The College Girl's Guide to Online Dating: Playing it Safe, Clever, and Smart

The popularity of online dating services among college students and 20-somethings has exploded. Dating apps including Hinge, Tinder, Coffee Meets Bagel, Wyldfire, The League, and others have transformed the dating scene.

And not only are you more likely to see young people swiping right and left, you can also catch them swapping stories about Match, Ok Cupid, and the like. It’s common.

Creating multiple profiles on dating sites and apps is a great way to expand your pool of options and is a totally admirable step for productive people who know what they want in a relationship.

And, hey, even if you don’t know what you want in a relationship, you are more likely to have a date next Friday night if you try online dating!

Interested in giving it a shot? Here are some tips on how make online dating work for you!

1) Choose your domain wisely. Pick a dating site or app that fits your personality.  

Know what you would like out of the experience and do your research. Find sites that relate to your interests. There are a lot of specialty dating sites out there, like IvyDate, Farmers Only, Veggie Date, and Alikewise. Read about different sites before joining. The more effort you put into an site or app that fits your personality, the more likely you are to meet that special someone. This is proactive!

Also, consider the fact that most people who are willing to pay for a subscription to a dating site are serious about their search and invested in finding someone special. Joining a “free” online dating service may sound like a cool concept, but the reality is that most people on those sites are not serious and even flakey.

*Bonus tip: To avoid creepy messages, try faith-based dating sites. There is no guarantee anywhere at any time that every guy will respect you, but guys on sites like Christian Mingle, Catholic Match, and J Date are typically looking to start meaningful relationships. You will see less of the booty call sort of thing, fo sho!

2) Don’t be afraid to make the first move.

When it comes to the internet, making the first move is fair game for either party. Simply put, it doesn’t matter who first says, “Hey, how’s it going? You seem interesting.” It makes no big difference. If your pursuit is going to be successful, you need to extend your net out in multiple directions and leave some bait. See how many options bite!  Usually, if anything, guys will be flattered that you sent them a message. The no-no is to be the one who keeps the conversation going all of the time. Be aware if guys are asking you about yourself, too. Guys who don’t ask questions are unoriginal and not going to pursue you!


3) Keep messaging simple.

Online communication should be light, direct, and to-the-point. There is plenty of time to tell your life story as you get to know someone in person. Your opening line should say something like,

“Hey _____,

My name is ______. I noticed that you love skiing and mountain biking, and I think that’s awesome. I always love going hiking from time to time, and love the outdoors. Let me know if you’d like to chit chat. Have a great weekend!”

Messages like this are more likely to receive a response if there is interest. It bounces back from being about him and being about you. So, it’s about BOTH of you. Something like, “Hey, how’s it going?” is okay, but not interesting. The best candidates on dating sites receive tons of messages every single day. Do they respond to all of them? Probably not. Be unique and direct in your communication, and you will be more likely to create interactions! Create a ping pong effect!

4) Be yourself in your profile, but don’t over share.

When creating a profile, you want to create an accurate representation of yourself, but keep some aspects of your like private. DO fill out a decent amount of the information the site asks of you because this creates an interesting profile. Just avoid being too personal. DON’T use over 5 photos. This is excessive. 5 is a lucky number because it can show who you are, but also leaves some mystery. Avoid saying things about where you go to university or where you work in your profile. Just say generic things in your intro like, “I’m interning at a consulting firm,” or “I’m majoring in Psychology.” Lead with your best foot, while protecting yourself!

*Bonus tip: If you are feeling shy, give a brief intro, and end it with: “Message me, if you’d like to know more.”