point. So meet sooner rather than later.

Find love online: tips from the research
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