Lots of people really struggle with online dating, often blaming dating apps for the emotional rollercoaster that it sends them on. Imagine if you could approach online dating as an exciting adventure instead says Saskia Nelson, founder of dating photography agency Hey Saturday.
In this blog Saskia shares the blueprint for a happy, successful online dating life.
Dating apps are not the issue with online dating. They are just a tool, a fantastic tool at that, that help you connect with other single people – says Saskia.
This emotional rollercoaster isn’t created by the dating apps, but by people’s approach to dating. The good news though, is that with a few tweaks most people can transform their dating experiences from painful and/or hard work into something much more positive and happy. And the happier you are, when dating, the easier it will be to meet someone and start a relationship.
Before you put yourself out there and start dating, your head needs to be in a good space. If you’re dealing with low self-esteem, it will most definitely lead to toxic situations and poor relationships. If you want someone to love and respect you, you need to have that for yourself first.
Before you make any move to start dating, take stock of your self-esteem levels and, if you’re not feeling good about yourself, focus on working on yourself before you put too much energy into dating. Only when you’re feeling good and firing on all cylinders, are you ready to get out there. (Feeling and looking ‘good’ will be different for everyone, so think about this just in relation to you, no one else).
Create a life that you love
The second thing you need to have in place before you start dating in earnest, is a life that you’re already pretty happy with. You need interests, passions, friendships and goals. Living a healthy, happy life will help keep your self-esteem high and will stop you from placing blame on yourself, if you get ghosted or you break up with someone. It’ll also prevent you from losing yourself when you start dating someone.
A life you’re happy with, will attract a happy love life.
A stand out dating profile
You are looking good, feeling good and are pretty happy with how your life is going. Now you’re 100% ready to put yourself out there.
It’s time to create a stand out dating app profile. Decide to approach this with a sense of excitement and creativity (rather than dread) in order to create a profile that does you justice. See your profile as an investment in your future love-life. It may require a bit of time and effort up front, but this will lead to a much happier and more successful dating life.
Most people, spend less than 10 minutes creating their profile, but Plenty of Fish research shows that people who spent 20 minutes creating theirs, were twice as likely to leave the site in a relationship. Imagine what the results would be if you invested an hour or more of your time to creating a great profile.
A great dating profile looks great, piques people’s interest, leaves them craving to know more and gives them an opening to connect more easily.
Start by choosing a username and tagline that is memorable and says something positive and/or fun about you. A simple tweak, can make a big difference. Amanda2341 versus AmandaKnowsFashion.
You need to focus on good quality photos. It’s worth bearing in mind that you could be the hottest person on Bumble, but if you’re still using grainy and blurry photos in 2021, you’re going to seriously struggle to get loads of matches
Your dating pictures have work to do. They need to deliver a visually compelling and authentic story.
When you’re creating your photos, include plenty of bold colour to help you stand out from the bland, neutral photos most people use. A useful rule of thumb to help you showcase your personality in your pictures is to go somewhere you love, do something you love, wear something you love and/or hold something you love. If you’re doing at least one or more of these things in your profile pictures, your personality should show up.
Your bio is your sizzle reel. It needs to be short, intriguing and a conversation-starter. It needs to provide a snapshot of who you are and what you’re about. The perfect bio is memorable, makes someone laugh and leaves them wanting to know more.
As with your bio, your first messages need to be short, intriguing and a conversation-starter too. If you can elicit a positive emotion from them, even better. Make them happy with a cool (not creepy) compliment. Surprise or delight them by sharing something unexpected that you might have in common etc. Make it obvious that you’ve looked at their profile and that it has been written just for them. Messages that have obviously been sent to loads of people are a huge turn off.
Setting standards and boundaries
Standards are about saying yes and boundaries are about saying no. The two need to work in tandem in order to ensure a peak dating experience.
Make sure your standards are high. Only accept people treating you with utmost respect.
Boundaries, on the other hand, are about clarifying what you won’t accept. Your red-flags and deal-breakers. They are different for everybody. But they are super important as they are about you, your well-being and your happiness. They keep you safe and happy. They are your minimum terms and conditions to be a happy dater.
Examples of boundary setting might be
If they’re still logging on to dating apps after a month of dating each other, I will let them know that I’d like them to stop now. If not, l’d prefer to find someone who is comfortable being exclusive after a month of dating.
Setting this boundary ahead of time, might prevent you from spending months agonising over why they’re still on dating apps and wondering when they might be ready to be exclusive. It’s your dating life, your rules. Know your rules and stick to them otherwise you’ll be letting others dictate your terms.
Manage your expectations.
One very simple way to be successful in dating and make it more enjoyable, is to reduce all your expectations down to just one. And one alone. If you’re the kind of person who, by the end of the first date, has already decided on the names for all the children you’re going to have, this tip is for you. These kinds of expectations are more likely to lead to an emotional rollercoaster of feelings before you even know if they’re worth your time (and emotions). Your only expectation, when you head out dating in the early days, is to make a connection with someone. And that’s it. That way, if it doesn’t work out, it’s OK.
Enjoy the date.
You’re looking and feeling good at this stage of your dating journey, taking pride in yourself with your high self-esteem. For first dates, make extra special effort. The anthropologist Helen Fisher, says that the human body knows within one second whether someone is physically attractive or not, so those first dates are crucial.
Give them a compliment when you meet. Keep it simple and honest. Don’t go overboard, or you could end up in creep territory.
Throughout the date, stay positive and light-hearted. First and second dates are not the place to complain about illnesses, problems at work, gripes with exes etc.
Avoid politics, religion and anything that’s likely to make you angry. It’s not a good first-date look.
Ask lots of questions. And listen to the answer. Active listening is a skill that many people aren’t that great at but it’s so important when you’re dating. If the date is going well, this should be fairly easy as you’ll be genuinely interested in learning more about them. (But, avoid getting too personal with your questions, you don’t want to scare them off).
Body language is key. Available body language (or open body language) is very attractive to others and shows them you’re attracted to them. Arms and hands should be open, you should be sitting up straight (not hunched in on yourself) and making plenty of eye contact. Take up space, this comes across as confident and confidence is the sexiest thing.
Relax and have fun ideally.
Move on quickly, when things don’t work.
If someone you’re seeing doesn’t meet your standards or stick to your boundaries, then the one thing you need to do for yourself, is move on quickly. The only way to heal and move on from relationships that aren’t working is to stop having contact with them.
Closure comes from within, so don’t think you need to drag it out or see them one last time.
Dating should be fun. When it stops being fun, it might be time to take a break or take another look at your boundaries and see what needs further tweaking. The important thing is to protect yourself and your feelings at all times. But remember, you don’t need to involve or invest feelings too early on in the dating process. No expectations, remember. You’re just connecting with a number of different people to see if there’s anyone that you trust enough to grow feelings towards.
When dates don’t go well or you break up with people, this is OK. You aren’t for everyone and everyone isn’t for you. That’s normal. Don’t dwell on it. Your high self-esteem levels won’t let you dwell on it.
The more dates you go on, the more practice you’ll get and the more you’ll learn about what you do want from that special someone.
Saskia Nelson is a dating profile photo expert and founder of dating photography agency, Hey Saturday.