Any advice about trying online dating for the first time?

sublimemom asks:
I’m planning to sign up to OkCupid – I don’t have Facebook and I don’t want to create a fake profile just to use Tinder (that’s weird and too much effort)

I’m fairly inexperienced but have been on a few traditional/face to face dates but it never works out. I usually get the “you’re beautiful, smart and really great…buuuuuuuut I don’t think we’ll work out, sorry I’m an asshole” message.

I feel a bit unsure about using OkCupid because I’m only 19 so I feel that I’ll be a bit out-of-place in regards to age. I guess I picture Tinder in my head to be a ‘young people’ thing and OkCupid to be an ‘older people’ thing. I don’t really have a grasp on the age demographic or general vibe from OKCupid (especially in Australia) – so does anyone have any advice for a first time user? Thanks!

Demetrius says:

For starters, fill out your profile. Tell a story about yourself that invites questions and conversations. Describe yourself in a way that is honest but leaves a little room for conversation to learn more about you. Short, relatively sweet, and leave them wanting a little more. Whatever your goals on a dating app, describe yourself in language that people associate with that goal. If you’re commitment oriented, allude to that in how you describe yourself and what you’re looking for. You can be direct and say exactly what you’re looking for, or you can allude to it. “Looking to meet someone and see where things go” implies casual dating/sex, while “would love to meet someone and form a genuine connection” implies that you’re looking for something a little more serious . Oh and keep in mind that whatever you’re looking for romantically is valid, regardless of your age, gender, romantic past, etc.

And when  I say fill out your profile, that extends to pictures, and in the case of a site like OkCupid, that means answering match questions, filling in relevant demographic details, and so on. You can’t just tell a story with words alone, so your photos and detailed relevant information about you will do that.Oh and be sure to include conversation starters in your profile that people can message you about. Even the most creative person in the world will run out of things to ask a stranger if they send multiple messages in a day. If it seems a little too much like hand-holding for you, think of it this way: You’re guiding people into having conversations you want to have. If you want to talk about your hobbies, or meet people who share your hobbies, no better way than to mention them on your profile.

One final piece of advice: Go in with very low expectations. Like, really, phenomenally low expectations. Like “wow, people treat each other like they’re sub-human garbage for no real reason, but I expected this” level of expectations. The people you match, message, and meet will are very likely to make you question your faith in human decency. They can be downright rude, vulgar, and unnecessarily unkind. Some people will be decent, polite, and generally treat you with respect, but the majority of the experiences you have when online dating might lead you to believe that humanity is flawed as a whole. That’s not the case all of the time, but online dating tends to heighten your negative feelings about the dating process, and people in general. When you do start to feel like the online dating, and society by extension, is universally terrible, take a break. Hell, take frequent breaks. And remember, online dating is opt-in, you can quit at any time. Online dating is meant to supplement your offline dating efforts, not be your entire method of dating.

Oh, and before I close out: All of the data about online dating sites and swipe apps demographics I’ve seen shows that the majority of their users are aged somewhere between their early twenties and early thirties. That said, it’s not like there aren’t users who in your age range. It might be slimmer pickings on OkCupid compared to Tinder (which skews slightly younger) for your ideal dating age range, but it’s not like there aren’t people your age on pretty much every dating app or site out there. My advice to you is to use the site, and see if it works for you. Don’t worry about what the average users are like, or what they’re looking for.

Good Luck Out There.