Dear Online Daters:

In my role as a professional cuddler I am often asked for life advice. Usually I am quite generic and try my best to simply be encouraging without actually giving advice (It’s not about the nail after all ha!). When it comes to online dating though, this is a topic I feel I can actually be of assistance. As you may know from a previous post I have done a fair amount of online dating. 

Obviously anything I say will be generic and from my subjective opinion. In other words “my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience” (gotta love Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen), so please take what makes sense to you, leave the rest and edit where appropriate for you. 

Before I dive in, here is a basic understanding of my point of view:

I am a 32 year old divorced woman. My longest relationship was just under 13 years, my shortest just under a year. I have been on probably 120 first dates in the last 4 years. I am straight and am currently in a monogamous relationship (that technically started from Tinder) which I am quite happy with. 

With all this said here we go: 

Dear Online Daters,

Let’s be real. Online dating sucks. It’s often more trouble than it’s worth. It requires a thick skin, an open heart, and enough optimism to fill the Grand Canyon. By the time we answer the 8,000 questions and try and scour through every photo ever taken to find even one that we don’t look creepy or weird in, and actually put in enough effort to post our profile, we then have to worry about things like this: 

  1. Will anyone like me?
  2. What do I rate on the hot scale? 
  3. How much does personality really count?
  4. What is my competition and how do I find out? 
  5. What if the thing I said about this comes across this way? 
  6. What if I said too much?
  7. What if I didn’t say enough? 
  8. Why does everyone have a beard???/ What’s with this duck face thing? 
  9. What if I don’t get any messages? 
  10. What if I get so many messages that it’s even harder to deal with than getting none?
  11. What if I run into someone I know on here!?!
  12. What if I never find anyone and I die alone surrounded by empty pints of Chunky Monkey and 3 dozen cats who eat my toes?  (Yes, I made it weird- you’re welcome haha)

*cough, cough….moving on

Let’s say you manage to set up a profile that you feel good-ish about and you start to browse…for me this leads to 1 of 2 thoughts:

  • REALLY? These people, yay! 😀  
  • Really? THESE people, boo? :’( 

I will either find a bunch of interesting people to browse through or feel like I’ve somehow found the algorithm for unfathomable people which will lead to me 1. sending a bunch of messages or 2. shutting down the page/app, shutting off the electronic device, and finding my way to the kitchen. Why whine when I could wine? 😉 

Here are the things that I have found to be gender neutral guidelines for myself that I hope might be useful to you as well: 

  • Main profile pics should be a closeup of just my face, and should match what my hair/face/etc. looks like generally without anything covering my face like sunglasses, masks, etc.. 
  • All pictures should be from the last 6 months unless otherwise stated
  • If all my pics are selfies I should have enough decency to at least use the timer on my phone to make it look like I have friends that are casually taking pictures of me doing fun and amazing things like eating lunch at a restaurant 
  • None of my photos should have anyone else in them unless they are a pet I currently own or include my own children (obviously I don’t have any kids myself, but I’m assuming at this point if you are reading this you are also in the same boat and will apply what is relevant to you)
  • I should have one full body photo, one close up I like, and at least one other that shows a hobby or interest that I have.
  • If I do have anyone else in a photo I should explain who they are and make sure I have their permission to use this picture in my profile (it’s the worst to see a picture of 3 people because 9 out of 10 times the hot one is not whose profile I’ve just discovered-it’s like starting off with a lie)
  • All information in my profile should be open and honest. 
  • The amount of effort I put into my profile should be equal to the amount of effort I’m willing and able to put into a relationship/dating situation. 
  • If I send a first message to someone it should be personal, brief, and indicate a common interest. I should also ask one open ended question and state my first name. 
  • Grammar matters. Know the difference between your, you’re, there, their, they’re, to, too and two. Punctuation shows effort. We don’t have to be perfect, but let’s try. Please. Pretty please. 
  • If I want to send a message that just says “Sex?” I should just not. 
  • Compliments are nice and appreciated but can also make me one of the crowd. If I send a generic compliment and nothing else I should not expect to hear back from the person. 
  • If I send a one line message with something generic like “How was your day?” or “Hey Beautiful!” or the ever so clever “Hey” I should be aware that my chances of getting a response have a fairly direct correlation to the hot vs douchey scale. 
  • If I don’t take the time to read the profile, I’m wasting both of our time to send a message. 
  • It’s ok to send the first message. Man, woman or somewhere in between- you, yes you, should send messages to people. Otherwise I am asking for the universe to decide for me who I like and the universe may have different ideas than me as to what I like. 
  • If at all possible avoid negative self talk in your profile and your messages. 
  • Write something in your profile that I can relate to. Give me a reason to message you. 
  • If your dog, your lunch, your car, etc. is more interesting than you as a first impression you are wasting my time. 
  • Blurry pictures are never a good idea
  • If I am looking to just hook up, I should say so  up front. Why waste time? 
  • Deal breakers should be listed and I should spend the time to figure out what they are for me (personally mine include extremely religious ppl, vegans, hard drugs, kids and anti-cuddlers)
  • My age, height, weight, etc. should be up to date and accurate. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that “everybody exaggerates or every guy adds 2 inches to their height…blah, blah, blah.” I call bullshit. Never once did I lie about anything in a dating profile. If I don’t respect you enough to be honest, I don’t deserve your time, energy or effort. And I won’t put up with those who don’t respect me enough to do the same. The little things absolutely matter. 
  • If there is no chance of anything coming from a conversation, no reply is necessary. Our social contract includes in the fine print that ghosting is better than written rejection on the first message. 
  • If I send 3 messages without a reply I am cut off. Any more and I am creepy.
  • If I see a profile with a ridiculous and/or terrible picture or read something that’s super douchey I will take a screenshot and share it with my friends and/or Instagram. I encourage you to do the same as it’s super fun. 
  • Sexy time is great, but please respect your partner and yourself enough to get tested for STD’s. Preferably together as these can be faked pretty easily. If nothing else, don’t be silly, wrap your willie. And ladies, we are the ones who have to deal with childbirth, so it’s our responsibility to ensure we have whatever outcome we want on this front. 

Dear men who do online dating: 

You are amazing, and I am so glad you are putting yourself out there. Thank you for being brave and being willing to go after what you want. In my opinion you have it much more difficult when it comes to online dating. That being said, it might be easier on all of us if you follow these simple guidelines: 

  • Please have your main picture be one of just you and one where you are happy if at all possible…unless you want to find only miserable people, then you can probably get away with angsty face, sunglasses, or other pictures of random shit. 
  • You don’t pull of the “smoldering” look. This is the equivalent of duck face. Just stop it. 
  • Shirtless selfies are only allowed if you are under 30 and look like you could be on the cover of an ab workout video. Otherwise it’s not helping you. 
  • Yes, please post photos that show your personality and hobbies, but remember that the main image on your profile is tiny and if I can’t see your face I better really like what else is in your picture if I’m going to consider looking at your profile. 
  • If you look miserable in your photo you will not be hearing from me 
  • Take the 30 seconds to crop your main image so it’s centered, shows your face and is right side up. 
  • If I can see your phone in your hand and it’s covering your face I think you are lazy and kind of dumb. 
  • If you have a boat, nice car, puppy etc. in your photos they should be yours. 
  • If your main profile picture includes fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, sports, etc. please be aware that I will only read your profile if those are things I REALLY like also. This means you may be limiting your market by having too big of an emphasis on a hobby that may not relate to a potential relationship in a big way. 
  • If you think you are sharing too much, it’s probably still not enough. 
  • Please don’t get upset with us if we take awhile to reply. When I do online dating I get 30-40 messages a day. I once got as many as 400 messages in a day. It’s overwhelming and not personal. 

Dear women who do online dating: 

This isn’t easy for anybody. While we have different challenges than men in this realm, we have challenges nonetheless. We have all become a bit jaded by our mid 20′s, and while yes, you will be subjecting yourself to a barrage of strange messages online dating is efficient (while at least sometimes being effective). Here’s what has been important to me with online dating:  

  • I need to be upfront. If I have children/pets/requirements/reservations I should say so in my profile. 
  • Men have it rough in the dating world. Let’s cut them some slack. We often sit back and wait for them to do all the work and then we judge them on superficial bullshit before moving on. Yes, we will likely get a lot of creepy guys being pervs, but a lot of guys are just shy, anxious, nervous or simply not great at online conversation. Heck, none of us were given a book on how to do this. If they are trying and there is even a tiny chance you might get along, give them a chance. 
  • We are more beautiful than we know. Also, guys generally have much lower standards for how they perceive us than we do, so stop worrying so much. We are awesome!  
  • Be quirky. Be weird. Be me! Show them who I are when no one is around. Be my true self and I will find them flocking to me. Generic is boring. I are not boring. 
  • If my profile is generic or doesn’t include many options for connection points it will be quite difficult for men to send personalized messages to me. Let’s give ‘em something to talk about 😉
  • If I have pics in lingerie or sexy pics of any kind, I can’t get mad at dudes commenting on them. 
  • I never expect my date to pick up the tab. This is 2016 and I am a strong, independent woman who is just as capable as any man. Unless my lifelong ambition is to be June Cleaver, I need to let go of the 50′s mentality and buy my own damn drink. If my date does offer to pay for me, I must be gracious and say thank you, genuinely. 
  • Every sexy pic, discussion or sultry comment uttered prior to our first meeting decreases the chance of a meaningful, long term relationship. If I’m looking for Mr. Right Now, send away. If not, I need to make them wait until we get to know each other. 
  • I need to remember whatever stage a “relationship” is in when we have sex, it likely won’t raise above that. Meaning that if I give it up on the first or 2nd date, I can expect no more effort than what it took to get me in bed the first time from then on out. 
  • If I don’t know what I want, that’s ok, but as soon as I figure it out, I need to  communicate openly and honestly with my potential partner. 
  • Don’t be afraid to make the first move, and if it doesn’t work out that’s ok too. Guys deal with that all the time. If I’m not getting what I want, seek it out. 
  • If I send a first message it doesn’t have to be Shakespeare. Just about anything will do. Guys are generally just happy to get a message. Make their day! 
  • I have an 8 date minimum rule. I post this on my profile. Those who are unwilling to wait aren’t worth my time. Setting up rules for myself prior to going out on dates makes it much less likely that I will need a day of cuddling and ice cream while I cry about my bad choices yet again to my dear, sweet, understanding bff. 

I know this is a super long post, but I apparently have a lot to say on the subject. Once again, these are all personal opinions and not be mistaken for facts. I think for now the only other things I can think to add are where to try for online dating. Here are the ones I am familiar with: 

OkCupid: This is great for those who like to waste time on endless quizzes. This can be a dangerous time suck in the long run. I recommend not filling out too many of these because you will be judged by EVERY SINGLE ANSWER. 

POF: I have had good luck here, and while I hear all the time this is the “bottom of the barrel” I really like it. It combines the basic Tinder swipe feature with full profiles. I also find that people are more real/upfront/honest on this site which I love. 

Tinder: This one forces you to connect with Facebook and requires a ton of permissions. This used to be the hookup site, but it’s changing. If you are on Tinder, you are welcome to write that you only want hook ups, but everyone else is likely there for some kind of dating. Space to put in details is short, so make it count. Height, weight, deal breakers and something about your hobbies/interests/work/what you are looking for/etc. is perfect. 

Bumble: This one is like Tinder, short profiles, but on here the woman HAVE to message first. Genius! I have not used this myself, but I’ve heard that the quality of people on here is top notch. 

I hope this has been helpful. If y’all have any other topics you’d like to hear me ramble about please leave a comment. I had a lot of fun writing this (even if it did take me like 4 months to finish haha). One last thing I’d like to mention is that even though dating generally sucks, it only has to work once. 

Peace, Love and Cuddles, 
Samantha Hess