Mac Musings

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Online Personals

Dan Knight - 2005.09.27 - Tip Jar

There are lots of online dating services besides Yahoo Personals, Match.com, and eHarmony, but these are the only three I have paid to join. I am on some other sites, but since I'm not a paid member, I can't interact with others nor can I fairly judge these services.

SoulMate & GreatDating

SoulMate and GreatDating are owned and operated by the same company, and they work almost identically. One thing I really like about both services is their "Who's Interested" feature, which shows you at a glance who you've expressed interest in, who has expressed interest in you, and where that interest is mutual.

Another feature they offer has its pros and cons. You get to mark your profile based on what you're looking for - friendship, romance, or intimacy. On the one hand, it's nice to have that right out in the open like that. On the other, it still strikes me as odd to see people looking for intimacy without friendship or romance.

Rates are comparable to Match.com, so you might want to investigate these services as well.

Free Riders

The biggest downside of every one of these services is that there are a lot of profiles for nonsubscribers - and you have no way of knowing who hasn't subscribed. Most of the services will let you know how recently someone has been online, but since you can post a profile for free and search for free, activity doesn't imply membership.

Of course, this works to the benefit of the service provider. People are trying to reach out to nonsubscribers, and that gives them incentive to subscribe. (Most services have a 7 day money back policy.) But it's frustrating to craft a contact letter and get nothing back. Are you being ignored, or are you simply trying to reach a nonsubscriber who can't correspond with you?

The response rate is abysmal. On eHarmony, it seems to be close to 50%. On the other services, I'd guess it's closer to 5%. That's frustrating. I'd really like to see a note from the service: "We've sent your message to FoxyLady1955, but she is not currently subscribed to this service and cannot respond at present."

Players

Ask any woman who has spent any amount of time as a subscriber to any of these services, and your opinion of the male of the species will not be improved. There are a lot of players out there. Some start out by asking for sex or nude photos. Others are smooth operators who bail once they've reached the bedroom.

Add to this the fact that women outnumber men on these services (it's a 2:1 ratio on eHarmony), and it's a big field to play. eHarmony is concerned about players and asks members to report them. The others seem to leave subscribers to fend for themselves.

Maybe there is an up-side to letting the world know you're only interested in intimacy, not a meaningful relationship.

Tips

The best advice is to be honest and post a photo. Let people know who you are, and the photo makes it more likely that they'll see your profile.

Initiate Contact

Except for eHarmony, all of the services let nonsubscribers send icebreakers or "I'm interested" messages. I've had moderate success with them.

You'll probably get better results sending an email. Make is short and to the point, something this writer learned the hard way. All you want to do with your first contact is pique the other person's curiosity and get them to read your profile. Sell yourself in your profile and use your email to get them to take a look.

Comment on something that shows you've read their profile. In a couple of cases, I've commented on how similar our personality profiles are. They've looked and written back.

Edit Your Profile

Your profile can say too little about you, include way too much information, or put up red flags. Try to give the other person a feel for who you are - what you like to do in your spare time, for instance - and list some of the things you're looking for in a partner.

Then read it and reread it. Read between the lines. Look out for words and phrases that might be misconstrued. "Fun" might mean a nice time together, but it can also be a catchword for having a good time, if you catch my drift.

Your introductory paragraph(s) should focus on what's important and leave the other details for later on. Get your prospective partner interested, but don't overwhelm him/her with too much information.

And ask for some kind of response in your profile. "Interested? Let me know!"

Search Different

Most of these sites give you plenty of ways to search. The most obvious is to search for people who match your wants. Even nicer is mutual matches, where the match is rated based on what both of you are looking for. It's my most used search on Match.com.

Match.com has another useful one - reverse search. Find the potential partners who are looking for someone like you. You'll probably find some here that you didn't find doing a straight match or mutual match.

One more thing I like about Match.com is their "Who's viewed me" page, which lets me know the women who have looked at my profile. On the one hand, I can see if the ones I've contacted have looked. On the other, I can see if any of them might be what I'm looking for. After all, they've already seen my profile....

Mix It Up

If you end up using more than one online dating service, you might want to create different profiles and use different photos on each. (You'll probably also discover that there are a lot of people on more than one service.)

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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