Why There Is No Such Thing As Online Dating And Why Dating Apps Are Merely Introduction Apps. Offline vs Online Dating. Online Dating Misconceptions, Mistakes

When it comes to dating apps and online dating, there are many terms, definitions and applications of the process, technology, expectations and connections that are formed from the use of desktop sites and mobile apps to facilitate introductions with a romantic intention.


What Is Online Dating?

Online dating is a term that has been applied loosely to anything involving digital apps and websites aimed at connecting people via online profiles, photos and some sort of swiping, clicking or messaging. 

Creating a profile on Tinder — is that online dating? Uploading photos to Bumble — is that online dating? Sending a message, wink or like — is that online dating? Depending on whom you ask, you might get a slew of contradicting answers. For the most part, online dating is the process of using apps for eventual offline dates. Some people tend to take the term to literally and use it for the purposes of online relationships in which meeting in person is not a foregone conclusion. Think of penpals.


Is Online Dating or Offline Dating Better?

You don’t date online. You use apps to get introduced to each other and then date offline in person. Both strategies of meeting people on dating apps and in person are not mutually exclusive and should be used in tandem, but each approach requires a certain set of skills that not all people have.


How To Approach Dating Apps; What’s The Point Of Online Dating

In order to get the most out of dating apps, you need to be in a good place in your life and give it an honest effort. Dipping your toes in the water with incomplete profiles, bad photos, lack of self-awareness or no clue as to what apps are best can be a recipe for disaster on your mental health and well-being.

The first 72 hours of dating apps are extremely important in that those first impressions will dictate who sees your profile, how often it is shown and ultimately how well you will do on dating apps.

Online dating is a misnomer. You don’t online date — you meet someone via an online dating website or app. It is merely an introduction — view it as another channel to meet people in addition to your day-to-day life i.e. work, school, bar, art gallery, grocery store etc. Once you meet someone via online dating site/app you exchange a few messages and agree to meet offline. 


Online Dating vs. Traditional Dating

People should ideally use apps to supplement their offline efforts to meeting people. If you are not good at meeting people organically, offline, dating apps may not be helpful. Dating app usage should be limited to 20 minutes a day, 3 times a week to start.

Once you match, it will take more time to cultivate relationships to lead to actual dates. Talk, flirt, establish chemistry and move offline sooner than later. Do not overly invest yourself in a stranger you have not met. Talk to others, don’t talk every day and spend too much time with a stranger until you meet in person.

If you are have not seen any traction in 3 months of creating a dating profile, take a break, get independent help with your dating profile: photos, bio, app choice, wardrobe, smile, prompts and first lines.

How Many Messages Are Needed To Secure A Date From A Dating App

Typically, 3–10+ messages are needed to secure a date or at least present the initial date idea (a few additional messages might be needed to confirm a date, time, location and details). This is a rough framework in which you should approach messaging a girl once you match (or vice versa if on Bumble and the woman needs to initiate conversation) 

-1 message to say hi and mention something you saw on her profile and a follow-up question regarding clarification or more information re: photo, experience etc. 

-1 message to introduce a date idea with specific day, time and location and nearby alternative plans i.e. walk, event or walking tour* 

-1 message to confirm the date or present another option if plan A does not work for her. 

If you are not quite ready to meet in person, that is ok but inevitably that should be your main goal if you are on dating apps and interested in the person you are chatting with. Video dates are a good bridge to verify identity and move beyond texting.

The Biggest Mistakes Made When Communicating After Matching On Dating Apps

The biggest problem people face when exchanging messages is spending too much time going back and forth with endless banter or flat comments. Look at other references, background info or other more interesting queues in which you can comment on from photos and profile info. 

If you and/or the person you matched with does not have anything interesting on your photos or profile from which to initiate conversation, go back to the drawing board. Get better photos and rewrite your profile — help the other person out but do not go overboard and write your entire life story.

When it comes to the date idea — be unique, be creative and do some research! Grabbing coffee sounds boring but if you suggest grabbing coffee and going for an architecture tour, street art walk or floating houseboat tour, that sounds more interesting. 

Researching dates, curating experiences and putting forth the effort go a long way. Do not become jaded if a woman turns you down. Move on. Similarly, if a woman seems unenthusiastic or dull, move on as well. Guys need to set the tone and put in the effort not only to get the ball rolling but to gauge interest.

Do not waste your time messaging back and forth. Be polite, enthusiastic, and direct. The more you try to play it safe or try to beat around the bush the more likely the other person will lose interest. If the woman has already matched with a guy, she has expressed interest in him, and he should respond accordingly. 

If a woman flakes, do not take it personally. Move on. There are a lot of people on apps/sites who are curious or lack serious motivation to meet in person. Use good judgment and stop making excuses for the other person.

What Does Online Dating Mean? What Should It Mean?

Online dating typically refers to the act of creating a dating profile, browsing profiles, messaging and setting up dates. In theory, it should mean purely a means for introduction only i.e. met via a dating app and not used as a verb i.e. I am online dating. Use the same rules, principles and guidance you would for meeting people offline.

Don’t think online dating is different in that people are more honest about themselves. Be cautiously optimistic. Don’t waste time on those that don’t match your effort, enthusiasm and responsiveness. Ask questions, take your time to get to know someone as you don’t have those queues available when you meet offline, organically.


Is Online Dating Better Than Real Life Dating? Online Dating vs Meeting In Real Life

Even though once you meet in person all bets are off, there are some strong biases with dating apps. Most people are more selective on dating apps than they are in person. Abundance of choice forces people to constantly compare one profile to the next. Those that take bad photos, are charming, or have other attributes not easily captured via photos may have a harder time with dating apps. Dating apps require good photos and good context to tell stories, reveal personality and convey trust.


Online Dating vs Bars

When it comes to bars, you can observe many things about a guy – is his height acceptable to you and is it accurate? Is he hitting on lots of other women? Is he drunk? When it comes to dating apps, some guys lie about themselves and are on their best behavior, have time to write messages and can take their time to show themselves selves as they wish.  It’s harder to lie in person than it is with time, behind a screen.


Should You Use Dating Apps? Is It Worth Trying Online Dating?

In order to have some success with online dating, you have to be confident and approachable to have a good shot at matching and eventually meeting others from the app offline. Dating apps are extremely competitive and requires creativity, thick skin, patience, solid photos, self-awareness, and enough content in a profile to seem interesting.

Most people hate writing about themselves and this is a huge roadblock as people need information to make informed decisions about whom to talk to. Creating a good profile is only step 1 in becoming successful with online dating, you have to have good conversation skills, date planning skills, enough hobbies, interests and diverse lifestyle to keep up with banter, flirting and conversations.

Typically, online dating is much easier for those that are social, know how to communicate well and have done well meeting people offline. It’s important to have a solid offline, social basis from which to connect with individuals. Once you meet offline, all bets are off. You need offline, in person skills to do well. Not too many people can deal with rejection, harsh realities, misrepresentation that goes on with online dating so proceed with caution.

Personalized Online Dating Profile Critique

Strategy (App Choice + Timing + First Messages), Photo Critique, Bios + Prompts + Photo Captions, Wardrobe Feedback, Body Language, Smiles & More

About Eddie Hernandez

Eddie Hernandez is a dating consultant & professional photographer based in San Francisco, servicing clients in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and beyond as featured in the NYTimes, SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle.

In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice, date planning, screening profiles, ID'ing red flags, offline techniques for meeting people organically, naturally. 

Dating App FAQ's  |  Online Dating Resource Guide  |  How To Be Successful With Dating Apps

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