COVID Dating: 7 Science-Backed Ways to Optimize Your Dating Profile
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our love lives in an unprecedented way. While we've previously written about how to deal with loneliness in quarantine, sometimes we still just need to reach out and date. Luckily, recent research shows that online dating during the pandemic isn't half bad. In fact, it's on the rise because we're normalizing what once held a little stigma. The need for social distancing has limited the opportunities for people to meet potential romantic partners in the real world. From data collected between March and May of 2020, Tinder reports that swiping “among members under 25 was up 39%” (Ergun 2020).
But pandemic or not, online dating can be hard. You're constantly wondering which profile picture to choose, stressing over a catchy tagline, and unsure about just how much to disclose. Here are 7 tips to help you refresh your dating profile and optimize for online dating success.
There are a ton of different apps and websites for online dating. Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble are just a few. You should choose an app depending on what kind of relationship you are looking for. “Tinder has long been perceived as a hook-up app” while “other dating applications and websites that use more complex matching algorithms (e.g. match.com, eHarmony, etc.) might be underlining the idea of a compatibility importance between partners” (Stoicescu 2019).
There are more considerations for those who are in the LGBTQ+ community. Lesbians commonly find men, couples, and heterosexual women after they change their settings to seeking women (Ferris & Duguay 2020). Some specifically LGBTQ+ apps include Her, Chappy, and LGBTQutie.
Try different apps or websites to see which one you like the most and which one aligns best with what you are looking for.
Once you have chosen an app or a website, the next step is to set up your profile. Your profile is the first impression that someone has of you -- and that means more than just your picture. Take a few extra minutes to proofread your page.
A 2020 study found that “profile owners with profile texts with language errors are rated as less socially and romantically attractive than profile owners with texts without errors” (Van der Zanden, Schouten, Mos, & Krahmer, 2020). Review your profile for any typos if you want to put your best foot forward.
Along with spelling and grammar errors, it has been found that sexually explicit language also has an impact on the potential connection. In a study on managing online dating impressions participants mentioned that they take note of sexually explicit language in profiles because they wanted to connect with people who had similar values (Ellison 2006). Participants viewed sexually explicit language in profiles as an indicator of what the other person was looking for.
Finally, instead of worrying which photo has the best angle of your face, make sure you chose the one that's most clear. Research shows that “profile owners with visible pictures are perceived as physically more attractive than those with blurred pictures” (Van der Zanden et. al 2020). Make sure your picture is easy to see.
Although your profile picture is important, your profile should be more than just a picture. Be sure to include information about yourself. Women who have online dated are also more likely than men to say it was very important to them that the profiles they looked through included a person’s religious beliefs (32% vs. 18%), occupation (27% vs. 8%) or height (22% vs. 8%)” (Vogels 2020).
There was not a big difference in the percentage of men and women who desired others to include their hobbies or if they have children in their profile. 43% of men and 48% of women feel it is important to include if you have children (Vogels 2020). 32% of men and 40% of women find it important to include your hobbies and interests (Vogels 2020).
Overall, you want to give others a sense of who you are as a person. Check your profile for typos, add clear photos, and make sure you are sending out the right message about yourself.
Are you from Tennessee? Because you're the only 10 I see!
Are you a parking ticket? Because you’ve got FINE written all over you.
Did it hurt when you fell from heaven? Because you’re an angel.
We have all heard cheesy pick up lines like this and most of the time they do not work. Research has found that cute-flippant openings (pickup lines that are excessively flirtatious or cliché) are not particularly effective or well-received (Sharabi & Dykstra-DeVette 2019). These pickup lines feel generic and insincere. These pick up lines are often copied and pasted into messages, making it easier to send them to multiple people. These types of interactions do not usually form a genuine connection between people.
Try starting online communication with a simple greeting that is representative of how you actually speak. Saying “Hi [Name], how’s it going?” sounds normal and casual, while keeping it personalized to this person's first name. A low pressure greeting will come across as more sincere. If you still wish to be explicitly flirtatious during the first message, perhaps give a compliment that is specific to what that person wrote in their profile in order to convey genuine interest.
A 2019 study examined the messages sent to potential romantic partners for people who were online dating. The results demonstrated that “participants who discussed their partner preferences reported a higher likelihood of a second date”. In this study “the partner preferences strategy included descriptions of the characteristics participants desired in a partner” (Sharabi & Dykstra-DeVette 2019).
Pew reports that “among online daters, 72% of women say it was very important to them that the profiles they looked at included the type of relationship the person was looking for, compared with about half of men (53%)” (Vogels 2020). Being honest about who you are interested in and what type of relationship you are looking for is vital to online dating. Communication is always an important aspect in relationships and it is no different for online relationships.
With social distancing rules in effect, video chatting is a good way to stay safe while still going on dates. Prior to the global endemic, many people reported being open to video dating but not trying it because of the potential for an awkward experience. Since the start of the pandemic, Hinge reports that video dating is on the rise and “67% of Hinge users told us they found their video date more natural than they thought it would be. Even more surprising is that more than 80% rated their video dates as not at all awkward” (Fein 2019).
Although going on a video date may seem intimidating, it can be a lot of fun. It will probably not be as awkward as you think and you can meet a really nice person. You may even feel more comfortable because you are in your own space instead of going to a new environment. Give video chatting a try next time you connect with a potential romantic partner.
The landscape of in person dating is different from that of online dating. Not all online meetings result in meeting in person and the ones that transition offline vary in relationship type. Research has shown “that of all online daters, 50.7% had gone on an offline date (i.e., arranged a face-to-face meeting), 19.8% had had a sexual relationship (i.e., one-night stand, friends with benefits), and 26.0% had had a (short- or long-term) romantic relationship after having met that person online” (Hallam, De Backer, & Walrave 2019).
Online dating may take determination to find the right person for you. You may have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet your prince.
There are always certain risks associated with online dating. Safety tips from Hinge include never sending money or sharing personal information and meeting in a public place when you decide to meet face-to-face. Be cautious of people who do not seem authentic to you - usually your gut knows best. If you have a bad feeling about someone, play it safe. We hear horror stories like this one every day. You can also read more about some common relationship red flags here.
The LIFE Intelligence app is a science-backed journey for complete self, career, and relationship development. One of the app's 9 core areas is relationships. Mission 7 (out of 9 Missions, or topics) is focused on attachment & relationships. It breaks down the discrepancy between what we say we want out of a relationship, like kindness and commitment, and what we actually choose, like looks or money. It shows what traits predict for long-term relationship satisfaction. And, it discusses your attachment style, and how you might be able to develop into a more secure partner, or help your partner become more secure, too. Finally, LIFE Intelligence also provides relationship prompts from couples counseling to foster "real talk" and deeper connections. Download the app today to try out some of these prompts on your next zoom date.
Ellison, H. (2006). Managing Impressions Online: Self‐Presentation Processes in the Online Dating Environment. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(2), 415–441.
Ergun, S. (2020, September 16). Quarantine Became The World's Largest Icebreaker On Tinder. Retrieved January 25, 2021
Fein, K. (2019, June 19). Video Chat Dating. Retrieved January 25, 2021, from https://www.hingelabs.co/insights/video-chat-may-2020
Safe Dating Advice. (n.d.). Retrieved January 25, 2021, from https://hingeapp.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360007194774-Safe-Dating-Advice/
Sharabi, L. L., & Dykstra-DeVette, T. A. (2019). From first email to first date: Strategies for initiating relationships in online dating. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36(11–12), 3389–3407.
Van der Zanden, T., Schouten, A. P., Mos, M. B. J., & Krahmer, E. J. (2020). Impression formation on online dating sites: Effects of language errors in profile texts on perceptions of profile owners’ attractiveness. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 37(3), 758–778.
Vogels, E. (2020, June 04). 10 facts about Americans and online dating. Retrieved January 25, 2021, from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/02/06/10-facts-about-americans-and-online-dating/