Normally the type of scares we talk about come October are the ones that involve zombies and werewolves and candy-craving kids hopped up on too much sugar, but around here we're more concerned with a different kind of fright.
Over the last 8 years, I've spent a lot of time reading, writing, and occasionally even following online dating advice. And whew...there is some scary, scary stuff out there. Plenty of people get it right, but let's be honest – plenty more get it wrong, so wrong it's almost scary how bad it is.
I spend most of my time on the good advice, but Halloween puts me in the mood for being horrified so today we're taking a detour to Terrortown. All of the advice you're about to read? Don't follow it, unless you want to be an urban legend singles tell to scare each other off online dating.
- Spend days crafting the perfect profile. When was the last time you showered? Or ate something that wasn't cooked in a microwave? Or saw sunlight? It's easy to overthink your profile, but it won't increase your chances of finding the partner you're looking for. No one has time to trawl through novel-length profiles, so keep it short and sweet and leave them wanting more.
- Chat with someone for months before meeting, to make sure they're not a serial killer. Yes to the making sure they're not a serial killer half, but no to the first part. The endgame of online dating is real life dating. More often than not, it's hard to accurately assess chemistry through a computer screen. You don't want to waste weeks exchanging messages, only to find out on date one that you're totally incompatible. Chat long enough that you feel sure your date isn't plotting the perfect crime, then take the plunge and meet in-person.
- Dinner and a movie is a perfect first date. Think again. The point of a date is to get to know someone, which you can't do when you're both staring quietly at a screen wondering if someone is going to pull the yawn-and-cuddle move. On the other side of the coin, staring at each other across a dinner table with little other stimulation puts too much pressure the conversation. Do an activity together instead – it'll make you feel more relaxed and give you something to chat about.
- Look for The One. I hate to be the one to shatter your childhood fantasies, but love just doesn't work like that. There are billions of people on this planet – do you really thing you're only compatible with one? Besides, dating in 2014 is a numbers game. We rarely understand what we want and need until it's staring us in the face, and we probably have to go through a lot of other faces first. If you're too picky and evaluate potential partners by ticking items off a checklist, you could miss someone amazing.