This blog post is part of the most recent New Tech City podcast. Listen to it online, or subscribe here.
Online dating is a pain. But it's also proliferating: 11 percent of all Americans are "online daters." So that leaves a whole lot of single folk looking for ways to make finding love online simpler, quicker and less discouraging. A few dozen of them turned to computer store for help.
When the opportunity came up to attend a digital dating event for work, I'll admit I was pretty psyched. As someone who has done a little online dating recently, it seemed like a chance to commiserate over shared horror stories and learn a few tricks of the trade. Here are my four takeaways from "Dating in the Digital Age," a recent event at Tekserve, an independent Apple store in Manhattan.
1 — Show, Don't Tell
People want to see the goods. If you're a comedic genius, don’t just say so—tell a joke to prove it. If you're an adventurous world traveler, then you'd better be ready to share epic tales of paragliding, eating scorpions, being attacked by piranhas (or whatever else you do). And, a few photos from far-flung locales wouldn't hurt your case.
That advice comes from Bentley McBentleson of Maslanksy + Partners. He shared OKCupid profiles with focus groups and found that proof of a person's claims entice prospective dates better than profiles full of phrases like "I am funny. I like to travel."
2 — Talk About Who You Are, Not What You Want
McBentleson's research also shows that before you rattle off a list of attributes your ideal mate should have, you'd better introduce yourself properly. That means explaining who you are, where you're from, maybe a little about what you do for a living.
3 — Figure Out What You Want (which might require a spreadsheet)
Presenter Jazmin Hupp said an important part of the dating experience is figuring out exactly what and who it is you're looking for. But it takes work: Hupp went on 72 dates to determine her own core values, what she's willing to compromise on, and her absolute limits. In fact, she made a matrix to map it all out with sections like "Hard Limits (Will Not Tolerate)" and "Daily Feelings."
4 — Oh, And You Actually Have to Go on Dates!
As for the actual meeting in person part, Hupp has some advice: Don't just exchange messages forever — go on dates! She said prolonging that in-person meeting just serves to set up false expectations, and it’s time that could be better spent getting to know a potential match in person. Make it a "low-stakes date," she advised, like going out for coffee or a drink — events with definite end points.
That last bit of advice is backed up by one of the biggest online dating experts around, the VP of matching at eHarmony. Listen to him explain how the love algorithm behind his site was created on this week's New Tech City.
Or click the the audio player above to hear what some people of the people who attended the event had to say about their experiences with online dating. Tell us what you think in the comments below.