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Last updated on February 3, 2014 | by Aet Suvari


Ten steps to finding love online (and keeping it)

In this article I won’t patronise you by telling you the importance of choosing the right dating site, creating a good profile, picking the best photo and tips for replying to online dating emails.

I won’t be doing that because I assume that this is something you are doing already so these things are not your main concern.

Too often I’ve been in the same situation myself – I’m doing all the things considered to be ‘the right things’ in order to find love online yet I don’t seem to be getting any closer to my aim.

Love is too elusive to be captured by following a simple set of steps.

You might ask what the point of this whole article is in that case – and in a way you’re right.

While it’s easy enough to explain how to create a perfect profile that stands out, it’s not so easy to guide someone on their path to true love.

Still, we can try – and that’s the reason I’m writing this.

If you’re willing to come out of your comfort zone and try some of these approaches, you might find you’re one step closer to finding love.

And even if you’re not, I can’t imagine you’ll lose anything in the process.

1. Try to see behind the photo


I know this sounds very old-fashioned to anyone using Tinder and I also realise this sounds like a bit of a cliché.

Like I already said in the intro, I’m not trying to patronise you and give you a lecture on the importance of inner beauty.

While it is immensely important I do believe in mutual physical attraction to be an important key to any love story.

OK, maybe not a platonic one but this is not what we’re trying to achieve here.

Physical attraction can’t always be spotted through a photo.

Yes, most of the time you can rule out people that are absolute no-no’s for you but people actually also have a tendency to discard those who seem too ordinary, too plain on their online dating profile pics.

However, this could prove to be a mistake. I mean I know only too well – and I bet you do too – how little effort people put into their profile pics.

If you’ve ever made a selfie of yourself you also know that nine times out of ten it looks nothing like real you.

It might look good enough to post it online but it won’t really show your real look.

No photo does that really.

So my advice to you would be to not discard ‘plain-looking’ dates immediately.

Some of them could be bright and funny and charming once you start talking to them.

You might discover you want to meet up with them. When you do, you might see they’re actually much better looking than you thought.

Or they might still look quite ordinary but somehow you suddenly don’t care that much.

In any case I think it’s worth a try.

2. Be pro-active


This is often difficult for many daters because we don’t want to seem pushy, needy or desperate.

We don’t want to send out the wrong signals or start getting on someone’s nerves.

This is very much a confidence issue and unfortunately confidence is something that doesn’t just come in a ready made package.

However, keep in mind that each and every person on a dating site is on there to find someone.

And that means they’ve made themselves available to be contacted.

This doesn’t mean you should bombard them with messages, winks and/or icebreakers but if they really seem interesting to you, make an effort.

A lot of daters often think that quantity brings quality so they send out lots of emails to lots of members in the hope that someone will pick up the bait.

Someone always does.

However, what are the chances that this someone is actually the one that you are looking for?

I’m not saying this never happens but it is pretty random.

A blind chicken sometimes finds a crumb too.

If you send out a mass-copy-paste-email and someone gets back to you, chances are it won’t really boost your confidence and make you feel truly connected to him or her.

Instead of just taking an active role in sending out lots of messages you should focus on what will actually be in those emails.

Only you can know what the right approach will be – will you be funny, will you show your interest, will you be complimentary, will you ask a lot of questions…

Whatever the approach, people like it when someone’s taken the time to reach out in a genuine and thoughtful way.

I’m not saying it will work every single time, but when it works, it can work wonders.

3. Open up


Sincerity is such an underrated virtue. Especially these days.

It can truly render you powerless for it’s something that can’t really be faked or made up.

And people can tell too when you’re being sincere and open, even if they haven’t met you yet.

This doesn’t mean that you have to bare your soul and tell the other person – who is effectively more or less a stranger – your deepest wishes, dreams and fears.

Instead try and have a meaningful conversation.

Too often the dating site messages dwell on the trivial subjects and that happens, of course, with a reason.

Because trivial is safe.

However, try and think about every sentence that you write: is it really what you think?

Is it important to you? Would you be writing that to a friend?

If somebody reads that email back to you in a month’s time would you be able to recognise yourself in it?

There are several degrees of openness and eventually it will be down to you to decide how much of yourself you’re going to show and when

Just remember, you are who you are and your date is keen to see the real you.

4. Be curious


This is another thing that daters often forget to do.

Because we’re looking for love we can be quite focused on ourselves, which is of course, perfectly natural.

Perhaps we’re a little lonely. Perhaps we haven’t had a meaningful conversation with someone in a while.

Still, we have to remember that the other party is in a similar situation.

In order to keep someone interested in us and our thoughts we have to be curious in finding out their thoughts as well.

Dating is not a one way street. Finding love is actually just the same as any other interaction.

It’s just that because it happens on such a huge scale for us and is so close to our own skin, we sometimes don’t realise that our success can lie in the little things.

You can fall in love without knowing much about the other person – that is certainly true.

But if you want to keep that love, nurture and grow it, you need to water it with attention.

5. Listen


If you ask you also have to listen.

It really is as simple as that – but it’s a hell of a lot more difficult to follow through.

Everything that’s happened in today’s postmodern world of communication suggests one thing: we’ll do anything to save us time.

That’s how broadsheets were skimped to tabloids, that’s how Twitter took over social media and that’s how Tinder became so popular.

I don’t mean to stand in the way of that development – as a journalist I understand that it’s just the way of the world and trying to stand in its way seems just as stupid as people opposing industrialisation in the 1800s.

I am saying though that this is not a successful strategy if you want to fall in love.

In some departments the old ways still prevail.

Listening also needs to be something that you participate in actively.

As a journalist I know the huge difference that lies between seemingly listening to someone and really listening.

I admit there’s not always enough energy and time – and yes, interest too – to actively and responsively listen to each and every person that I talk to.

Sometimes I just automatically write down everything they say as if I were on an autopilot, only to read back what I’ve written later on and discover some of it to be completely new to me as if I hadn’t ever heard it before.

But when I really listen, I remember everything almost verbatim – I don’t really need to write it down, but of course I do because… well, that’s what you do.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that in order to show that you’re really interested in someone you should try and practice active listening, which is surprisingly hard.

However, it is something that we are all capable of so there’s nothing stopping you giving it a try.

6. Build intimacy


Do you know that feeling that you sometimes get with someone who you don’t even know that well – that feeling of sudden closeness, as if you’ve been good friends for a much longer period than you really have been?

I’m sure you’ve experienced it once or twice in life and don’t you just love it when it happens?

Unfortunately it doesn’t always happen, even with people who we really, really like.

We just can’t seem to create the right mood, to get to the same wavelength… there are uncomfortable silences, awkward utterings and stilted conversation.

If we really are looking to get close to someone, we must open ourselves to a certain level of intimacy that might initially feel uncomfortable to us – either because it doesn’t come naturally to us or because we think too much about what the other person thinks about us.

It’s important though to take that leap of faith and let someone just a little bit closer to us.

Reach out to them – either physically or psychologically, and by this you can discover you’ve suddenly bridged the gap between you and created an intimate moment with someone you don’t even know that well.

Of course, don’t go overboard, people usually like to have at least some kind of distance in the beginning but there’s nothing quite as endearing as someone showing some vulnerability and reaching out for you.

7. Talk

before-sunrise lov eonline

So what’s the best way to create that initial intimacy?

First and foremost: talking.

The most successful online dating experience I ever had started off with someone 1500 miles away. We talked every day on the phone for hours. By the time we met up we’d already achieved a level of closeness that wouldn’t have been possible had we stuck solely to emailing.

While phoning wasn’t a substitute for meeting up in person it gave us a chance to have a better feel for each other and see how well we could interact.

In the end the romantic relationship didn’t really work out but I had found a best friend for life and for the past ten years we’ve been in touch nearly every day.

And something like that would never have happened hadn’t we talked so much, opened up, listened and shared.

I would advise anyone keen to find just a little bit more than a mere date from an online dating site to really engage in conversation with them and be curious about their life.

It helps immensely to create a connection between you and once you already have that link with someone, it’s much easier to move forward.

8. Show your true self


I guess it goes without saying that in order to achieve true closeness and intimacy you also need to show your true colours.

I think it’s rather amazing how much we hold back and adapt ourselves in the beginning of a relationship.

To an extent it’s normal – we’ve met someone new, our life is changing so we are changing too.

At the same time it is also important to stay true to yourself.

The worst thing that could happen is to fall for someone only to discover somewhere down the line that we didn’t really get what we bargained for.

Therefore – show your mistakes and shortcomings as well as your countless good qualities!

I understand it takes great courage to admit some of your flaws but it might just bring you closer.

People deserve to know what they’re getting into.

I’m not suggesting you bring this up in your first date or even the second get-together but it pays off to talk about difficult things as early on as possible as it could really save you some heartache.

9. Don’t be afraid


A lot of these suggestions put you in a difficult situation where you have to make yourself vulnerable.

People are scared of that and understandably so.

It’s not easy to make yourself vulnerable – it’s almost like you’re making yourself an easy target.

If you shy away from every possibility to put yourself out there in the front line, you’re also significantly lowering your chances of grabbing the first prize.

Vulnerability is a tricky thing.

Nobody really likes soppiness and weakness – we tend to like people who appear confident, self-assured and strong.

How does vulnerability really fit into the picture?

Well, it’s a curious recipe of mixing confidence with vulnerability but it almost always works.

There you are saying: yes, that’s me with my flaws, yes I am interested in you and yes, I’m afraid to be left standing here empty-handed but hey, I can take it.

I think this is the winning mixture, which is hard to resist.

10. Appreciate

couple-bed love online

Last but not least it’s also very important to show the other person that you appreciate him or her with their flaws just as they appreciate you.

Be understanding, give them time to get to know you, don’t rush them if they take a little longer than you expected.

If you’re not just trying to get a one off date out of this relationship then be ready to invest some patience in it.

And be ready that they might not be as open as you are or as ready to share or create intimacy.

That’s ok. Not everyone approaches things the same way, not everyone stems from the same set of experiences or backgrounds.

It’s not easy to change yourself but it’s nearly impossible to change someone else.

Remember that.

Appreciate the efforts that someone is making and appreciate your own efforts too.

All you can do is try and give your best.

It won’t guarantee you success but surely makes succeeding more likely.

About the Author

has been reviewing and writing about the world of online dating since 2008 and the launch of Online Dating Help. A stickler for promoting ethical practices within the UK dating industry she champions the sites that get it right while highlighting those holding it back. You can follow her on Google+

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