Online Dating Mistakes

Online Dating

7 Online Dating Mistakes & Misconceptions (2024)

Mackenzie Buck

Written by: Mackenzie Buck

Mackenzie Buck

Mackenzie Buck is an experienced writer who earned a master's degree with distinction from the University of Manchester. Her relationship advice has been featured on the New York Post, among other publications. She has worn a variety of hats in the digital marketing space over the years and is excited to bring her unique voice and storytelling chops to DatingAdvice.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Reviewed by: Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks is the Editor-in-Chief at DatingAdvice.com. When she was growing up, her family teased her for being "boy crazy," but she preferred to think of herself as a budding dating and relationship expert. As an English major at the University of Florida, Amber honed her communication skills to write clearly, knowledgeably, and passionately about a variety of subjects. Now with over 1,800 lifestyle articles to her name, Amber brings her tireless wit and relatable experiences to DatingAdvice.com.

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Big into math? I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that there isn’t a magical formula that will guarantee you the perfect match – or even the perfect date. (Is there such a thing, anyway?). But, the good news is some pretty cut and dried dating rules can help singles optimize their chances of success. 

Take heed of these tips on what to avoid as you embark on your online dating voyage. If you follow the rules and avoid common mistakes, you’re sure to be enjoying a cute coffee date or saucy late-night hookup quicker than you can say Pythagorean theorem. 

1. Choosing the Wrong App for Your Needs

Dating apps are kind of like hospital socks: They are NOT one-size-fits-all. What may leave you feeling comfortable and functional may leave someone else feeling frustrated and unsatisfied. That said, it’s important to get the rundown on all available dating app options so you can optimize your chances of getting what you want out of the experience.

Tinder, for example, has produced its fair share of serious relationships, but is still considered by most to be a hookup app. If you’re on the lookout for “the one” this cuffing season, you may be better off ditching the fire-flame app and downloading Match, Christian Mingle, or eharmony instead. 

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Similarly, if you’re an LGBTQ+ single, you’ll have a better shot at finding someone who swings for the same team if you skip the hetero-dominated apps and shoot for platforms designed specifically for queer singles, such as Grindr or HER. 

2. Lazy, Creepy, or Sloppy First Messages

No one likes to feel like they’re the 30th person you’ve matched with this week. Take the time to peruse your match’s profile, get familiarized with their vibe, and reach out with an opening message that shows you’re paying attention. A little bit of effort goes a long way.

Oh, and this should go without saying, but you’ll probably benefit from not coming off as a total creep. This means that messages like “Nice t*ts!” or “What dat mouth do?” are no-gos (unless, of course, that person has stated in their bio that they’re into that kind of thing). 

3. Bad Profile Photos, Old Photos, or Not Enough Photos

As a woman on dating apps, I can tell you that bad quality pics are just about the most left-swipe-worthy thing I come across on my search (besides pictures of men holding fish and a bio stating “momma’s boy,” but maybe that’s just me). 

Believe it or not, people want to know that 1) you’re a real human and 2) you are who you say you are. And there’s nothing that says “I’m a scammer” quite like a single, blurry photo with no info in the bio. 

Photo of a dating profile
Add a few personal details to your dating profile to show potential matches you’re authentic.

That said, we recommend that you upload at least three good quality — and let’s not forget current — photos, preferably ones that show different sides of that game-winning personality you’ve got. This means no group pictures (this isn’t a game of Where’s Waldo?), no more than one car selfie, and no mirror pics with your shirt off (unless you’re on Grindr, in which case do your thing). 

4. Expecting the Algorithm to Do All the Work for You

You can’t put a treadmill in your living room and expect the pounds to drop like flies. You need to lace up those tennis shoes, hop on, and put in the work (the crowd gasps in horror). 

Dating apps work similarly. In other words, matches don’t start pouring in the second you download the app. You’ve got to invest time, resources, and energy into the experience. That means building a good profile, sending out cleverly-curated first messages, and being intentional with your search. Once you get to this point, it’s just a numbers game — so, keep swiping and the dates will come!

5. Catching Feelings Too Quickly

I’ll never forget the first time my friend — who had just reentered the dating world after a five-year relationship — got ghosted by a guy she’d matched with on Tinder.

They had only been texting a few days, but she had really let herself get invested. “That’s so rude!” she exclaimed. “Nah, girl,” I said. “That’s just the game.”

DatingAdvice insight on superficial dating apps
Swiping apps can foster quick connections that aren’t made to last.

Nowadays, swiping right and left feels just about as natural to young people as brushing your teeth — and love-seeking singles appear to be spoiled for choice. Millions upon millions of users engage with popular dating apps like Tinder every single day, so if they’re not feeling sparks fly with you, they may feel pretty confident that their next dream girl (or dream fill-in-the-blank) could just be a few swipes away. Yup. It really does happen that fast.

Don’t get me wrong. This grass is always greener mentality has created some problems in this new digital dating landscape, but it’s the reality we’re living in. So your best bet is to be as realistic and self-aware as possible during the stages leading up to your first date. Try not to catch feelings too early, don’t take any perceived rejections too personally, and don’t let yourself get discouraged along the way. Because, as I said, there’s plenty more where that came from. 

6. Taking Too Long To Respond 

Look, I know we’ve all got people to meet and episodes of “Sex Education” to watch, but I’m here to hit you with a hard truth: Nothing kills the vibe like a slow texter. 

The pace of online dating is fast and furious (for reasons explained in point #5) and people are quick to pull an Ariana Grande and say “Thank You, Next.”

To mitigate the risk of being ghosted and let your match know you’re interested, you should send your first message or respond to theirs within 24 hours of matching. After first contact has been established, try to keep your response time reasonable — or, better yet, skip the small talk and go straight to the date planning stage. 

Sending a message like “Are you available this week for a date? I would love to hang with you!” sets the tone for the conversation and lets your match know you’re serious about wanting to get to know them. 

And who knows. Maybe they’re a “Sex Education” fan, too. 

7. Not Being Clear With Your Intentions 

Be honest with yourself and your match about what you’re really looking for online. If you hop on a dating app and are still unsure whether you’re craving a sneaky link, a life-long partner, or someone to do cute, #SpookySZN activities with, you run the risk of wasting time and energy on connections that just aren’t for you. 

Conversely, if you embark on your search with a clear-cut goal in mind, you’ll know exactly what to look for — which means a lot less time engaged in dead-end convos and a lot more time knocking boots, planning your future, or starting your “Halloweentown” movie marathon. 

Photo of a happy couple
You’re most likely to find a compatible match if you know what you want and voice that.

Plus, it’s important to remember that on the receiving end of these conversations is a real person with real feelings. Don’t waste their time and don’t fill their minds with promises of romantic dates and long-term commitment if that’s not what you’re after. Be honest and courteous from the get-go and you may be pleasantly surprised with how things turn out. 

Avoid the Mistakes & You’ll Up Your Dating Success.

As someone who’s been in the dating game for a hot minute, I can understand how easy it is to feel powerless in the face of love. But that’s the thing about dating apps: They take that power and place it back in your hands — quite literally!

After you follow these online dating tips, put in the time, and stay dedicated to your search, the only thing left to do is wait. May the dating gods be ever in your favor.

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