5 things I’ve learned about online dating

By Jenny Stallard

A year ago I began a column for Metro newspaper – I still write about dating for them – and a year on it’s been the inspiration for a novel which is out today/this week. The column and book are called Boyfriend by Christmas. Hey! I must surely now have not only a boyfriend but all the answers on how to get one… right? Um….

Boyfriend by ChristmasWell, no. Now I didn’t get a boyfriend by my self imposed deadline (if you want to know if my heroine does, then you’ll need to read the book!). But along the way, through all the apps and sites I’ve learned a hell of a lot about online dating. Here’s the top five things I learned…

1) Patience is a virtue – but we seem to be losing it! Joined a site like brilliant lovestruck and a week later not engaged? Then become frustrated with said site? Patience people. Give it some time. Sign up for more than a month. Remember dating is part of your life, not your life purpose. I know that might seem easy to say but it’s something I’ve learned over a long time of feeling otherwise.

2) If you want to recieve, you need to give. Hey, don’t be rude! I mean messages! Say hi, don’t wait for them to make he first move. Send a few messages to different people, be chatty, ask questions. Don’t just look and move on. Say hi.

3) Which brings me onto ‘cast the net wide’. The options are there to be played with, of course, to tailor your search (eg don’t date a man who is shorter than you if that’s a deal breaker) but dare to extend the age range, the boundaries of your search, or whether they’re divorced. You wouldn’t ask a man in a bar all those questions straight off the bat so while, yes, keep them in mind, but remember they might be saying they want a woman a certain age. Widen the criteria and you might just find someone you didn’t expect to click with.

4) Keep it short and sweet – then arrange a coffee. I’m a massive fan of the coffee date. Or one drink before you then go on to meet friends that same evening. Don’t spend weeks messaging, and I argue it’s not a great idea to go onto what’s app to chat. Go from lovestruck to arranging a date then swap numbers on the day if you insist. Use sites to keep chat away from your phone until you know he or she is worthy of your digits. Online is far more of a tool than just for matching with someone, that’s a big thing I learned. If someone doesn’t want to stick to arranging a date via the site, then I say chat to someone else. It’s not so hard to chat via the app now is it?

5) It’s a numbers game. Not phone numbers (see above) but the more people you chat to, the more chance of a match. Don’t go on apps and sites when you’re out and about though: try and keep a time of day and length of time to check. Don’t be staring at them when you should be talking to friends and/or seeing who is out there in the big wide world. That way you’re the boss of the online dating world, not it the boss of you. Set your alerts so you want to see them rather than them interrupting your day or evening. Eg. have them sent to email but not your smartphone home screen. That way you’re the boss of online dating, it isn’t the boss of you.


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