The world of online dating is vast and can be scary. Maybe you’ve tried it and found limited success. Maybe your friends have been pressuring you to try but you’ve been miserably disappointed. But never fear, although online dating has been around for almost a decade, the art of courtship has been around forever. Most people suck at it so don’t feel bad. And it can be well worth it: online dating exposes you to exponentially more potential mates. If in the “real world” you meet about three potential mates a week (gas station, friends of friends, bar) then feel free to double that number—per day.

Online dating is a tool, not the magical answer—and all tools need instructions. Here are some tips—for veterans and newbies—on how to create an online dating profile that you can feel good about and puts your best foot forward.

Starting Out: Be Honest With Yourself About What You Do and Don’t Want

Being clear with yourself about your intention is the first step to finding a satisfying relationship. But if you don’t know exactly what you want, be clear with yourself that you’re exploring. We all have an idea; so whether you want a bedmate or something more long-term don’t be afraid to attract what it is you think you might want.

  • Be consistent with your intention unless you’re ready to make a change (i.e. what you communicate in your pictures and the description of yourself should all be consistent with what you end up communicating to your potential partner).
  • No one likes desperate, regardless of what you’re after (i.e. if you’re looking to get laid, then virtually “screaming for dick” is what inspires the saying “don’t put your dick in crazy”; if you’re looking for a husband or wife then talking about marriage can make you look like a ball and chain)
  • Be confident. At the end of the day, love who you are and communicate with assurance. You are who you are and there is no other you.

Pictures: Present Yourself the Way You Would in Public

Any pictures you post on your profile should communicate what you want and what to expect of you. What activities do you get excited about? Hiking? Cooking? Eating out? Maybe you’re after a hook-up and don’t want anything serious. Present that same tone in your pictures.(i.e. nightlife = fun and casual; selfie with the kids = not casual).

  • Four or five pictures are enough to give an idea of who you are and start a conversation. Don’t tell your life’s story in your pictures.
  • People like happy people; attract what you want and smile in your pictures!
  • No pictures with people who look like they may be romantically involved with you unless they are family or in a group picture. If someone has to question whether you’re pictured with an ex then you’re starting the conversation by talking about other men or women. No one wants that.
  • People assume “what you see is what you get.” Be truthful about what you look like and what you like to do. Pictures at the bar or nightlife means that’s how you like to spend your time. Pictures with the kids mean they will be a part of the conversation. For women and men pictures showing lots of skin say “DTF” (“down to fuck”). It’s just the truth, and depending on what you want, it might serve you well.

Description/About Me: You Wouldn’t Tell a Stranger Your Life Story—So Don’t

Your introduction should be exactly that—“an introduction.” Telling too much gives away the prize before anyone can do the fun work of getting to know you.

  • Three to four sentences. This is an opportunity to tease what it’s like to be with you. Curiosity leaves room for questions and conversation.
  • If you wouldn’t say it on a first date, don’t write it down. If you might or might not say it on a first date, don’t write it down (i.e. the divorce, wanting more kids, your income, etc.).
  • Curb any negative feelings you have about anything. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want (i.e. “Looking for fun that lasts,” not” “I’m not looking for a hook-up”; “I’m super outdoorsy,” not “If you think the bar is fun,move along”).

What’s Out There

There are different sites and apps out there, and knowing some basics of the bigger names can point you in the right direction of where you might want to start.

  • com (paid): Be prepared to find someone you could actually marry. I’ve had friends go on eHarmony looking for something casual and coming out with a long-term relationship. I also found a long-term relationship there. There is a really long questionnaire, so if you’re looking for a commitment then be ready to commit to a personality test.
  • com (free): With the tests and quizzes of eHarmony but with a light heart. You can go in either looking for something serious or not, while having fun with the quizzes and questions comparing and contrasting while perusing profiles. OKC is one of the first-generation dating sites and have lasted by being more on the casual, fun side versus the serious find a commitment side.
  • Tinder app (free): My personal favorite. You can only talk to someone if there’s a mutual attraction, and it’s like shopping. Once you figure out who you’re interested in (and that person likes you, too) let the games begin. Although Tinder has been known has a hook-up site it is no longer strictly for DTF and many long-term relationships have come out of this site—including the relationship I’m currently in.
  • Some others: Bumble App (free), (free), (free), (paid), (paid),

When you’re done, you should trust in what you’re presenting and feel confident about your profile. If you want a second opinion, feel free to have a trusted friend take a gander. This person should understand what you’re looking for and be 100% supportive.

Above all else—HAVE FUN!

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