Have you committed a dating sin?

October 11, 2016social-media-sins

If you’re Jewish, like I am, then you know that the most sacred time of the year, the High Holidays, is upon us.  (It’s a bit later than usual this year because of the extra month added to the calendar this year.  It’s somewhat like our Leap Year but much more intense!)  And if you’re not Jewish, the advice I’m about to give applies to you, too, of course… and you don’t even have to fast on Yom Kippur tomorrow!

The high holidays are all about welcoming in a sweet new year and then repenting for our sins, eating apples and honey and then fasting for a day.  It’s about starting on a new foot and then casting our bad deeds in the water at Tashlich, one small piece of stale rye crust at a time.  What does this have to do with dating?  I’d venture to say that those of us who are on the market have committed a sin or two in the field of dating.  True—the Ten Commandments don’t discuss the ethics of ending a bad date (I do, of course), but in this day and age, we’re more likely to commit a dating sin than bear false witness against our neighbor… whatever that even means.  Am I right?

So, let’s really think about it this year.  What dating sins have we committed, and can we rectify them?  Some common sins (this seems too strong of a word—let’s call them “dins” for dating + sins) are:

Din #1: The last-minute cancel and never reschedule

You have a date planned that you’re just feeling “meh” about. You’re tired. The last thing you want is to change out of your too-loose-to-show-other-people red sweatpants. So, you cancel. Do you propose another date?  No. Next time, cancel with the truth, or schedule another date at the time you’re canceling.

Din #2: Last-minute canceling via text

This is an addendum to Din #1. Text is never an appropriate way to cancel a date within, say, four hours of the date itself.  If you have someone’s number, please have the courtesy to call and make sure the person you’re canceling on gets the message (a voicemail counts).  If your date doesn’t respond, then you can follow up with a text. Your time is not more valuable than someone else’s.

Din #3: Shutting down in the first five minutes

Sometimes you walk into a date and just know that this person’s not for you. That’s okay. But, completely shutting down, making the other person feel like he or she is talking to a piece of broccoli is not the answer. Instead, change your mindset. Can I learn something from this person? Might this person be a business contact? Maybe a friend is a good fit for this person instead? If you’re going to be sitting there anyway, you might as well get something out of it.

Din #4: Deciding you’re not interested and never telling the other person (aka ghosting)

It’s okay if you’re not interested in someone anymore after a few dates. It happens. That’s what dating is all about.  But if you’ve gone on more than one date with a person and decided that he or she isn’t for you (of if you’ve gone on just one date but the other person expressed interest in meeting again), dropping off the face of the earth is one big din. It doesn’t require much, just a simple email or text saying something like, “Thanks again for a fun date/couple dates. Unfortunately, I’m just not feeling the chemistry/connection I’m looking for, but I wish you all the best!” It’s not a crime to lose interest in someone. But, the mature thing to do is to end it on a positive note. Plus, if you run into this person later, she won’t have to whisper behind your back that you’re the guy or gal who snubbed her.

No one’s perfect, and I’m sure we’ve all committed one or more of these dins, but let’s take a moment to think about how we can improve the dating world this year, one “din” at a time.

Feel free to use the comments section to add any other dating sins you’ve encountered.

Want more dating advice? (You know you do!) Click Here for your very own dating cheat sheet of 25 secret dating tips you can use immediately.

Dating After Divorce: What You Need To Know

September 16, 2016

According to the American Psychological Association, in Western cultures, more than 90 percent of people get married by the time they turn 50 years old.  40 to 50 percent of married couples in the US, however, get divorced.  And the divorce rate for second and third marriages is even higher.

According to the Witherspoon Institute, there are a number of factors that may contribute to a couple’s uncoupling: the age at which you get married, the age difference between spouses, marital history, family history of divorce, children (both had and desired), and sexual history.

Now, I’m not sharing this information to depress you or to make you think twice about getting married, or married again.  What I am saying is that if you are divorced and looking to date again, you’re in very good company.  What may have been considered taboo before is more commonplace now.  In fact, I often have clients who prefer meeting another divorcée so that there is a common life experience on which to build a bond.

If you were married for a very long time, as many of my clients have been, online dating can seem especially daunting.  Match.com was founded in the 1990s, as was JDate, so if you were looking for love before that, these sites were not yet an option.  Dating today is a lot different than it used to be.  As we learned from Aziz Ansari’s book Modern Romance, we used to look in our own radius for a partner.  Ansari references a 1932 University of Pennsylvania study that showed that one-third of married couples had previously lived within a five-block radius of each other.  And, if you remember, my parents met because they were next-door neighbors!

In these times of technology, dating is not necessarily better or worse—it’s just different.  If you’re recently (or not so recently) divorced and are looking to get back out there, then it’s important to have some perspective with online dating, so please keep these pointers in mind:dating-after-divorce-old-love-new-love

  1. Remember that it’s just a date.

All you’re committing to when you agree to meet someone is a date… not marriage, not a ten-course meal. It’s just a date with some hopefully good conversation. I previously asked, “What’s the whole point of dating?” Feel free to read this as a refresher.

  1. Be accurate and truthful.

Just as you want your date to have posted recent photos and told the truth about his or her age and height, your date wants the same of you.

  1. Don’t create a fantasy in your mind.

Until you meet someone in person, there’s no way of knowing whether you have chemistry or not.  No number of emails or phone chats can change that, so get to the in-person meeting sooner rather than later.

  1. Don’t badmouth online dating on an online dating site.

It’s one thing to be a bit nervous, but it’s another to project your cynicism on others.

  1. People are just people.

Just because you’re meeting someone from an online dating site, that doesn’t make him or her any different from someone you meet “in real life.”  There are the same risks and the same rewards. Many people think someone online is scarier for some reason. I don’t know about you, but I encounter plenty of scary people on my own block… and they’re not from an online dating site!

In the end, it takes time to make a connection.  Don’t go in expecting to meet the next love of your life in a week or a month.  Just like anything important in life, it will take time.  You’re not alone.

Want more dating advice? (You know you do!) Click Here for your very own dating cheat sheet of 25 secret dating tips you can use immediately.


It’s Not the Medium; It’s the Person

August 18, 2016

It always starts the same: “I hate online dating.”  Or, “I quit online dating.”  Or, “I don’t believe in online dating.”

I, of course, have to follow up half-heartedly with “why?”  I say half-heartedly not because I’m an impatient person but because this is something, as a dating coach, I hear almost every day of my life.  I find myself treating this question like a record that just keeps skipping.  I ask the obligatory “why?” because it’s my job, and when a person makes a bold statement like that, he or she wants to elicit a response from me.  The reason is always the same—this person has a story to tell.

Here’s a gem from the other day:

My friend met her ex-husband on Match.com.  He is crazy!  She had to get a restraining order against him, and then he had to go to a facility to get help.  Can you believe that?! I would never do Match after that!

There is so much to unpack here.  Does this woman not hold her friend responsible for any of her actions?  She married the guy, for crying out loud!  It’s not Match.com’s fault the relationship didn’t work out.  It’s the two parties involved.

Let’s look at another one.  I was hosting an event recently, and one woman started the conversation the same way, with one of the three infamous lines above.  When I asked the “why?” she was waiting for, she said, “All three, yes three, guys I met online lied about their height!”  I can’t dispute the fact that lying is wrong, which I expressed to her, but is a guy lying about his height—oh sorry, three guys—enough to make you completely take yourself offline and out of the reach (no pun intended) of plenty of other eligible men?  I think not.

One client recently told me that she, in all of her excitement, told her brother-in-law that she had met someone online.  He then sent her, I kid you not, a story about a woman getting killed by someone she met online.  While there’s no disputing that this was a horrible scenario, my client luckily had a sense of humor about it, knowing that her brother-in-law meant well… kinda, I guess.  I told her to reply with no words but simply a link to one of the many published “success stories” that the sites tout.

The reason for my frustration here is not that I want everyone in the world to be online dating if they’re single.  It’s quite the opposite.  Whether to go online or not is a personal choice.  My beef is with people equating one story, whether good or bad, with their definition of what online dating is.  Everyone who knows anyone who has done online dating has heard both a horror story and a love story.  “My friend got stalked!”  “My sister met her husband online!”  “He met a woman on OkCupid who cheated on him.”  “We met when I was stationed in Germany… on Tinder!  And we got married last year.”  How about all of the in-between stories, the mediocre dates, the run-of-the-mill experiences, the two-date wonders?  No one ever talks about those.

Just to drive the point home, let’s say you’re food shopping.  You meet someone in Aisle 6 as you’re looking at the pasta, deciding whether the gluten-free rigatoni really could have the “same great taste” as the real thing.  (For the record, it can’t.)  It’s love at first sight, and you walk off into the sunset (aka the check-out line) in a state of carbohydrate bliss.  But then things aren’t so great.  You find out that this person can’t hold a job.  This person doesn’t even like pasta.  What?!  This person is not who you thought he or she was initially.  Ask yourself this: Would you stop going to that supermarket because one person wasn’t right for you?

It’s not the medium; it’s the person.  Online dating isn’t the cause of good or bad dates, good or bad relationships.  The two people involved are.  So, when people say to me that they have “quit” or “banned” online dating from their lives, that to me means that personal accountability isn’t something they have an abundance of.  In fact, perhaps this ban of the medium is a defense mechanism so as to avoid future rejection.  You can’t fail if you don’t play the game.

In the end, don’t let one person or experience dictate your future success.  If you have a bad date, so be it.  Don’t let that person prevent you, through your decision to quit online dating, from being happy.  No one should have that power over you… particularly another person you barely even know.  As a former economist, I can tell you that a sample size of one or two—or three, in the height case—is not statistically significant enough to draw any conclusions.  Far from it.

So, online date if you wish, have some experiences, and chalk it all up to another tool to meet new people.  But no one person could ever represent the entire world of online dating.

Want more dating advice? (You know you do!) Click Here for your very own dating cheat sheet of 25 secret dating tips you can use immediately.


The Three Ways to Meet People

July 21, 2016Meet-Cute

Sure—everyone wants that perfect “meet-cute.”  You sit down next to each other on the airplane.  Sparks fly.  You talk the whole time about deep topics.  You look into each other’s eyes.  You exchange information.  The rest is history.

While that’s all fine and lovely and good, is it realistic?  I don’t think so.  We all have that one friend who it’s happened to, so we think that’s the norm.  “Well, my friend Sandy met her husband on the Amtrak train to NY, so I’ve been taking the train more.”  Or “Jeffrey made eyes at Chris over the frozen food section, and they’ve been eating ice cream together ever since.”  It’s nice, it’s sweet… and it’s a one-off experience.  We remember these stories.

I went to Cornell for college.  Cornell is known for many things—its academics, its food, its beautiful campus, its cold weather… and its suicides.  Very unfortunately, suicides at Cornell are a little more memorable because some people jump off a bridge into one of Ithaca’s many gorges.  Sad, indeed, but common?  No.  Cornell does not have an above-average suicide rate.  The misperception of a high rate was attributed to the public nature of these tragic events.  Just as you remember these horrific stories, while uncommon, you also remember the best of your friends’ dating stories and the worst.  (Sorry for such a morbid example!)

For these reasons, it’s important to make sure you’re putting yourself out there in the right way.  I want to share the three main categories of meeting people.  They are, of course, not mutually exclusive.

  1. The first is the random that we talked about: the airplane, Starbucks, the top of the Eiffel Tower. You get the picture.  These are unpredictable.  You don’t know if people are single.  And even if they are, you don’t know if they are looking to meet someone.  The chance of meeting someone randomly is small.  Don’t go into a random situation *expecting* to meet someone, or else you may be sorely disappointed.  That said, do put your best foot forward (through your look and your attitude) when in these situations just in case.  I’m not a complete naysayer, after all!
  1. The second is the club or group—a Meetup, a hiking group, a sports team, an art class. Just like with the random events, you have no idea who is available and who isn’t, so you can’t *expect* to meet someone.  The purpose of this way of meeting people is to put yourself out there doing something you already enjoy.  For example, if you hate fishing, don’t join a fishing group to meet someone because you’ll have a miserable time!  But let’s say you love hiking.  Join a hiking group.  Whether you meet someone or not, you’ll be enjoying yourself doing something you love anyway.  Meeting someone would be icing on the cake.  Also, when you’re doing something you love, you’re more yourself, more in your element, which is a great way to attract people—friends and partners alike.
  1. The third are things targeted specifically for singles—online dating (of course!), speed dating, and singles mixers and events.  Here, while maybe a little more contrived, you know that the other people are also looking and available.  This is the smartest and most efficient way to put yourself out there.  There’s always an element of chance, but you’re setting yourself up to have the best odds when you know that people have the same goals as you do—to meet someone.  This is why I highly recommend online dating and other singles events.  Might as well increase your odds!

So, let’s put it in action.  I want you to scour your city’s event listings and sign up for one singles’ event.  Maybe it’s a speed-dating, maybe it’s a happy hour geared towards singles, maybe it’s something else.  Commit to putting yourself out there and giving yourself the best chances of meeting someone.  Remember, though, that however you put yourself out there will still take time.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Don’t give up.  Take breaks if you like, but don’t quit if it’s something you really want.  The one place you won’t meet someone is on your couch!

If you need help finding events in your city, please feel free to reach out.  Also, please write in the comments below any events you find that may interest other readers.


How to Take an Online Date Offline

Unsure of how to get out there, or get back out there, this time around?
Unsure of how to actually get from the computer to the date?

June 23, 2016

Isn’t the point of going online to get offline?  (No need to answer that.  I think it’s pretty clear!)   So many people ask me, “How do you just get offline?!”  Or, “When is the appropriate time to ask someone you’ve met online out on a date?”  While there’s no one right answer, I’ll start by saying this: the sooner the better.

So, you’re having this great email exchange with someone online, but it seems to be leading nowhere, and, as much as I hate to say it, it’s probably leading nowhere because you haven’t led it anywhere!

You have a few options:

1.      Stop all communication. Clearly this person has no interest in meeting in person.

2.      Keep emailing until all of your hair goes gray.

3.      Suggest meeting in a casual, non-aggressive way.

No surprise here… the choice is #3: suggest meeting in a casual, non-aggressive way.  You might be tempted to just stop writing to someone when it doesn’t seem to be leading to a date, but here’s why I’ll tell you not to do that:

Assume ignorance. These people don’t know what they’re doing, either!  They have no idea when it’s appropriate to ask you out!  To drive the point home, this is one of the most common questions I get from my male clients: “When do I ask her out online?”  Give people the benefit of the doubt.  As a side note, in opposite sex relationships, women generally defer to the men to ask them out.  (I do advise women to do the asking, too, but on the whole, they are waiting for the men.)

Back to the question of when it’s appropriate to ask: anytime!  Let’s say you write to someone and he or she responds.  You could ask to meet in the very next message.  I’ve found that with my clients, there’s an 80% chance someone will say yes if he or she replied to your first message.  You’ve passed the “looks” barrier and the “first message” barrier.  You’re in.  And of the 20%, they may not have agreed to meet regardless of how many messages you’ve sent!  The odds are in your favor.  Use them.  In general, I recommend no more than six emails back and forth (three on each side) or a week of emailing before scheduling the date.

Now, how do you go about doing it?  Here are a few examples of how to ask someone out online in a casual, non-aggressive way:

“I’m really enjoying our conversation, and I think it would be nice (or fun) to continue it in person over a drink.”  Or “I have so many more things I’d love to ask you!  Maybe over a cup of coffee?”

But that’s just the start.  Then you have to pinpoint an actual day to go out.  Just asking vaguely doesn’t get you a date.  You have to ask specifically.  Add to the last line, “Are you in town this weekend?” or “How’s next Tuesday or Wednesday for you?”

Once you put the question out there, the other person has a few choices:

1.      Agree to the date you suggested.

2.      Propose another date.

3.      Answer your email but not respond to the part about going out.

4.      Not answer at all.

If the latter two, you no longer have to waste your time.  And if the former two, you have a date on the books.  Congratulations!

Now it’s time to get planning.  I do advise my male clients to choose a venue rather than leaving it to the woman because it adds so much pressure.  “What kind of place does he want?”  “Should it be near me or him?”  If he does leave the choice to the woman, though, then it’s her call!  If he objects to that, he can tell you.

Now, make sure you’re confirmed the day before.  There’s nothing more annoying than getting a date scheduled four or five days in advance and then wondering on the day of the date if it’s actually happening!  Rather than twiddling your thumbs all day waiting, just confirm.  You’ll save yourself time and annoyance.  Doing this over text is just fine.  And go with the positive, confident confirmation of “Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow at 7” versus the weak “Are we still on?”  It makes a big difference.

Then you have yourself a date, my friend.  Enjoy!

A Date in the Hand…

April 27, 2016Bird in Hand

Client 1 (Alicia): “I joined Match.com two weeks ago, and only creeps and weirdos have emailed me!”

Erika: “That’s annoying! But you’re a great catch, so of course people are emailing you.”

Alicia: “Yeah, but they’re not the RIGHT people.”

Erika: “Well, has anyone appropriate sent you an email?”

Alicia: “One guy I guess. We’re emailing to trying to set up a date.”


Erika: “Tony, let me know how your three dates go this week. I’m excited to hear about them!”

Client 2 (Tony): “I definitely will. Do you have any dates lined up for me for next week yet?”


Client 3 (Marc): “Ugh. I went to this event and there were only like 10 women there. I felt like it was a sausage fest.”

Erika: “That’s too bad that the organizer let the ratios get so off-balance!”

Marc: “I know! It was ridiculous.”

Erika: “Well, did you like any of the 10 women who were there?”

Marc: “I don’t know.  I didn’t meet them.  I left when I saw that it was mostly men.”

I want to give Alicia, Tony, and Marc the same advice: Focus more on what you do have, not so much on what you don’t In Alicia’s case, while she’s getting a number of emails from “creeps and weirdos” (which is subjective to begin with), what she neglected to tell me initially was that one guy with potential actually wrote to her, and they’re in the date-planning phase. Win! And, I didn’t even get to the part where I would ask Alicia whether she’s reaching out to men on her own because she should be proactive about the process as well. Liken it to a job search. If you only interviewed for the positions and companies that reached out to you, then either you’d be going to a lot of worthless job interviews… or none at all. Being proactive is the key. In online dating, there’s no barrier to someone sending you a message. (There is on the dating apps, though. You have to have a “mutual match,” in that you’ve both chosen each other in order to be able to write.) Just think to yourself, “I’m flattered. Not for me. Delete.”

In Tony’s case, he already has three dates lined up! Why is he so worried about next week? He’s already assuming that this week’s three dates won’t live up to whatever standard he presumes is needed to convert to a second date.  Three dates in one week is nothing to stick your nose up at! Just see how they go, and then “worry” about next week.

Marc had a great opportunity to meet 10 new women, and he squandered it because all he could focus on was who was not at the party. These 10 women got dressed, traveled to the venue, and were ready and willing to meet new people. What did Marc do with this opportunity? He completely dismissed the whole event rather than taking advantage of talking to them and potentially hitting it off. I bet many men went home having met someone that night. Marc didn’t give himself the chance.

I’m not saying that you have to count your blessings or anything like that. Honestly, when people say to “remember all the blessings you have in life,” I often roll my eyes. Yes, I’m lucky.  Yes, I know it. What I’m talking about here is much more narrow. Focus on what’s actually in front of you, not what might be or what isn’t. As they say, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. I’ll say a date in the scheduling phase or a first date that’s actually on the calendar is worth two who don’t bother to write, reply, or show up.

Are all apps just for casual relationships?

April 26, 2016

Have you heard the expression “hookup culture” recently?  Our friend and foe Wikipedia defines “hookup culture” as a culture that accepts and encourages casual sexual encounters, focusing on immediate pleasure rather than long-term commitment.  This is not a new phenomenon by any means.  The American Psychological Association (APA) says that hookups became more frequent in the 1920s, believe it or not, when more people were driving cars and going to movie theaters (aka getting out of their parents’ houses).  Then, in the 1960s, with feminism on the rise and more people sexually liberated, it became even more acceptable.  The APA says, and I agree, that today’s hookup culture represents a marked shift in openness and acceptance of uncommitted sex.  I know that I, for one, can’t say I know anyone who is waiting until marriage to have sex.  Do you?

Why am I giving a history of hookup culture, you may be wondering?  I want to look at today’s trends as it relates to the dating apps that now exist.

This past August, a Vanity Fair article came out, claiming that Tinder (owned by the same company as Match and OurTime, The Match Group) and apps like it are starting what they call a “Dating Apocalypse.”  The article contends that in today’s society, many people, especially millennials, are moving toward this hookup culture that I’ve been talking about, where everything is determined by instant gratification.  The article goes on to say that the people they profiled—twenty-somethings in New York City—are even going as far as using the app as a game to see just how many people they can sleep with in any given period of time.  It goes on to say that the art of dating is solely becoming extinct, much like the cassette tape and the rotary phone.

As an online dating coach, I am asked by people all the time, “Are dating apps just for hooking up?”  My answer is always the same: Yes … if you both hook up.  (Just for the record, I hate the expression “hook up.”  I think it sounds classless, but, just like most of us, I have to adapt to the times, too.)  Any site can be used for anything you’re looking for.  Do more people “hook up” on JSwipe (JDate’s Tinder-eqsue app that it acquired for $7 million last year) than on Elite Singles?  Probably.  Do some people troll the “serious” dating sites looking for a one-night stand?  Sure.  And do some people find meaningful, lasting relationships from an app like the one discussed in the Vanity Fair article? You bet.

As for the point the article made about the world becoming a place of casual relationships, I’ll just say that you get what you allow.  If you’re looking for a serious relationship, but you allow someone into your life in a physical-only capacity, then that’s what you get.  If you instead hold out for someone who is also looking for the commitment you are, then you’ll get that instead.

There are, of course, some benefits to using the daNetflix and Chillting apps:

They’re efficient.  When you match with someone, you could meet that person within hours, or even minutes, depending on how close you are.  Chemistry is the wild card that is either there or not, so meeting face-to-face in a timely fashion is one of the keys to online dating.  Also, because of a very granular GPS system, the apps allow you to find people in your vicinity whose paths you might not have crossed.  Some dating services target a radius within your ZIP code, which also locates people you might not meet otherwise but within a much larger area.  Lastly, they’re easy to set up and free.  With a few clicks and a Facebook account, you can make a profile.

As for whether you should use Tinder or any other app to find a date, that’s up to you.  I contend that people should use any resources available to them.  Don’t NOT use something because of its reputation.  But, if you want to ensure that other people have some skin in the game, in the form of a monthly payment, then the “traditional” online dating sites like Match.com, eHarmony, JDate, Christian Mingle, and those similar are still your best bet.

Your Body Language Can Impact Your Dating Life

April 1, 2016

While it’s obvious that what you say on a date can make or break the experience, what you do also has a huge impact on your chances of getting to date #2.  You might be the next Nobel Prize winner or the sexiest man alive, but if you don’t look someone in the eye, it’s hard to get to know you.  Or, you might be the #1 saver of kittens trapped in trees, but if you snap at the server for your check, even Mittens the Kitten can’t save you now.

When you’re on a date, while you can never create chemistry, you can, however, subtly increase the “flirt factor” (an Erika-ism) by using these six pointers for having great body language on dates:

  1. Face your date.

Are your knees facing towards your date or away from your date?  The more you point them towards your date, the more likely you are into him/her, and vice versa.  Generally, if people turn their legs away from someone, it’s because they are trying to keep some distance.

  1. Try to be a little closer.

I hate two-top tables, or the ones where you feel like you have to yell across the table to have a conversation.  I’ve actually been known to turn rectangular tables at restaurants so that the longer side runs in front of me rather than to the side, lessening the space between myself and the person I’m talking to.  (Use your discretion on whether to try this one at home, kids.)

If given the choice, for a first date, either sit at the bar next to each other, or sit at a square table catty-corner from each other.  This way, you’re more inclined to have an intimate conversation since you’re close enough to hear each other and lean in a bit.

  1. Playful touching can be A-okay.

Do you like your date?  If so, a playful touch is generally a sign of interest.  Let’s say you’re out with someone really funny.  He cracks a joke.  You touch his arm briefly while saying, “That was so funny.”  Score.

  1. Maintain eye contact.

Eye contact is so important.  If you want someone to know you’re truly listening, then make the appropriate eye contact.  Perhaps you’re just shy, but if you don’t look someone in the eye, he or she thinks you’re either lying about something or not very interested.

Speaking of keeping your eyes on each other, I shouldn’t even need to tell you to put your cell phone away during your date.  There’s nothing worse than interrupting someone mid-sentence to check a text message.  If you are expecting an important call or message, simply let your date know in advance that there’s a possibility you might have to step out for a minute.  Even a phone facinbody-postureg down on the table indicates that you’re waiting for something.  Just put it away.

  1. Check your posture.

A recent study showed that if you have a more “expansive posture,” you’re likely to get a better response than if you contact your body.  For example, having your arms outstretched makes you look more appealing than having your arms crossed, which appears closed off.  While the study focused on online dating photos, the same concepts can be applied to the date itself.  If you’re sitting with your arms crossed, your date assumes you’re likely bored or uninterested… or both.

  1. Give a nice hug.

How do most of your dates end?  With a hug?  A kiss?  A handshake?  I recommend the hug, and the quality of the hug actually matters.  Just like in a business meeting, you don’t want anyone to have the “dead fish” handshake, in a dating setting, you don’t want to be the person with the weak hug.  I’m not saying that give your date a great big bear hug (in fact, don’t), but what I am saying is to give a real, earnest hug that shows that you care.

What you say on a date is obviously important, but people also remember the subtle things that you do… or don’t do.  So, it’s time to practice these body language exercises, both on dates and in life.

Answer key (click links for more info):

  1. True: All else equal, you’ll have better results on an online dating site if you wear red.
  2. False: Using a photo of yourself an a tortoise has been proven to get more “likes” and “right swipes.”
  3. True: On the dating apps, like Tinder and Hinge, asking an interesting question is better than starting a conversation with, “Hey, what’s up?”
  4. True (see above): Using a photo with your arms outstretched is better than using one with your arms crossed.

15 Quick & Dirty Tips for Your Online Dating Profile

March 2, 2016

You haven’t written your online dating profile yet?  robotsAs any intrusive relative (we all have them) would say, “You’re not getting any younger!”  This is before the requisite pinch cheek, of course.  When you’re ready to take the leap and either subscribe to or update your online dating profile, here are the top 15 Quick & Dirty Tips for Your Online Dating Profile:

  1. Make sure your photos are representative of you, especially the first one.  You would rather have someone meet you in person thinking, “He/she is much better-looking than the photos,” not “Those photos were a lie… or taken five years ago!”  Be confident, and be truthful.
  1. Less is more when it comes to photos.  People will look for the one bad photo (um… the one with the empty wine bottle in front of you and your lips looking extra red?) and decide not to write to you because of it.  Three to five photos are recommended.
  1. Have at least one clear “face” photo.  Blurry photos make people wonder if you’re hiding something.
  1. Be by yourself in the shot.  Too many reasons!
  • Don’t give someone the opportunity to compare you to the other people in your own picture.
  • Don’t try to show that you’re social. We know you’re social.
  • If it’s someone of the opposite sex, we think it’s your ex… or current significant other.
  1. Have one photo doing something interesting.  Many people have no idea what to say in the initial message to you, so give them something to comment on, or “message bait.”  Ideas: you making a delicious loaf of bread, you doing underwater basket weaving, you riding a horse… you get the idea.
  1. Include a full-body shot.  For the same reason as #1, it’s important that you portray yourself accurately.  Also, when people don’t have information (as in, what you look like below the neck), they assume things, and often they assume the worst.
  1. Take your time writing your profile.  Many people think that writing an online dating profile is a one-time job, and they rarely change it based on its success (or lack thereof).  They also try to write it as quickly as humanly possible. This is one thing that you should really spend your time on.  You are putting yourself out there for the world to see, so you want to put your best foot forward.
  1. In your profile, provide a bold introduction.  Try not to bore someone to sleep or sound just like everyone else.  Make the first line memorable and interesting.
  1. End your profile on a positive note.  “Need not apply” need not be in your vocabulary.
  1. Do NOT write a novel.  Anything over three paragraphs on a “traditional” online dating site like Match.com is much too long.  And on the apps (i.e. Tinder, Bumble, etc.), short and sweet—and quirky—is the key.


Things I’m good at: remembering which direction the North Star points, swimming in really cold water, making pizza from scratch, writing limericks and ridiculous Tinder profiles

  1. Stand out from the crowd.  If the stranger sitting next to you on the subway might have been able to write the same exact profile, then it is too generic, and it’s time to spice it up.
  1. Avoid “empty adjectives.”  These are words like “smart,” “funny,” “attractive,” and “loyal” that are subjective and cannot be proven until someone gets to know you.
  1. Proofread and edit.  If someone spells “your” incorrectly, I don’t assume carelessness; I assume stupidity.  Don’t make people think you’re stupid.
  1. Make sure you’re realistic, not idealistic.  Your profile should be representative of you today, not the you in your head… who we know is a rock star.
  1. Remember that online dating is not represented by any one bad (or good) date.  Don’t quit online dating after one bad date.  First, that person is just that—one person.  And every bad date is a good story.  (I have one about how I inadvertently went out with the same person twice… six years apart!)

Looking for more?  Feel free to grab a copy of my book, Love at First Site, on Amazon if you need additional help and motivation.

Want more dating advice? (You know you do!) Click Here for your very own dating cheat sheet of 25 secret dating tips you can use immediately.

Will You Be My Valentine, Computer Screen?

February 12, 2016

Around this time of year, I always get a lot of questions pertaining to the cyclical nature of my job.  “Is this your busy time of year?”  “You must get a lot of business before Valentine’s Day.”  “Do people’s New Year’s resolutions affect how many new clients come your way?”  In short, the answer is yes.  In fact, Match.com even calls this time of year “Online Dating Season.”  I wonder what our forefathers would have thought about that.

What exactly is this “online dating season” that they speak of?  To put it simply, it’s the period between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, when there is a spike in both new members and member activity on the various online dating sites.  The dating company Zoosk reported that there would be a 20% increase in users in the first two weeks of 2016, and Match.com predicted a whopping 60% increase during the whole peak season.

Also, don’t fret if you want to peruse some matches on Valentine’s Day itself.  Let your coupled off friends have their day to frolic, drink champagne, and buy overly expensive chocolate.  VDayThis day is for you.  As reported by TIME, several major dating sites show an increase in users and user interactions on the big day itself when comparing week-over-week-results.  And considering Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday this year—and on a holiday weekend no less, with Presidents’ Day on the 15th—we can predict that the increase will likely be exacerbated.  Many people log on over the weekend when work can’t get in the way, and we know that the busiest day of the whole year, Sunday, January 3, just passed not too long ago.  I’m not a betting woman (though I do enjoy a few hands of poker now and then), but I would guess that this Sunday, February 14, will prove to be the second biggest Sunday for online dating this year.  Only time will tell…

My advice, whether in the peak season or not, is to plan out how you want to portray yourself before you sign up for a dating site.  Scope out which questions each site asks, such as “favorite hot spots” on Match.com or “six things I can’t do without” on OkCupid, and have answers prepared and ready.  Online dating can seem overwhelming if you’re trying to come up with clever, witty answers on the spot.  Just as you’d likely write a practice essay before going in to take the GMAT (well, I did anyway), you want to prepare yourself for this important step, too.

Keep in mind that the best time of year to do online dating is still when you’re emotionally ready.  Don’t let the pressure of the season force you into prematurely perusing the sites.  Assuming you are ready, though, then now is the time to click, swipe, message, and date!


Is anyone out there reading my profile?

FrustraionJanuary 15, 2016


Dear Erika:

I am frustrated.  It seems like no one is even reading the online dating profile I put out there.  Men are emailing me from all over the country even though I explicitly stated only looking within 50 miles, and they are just not of the caliber I want.  I’m thinking about adding a list of things in my profile that I don’t want, like someone who makes less than I do, someone who’s not Christian, someone shorter than I am, someone missing his teeth.  (I wish I didn’t have to say that one, but sadly, I do.)  Do you think that’s a good idea?  Please help.  I want to just quit.

Sharon, 52, Houston, TX

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The problem you state—men not reading your profile—is a problem that, unfortunately, many women (and men, for that matter) have, regardless of religion or anything else that may be a deal-breaker for you.  There is really no way to avoid this.

To answer your question, though, I never recommend putting things you do not want in your profile because it sounds very negative and bitter.  For example, saying something like, “I want someone who doesn’t make less than I do” reads to people, “She’s a gold-digger… or she had a bad experience with men mooching off of her in the past.”  Most people will pass you by because of the negativity.  I do, however, recommend putting what you do want in your profile, such as someone intelligent and driven.

I can’t deny that many men are more focused on the photos than the profile.  In fact, Tobii Technology, an eye-tracking and interactive gaze technology, in partnership with AnswerLab, a user experience research firm, conducted a study in 2012 tracking the eye movements of men versus women when looking at online dating profiles.  There were only 39 participants, not nearly enough to be statistically significant, but the results showed that women spent an average of 84 seconds evaluating a profile, while men spent an average of 58 seconds overall.  Men tend to focus on the profile photo, and in some instances, men spent as much as 65 percent more of their time than women looking at the profile photos.  So, you’re not imagining that your profile is sometimes getting overlooked.

That said, to ensure that men who fit your criteria are noticing you, you’ll have to do your own search and reach out to them.  I encourage both men and women to both search and message people of interest.  I know some women question this, thinking that it makes them appear desperate or aggressive.  It makes you appear neither of those things, but rather proactive and confident.  What we cannot control is who emails you.  There is no barrier to emailing you, so why wouldn’t someone?  Just considering it flattering—even if he has no teeth—and then you can delete the emails from those who are clearly not the right fit and focus on those who are.

It’s still online dating, so it’ll have its fair share of awkwardness, frustration, and fatigue (whether online or not, dating can get tiring), but it also has those moments of excitement, nervousness, and anticipation.  As hard as it may be, try not to let the less-than-stellar men who email you guide your whole opinion of online dating.  You can’t blame them for emailing an attractive woman like yourself!  It’s only when you put forth the effort to use online dating to its full advantage—reaching out to people of interest and starting conversations—that you can fully reap the benefits.  Just as I tell people not to let one bad date cloud their whole opinion of a dating site, I’ll say the same for a few creepy emails.  Let it roll off, and then try again.  In other words, don’t quit!  You’ll be on some great dates in no time.

Chin up,


Top Five Reasons to be Thankful in Dating

TurkeyNovember 25, 2015

As Thanksgiving is upon us, it’s time to put aside our pride and simply be thankful for the blessings we have in life: our health, our family… and Tinder?

In this day and age, we can do just about anything with technology: read a book without flipping a single page, have groceries delivered with the click of a button, see our friends on the other side of the world on our screens, look at all of our ex’s Facebook pictures (wait a minute… don’t do that!), and even find a date.

As Aziz Ansari noted in his recent book “Modern Romance,” a 1932 study showed that one-third of married couples had previously lived within just a five-block radius of each other.  Case in point: My parents were next-door neighbors, and they celebrated their 35th anniversary this year.

Let’s compare that to my own dating experiences.  I sign up for a dating site like OkCupid.  I email a number of people.  Some respond, some don’t.  I line up dates with those who do.  The end.  Quite a different story, huh?

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, in addition to being thankful for my wonderful friends and family, my health, and the success of my business and my clients’ relationships, I’d also like to share five reasons we should be thankful this year, as it relates to dating:

  1. Online dating exists.

Do you think the Pilgrims had a way to meet people across the Mayflower, let alone across the world?  Their best place to flirt was likely over the ear of corn they were growing, not on their couch in their pajamas using some new-fangled technology we like to call the Interwebs.  Now it’s easy as pumpkin pie.

  1. We have options.

We live in a time when, for most of us, the choice of the person we date and/or marry is ours and ours alone.  Of course, parents have some influence in this decision, as do friends, but you ultimately get to choose the person who makes you the happiest.  Arranged marriages were the norm worldwide until the 18th century.  I feel lucky to live in this day and age.

  1. Interracial, interfaith, and same-sex couples are more widely accepted.

study published in November of 2013 by Kevin Lewis, a UC San Diego sociologist, suggests that racial barriers to romance are not as insurmountable as we might suppose.  He did his research by analyzing the patterns of 126,134 OKCupid users in a two-and-a-half month period.  He found that, while people often still mainly reach out to others of their own racial background, they are, however, more likely to return a cross-race email than previous research would have led to us to expect.  And, once they have replied to a suitor from a different race, people are then themselves more likely to cross racial lines and initiate interracial contact in the future.  OkCupid also now has so many additional choices for sexual orientation, ranging from sapiosexual (someone who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature… guilty as charged) to homoflexible.  We’ve come such a long way… the rest is just gravy at this point.

  1. There is more gender equality, especially with online dating.

While I am still a proponent of chivalry when it comes to opening doors and paying on a first date, I also strongly encourage women to reach out first online with a short and sweet message if someone strikes their fancy.

  1. Dating can be fun!

I know it’s sometimes exhausting after a long day of work to motivate yourself to meet someone new, especially when you just want to be a couch (mashed?) potato.  But, it’s also exciting to think that someone you meet—maybe the next date—could alter the rest of your life in some way.  Maybe you’ll get butterflies, maybe you’ll learn a new recipe, or maybe you’ll simply hone your conversation skills.  Regardless of the outcome, take advantage of the fact that you get to meet new and interesting people.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!  Happy dating!


In Online Dating, Grammar Matters

October 28, 2015grammar

I once bought a shirt that says, “I judge you when you use poor grammar.”  (I only wear it to sleep.)

My aunt told me that I corrected her when she said, “Me and mom went to the store.”  I was three at the time.

I get annoyed when people don’t end their sentences—in text or email—with a period or whatever punctuation should go there.

One could say that I’m a grammar snob.  I’m going to go ahead and call myself a “grammarist.”  (Still trying to get my definition into Urban Dictionary!)  Whereas I used to read things for content—novels, emails, the newspaper—now I feel like I read things solely with the mission of finding the mistakes.  And, sadly, I usually succeed.  Having gone through the book publishing process, I know how hard proofreading can be, but if you write a New York Times bestselling book, I expect a superior level of editing.  (I’m talking about you, Fifty Shades of Grey.  If I had to see one more comma splice…)

As I write this, I think to myself a few things: Am I an elitist?  Am I the only one who uses proper grammar as a proxy for intelligence and/or work ethic?  Are other people also upset by the fact that now correct usage gives someone bonus points when it used to be the baseline?  As it turns out, I’m not.

According to an article earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal called What’s Really Hot on Dating Sites?  Proper Grammar, grammar is one of the top factors used in choosing a date from an online dating site.  The dating site Match.com surveyed some 5,000 singles in the US and found that, besides personal hygiene (which 96% of women valued most, compared with 91% of men), they judged a date foremost by the person’s grammar.  88% of women and 75% of men surveyed said they cared about grammar most, putting it ahead of a person’s confidence and teeth.  I was shocked by this… in a pleasant way!  (Though I still prefer that my dates have all of their teeth.)

Most people think that writing an online dating profile is a one-time affair, and they rarely change it based on its success (or lack thereof).  They also try to write it as quickly as humanly possible.  This is one thing that you really should spend your time on, though.  You’re putting yourself—not a product or a service—out there for the world to see, so you might as well put your best foot forward.

To drive the point home, here are some choice examples, taken right from both Match.com and JDate, of grammar gone wrong:

  • “I think my profile Warrens a response.”
  • “…fun, calm, with an easy going nature .Great job in the World of Finance, Truly adore all venues of nature.”
  • “I am a lively, warm women who has a lot of energy and enjoys life.”
  • “Love my work and my family biking, reading,camping and hiking,preparing and eating healthy meals.”
  • “If your reading this, then you are one step closer to meeting me. Lucky u.”

As the WSJ article says, “With crimes against grammar rising in the age of social media, some people are beginning to take action.  The online dating world is a prime battleground.”  It sure is, which is why I instill in my clients (and in people in general) the benefits of reading over their profiles, reading them again, reading them aloud, printing them, having a friend review them… you get the idea.  No one is perfect, of course, but we can get as close as we can by doing what’s in our control.

A final word on that: As much as I’m a stickler for correct grammar… and punctuation… and capitalization… maybe your new love interest will be a terrible speller but great at reciting poetry, identifying different kinds of birds, or calculating derivatives.  Everyone is smart in a different way, so it’s important to decide if some initial “flaw” (in this case, a typo or error) is really a deal-breaker for you.  Either way, give your profile the final once-over just in case, because no one wants to go out with someone who is “humerus”—arms just aren’t that funny.


10 Phrases You Should Delete from Your Online Dating Profile

September 14th, 2015

Depending on how long you’ve been on an online dating site, you can imagesprobably relate to that déjà-vu feeling you get when it feels like you’re reading the same profile over and over again.  Somehow, everyone is apparently wearing both little black dresses and flip flops, taking trips to Machu Picchu (did I miss a Groupon or something?), or simply “relaxing with Netflix and a glass of wine.”  Considering that it’s impossible for any of us to be exact physical replicas, why is it that every profile seems to use the same clichés as the last one?  Let’s examine 10 Phrases You Should Delete from Your Online Dating Profile:

  1. I’m just as comfortable in a fancy dress (or tux for you gentlemen) as I am in jeans and flip flops.

This line is an attempt to show that you’re flexible and multi-faceted.  We get the message.  Most of us have a varied wardrobe.  Rather than discuss your clothing preferences, why don’t you talk about the things you like to do?  We can learn a lot more about you if you mention that you prefer a football game over a visit to an art gallery, regardless of what you’re hypothetically wearing.

  1. I like to laugh and have fun.

My goodness… I hope you like to laugh and have fun!  The point is that, unless you like to frown and mope around all day (which I also wouldn’t write), this line could be true for just about anyone.

  1. I can’t believe I’m actually on here.

This is a negative commentary on online dating.  Others might interpret this as, “I can’t believe I’ve fallen this low.  Only losers look for dates online, so I guess I’m a loser, too.”  Online dating is a wonderful thing.  Either embrace it or refrain from joining an online dating site until you can have a more positive attitude about it.

  1. I love traveling.

Again, there are few people who don’t love to travel.  Instead, tell us more.  Do you like to take active road trips across the United States, or do you prefer to lounge on the beach in Cancun?  These details say a lot more about you than a generic statement about travel.

  1. On a typical Friday night, I’m just as happy going out on the town as I am curled up on the couch with wine and a movie.

My response to this is similar to the one for the fancy dress/jeans conundrum, with this added advice: Stop trying to attract everyone.  While it may seem counterintuitive, I’m giving you explicit permission to turn some people off in your profile.  Think about it—it’s more important to be the genuine you than the version you think people want to see, or the version that tries to attract every single person on the site.  Just be yourself.  That way, you know that when someone is interested, it’s because he or she likes what you have to say, not just the fact that you were trying to be inclusive.

  1. My family and friends are important to me.

Another shocker!  There’s no need to spell this one out because people already assume that family and friends are important to you, not the contrary.

  1. My friends say that I’m… (insert a list of complimentary adjectives).

Of course your friends would say all of these great things about you—they’re already your friends!  This could also be construed as a way of trying to appear humble, which can backfire in two ways: 1) it can make you appear insecure (do you not think these things about yourself?) or 2) it still sounds like you’re bragging.

Naturally, this brings me to an important point about “empty adjectives.”  An empty adjective is a descriptor that can’t be proven until someone gets to know you.  For example, I might say that I’m funny, but how would you confirm if that’s true?  Maybe some people find me hilarious (usually the ones who love puns and wordplay), but others aren’t amused.

  1. I’m down-to-earth.

I would love to see a profile that says, “I’m kind of an airhead… but a sweet one.”  This is very subjective, which again characterizes it as an empty adjective.

  1. I love life.

Just like #2, I hope you love life!  Remember, just because you don’t use the line “I love life” in your profile, does not mean that you hate life instead.  It simply gives you space to share the more interesting things that do make your life so great.

  1. I’m looking for a partner in crime.

Unless your name is Bonnie or Clyde, there’s no reason to include this overused cliché.


Now’s your chance: Take some time to review your profile, and if you find any of these overused, cliché phrases, it’s time to hit the backspace button, put on your creativity cap, and set yourself apart from the other online dating clones.


Want more dating advice? (You know you do!) Click Here for your very own dating cheat sheet of 25 secret dating tips you can use immediately.

Is Doing Your Due Diligence the New Normal?

August 10, 2015

In some ways, three years seems like no time, and in other ways, it seems like a lifetime ago.  Just over three years ago, I wrote an article called To Google or Not to Google?  That is the Question.  The article discussed how much “research” to do before meeting someone from an online dating site in person.  At the time, I said this:

When it comes down to it, it’s hard to resist the urge to Google or Facebook your date once you have his or her full name staring you in the face, yelling, “Search me!  Search me!”  I’m not going to tell you that you can’t look (who wouldn’t?).  But no matter what you find, try your hardest not to create a firm impression of this person in your mind before you meet.  Unless you find out that he or she is a criminal (which actually happened to one of my clients who discovered that her date was wanted for securities fraud!), just go on the date, have fun, and try to put it all in the back of your mind.

I stand by this statement.  In three years, nothing has changed.  I then went on to say this:

If you decide to look up your date, feel free not to mention you did so unless you’re sure he or she won’t put you in the “creep” category because of it.  (And for those under 25, it’s probably assumed that you looked!)  Stalking = okay.  Talking about stalking = creepy.  Know the difference.

Here’s where a lot has changed in three years.  I can’t remember the last time I showed up to meet a new person, date or otherwise, and the person didn’t already know something about me.  Maybe it was the fact that I own a business, maybe that I have a dog, or maybe that I play in a weekly mahjong game… you can find anything online!  Three years ago, I may have been offended if someone asked me a question about something I had yet to share.  Today, I kind of expect it.

People, understandably, see your online footprint as a way to verify that you’re real.  (And it’s no secret that, sadly, some people do lie online.)  Unfortunately, they don’t just stop there, which is where things get hairy.  It’s one thing to check my LinkedIn account to make sure I am, in fact, a business owner.  It’s another to look at all of my Facebook pictures and comment on my trip to Prague last year.  What if you have a particularly ugly divorce that’s lingering in Google land, or you got a DUI when you were 22?  Should your first dates be privy to that information before you’ve even said “hello” to each other in person?  Whether they should or shouldn’t, they will be.

I can’t tell anyone not to do some due diligence—though I actually do give the advice not to exchange last names over an online dating site if you don’t want to.  First names are plenty for a first meeting.  I can tell you, though, just as I did in the article that feels like it was written just yesterday, to draw your own conclusions about someone separate and apart from what you find online.  eHarmony provides similar advice if you are going to, in fact, look:woman-googling

  1. Keep your search short and simple.
  2. Savor the slow reveal.
  3. Don’t assume anything.

As a side note, New York Magazine actually called not Googling your date “the new abstinence.”  So what does it mean not to Google, Facebook stalk, or Instagram snoop?  I guess that would be celibacy.

Just remember that degrees, photos, and jobs you can find online.  Character, values, and essence, you can only discover for yourself in person.


How Technology is Both Saving and Ruining the World… One Date at a Time

mobile_obsessed_by_tim_cordellJuly 16, 2015

Ten years ago, my job didn’t exist.  There weren’t ads for it.  They didn’t teach it in school.  And had you told me that this would be my profession after graduating college with a degree in economics, I would have laughed in your face.  (And I have a loud laugh!  If you read my book, you know that I was once “recognized” across the room by someone who worked at a furniture store I had just been to.)

I’m a dating coach.

As we all know, dating is a hot topic these days.  Between the rise of IAC, specifically OkCupid and Tinder, and its impending IPO for its dating division, Aziz Ansuri’s book “Modern Romance,” which I’m thoroughly enjoying, and Patti Stanger as The Millionaire Matchmaker (she’s leaving Bravo… time for me to step in??), it seems like everyone and their mother is talking about—and practicing—dating.

This leads to my main topic: technology and its impact on the dating world.  Now, I’m in my 30s, so when I was in college, I didn’t even have a cell phone.  (Well, technically I did—this huge blue box that I lugged around—but I didn’t dare let anyone know I had it!)  College kids today are meeting for study groups, hook-ups, and friendship using Tinder on their brand-spankin’ new iPhones that are nicer than the “lame” 5c I still own with its cracked screen and always-full memory.

I’m certainly not one to dispute that technology is a good thing.  I love (well, mostly love) that I have my email at my fingertips at all times.  I think it’s pretty amazing that I can sign up for all of my gym classes with the click of a button on an app.  I’m still in awe that I once programmed my DVR from my laptop as I was sitting 35,000 feet in the air.  (I know—it’s AMAZING, Louis CK.)  I’m a fan.

Here’s what I’m not a fan of: People looking at their phones all day long so that they don’t even know how to carry on a conversation anymore; A world where I’m not sure if second graders are even learning their times tables since it’s so easy to check the answer with one click… or one ask of your friend and mine, Siri; A place where, in a meeting, someone checks his watch to see that his girlfriend texted him that she’s going to be late for their dinner plans tonight.

When I started my business over four years ago, I was the biggest, baddest fan of technology… specifically online dating.  I thought, and still think, that it’s an incredible way to meet people.  It’s a medium that gives you access to so many eligible people.  Wow—sign me up.

Also when I started, there was no such thing as a dating app.  Yes, perhaps the already existing sites had apps to make it easier for users to log in (and OkCupid had a fun/crazy experiment called Crazy Blind Date that got the kibosh quicker than you could schedule said crazy blind date), but there was no such thing as Tinder, Hinge, Grindr, Coffee Meets Bagel, JSwipe, Happn, The League, Bumble… Shall I go on?

It’s so easy now to get a date.  Wasn’t that the hard part a mere 10 years ago?  Is it too easy to get a date?  For some, it is.  It’s so easy that, rather than actually taking the time to get to know someone, it’s more important to have the next date lined up, like a taxi line of attractive women just waiting to be swept off their feet… or more like taken out for a drink that may or may not be paid for.  Clients of mine even get anxious sometimes when they don’t have the next date lined up, even if they already have three on the calendar.

I still love online dating, of course, and I’ve had countless clients meet significant others, whether for long-term or short-term relationships, depending on their goals.  But, like the paradox of choice, is too much choice necessarily a good thing?  If you are looking for a man, say, who is tall, dark, and handsome (cliché, I know), if you instead find a man who is tall(ish), dark(ish), and handsome(ish) but treats you like a queen or king and makes you feel like you won the lottery every day, you’d still be looking for next cab with its light on.

Am I saying not to use technology to get dates?  Of course not.  But what I am saying is that everything has its merits… to a point.  Chocolate is wonderful until you drink the entire bottle of Hershey’s syrup and get a sugar headache for three days.  (I’m not saying I know anyone who’s ever done this…)  A workout routine is so important until you strain your hamstring from overuse.  And technology is great until you miss that amazing connection in pursuit of something better, better, better.

So, use technology to find a date.  Go crazy!  And then stop.  Remind yourself that people are people, and they deserve a real chance.  The next cab may stink like smoke or have a careless driver or be headed in a different direction than you want to go.  You can keep taking rides for the rest of your life, or you can take each ride one at a time, one date at a time, one click at a time, and one swipe at a time.

To see a recent interview on “The New Age of Dating” on News Channel 8, click here.

What’s the Whole Point of Dating?

June 18, 2015

Not that I take Urban Dictionary as gospel (I’d have sDatingome problems if I did!), but when it comes to the definition of “dating,” the usually off-color site does a surprisingly good job of defining the word. The first definition on the site says that dating is, “… To be in the early stages of a relationship where [you] go out on dates to find out what each other is like, as a prelude to actually being a fully-fledged couple.” Notice that the definition isn’t “going out once to determine if this person will be your soul mate.” This is where many people get confused.

Clients and friends ask me all the time whether they should go on a second date since they’re not sure whether they were really into the other person (either for personality or physical attraction reasons) after the first date. They reason that they don’t want to lead the other person on, making him or her think that this might be the beginning of a relationship when, in fact, the next date would be “just to see” if there’s any potential there.

While in theory this makes sense, I argue that the whole point of dating is to get to know people to see if you want to start a relationship with them! The definition above even states that people date “to find out what each other is like.” It’s often the case that we’re not sure how we feel after a first date. Of course, it’s sometimes clear that you have a major spark, or alternately, that you can’t stand the other person. (The guy I once went out with who literally sulked – yes, literally – when I beat him at ping pong certainly made the decision easy for me.) It’s often too hard after just one date (which is likely only an hour or so long) to decide if this person drinking a Jack and diet across from you will ultimately be the mother or father of your children! My point: It’s okay to see someone again just to see whether he or she is a good fit. You’re not leading someone on – you’re just dating!

I know I’ve told this story before, but back in 2005, I went on a first date with someone I met at kickball. (My team name, you ask? Kick it up a Notch… Bam!) I consider myself to be an engaging person who can talk to just about anyone, but there were silences… awkward ones. When the date came to a close, I thought to myself, “Nice enough guy, but I don’t think I’m into him.”

The next day, I sent a “thank you” email (which I do recommend — over email or text — if you’re interested, and in this case, I erred on the side of being nice). From that email, we actually started a pretty darn witty banter. And then he asked me out again. What was a girl to do? While I didn’t have a great time on the date, this guy seemed interested. I knew he could at least communicate in written form, and, well, I was free the night he asked. I figured it couldn’t hurt “just to see.”

Long story short: We dated for a year and a half. It’s more than okay not to know after the first date how you feel. Remember, you don’t have to make life-altering decisions after date #1, like what kind of wedding china you’re going to get. Simply ask yourself this question: Do I want to have another conversation with this person to get to know him/her? If the answer might be yes (or even if you’re not sure), you have nothing to lose by giving it another shot. It’s just dating, after all.

What’s in a name?

May 27, 2015





If I gave you these four online dating usernames (all made up, of course), whose profile do you think you’d click on first?  I’d venture to say, solely based on the username, that you’d choose the third or fourth one.  Am I right?  While the username is sometimes an afterthought for online daters, I encourage you to think of it more as an executive summary.  It is one additional chance to share an extra tidbit about yourself in online dating land.  Using a computer-generated number or your first name is analogous to wearing a black suit and white shirt amidst a line of others in a black suit and white shirt.  Having a fun, clever username adds some flair, like apurple checkered tie or pink nails with fancy designs on them.  (Yes – those are my nails below.  Like?)nails

Let’s say you walked into a bookstore, and there was a book called, “The Scientific Answer to Your Most Common Questions.”  Would you buy it?  Now, what if the title was instead “Why Do Men Have Nipples?: Hundreds of Questions You’d Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Martini” that graced the shelf?  Perhaps some of us, out of sheer embarrassment, would opt for the first choice, but I’m guessing that more of us would at least be intrigued by the scandalous title of the second choice… and then maybe go home and buy it online so no one can tell just how intrigued we are.  (And for the record, this is a real book.  I own it.  Don’t judge.)

Now, back to usernames…

When online dating, one objective is to catch someone’s attention quickly.  There are so many options out there that it’s important to take every opportunity to differentiate yourself.  As an exercise, think of two or three words that really define you – nouns, verbs, adjectives, anything.  Then, try to string them together into a username.  I’d much rather date a “NatsFanFromAK” over a “283017390” any day.  This username intrigues me.  When did the person move from Alaska?  And why would he then become a Nationals fan?  (Don’t get me wrong – I love my home team.)  I’ve learned a lot about this person in a mere 13 characters.  If anything, your potential matches know that you put in the extra time and effort to come up with something creative, even if it only took a minute.  Let’s also try to avoid anything negative, like “JustGotDumped” or “LonelyManHere.”

Before you take the leap and post your username, though, make sure it doesn’t have any undesired meanings.  For example, if you’re from Virginia but cheer for New York football teams, you might still want to stay away from something like “VAGiantsFan.”  Along those lines, if you’re from Alabama, definitely avoid things like “AnALfan.”  Or how about “Buttongirl,” who loves her collection of vintage buttons and brooches?  It’s probably best to leave anything that might be misconstrued as a body part out of your name.  And lastly – the pièce de résistance – it might be a good idea to check your username in Urban Dictionary before you post it.  There was a “Tossed Salad” incident on JDate that I don’t want to happen to you, too.

The Golden Rule… of Dating

April 29, 2015

It’s funny how many people reference The Golden Rule in their online dating profiles: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Okay, perhaps not too many people reference it on JDate or JSwipe considering it’s often claimed by Christianity (though similar phrases do appear in the Torah—The Book of Leviticus, to be exact). But the sentiment is still there. Treat people with the respect with which you want to be treated. Period.

So why is it that, especially in the world of technology, people often don’t practice what they preach? At least once a month, a client tells me that he or she was stood up. Not cancelled on at the last minute (this is more like an everyday occurrence), but actually stood up. I even got this email recently from Emily, the associate writer who works for me, who is in her mid- to late-20s:

“A couple issues that my single/dating friends have been talking to me about are related to being stood up. They’ve been connecting with these guys on Tinder who agree to meet up and seem totally into them, and then bail at the very last minute with the WORST excuses (literally one of them was told that the guy couldn’t make it because his parents were coming over to go over their taxes). And others have shown up on dates that have been planned and confirmed… and the date just isn’t there.”

Let’s talk for a minute about how most of us like to be treated:

  1. Our time is valuable, so if someone is going to cancel, we would prefer a day’s notice.
  2. If there is a last-minute cancellation, we would like there to at least be an apology.
  3. If someone changes his or her mind at the last minute about meeting at all, a short and simple explanation would be appropriate.
  4. If someone doesn’t like us, we’d like to know rather than being left in the dust wondering if we’ll ever hear from him or her again.

If you’re the one who needs to cancel or otherwise change plans, here are some simple solutions to make sure you’re treating the other person with the respect with which you’d want to be treated:

The day before the date – a nice text or email

“Hey! I am so sorry to do this, but I was just informed of a business dinner I need to attend tomorrow. I wanted to reach out as soon as I heard so I didn’t leave you hanging without plans. Can we reschedule for Monday or Tuesday next week? Again, I really appreciate your understanding.”

The day of, before about 1 PM – a nice text or email early in the day

“Was really looking forward to seeing you tonight! Unfortunately, there’s been a change of plans on my end that I can’t get out of, and I wanted to let you know as soon as I heard. I’m really sorry about that. Can we reschedule for Monday or Tuesday next week? Again, I really appreciate your understanding.”

“Was really looking forward to seeing you tonight! I hate to do this at the 11th hour, but I recently started seeing someone else, and the more I thought about it, I realized it wouldn’t be fair to him/her to still meet up with you. So sorry to have waited until now. I hope you understand, and I wish you the best!”

The day of, after about 1 PM – a nice call

Yes—a call! Even though it took me a while to adapt to the fact that people “date” over text now (and it is admittedly much more convenient), if you’re cancelling within a few hours of the date, the courteous thing to do is to call. Texting is the easy way out because you don’t have to deal with the repercussions of seeing or hearing someone’s reaction, often disappointment. While I know not everyone will heed this advice, I’d be remiss if I didn’t put it out there.

“Hey Sara. This is Darren from Match.com. I know it’s probably weird that I’m calling, but I wanted to sincerely apologize for having to cancel at the last minute. Something came up that I can’t get out of, and I just wanted to say that I’m sorry.”

I once had to do this to someone. It was 5 PM, and I had a first date at 6:30 PM. I had just received an email from a long-term ex-boyfriend informing me that he was in a new relationship. (Jerk move? I think so.) At any rate, I was in no place to put my best foot forward on a first date, so I called the guy I was meeting from OKC or Tinder (who could remember?), told him I was really sorry (and was actually honest about what happened), and rescheduled for a couple days later. He actually thanked me on the date for handling things so maturely and for calling him. Even though it was the only date we went on, it’s nice to know that I handled it in a way that I can be proud of. And that’s what I want for all of you. Obviously the reasons will differ, but the sentiment is the same.

The day after – a nice text or email

Let’s say you went on a date on Tuesday night. By Wednesday, you already have a text expressing interest in seeing you again.

“Hey Joey. Thanks for a fun time last night! Unfortunately, I just didn’t feel a romantic connection (or insert your preferred synonym: click, connection, spark, etc.) that I was hoping for, but I wish you only the best!”

Just because it feels like you’re incognito on these dating sites doesn’t give you license to deny others the same respect that you’d want to be shown. People are not things. You can’t just throw them away like garbage or treat them as if your time is more valuable than theirs. Just keep this in mind when making, planning, and cancelling dates. Let The Golden Rule live… one date at a time.

The 5 Things NOT to Ask Your Single Friends

SingleApril 7, 2015

As a dating coach, many clients come to me wanting to find that perfect partner, that person who makes them no longer want to be on the market, that “one.”  They tell me that they have had relationships in the past that haven’t worked out for one reason or another.  Or, they tell me that they have had that magical romance only to have lost their loved ones too soon.  Whatever the circumstance—and everyone has a story—they hire me to help them navigate the murky waters of dating in the hopes of finding the right fit.

It’s funny how things can change so quickly.  We all have that friend who is perpetually single, and then one day he or she meets the new love of his or her life, and the next thing you know, they become a “we” rather than an “I” plus “I.”  And so many times, these newly coupled friends forget what it’s like to be on the other end—single and looking.

Wherever you are in your relationship, it’s important to remember that everyone is on his or her own journey, and some people spend more time in certain chapters of their lives than others.  I’m here to remind the happy couples that the singles out there, especially in the wake of Valentine’s Day, need a special kind of friend, and there are certain things you can say or ask that will likely rub them the wrong way.  I want to share the five things that you should not ask your single friends or relatives:

  1. You’re such a catch! How hasn’t anyone snatched you up yet?

I attended a Valentine’s Day party this year because my company was one of the sponsors.  As I walked in, this older gentleman who knew absolutely nothing about me said, “You’re too beautiful to be single.”  While on the surface this may seem like a compliment (I said a polite “thanks”), the actual implication is, “What’s wrong with you?”  This question puts undue pressure on that person, and no one likes being put on the defensive.  If you want to give a real compliment, instead say, “I feel lucky to have you in my life” or simply, “You’re beautiful.”


  1. Do you think you’re too picky or you don’t give people a chance?

Everyone has standards.  It’s up to your friend to decide what his or her non-negotiables are.  There are nicer ways to ask this question, like “What are you looking for in a partner?”


  1. Why are you still single?

It’s the word “still” here that is the most irksome.  Adding the word “still” makes this question sound like there is only one thing in life that people aspire to—not being single.  There are so many singles out there who want nothing more than to be independent, and a relationship is the furthest thing from their mind.  That’s a choice that I truly respect, and no one should make you feel guilty for making it.  Let’s remove the word “still” from single.  Always.  Period.


  1. Do you think you’re afraid of commitment?

If the answer is “yes,” then what do you say next?  Do you have a solution?  And if it’s “no,” then it just makes the person feel worse.  Plus, the question may bring up painful issues from the past.


  1. Maybe love will come when you least expect it?

Because of my job, I have to refute this one.  Dating isn’t easy, which many people don’t realize.  For example, when it comes to online dating, many people think they can just throw a profile up there and wait.  That’s like signing up for a gym but never setting your tuchus down on a bike.  It’s just not going to work.  Most things that matter in life—jobs, fitness, and even the pursuit of love—take work.  It’s always worth it to give something the old college try.


So, if you’re in coupled bliss, enjoy it!  Heck, revel in it!  But when it comes to your friends and loved ones, remember that everyone moves at a different pace, and everyone makes different decisions about how to spend their lives.  There’s no one “right” choice.  You simply make the choice that’s best for you.  Respect that in others, and hopefully they’ll do the same for you.

Texting and Dating: How Much Is Too Much?

March 16, 2015

How many times have you said the following to your friends, or have they said something like this to you?

We were talking online, and then he asked for my number to make it easier to schedule the date.  Well, it’s been a week, and all he does is text with no date in sight!


I don’t know… I guess I pictured him differently in my head from all his texts.

Or, how about this one?

OMG—I love this girl!  We’ve been texting every day, and I’m really falling for her. 

It happens all the time… someone puts his or her phone number down on a dating site or app and says, “Text me” or “Reach out to me.”  Does it really make communicating easier?  Isn’t it just as easy to check your email or your Tinder/JSwipe/Hinge as it is a text?  (Okay, maybe it’s not quite as easy, but still…)  And really, is there a need to text before the date, except to confirm the day before?  (Very important: do this)  My recommendation is simply to exchange numbers a day or two prior to the date so you can 1) confirm and 2) contact each other the day of in case something goes awry (you need to cancel, you’re running late, etc.).  As a side note—and I know I’ve said this before—if you’re cancelling the day of the date, especially if it’s within a few hours of when you’re supposed to meet each other, please do have the decency to call.

Besides the never-ending text relationship that might form with no date in sight, by texting (or emailing) too much before the date, you run the risk of building a false impression of this person that may not equate to what he or she is like in real life.  We often have a tendency to share things behind the screen that we may not reveal to someone in the flesh until much later.  The New York Post even has a name for this—premature escalation.

The article says this: “It’s a trend we’ve coined ‘premature escalation’… since our whole world is so instant now, people can craft entire personas through their slew of texts… by the time you meet your partner for an actual date, you’ve built up this whole image and fantasy in your head of who you think they are, and then they turn out to be totally different.”  Sound familiar?

What’s the solution then?  If you’re intent on texting before a date, then try to keep these texts to a minimum, with the purpose of determining the logistics of the date.  Whitney Casey, a love expert for Match.com agrees: “If your date starts sending you ‘How was your day?’ texts, it’s on you to cut him or her off — nicely.”  Saying something as simple as this should do the trick: “Hey—I’m not really a huge texter, but I’m really looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday!”

Now, I’m not saying all texting is bad.  In fact, I love texting!  It’s great when you’re in a relationship to check in with someone during the day or to send a sweet inside joke.  But just as I would never advise anyone to “friend” a potential date on Facebook before the first date, I would strongly advise you to just set up the date and go from there.  The sooner you meet, the sooner you’ll know if there’s chemistry.  And then text away!

Want more dating advice? (You know you do!) Click Here for your very own dating cheat sheet of 25 secret dating tips you can use immediately.


Online Dating on Valentine’s Day

11545February 9, 2015

Ah, Valentine’s Day.  Some people love the chocolates and flowers.  Some people hate the saccharine Hallmark cards that permeate the aisles.  And, of course, some people choose to treat February 14th as just any other day of the year.  Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, many people do place a lot of weight on the holiday, and that is evidenced by the number of people who log into the online dating sites in advance of, and after, 2/14.

In February of last year, the dating site Zoosk ran some numbers on their subscribers to see if any trends could be assessed.  The site found that there were 16 percent more messages sent in the two weeks following Valentine’s Day compared to the two weeks before.  Why might this be?  I have two theories:

  1. The time leading up to Valentine’s Day is full of pressure, so perhaps people prefer to wait until after the holiday when the pressure is off and there’s no perceived deadline to find a date or a relationship.
  2. Just like the Turkey Drop, perhaps many a relationship has ended, and the next thing people look to do is go online for a new belle or beau.

According to Zoosk, Valentine’s Day itself had the least number of profile views of any day in February for both men and women—25 percent below average.  This one makes sense.  Not too many people want to admit to looking at an online dating site on what is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year.  Valentine’s Day also had the least number of registrations of any day in February for both men and women, down 16 percent from the average.

Interestingly enough, Match.com said that its site is targeted to have more than two million users logging on over 36 million times in the first week of January, and the busiest period kicks off on Christmas Day each year and typically lasts until February 14.  During that time, the site boasts a 30% increase in new member sign-ups.

This is interesting.  Either Zoosk and Match see opposite trends for the two weeks leading up to the 14th, or the busiest season is skewed a bit to the right, peaking in late December and January and dipping a bit in February while still keeping the numbers above average.  Two years ago, though, Match.com did come out and say, “Match.com sees a 20 percent uptick in new members the week after Valentine’s Day (when compared to the subsequent weeks).”

What do I say about all of this?  If you’re single and looking, the time is now to get online.  Whether this week or next week is statistically the best or the worst is irrelevant.  What’s most important is whether you feel ready, and if you do, then go for it!  And if you need some tips to help you along the way, feel free to read some of my older posts.

Happy V-Day!

The Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks

January 26, 2015Hamlet

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a literature buff.  I vaguely remember reading Romeo & Juliet in high school, but that’s really the extent of my knowledge.  (I did used to think it was interesting that female parts were played by men for a period of time, though.)  At any rate, there is a quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet that I seem to use over and over again when it comes to online dating (and dating in general): “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”  As our good friend Wikipedia shares, this phrase is often used as a figure of speech to indicate that a person’s overly frequent or vehement attempts to convince others of something have ironically helped to convince others that the complete opposite is true, by making the person look defensive and insincere.  For example, if your vegan friend says seventeen times at brunch, “Of course I don’t care if you want to eat steak and eggs in front of me,” then the number of times he says that often directly correlates to how much he actually does care.

Why the lesson in 17th century literature, you might ask?  As it relates to dating, people are often very quick to say something about themselves as a defense mechanism, when the reality of it is that without that defense, no one would make the very assumption that this person is denying.

As an example, I was perusing Match.com the other day, searching for women of interest for a client of mine in North Carolina, and I came across this profile below:

“I am a busy person who thinks she is easygoing.  I like to do things like clean and organize but I’m not OCD.  I’m happiest when I’ve tackled a project and then can sit back when I’m done and enjoy the accomplishment.”

Not only is it one of the more boring profiles on the site, but it also says, “I like to do things like clean and organize but I’m not OCD.”  The first thing I immediately think when I read that line is, “This woman is OCD, but she’s trying to hide it… very poorly.”  If you’re not, then don’t call attention to it.  And if you are, just be honest about it.  Either choice is better than the one she made.  “I love coming home to a clean, organized house” would have gotten the same point across without any judgment.

Let’s take a look at another excerpt from a Match.com profile:

“No, I’m not full of myself as I know where I came from and ‘I’m not a player’ and I should say I don’t have time for games or flakes as I have a lot to offer the right woman.  I’m a miner, I’m also a bit of a bad man in a ‘good way’ with a wild side I guess I’m like a M and M a tough hard exterior on the outside soft and sweet on the inside once you get to know me.”

Besides being a very poor writer, this gentleman starts out by making two claims: “I’m not full of myself” and “I’m not a player.”  Most women will read this as, “I’m a player, and I’m full of myself.”

In court, you’re innocent until proven guilty.  It’s the same thing with online dating.  There’s no need to compensate for something that should be considered the baseline, or the innocence, if you will.  Unless told otherwise, the baseline is that you’re honest and nice and everything else good in the world.  You’re starting at 100%.  It’s when you start to refute things that should be the baseline that people will start to question you.

So speak the truth, don’t cover things up, and if you’re tempted to say something in a defensive manner to dispel someone’s thoughts that you’re a certain way, it’s time to think again.  The reader most likely won’t notice until it’s pointed out.


Feel free to leave in the comments section any of these lines that you’ve seen where someone is protesting too much, youthinks.

The Top Five Online Dating Findings from 2014

December 29, 2014

Do you like to travel?  Me, too.  Apparently so does everyone else on Match.com.  How do I know this?  Match.com just came out with its 2014 Year in Review report, and below are the top five highlights:

  1. The most common word people used in profiles in 2014 was “travel.”  It showed up in more than one million profiles—1,005,346, to be exact. That’s a lot of planes, trains, and automobiles.  I’m surprised “marathon” or “training” wasn’t another one.  When I search the various online dating sites for my clients, I feel like I’m the only one who isn’t training for some sort of uber-fitness competition!
  2. The most common phrase people used was “down to earth.”  Almost a quarter of a million people describe themselves that way. Yep, 232,348 people consider themselves to be down to earth.  This is why we shouldn’t use “empty adjectives.”  They can’t be proven until you get to know someone.  And even then, it’s pretty subjective.
  3. Words that made big jumps in popularity this year were Zumba, electrician, welcoming, warmhearted, crochet, quickest, cosmetology, ladies, and sewing… with Zumba being #1. Now, what percentage of the people who list going to Zumba actually go to Zumba?  The world may never know.
  4. “Frozen”was listed as 5,501 people’s favorite movie this year, which is well above any other movie.  How many times can one person actually listen to “Let it Go” on repeat?  Actually, I don’t think I want to know!
  5. One person used a whopping… wait for it… 44 hashtags in his Match.com profile! #toomuchtimeonyourhands

In writing a fictitious profile that encompasses all five highlights, let’s see what we have here:

I’m a down to earth gal (because my dad was an electrician) who loves to go to Zumba class, travel, and crochet.  I like to sew, too, but I’m not old enough to do that too often!  #notagrandmayet  I’m also pretty warmhearted, especially since I LOVE watching Frozen.  That Elsa is such a strong woman, just like me.

What’s the moral here?  Dare to be different!  The profile above kind of looks like one of the most annoying people in existence.  People don’t want to date one of the masses.  They want to date you, even (especially?) if you don’t watch Frozen or go to Zumba.



Let’s Go Shopping… For a Date?

December 15, 2014

I mentioned once that I felt a bit like Carrie Bradshaw when I sat down to write my first ever dating column many years ago.  Just as Carrie would have shopped for clothes on Sex and the City, I want to talk about how online dating is a bit like clothes shopping.  (I know the analogy is slightly cringe-worthy, but bear with me for a minute.) Pants don't fit.

When most of us go shopping, we fall in love with an article of clothing, say some black pin-striped pants that look like they’d sit perfectly on our waist, and then we look for our size.  Sadly, it’s not there—what a disappointment.  But that’s not how I shop.  I’m very petite (a whopping 5’1), so I have to do the reverse; I blindly shop for my size and then decide if I like what I find.  And sometimes I’ll even learn to love something in my size (I can think of a red dress offhand) because it fits so well, even though it’s not initially what I set out to buy.

Online dating is surprisingly similar.  People have a tendency to look through the whole universe of people online for that perfect-looking garment, or person, who on the outside looks like a match made in heaven.  But as you dig deeper, you learn that the fit just isn’t right for one reason or another—he wants children and you don’t, she is not yet divorced, he doesn’t feel the same way you do about higher education, etc.  But you want to make it work so badly because you love what you see on the surface.  I can’t tell you the number of times I loved a pair of pants at Banana Republic, and I tried on a “regular” (rather than “petite”—aka “short”), somehow hoping that the sizing would miraculously be a bit off and they would fit that day.  Pants we can hem, but people we can’t.

Think about this for a moment: Search instead for people who fit the objective things you’re looking for (your size requirements, or your non-negotiables), then send an email to a wide range of people who fit those criteria.  Try to keep the non-negotiable list short, perhaps to a handful of things you either can’t live with or can’t live without.  Beyond that, cast a wide net.  You never know until you try on the pants, or the person, whether it’ll be a good fit, so you might as well search through everything in your size and try some things on.  Maybe the person who didn’t seem to be your type turns into the red dress.  It’s a match you weren’t expecting.  This method is much better than looking through people’s exterior qualities and then finding that nothing is your size.  You’re more likely to get a better fit in the end.