After three online dating tips by Evelyn Borg generated considerable interest, Gisele Schembri now shares more advice, suggesting that dating apps can also be used to enhance your social life – with or without romance
When I found myself single again last May, I felt lost and isolated. My friends were all attending to their little worlds, nursing babies, planning a wedding, and settling into new homes (read What to Do When All Your Friends Are Getting Married). They were in stable relationships, with little time to spare. And me? I finally had the time, but no friends to share it with!
Like with every new life situation, it was a matter of discovering the tricks of the trade. Our age revolves around technology, right? So, I found out, the trick to making friends was to reach out to my faithful friend, my mobile phone. People suggested several apps, and I suddenly found myself with more friends than I ever had before.
Let’s be honest: whatever intentions people declare, these apps are not only for forging new friendships. Many users are thumbing and swiping their screens in the hope of matching up with potential dates. Soon I found myself giving tips to my new-found friends on what type of photos to post on their profile and what details to give if they wanted to attract ‘likes’ and get people to chat with them.
Here is the strategy I would advise to boost your chances of making friends or finding a special ‘friend’.
There’s no point in playing hide-and-seek. Without you telling me about who you are or what you are looking for, how can I decide if I even want to talk to you? At least write what language/s you speak, your real age and whether you are single or not. “I have a girlfriend back home” is not something I should learn on a date. Nor is the fact that you never want to have children, considering that I am a single mum. So make sure to set the record straight and avoid creating false expectations.
A good long chat starts from finding some common interests, ideas or goals, so don’t forget to list what you want to share with the person you are looking to meet.
In our visual world, we do make our first impression from pictures online. I want to visualise the person I am about to talk to, so no, even if you say you’re only looking for friendship, I don’t want to see a picture of your fireplace. Nor am I going to decide to press ‘like’ if I only see your dog, unless you are in the picture cuddling it.
OK, so you are showing me your face. Can I ask you to smile, at least for the camera? Never look overly cocky, it’s not the friendliest of traits. I would also like to see one good close-up sans sunglasses, because if I can’t see your eyes properly, how can I deduce what’s in your soul?
Do put up multiple photos. In addition to your face, I would like to see your body shape, your sense of style, your posture. All of these add up to your level of attractiveness for people who are looking to date.
Don’t post pictures of yourself with other people – unless it is obvious which one is you. It sounds like a no-brainer, but you should never pose with only one person of the opposite sex if you are looking for dates.
Make sure to remove outdated pics! You don’t want to meet your online data for a drink only to hear them say you look nothing like they thought you would. Your date should recognise your face on sight when you meet that first time.
Chat up your prospective friend/ date in a way that shows you care. Call me a romantic, but “You have beautiful eyes” is an infinitely better ice-breaker than “Are you looking for a friend with benefits?”
To top it all off, I must insist that you take this last point very seriously: never, and I mean never, accept Facebook Friend Requests from people you meet on online apps before you know a little about them or have preferably met them face-to-face. This counts true especially if you have photos or even statuses that you wouldn’t want to share with the world. You might eventually block that person or remove them from ‘Friends’ but keep in mind that saving a copy of your photos is the easiest thing.
Same with your mobile number. Make it a policy to only give out your number to people who you wouldn’t mind calling you. A ‘Hi, how are you doing?” from a friendly voice is fine, but an “I waited for you but you never turned up” from an apparent stalker is not!
Despite its perils, online dating is worth a try.