13 Scientifically Proven Ways to Master Online Dating

For better or worse, we live in a digital world. With the touch of a button, you can put your family in debt, talk to someone halfway across the world, or plan a vacation. With all that power, it’s easy to avoid things like parties, work events, or even leaving your house.

Enter online dating. Its popularity is undeniable. At least 15% of people have admitted to using it. The days of meeting your partner in a club or library are on their way out. Your matchmaking friends have been replaced by matchmaking algorithms.

But no cultural evolution comes without a curve. As with most things, there’s a certain etiquette to dating online .

What should I put in my profile? Which pictures should I use? How do I write a message that gets a response? These are a few of the questions most daters ask.

Fortunately, researchers have taken time to analyze online dating. The result? Strategies you can implement to maximize your chance of getting a date. With the help of 15 studies, I’m going to tell you how you can set yourself up for success.

The Profile

Be honest. Surprise, a lot of people lie on their profile. In one study, 81% of people admitted to lying. Weight is the most common thing people lie about, followed by height, and age. Truth is, if things develop beyond words on a web page, they’re going to find out. Save everyone the wasted time and energy.

Be generous but concise. Take the time to write something thoughtful. Remember, this is their first impression of you. Don’t limit your description to a few short sentences because you want to look “mysterious.” People with short descriptions come off as dishonest. Don’t ramble on to the point of boring people either. If you were meeting someone for the first time in person, how would you talk to them?

Use “I” statements. When you write your profile, use as many “I” statement as you comfortably can. Say “I love to read” instead of “reading is fun.” Minimal use of “I” statements signify dishonesty. Presumably because the author is separating themselves from what they’re writing.

Talk about things you like and things you want. List your interests, but also talk about your goals. The people using keyword searches are more likely to see you in their results. It also gives potential dates a better idea of who you are, and who you want to be. The catch here is that the more profiles they read, the less likely they are to spend time on yours. All the more reason to be succinct and engaging in your language.

Emphasize the appropriate traits. If you’re looking for a hookup, draw attention to your attractiveness, sex appeal, and health. If you want a long-term romantic relationship, focus on intelligence, honesty, and warmth. These are the qualities most desired in a partner for each category, respectively.

The Pictures

Post pictures. Duh. Pictures are important. They let potential dates gauge initial attraction, and can highlight your positive features. Men rate women’s pictures to be twice as important as their description. Women rate men’s pictures and description as equally important. Post at least 3 to 4 pictures, one of which is a full body shot.

Make sure pictures are current. Post current, representative pictures. No older than 2 years. They should have minimal editing or odd angles. Women consider pictures with indirect gazes as the most attractive. That might be a good place to start, fellas. Ask a friend to take pictures with different angles, lighting, and backgrounds.

Highlight the left side of your face. We all have a “better side.” Apparently, it’s the left side. Most people have a strong preference for the left side of faces, regardless of gender. Keep that in mind when you’re taking or selecting photos for your profile.

The Message

Proofread your messages. Two words: spell check. A message with just two spelling mistakes get 14% fewer responses from women. Stylistic cues like timing, length, and grammar are just as important as content.

Keep it short. The ideal length of a first message is about 200 words. Messages longer than that begin to decrease your chance of hearing back. Overall, quality is better than quantity. But it’s something to keep in consideration when crafting that first message.

Use “you” statements. This is the place to talk about them. Ask questions. Mention things on their profile (to prove you read it). Try to make the message meaningful. In other words, attempt to get to know them. So don’t ask them about the weather.

Reply swiftly. Whenever possible, reply to messages sooner. Forget what you’ve heard about waiting two days. Responding to a message sooner shows interest and yields a higher likelihood that you’ll hear back from them.

If you don’t hear back, move on. If you’re on the receiving end, don’t get too upset if you don’t hear back from someone. For all the theories in the world, you don’t know what their reasons are. Take the loss and move on until you find someone who is mutually interested.

It’s not a perfect system, but there are a lot of benefits to online dating. The controlled environment lets you look for partners with traits you want. If the first date is a crap shoot, it’s easier to say “no thanks” over email than in a crowded bar. You can get to know your dates a little before you invest time and money into dinner and drinks. If only all aspects of life had a built-in screening process.

If you’re going to put effort into a dating profile, you might as well do it right. Science has taken care of the hard labor. All you have to do is implement the results and wait for Cupid’s arrow to strike.