How to Crack the Code to Online Dating

By ABC News

Jan 31, 2013 7:46am
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Is your online profile keeping you from attracting the right mate?

Amy Webb, the author of  “Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match,” realized that her online profile was turning off potential cyber-suitors and made it her mission to get to the bottom of it.

Webb posed as a man online to find out where women were going wrong. On JDate.com, the popular website for Jewish singles, Webb said she interacted with almost 100 women, tracked how each portrayed themselves in the digital space and then analyzed the popular women’s profiles.

“I quickly realized that the popular women seemed to know something I didn’t; they were clearly attracting the sort of smart, attractive professionals who had been ignoring my profile,” Webb wrote in an essay published in the Wall Street Journal in January. “Popular profiles used aspirational language (like “I want to travel” or “a big ambition of mine is…”), kept descriptions short and generic and lied about various physical characteristics (though not the ones you think). Their style was easygoing, youthful and spontaneous. I’d never once referred to myself in writing as “fun” or as a “girl.” but it was easy to see that I had been far too stuffy and professional in my presenting myself.”

She also found that shorter profiles were better, pointing to 500 words as a good profile length.

Webb learned a lot, both as a woman and as her male alter-egos, and ultimately discovered how to optimize her own profile (She also found the man she married).

Here are her top three tips to make your profile stand out from the pack.

1. Be Honest With Yourself About What You Want

If you’re not honest with yourself both in what you’re looking for and on your profile, you’re doomed to failure, Webb warned. You have to make a list of what you want in a partner, she said, and this can be the bulk of the work. Her complete list consisted of 72 things, but that number can vary. From there, she narrowed it down to a top 10 list and came up with a scoring system to help evaluate and judge the people she met online and see if they met her criteria.

2. Make the First Move

Many women wait until someone reaches out to them, rather than making the first move, but that’s the opposite of what women should do, Webb said. Turn the conventional wisdom on its head. In online dating, women do well making the first move.

“That first email is saying something positive about what they think of you,” she said. “It’s saying, ‘I want to know more.’ Why wouldn’t a man like that? It also means that you’re searching to find someone who meshes with what you want and making a move on it. You’re looking for people who have attributes on your list.”

3. Be Patient!

In today’s digital world, people need to have patience when it comes to dating to meet Mr. and Ms. Right., Webb said, and take things slow.

“You can be on a dating site and interact with 12 different people in a week. You might decide that they are terrible and pointless really quickly. But the truth is that you would never go on 12 in-person dates in a week. You’d need to take some time to discover what you think about that person,” she said. “[Don't] forget that making a connection takes time.”

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