How To Online Date

Online Dating

How to Date Online: 9 Easy Tips for Success (Feb. 2024)

Brittney Mayer

Written by: Brittney Mayer

Brittney Mayer

Brittney’s research background has been put to good use at She is skilled at developing thorough articles and guides for the informed dater, and her rigorous editorial chops have impressed experts in the field. When she's not typing up a storm, she enjoys traveling, watching "Star Trek" marathons, and finding activities that provide unique mental and physical challenges.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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If you’re thinking about taking the plunge into a dating site or app, then you’ve probably got quite a few questions, and it’s great that you’re doing your research and learning how to online date because that’ll increase your odds of having a good experience and meeting someone special.

According to some dating experts, more than 49 million Americans have tried online dating, and dating sites have been responsible for pairing up around 40% of new couples. Want to be one of them? Then keep reading and learn the ins and outs of the online dating scene.

Our dating experts have been in the trenches of the most popular dating apps, and they’ve made some incredible connections by putting together an attractive dating profile, sending engaging messages, and showing up to a first date ready to impress.

As you enter a brave new world of romance and technology, it’s only natural to have some doubts and concerns (and maybe even a healthy amount of skepticism) on your mind. We’re here to help you set aside your reservations and make the most of your online dating experience — because you never know who you’ll meet here.

Now, let’s get into our top tips to make your online dating experience as smooth, fun, and beneficial as possible.

1. Choose the Right Dating Site for Your Needs

The most important decision you’ll make when you’re starting to online date is choosing which site to use. You should take your dating goals, preferences, and budget into consideration to make a smart match. Ask yourself what you expect from a dating site — whether it’s having lots of chats in your inbox or receiving daily matches or having a ton of search filters or something else entirely.

We’ve been covering this industry for a while now, so we’ve tested and reviewed dozens of sites. From all the research we’ve conducted, these are our top three options:

For the Best Service All-Around: Match

A massive user base, numerous advanced features, a free membership, an intuitive app, and a trusted reputation — Match has it all. Launched in 1995, Match was the first dating site ever, and it has set the bar incredibly high, and others have been following suit ever since.

★★★★★ 4.9/5.0

Our expert ratings are based on factors such as popularity, usability, value, and success rate of each site.


Relationships: Friends, Dates, and Relationships

Match System: Browse by zip, age, appearance, more

Our Experts Say: “Match has facilitated the most dates and relationships of any dating site, and its large audience and high success rate make it our top review...” Full Review »

Browse Free: View Photos Now

And that’s not all we have to say about Match. Probably the most impressive fact is they’re responsible for more dates, relationships, and romantic connections than any other dating service. How do you like them odds?

For a Great Mobile Experience: Zoosk

Zoosk came onto the dating app scene in 2007 before pretty much every other service and the same year as the first iPhone release. This forward-thinking platform made it possible to find a date no matter where you were, and the integration with Facebook and Google+ makes the registration process quick and easy.

Zoosk 4.7/5.0

Our expert ratings are based on factors such as popularity, usability, value, and success rate of each site.


Relationships: Fun Dates, Serious Relationships

Match System: Search and get match recommendations

Our Experts Say: “Zoosk is integrated with social media sites, like Facebook and Google+, so it's very popular with singles on the go...” Full Review »

Browse Free: View Photos Now

Today, Zoosk has 38 million members and is available in 25 languages and in more than 80 countries. Members exchange over 3 million messages per day, so you’ll certainly have lots of people to talk to here.

For Serious Relationships: eharmony

If you’re looking for a long-term commitment, then eharmony should be on your radar. Dr. Neil Clark Warren, an American clinical psychologist, Christian theologian, and seminary professor, founded the site in 2000 and created its unique personality test, which uses psychology to identify compatibility between users. eharmony will deliver highly like-minded matches to you, so you don’t have to worry about finding someone on your own.

eharmony 4.8/5.0

Our expert ratings are based on factors such as popularity, usability, value, and success rate of each site.


Relationships: Casual Dates, Deep Relationships

Match System: Personality test suggests matches

Our Experts Say: “Accounting for 2% of U.S. marriages, eharmony's compatibility-based system and commitment-minded user base are ideal for those seeking a serious relationship...” Full Review »

Browse Free: View Photos Now

And eharmony isn’t just all talk — the site really does work. One study found that as many as 4% of marriages in the United States started on eharmony, and the online dating site claims to create a new love connection every 14 minutes.

2. Make Sure It’s Safe & Reputable

Concern for their safety is probably the number one thing that holds people back from online dating. While there have been stories about online dating scams over the years, when you look at the bigger picture, we’d say online dating is safer than randomly meeting someone at a bar or club.

You just need to do a little studying before signing up for any dating website or app. Read reviews online (we have a lot of them here), ask your family members and friends who’ve also online dated for their opinions, and read news articles to see which dating sites are trustworthy.

And, most importantly, be watchful for signs of romance scams, which include speaking broken English and pressuring you to send money, gifts, or favors.

3. Take Advantage of Free Trials to Test Everything Out Beforehand

Most dating sites provide a free trial or free account that allow you to join, fill out your personal information, upload several photos, search for and receive matches, and communicate in certain ways. You’ll want to take advantage of these offers so you don’t end up spending money on a site you don’t like.

For example, Match has an all-inclusive free three-day trial period, while Zoosk and eharmony have free memberships that never expire.

4. Create a Profile With Specifics, Good Photos & No Misspellings

Your dating profile is the first thing that your potential matches will see, so you want to make a good first impression. The average online dater spends less than 15 seconds on a single dating profile, so you need to grab attention right away and put together a brief and compelling summary of who you are.

One of the easiest things you can do is make sure your profile has no spelling mistakes or grammar errors. Studies have shown even one mistake means you’re 14% less likely to receive a response, especially if you’re a guy. It’s always worth getting another set of eyes to look at your profile before you put it out there.

We also suggest being specific about your interests and goals without making your profile look like a novel — a solid three-sentence paragraph is all you need. Instead of saying “I love going to concerts” and leaving it at that, add something specific about yourself to the sentence: “I love going to concerts, especially when it’s Phish who’s playing. I see them at least once every year!”

One last thing to note: Pictures can make or break you in online dating as well, so you should have a variety (portraits, full-body, action, etc.) but avoid bathroom selfies and group photos. All your photos should clearly show your face and be representative of your personality and lifestyle.

5. Find a Date Through Search Filters & the Site’s Suggested Matches

You can do your part by making your dating profile as perfect as can be, but the dating site you’re on should also do their part by providing comprehensive search features and quality matching.

Of the sites we’ve already recommended to you, eharmony does all the matching for you, meaning you don’t have to do a lot of work to find a good match.

On Match, you’ll receive Daily Matches based on your preferred age, gender, location, hobbies, appearance, and characteristics like that, and you can search on your own based on that criteria. The company also hosts live events with their members at places like bars and restaurants to make connecting even easier.

Zoosk’s search functionality is similar to Match’s filters, but Zoosk also has a swiping system found in the Carousel. Here, the site will present you with a member and ask the question “Want to Meet Him [or her]?” to which you answer yes, no, or maybe later.

Zoosk’s Behavioral Matchmaking™ algorithm is another site-exclusive tool. While you’re browsing profiles, sending people virtual winks, adding them to your Favorites list, or putting what you like and don’t like in your profile, Zoosk will use this information to send you SmartPick™ matches.

6. Give People Who Aren’t Your “Type” a Try

We all have different definitions of what’s considered attractive or makes someone an ideal partner, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But online dating is a good time to step outside of that comfort zone and give a person who’s not your type a chance.

You don’t have to compromise on major dealbreakers — for instance, it’s usually pretty hard for a nonsmoker to date a heavy smoker. But you should have patience for the little things such as they like snowboarding but you like skiing, they have brown eyes but you like green, or they’re 5’10” but you only date men over 6 feet. Sometimes those differences only make the dating experience more interesting.

7. Every Few Days, Log In & Check On Things

An online dating account isn’t like cooking chili in a crockpot — you can’t set it and forget it. You’ll have to make an effort to get the results you want. On average, millennials spend 10+ hours a week on dating apps swiping, matching, and chatting. You should check back frequently to respond to messages and keep the flirtatious energy going toward a real-life life.

The more you use the dating platform, the more you’ll get the hang of how it works and how it can work for you. Sometimes even changing or adding a few words or photos will help you show up higher in the site’s search results because it’ll show you’re active on the platform.

8. Send First Messages That are Unique & End With a CTA

Just as you want your profile to be specific, you want your first messages to be distinctive as well. According to OkCupid, original and interest-based words are the best way to elicit a response from your online crush. Say things that are relevant to the person’s profile. For example, “Hey, I like Disney movies too. Which one is your favorite?” or “You look cute in your soccer jersey — what position do you play?”

Don’t use too much slang, don’t make an overtly sexual comment, and don’t write more than two or three sentences. And, finally, do not think you can copy/paste the same bland “you’re amazing” message to every match and get good results.

Online daters, especially women, receive tons of chats and messages every day. If you copy and paste the same text to everyone, it’s going to be obvious and a little insulting. Instead, take a few seconds to pick out something from their profile that you like, and then talk about that in your message. Not only is that a better conversation starter than “wassup hottie?” but you’ll flatter the person with your personal interest.

9. Respond to Received Messages in a Timely Manner

There’s no need for dating games anymore such as getting a text from a guy and waiting 24 hours to respond or going on a date with a girl and waiting three days to call and ask her out again. Most people want a date who’s honest, genuine, polite, and — most importantly — responsive. If you want to date that person, you need to act fast because he or she is likely talking to a lot of other people, and you could get beaten out by waiting too long.

If you get a message from someone you like, then go ahead and answer instead of playing games. You don’t need to be constantly available to your date, but you should make sure you’re at the top of their inbox and stay on their minds if you want the connection to go somewhere real. After all, no one wants to be ghosted just because they were too shy to say how they feel.

Set Up Your Profile, Arrange Your Date & Have Fun!

At the end of the day, you could throw up a quick dating profile, send winks to a bunch of people, and see where it gets you. But if you’re serious about improving your love life and going on fantastic first dates, you’ll want to follow the advice above. We believe our online dating tips can help you learn how to online date successfully. Now, all you have to do is get out there!

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