The Unfiltered Truth About 11 Top Online Dating Sites

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Let me preface this with the fact that I have nothing against online dating site and apps or the people who use them to find true love, hook ups, or anything in between.

Online dating is a great way for busy people with weird schedules or those who just want to meet someone new outside of their current circle and local haunts to find romance with a potential husband, wife or friend with benefits. I know several people who’ve met their spouses or long-term loves through online dating, and that’s rad.

OK, so now that that’s out of the way …

When you’re overwhelmed with a tightly packed work schedule or don’t have many single friends to go out with, dating can be hard. Like, really hard.

So naturally, an online dating site could potentially be the missing puzzle piece in your search for true love.

That said, there are some online dating sites and apps that are just really, really terrible places to find love, romance, sex, or even just a decent human being. And that’s not me trying to be judgy or harsh here; it’s just the cold truth.

The world is full of creeps and dishonest human beings, and using these dating sites is a surefire way to seek those people out.

Sure, a lot of sites are alright, but some are definitely more on the sketchy side than others. These are the sites and apps where you’re most likely to find guys who claim to be “nice”, 30-something males with respectable professions who, in reality, are way past their third decade and live in their mom’s basement.

Maybe that’s what you’re looking for, but it’s definitely not my cup of tea.

If you’re looking for a relationship that won’t end in heartbreak, murder, or a whole lot of therapy you probably wouldn’t need otherwise, make sure you do everything in your power to avoid this list of the 11 worst online dating sites to ever exist.

(Or at least, go in with your eyes wide open and be prepared for weirdos sending d*ck pics in your DMs.)

1. Delightful

Steve Harvey developed Delightful in 2014, collaborating with The Match Group to create an online dating service which, according to Forbes, caters “primarily to women, but also to men with a womanly interest in settling down.”

The site’s offerings for women include “advice columns on topics such as ‘how to become more dateable.'”

Right. Because women are the problem, not men who have been divorced twice, married a woman with whom they cheated on their second spouse and think mustaches are a good idea.

2. Sugar Daddy For Me

If you want someone else to pay your bills or buy you a purse in exchange for your company, along with added but unwritten expectations of sexual favors, fine. That’s your business.

Just know that, while self-proclaimed as “The website for men who love to spoil and pamper their woman. The website for women who admire men for their accomplishments and what they have been able to achieve in life,” Sugar Daddy For Me is basically glorified prostitution, which is illegal in most places in the United States (at least, without clearing a few loopholes and using some clever language).

It can also be dangerous when parties have unequal levels of power within a relationship, as well as being really skeevy if the dude is married (and a lot of them are).

3. Miss Travel

Miss Travel is basically the same kind of offering as Sugar Daddy For Me, but with the added danger of potentially traveling overseas to a place where you may not know the language with a man who expects “something” from you.

That sounds safe.

4. Ugly Schmucks

If your self-esteem is low enough for you to actually consider yourself a match for Ugly Schmucks, perhaps online dating isn’t for you.

As explained on the site, “Our Ugly Dating is geared towards people who may feel unattractive or uncomfortable in their own skin and is designed to help them succeed in meeting others who value genuine personality over outer appearance.”

Or … maybe you just need to love yourself first. And maybe get a haircut or something.

5. Tinder

Tinder is an online dating app based entirely on whether you’d bone the other person.

If you’ve ever used Tinder and complained that whoever you met was a shallow douche, know that you are part of the problem.

6. Luxy

When self-proclaimed debuted in 2014, they issued a press release hailing themselves as “Tinder minus the poor people.”

To elaborate, the CEO explained, “It works just like Tinder … one big exception: Our app allows users to weed out the poor and unattractive.”

So, essentially, it’s Tinder with more snobs.

7. Beautiful People

Beautiful People forgets that beauty is subjective, superficial and, after a while, boring.

If all you care about is tanning, the gym, plastic surgery and hair extensions, you’re basically just dating slightly more attractive Jersey Shore castoffs.

Have fun in the kiddie pool!

8. OkCupid

Back in 2014, OkCupid admitted to conducting “social science experiments” on users.

As reported in The New York Times: “In one test, it obscured profile pictures. In another, the site hid profile text to see how it affected personality ratings. And in a third, it told some hopeful daters that they were a better or worse potential match with someone than the company’s software actually determined.”

That’s not nice, it’s not ethical and it completely defeats the purpose of seeking online help to find true love.

9. Hot Or Not

Rating strangers on a scale of Hot Or Not isn’t a great way to find love, but it is a great way to lower your and their self-esteem and contribute to a culture of narcissism.

10. eHarmony

I don’t have a problem with eHarmony in and of itself, but I have a problem with the old dude in their commercials because he’s so against the idea of finding love anywhere else.

Many people have met their soulmates in person. Or in prison. Who are we to judge?

11. Meet An Inmate

Meet An Inmate is actually a great online dating site … but only if you hate your parents.

Jessica Sager is a writer and comic based in NYC.

Popular Online Dating Sites That Are a Total Waste of Money

You’ve probably heard horror stories about people’s worst experiences using popular online dating sites. While they’re not all bad, one thing to keep in mind when is the price. Are you really going to get what you pay for? Is every potential math just going to lie to impress you? Are you even talking to real people?

There are some great dating sites out there. There are also plenty of terrible ones — some even go as far as calling them “scams.” From Zoosk to OKCupid and more, here are the subscription-only dating sites — and those with costly upgrades — that aren’t worth your wallet.

Few who try online dating find a true match

Finding the love of your life on a dating site isn’t guaranteed. | iStock.com

Online dating works for a lot of people of all ages. However, Pew Research Center reports that even though it’s lost its stigma, the practice only works for a small percentage of Americans. Only about one-third of online dating users have actually met someone they’ve talked to. Only 5% of those surveyed say they found a committed relationship with — or married — someone they met online.

Is it that the practice of online dating doesn’t work? Or are too many dating sites “broken”? Based on user complaints, it could be the latter.

Next: This is one of the lowest-rated paid dating sites on the internet.

Match.com

Match.com isn’t the best place for finding a date. | Feverpitched/iStock/Getty Images

Cost: $19.99 for three months

Match.com users have written numerous complains online about fake profiles ruining their experiences before even talking to potential matches. Some have also reported that it’s extremely difficult, if even possible, to cancel their memberships once they’ve decided to leave.

Next: You can get the advantages of this paid subscription elsewhere for free.

OKCupid

Join if you must, but don’t get your hopes up. | Amazingmikael/iStock/Getty Images

Cost: $14.95 for three months

If you pay for OKCupid’s “A-List” subscription, you get the kind of bonus content you’d expect — like being able to see who “likes” you, and read receipts on messages. However, there are free sites that provide the same benefits and chances to meet new people. It’s probably not worth buying into.

Next: It’s speedy, but it won’t help you find The One.

SpeedDate.com

Why bother joining a dating website with no active members? | ViewApart/iStock/Getty Images

Cost: $62.97 for three months

Other than lacking many of the features most find convenient on dating sites — especially proximity guidelines — past users report that many SpeedDate.com profiles are inactive, while others have complained about the amount of fake profiles and messages they’ve received.

Next: Is there anyone still actually on this site?

eHarmony

This popular dating website has been linked to many negative reviews. | Demaerre/iStock/Getty Images

Cost: $59.99 for one month

You’ve seen the commercials — eHarmony brings singles together for life! If they can find them, that is. It seems eHarmony complaints are similar to those for Match.com — massive amounts of fake profiles and lower-than-expected results for the amount of money users pay for.

Next: There’s no guarantee paid members get any leverage on this site.

Zoosk

You’ll be spending a lot of extra cash just making your profile attractive to others. | Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images

Cost: $19.98 for three months

As a free member of Zoosk, you can only respond to messages sent to you — you can’t send any yourself. The site also encourages these users to purchase “coins” they can use to boost their own profiles and take advantage of other upgrades. Paid subscribers likely have a slight advantage, but there’s guarantee spending your money will actually improve your results.

Next: There are plenty of matches out there, but you probably won’t find them here.

Plenty of Fish

Perhaps online dating isn’t the best way to land a romantic date. | DGLimages/iStock/Getty Images

Cost: $9.80 for three months

Whether you use it for free or pay for an upgrade, most reviewers warn potential users to stay as far away as possible. The site promises that a paid experience increases the number of people who will view your profile and contact you, but there doesn’t seem to be any statistical data supporting these claims.

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The 3 Worst Online Dating Stories I’ve Ever Heard

Ever since I wrote the book “The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online,” singles have been writing in to share their worst online dating stories with other online daters.

While I know finding your one in 40 million can be challenging, it’s time to laugh out loud while reading these hilarious stories.

Here are three stories of online dates that went bad.

1. Diaper Dan

While on a meet and greet (i.e., a dating “interview” with a man she met online), a woman was asked the following question, “How open-minded are you?”

She responded by telling him he should feel comfortable telling her anything. However, she wasn’t prepared at all for his response.

Her date then shared with her that he was wearing a diaper.

The woman asked if it was for medical reasons, but he said, “No.” As they were taking a walk on the beach and he was the one who was driving, she really couldn’t get out of the date at the time.

He was a good-looking man and was a top executive at his company. Although he was genuinely a nice guy, she simply couldn’t get over this particular quirk of his, so the relationship actually ended before it even started. It was another dating disaster.

Do you believe daters should be on a “need to know basis”? Did she really need to know this?

2. A Sneeze Isn’t Just a Sneeze

A woman met her online date at an upscale lounge in midtown Manhattan. It was a cold winter evening in the city, the kind that makes your nose run.

The two met outside and walked into a very nice establishment, where they sat down and got all settled in. After some small talk, suddenly her date reached for some napkins and began to blow his nose at the table. When he was done blowing his nose, he took his used tissues and just threw them on the floor.

He then turned to his date, as if what he had just done was totally normal, and asked, “Would you like anything to drink?”

All she could think was… CHECK PLEASE!!!! Needless to say, she never saw him again.

3. Must Like Art

A single woman with a hefty appetite was looking forward to her dinner date with a man she was meeting for the first time. She was prompt and enthusiastic about her online date.

Unfortunately he was running late and didn’t call the restaurant. After waiting for 30 minutes, he finally arrived with no apology for his tardiness.

Naturally a first date can be awkward, so they talked about the subject of dating in general, while he simultaneously was staring around the room to check out other women.

He told his date he found it difficult to date in Los Angeles and added he hadn’t met anyone he was remotely interested in. Of course, that included her.

When the conversation moved to discussions of the nearby neighborhoods, he looked down upon the area she resided in. He said it wasn’t his element. He thought it was too artsy. She was an artist. He already knew that.

To make light of the conversation, she asked him, “Don’t you like artsy people?” in which he replied, “No.” She added, “You’re probably not going to like me then,” in which he replied with, “No, I’m not. We’re not a match.”

Although he had ordered two main courses for their dinner, she asked him if he’d prefer they cut the dinner short and end the date early. He agreed to stay but kept flirting with the waitress while staring at other women throughout the course of their date. At the end of the meal, the check came. He told his date he’d like to split the bill 50/50, but he’d pay for the tip.

In the course of her dating life, she found him to be rude. He didn’t like art, didn’t like her and didn’t want to treat her to dinner, even though he had asked her out.

So what do you think? Are these the worst online dating stories you’ve ever heard? If not, share your stories with us in the comments!

Photo sources: postgradproblems.com, synthesisweekly.com, dilcdn.com,
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7 Reasons Why Online Dating is the Actual Worst

I should start off by saying that I’ve found dating in general to be relatively crappy. Getting to know someone can be exciting, but also incredibly taxing. It requires constantly staying on your toes and reining in some of those qualities about yourself that might be a little too eccentric for someone to accept at first.

But online dating?

Well, that comes with its whole own set of challenges, doesn’t it?

Let’s be honest here. It all starts with the shiny commercials that promise true love while featuring nauseatingly normal people who have found their match floating around in the interwebs. Doting couples with bright smiles are a dime a dozen in this world. And yeah, the whole thing seems a little bit too good to be true, but what have you got to lose, right?

I signed up for eHarmony shortly after my 22nd birthday. I was still in college, swimming in a sea of available guys, none of whom seemed remotely interested in anything beyond a hookup. After a nudge from an older friend who married her online match, I coughed up a few bucks after I migrated to LA temporarily. It was perfect timing, really. Plenty of people to choose from, none of whom I actually had to see again after I went back home.

I only met two men in person before I nixed my account. But upon moving back to LA, I decided to give Match a try, when I remembered why I actually hated the whole ordeal in the first place:

1. Judgey McJudgerson Friends

I’ve been lucky that the majority of my friends have been supportive in my endeavor, but I have stumbled upon a couple who gave me the ole skeptical lift of the brow and disapproving, pursed-lips hum. You know the ones I’m talking about.

“You’re young. You’ve got plenty of time. What the hell are you doing on an online dating site? You look desperate.”

Well, I’m almost 23 and I’ve only had one boyfriend. So, you do the math.

Kidding (mostly). But seriously. Why is there this stigma attached that a woman (or a man) must be desperate to resort to a dating service? I’m just looking for a nice guy with similar interests. Can I help it if I can’t find him on my own? Seriously.

2. What Looks Good On Paper Falls Flat IRL

He’s the guy of your dreams! Funny, romantic, passionate. What more could you want? Imagine your surprise when his idea of funny is actually a bad Adam Sandler movie and his passion lies in excel spreadsheets (I’m not even kidding. I once dated a guy who compared spreadsheets to an artist’s canvas).

And so many people (myself included) are better with the written word than conversation. So how do you really know if you’re gonna get stuck with a dud?
3. Those Creepy Old Guys

He’s 50. Divorced with three kids. And “Hey, age ain’t nothin’ but a number, baby.”

Um. No. Unless of course, you’re George Clooney. In which case, let’s talk.

(Honorable mention goes to those creepy smarmy guys who pretty much pay for a sex service).

4. There’s Actually No Polite Way of Admitting That You’re Shallow

I can’t lie. I’ve clicked away on several occasions without actually reading a profile, based solely on what a guy looks like. And yeah, when it comes down to it, personality comes first. Who wants to date someone you have nothing in common with (especially when you’re a film and television buff like me and people just don’t always get you)? But attraction is important, too.

So let me just lay it out on the table right now and get it out in the open. If you’re shorter than me and your hair’s longer than mine, then this relationship is over before it even got started.

5. The System Kinda Sucks

Look, I know dating isn’t an exact science, particularly because men and women are attracted to so many different types of people. Person A might be looking for someone the total opposite of them, whereas Person B might want a carbon copy of themselves (okay, I don’t actually know anyone quite like that, but they must exist somewhere, don’t they?).

Still. You’d think eHarmony would know better than to ‘match’ me with a guy who’s completely disinterested in all things entertainment and loves to analyze spreadsheets. Like, I didn’t spend hours (okay, 15 minutes) filling out those personality profiles for nothin’.

Well. For more than a free dinner, anyway.

6. It’s Hard to Stand Out

No wonder jerks like me are only checking out your photos when everyone’s profile sounds the same. I once connected with a guy who created a sarcastic page just to get a little attention. And I respected him so much more for it.

Assuming anyone actually made it to the part where he admitted to joking (does anyone actually hate puppies?), I’m sure he received a lot of responses.

7. No One Really Looks Like Their Best Selfie

Do I ever look like this? Rarely.

There’s a filter for everything these days. And you don’t need to be a Photoshop genius to nip a little here or tuck a little there. Blame it on the lighting, make-up, the flash. But things are looking a lot bleaker in the harsh light of day.

Olivia Rowe is an Ithaca College alum who recently schlepped cross-country to the City of Angels to make her screenwriting dreams a reality. You can usually catch her procrastinating via feminist rants on Facebook or sometimes-witty entertainment commentary on Twitter (@OliviaJRowe). Olivia’s also an aspiring novelist, television critic and VP to future Madame President Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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  • By From Our Readers

On Valentine’s Day, some singles may be inspired to step up their dating game. Going online could be their best bet.

Amy Giberson, now 34, was reluctant to try internet dating again but she decided to give it one more shot in 2014.

She downloaded the Match app and connected with Justin Pounders, also 34, almost immediately. The two decided to meet “IRL” (in real life) days later.

Months after their first date, the couple discovered they had been classmates in preschool, and one year into their relationship Justin arranged to have the young students from their former school hold up signs that asked, “Will you marry me?” In tears, Giberson said yes. They tied the knot last November.

A lot of great love stories begin online. At least they do these days. There are a slew of sites and apps to help singles find love and, for the most part, they work, according to Consumer Reports.

Nearly half, or 44 percent, of those who tried online dating said it led to a serious long-term relationship or marriage, the magazine found. Traditionally known for reviewing products like household cleaners and washers and dryers, Consumer Reports surveyed nearly 10,000 subscribers in the fall of 2016 about online dating and then rated matchmaking sites based on their overall satisfaction.

How to boost the odds with a better profile:
Use recent pictures (taken within the past year) and at least one good close-up headshot.
Show that you’re humble through a joke, a self-effacing story or a humorous anecdote.
Keep your profile brief but interesting.
To make a strong first impression, use anecdotes instead of a string of adjectives describing yourself.
Never lie about your age or what you do for a living.
SOURCE: Consumer Reports

“It’s clear that online dating websites play a major role in the lives of many consumers — we invest a tremendous amount of time, money and emotional energy. It really is a consumer issue worthy of our attention.” said Margot Gilman, money editor for Consumer Reports.

Overall, respondents preferred free sites like OkCupid, Tinder and Grindr over paid sites like Match and eHarmony, in part because of the value.

The now infamous infidelity dating site Ashley Madison, which was one of the most expensive, was also the lowest-scoring online dating service, with a score of 37. (A score of 100 indicates respondents were completely satisfied; 80 was very satisfied and 60 was fairly well-satisfied.)

Still, many users found the sites frustrating. In fact, when compared to other consumer products, like cars, computers and credit cards, online dating services received the lowest satisfaction scores Consumer Reports had ever seen, Gilman said.

“Unlike shopping for a bank or a refrigerator, in the case of online dating, the refrigerator has to like you back,” Gilman said. “There is a different level of exposure to disappointment and that’s captured in the poor overall scores.”

Once considered taboo, online dating is now a socially accepted and booming multibillion dollar business that continues to grow. More than half, or 53 percent, of single people have created a dating profile, according to Match’s recent Singles in America study, which polled over 5,000 single men and women in December.

Today, 40 percent of singles have dated someone they met online, while only 25 percent met a first date through a friend.

Worst Online Dating Behaviors

Don’t Ever Pull Any Of These Terrible Online Dating Moves, Dude

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Dating is difficult, and that’s true whether we meet someone on an app or at a bar. But as we switch things up in the digital domain, there’s certain classic red flags that become ever more apparent.

Every online dating faux pas or rude behavior is a variant of a non-online one, of course, and online dating behaviors are making it ever-easier to do them.

“This is by no means related just to dating, either… trolling is an online problem with IRL roots made far easier and more toxic by the internet; people used to have relationships behind each others’ backs and lie in the old days, too, but it’s made even easier by online forums for meeting and messing around,” says Carol Queen, Ph.D., Good Vibrations Staff Sexologist.

(Hello, Ashley Madison!)

When it comes down to dating of any sort though, it really depends upon both partners’ expectations, doesn’t it? Finding out your online crush is completely different from the person you thought you were getting flirty with may only matter if your goal is an actual relationship. “If you too want to keep it virtual, perhaps there is no harm. This may also be the difference between a dishonest bastard and a persona. The person who is actually looking to date should first be clear about their goals with themselves. What exactly are they looking for? A one-and-only human? A fun sex buddy? An online romance they can keep secret from everyone?” says Queen.

There are so many ways to be in relationship to other people, and there are even more online. So once you are clear with yourself about aspirations: be clear with others. “This won’t rule out communicating with any problematic humans, getting benched or ghosted, etc. But it will hopefully help you sort them all out,” says Queen.

Also, if you know what you want, it can be easier to recognize when this isn’t it. How many people have become an occasional booty call because they really wanted to be someone’s primary partner, but settled? “That’s everyone’s right, but being clear may help us maintain our boundaries and standards. Being single does NOT suck as much as dealing with someone who doesn’t respect us,” says Queen.

1. Ghosting

Ghosting is a huge problem. “Especially with today’s casual dating culture, ghosting is on the up and up. Whether it’s sudden or slow, the withdrawal without confrontation, without reason, without a firm end, without a conversation, can happen after one date, one month of dating, or even one year,” says House. “It leaves the ghosted feeling insecure, wondering what they did wrong, questioning their date-ability, and likely becoming jaded about the entire dating “game.” Yes, it’s hard to utter those painful two words: ‘It’s over,’ and it’s also necessary,” says House. If you know how to do it and exactly what to say, it’s less difficult.

2. Benching

If you are rarely hearing from someone, but just enough to keep that door open, chances are you are experiencing ‘benching’ – ghosting’s sneaky cousin. “Dating is numbers game and some of us will keep as many potentials on the hook as possible until either one emerges as the winner of their affections, or they just constantly cycle new ones in, like some left swipe-fueled Ponzi scheme,” says author and YouTube dating expert Shallon Lester.

When you are being benched, it may feel something like you are part of a harem situation, or you are being rotated through a batting order. As time goes on and on, you may reach different standings in that batting order, but chances are at times you are rarely hearing from that person, and it makes you begin to wonder if you ever will again.

“And if you’re in the harem, it feels like feast or famine: three solid hours of texting one night… then three solid days of silence. The only thing to do is beat them at their own game. Be the bencher, not the benchee. Angsting is like any other craving: it passes more quickly if you have something to occupy your mind with,” says Lester.

3. The Absence Of Chivalry

Sure, chemistry is fun, but it’s the chivalry, the conversation, and the connection that is magical.

“Dating apps and online dating makes casual “hangouts” not only easy, but expected. If you’re sick of the casual “hangout” that leads to a casual noncommittal relationship, you need to take control of the dating platform and set the expectation of being serious and on-purpose for a real relationship by creating opportunities for real connection through pre-date conversations where you ask real substantive questions and make an effort to prequalify,” says House. Then go on a real date.

Not a coffee date or a quick drink, but a date. Linger for a little while over that gimlet, or make reservations for dinner.

4. Misrepresenting Yourself

When your date misrepresents themselves that starts everything off as a giant red flag. “Whether it be by 40 pounds, 10 years, or 8 inches in height, our default response is to be nice and just get through it,” says Wendy Newman, dating, relationship and sex expert, author of 121 First Dates.

What to do instead? “Take a deep breath, dig deep for your kindest tone and then say, “Oh hi there! Hey, it looks like you’ve stretched a little in your profile. That’s not going to work for me, and I’m not going to stay for this date. Have a nice day.” There’s a big difference between being nice and being kind. Kind is gently telling the truth, nice is grinning and tolerating their lies,” says Newman. Be kind — not nice.

In a world where you can click a button and have anything you want arrive at your house instantaneously, people are quick to make snap decisions. The same holds true on dating apps like Tinder and Bumblr. You only get one shot to make a first impression, and if you send the wrong opening message, you could potentially send a woman running far away in the other direction.

As you probably already know, women on dating apps get a ton of messages. The good news for you is that a lot of these messages are terrible, so the bar is relatively low for you to make a good impression. “I think online dating can be great when you connect with the right people, but you have to wade through the enormous cesspool of your inbox to find them,” says Ana* (last name has been withheld to protect sources’ privacy), 26.

Because women are typically deluged by creepy or gross messages, they naturally tend to have their guard up. “We are a little nervous and touchy because a solid percentage of the messages we get are angry, critical, suspicious, or frankly, frightening,” says Liz, 45. You want to make yourself stand out from the crowd and land a date — but you don’t want to make yourself stand out too much by being rude, overly direct, or vulgar.

So what kinds of messages do women actually like getting? We spoke to a few women to get their takes on the worst opening messages they’ve ever received on dating apps and websites — and the best. By making small tweaks to the messages you send (not to mention the kinds of expectations you have about the process), you can up your online dating game and make a real connection with someone in the process.

The copy-pasted message.

Annie Irish

Most women have received the impersonal, hastily copy-pasted message before. These messages are usually incredibly generic, with maybe one or two fast facts about the sender (ex: “Hey, TK, how are you? Quick note about me: I love Indian food and corgis.”) While you might think it’s a genius approach, we’re gonna let you in on a little secret: women can tell right away when they get this message.

“It’s very obvious when a guy sends because he doesn’t even bother to read what’s on my profile,” says Imani, 28. “I took the time to fill out my biography and profile page, and I would expect potential matches would do the same. The same goes for sending a message. I would like to think that a guy would send me something that at least addresses what’s on my profile. If they can’t even do that, I am not interested in conversing with them.”

Yes, it’s good to cast a wide net in the online dating pool. But while you may think that sending a standard message to a bunch of different women is upping your chances of a response, it’s more likely that it will be ignored and deleted on the spot.

“When I receive a message that’s clearly copied and pasted, I just delete it,” says Kara, 25. “It seems like the person sending the message is just playing a numbers game and doesn’t care what kind of response they get. It’s frustrating because I am trying to make a genuine connection with someone, and that kind of message is the exact opposite of what I am going for.”

MH SEX: How To Ace Your First Date:

The “you’re so pretty” message.

Annie Irish

While you may find someone attractive, just telling them so isn’t necessarily going to get their attention. Compliments are important, but being genuine is even more so.

So instead of complimenting her physical appearance (trust me, she’s heard it before), say something that’s more specifically tailored to her personality. “When you introduce yourself, ask her about something she wrote in her profile you find interesting,” says Sarey, 37. “Compliment her sense of style or career choice or cool vacation pics. If you just say ‘Hi, you’re so pretty, let’s chat,’ you are automatically putting yourself in the basic-man meat pile.”

By taking the time to read her profile and craft an individualized message, you’re demonstrating that you want to put in the effort to potentially get to know her.

The angry message.

Annie Irish

So you sent a message that doesn’t fall into the first or second category, and you haven’t gotten a reply back. Here’s what you shouldn’t do: send her an angry message. “Just move on,” says Sarey. “Nothing is more unattractive than a male’s broken ego.”

“Don’t insult me or comment on my age or my body,” says Emily, 37. (Yes, men: this happens way more to women than you think.)

If you don’t get a response to your message, don’t take it personally. While you may be interested in someone, it might not be mutual. And while it’s OK to feel disappointed by that, it’s never OK to take out your feelings of disappointment on someone else.

The one-word message.

Annie Irish

From time to time, you might be tempted to send a “Hey” or “What’s up” message to one of your matches. While you might think it’s an easy conversation starter, you also run the risk of looking lazy.

“One-word messages are the worst,” says Jenny, 30. “Sometimes, when I receive a message like that on OkCupid or Tinder, I have to just roll my eyes. How are you suppose to take anyone seriously whose first message to you is “Wassup?”

Instead of sending a one-word message, try to be creative instead. “I have a few sentences on my dating profile about how sloths are my favorite animal,” says Jenny. “I had a guy message me few months ago with some sloth facts. I thought that was very thoughtful and sort of ingenious. We ended up chatting for a while, went on a date, and we ended up going out for a few months.” Although that relationship didn’t work out, “his unique message really stood out and it’s something I still talk about with my friends.”

The sexually explicit message.

Annie Irish

Unless she specifically asks for one, sending a woman an explicit message via a dating app is never, ever a good idea. It almost always makes the recipient uncomfortable, and it makes you look like a horny doofus. Even if you’re on a dating app just to hook up, other people could be looking for something different, and it’s important that you respect that. Using explicit language, slurs, or generally being rude is only going to you blocked.

Make an effort to be polite, and try to engage topics that will generate a fun and civil conversation. Sticking to PG-rated topics like music, food, traveling, and animals (see above) is always a solid approach. And if she asks you if you’re interested in exchanging more X-rated texts later on in your relationship, so much the better.

The oversharing message.

Annie Irish

When constructing a message to a potential match, it’s important to strike a balance between sharing too few and too many personal details. Talking about your previous relationships, or how your last few dates have gone, is almost never a good idea.

“There have been several times when I’ve gotten a message from a guy off a dating site and I just cringe—they are literally telling me their life’s story in painstaking detail,” says Taryn, 28. “It’s exhausting and overwhelming to read. When I get those kinds of messages, I always wonder why they thought it was a good idea to send in the first place, and I am learning things I am not ready to know or don’t want to know.”

Tone it down, and remember that less is more. Instead of telling your match about your grief over your childhood pet dying, tell her about the last movie you saw instead. Most importantly, ask her questions, and try to keep them open-ended. That way, you can keep the lines of communication open.

The emoji message.

Annie Irish

Never send the emoji message. It makes you look lazy and, perhaps more importantly, childish.

“Multiple times, I have gotten messages from grown men that are just a kissing emoji, heart, a handwave etc.,” says Taryn. “I think I hate these might be the kinds of messages almost as much as the ones where the guy is telling me too much, too soon. If you’re just sending an emoji, it looks like you’re not willing to put any effort into dating.”

Try to personalize your messages, be respectful and have fun! Remember — it’s a huge online dating world out there, and you could only be a (non-emoji) message away from finding the one.

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