Last week, Patti Stanger, The Millionaire Matchmaker host and author, came to New York City to talk about her sake company, Ty Ku. But this time of year can be especially difficult for singles looking to couple up, so TV’s most outspoken yenta also gave us her insider tricks to finding true love online.
1. “Your picture is the most important thing. Period.”
Stanger suggests you splurge on a professional photo if you can. Winning poses include the red-carpet twist for gals—”a little black dress always gets the guy,” she claims—and a straight-on, casual-fun, jeans-and-a-blazer (or button-down) look for fellas. “Stop putting those crazy pictures of you jumping out of planes or in a giant concert crowd; we can’t see you!” she says. If you’re tempted to put kids or pets in the picture: Don’t. “Even if it’s your niece, users will automatically assume you have kids. That isn’t necessarily a turn off, but this is about luring your mate.” As for Fido, Stanger advises, “If you really love animals, go to a niche dating site for pet lovers.” Lastly, crop out your best friend from your profile photo if that’s your favorite pic of you. “If he or she is hotter, you’re in trouble!”
2. “Give yourself a memorable name.”
Instead of just your name or initials, make your username descriptive. “Try something that says who you are with a little sexy note, that’s fun and flirty. But make sure you don’t put the word ‘sex’ in there. If you lead with that, you’re only going to find someone who is looking for something casual,” Stanger says.
3. “Use clear, but coded, language.”
Looking for marriage? “If you say it outright on your profile, people assume you’re a gold digger, or they get turned off,” Stanger explains. “Try, ‘I’m a one woman kind of guy,’ ‘I want to grow old with my soul-mate,’ or ‘I want to open my heart and share my life with someone.'” Looking for something less committed? “Say ‘I’m just looking for fun,'” she continues. “It’s not fair to waste people’s time when they are looking for something serious.”
4. “Yes, it’s okay to lie about your age—the right way.”
“Everyone knows if you’re 50, you’ll say 45, because if you put 50 you won’t come up on a search for fortysomethings,” says Stanger. “It’s fine to lie about your age by up to five years. But, this is what you do: If you meet and have chemistry, by the second or third date say, ‘I need to tell you this one thing that might be a turn-off, but…’ and come clean. Anybody who is worth keeping won’t mind. Who knows, they might have a confession for you as well!” Where else can you fib? “Men lie about height, women lie about weight. Women know they need to take two inches off a man’s listed height, and men know to add about 15 pounds to a woman’s listed weight. Unless she’s Superwoman!”
5. “Message him first, especially if the site thinks you’re a match.”
Stanger strongly believes that more women should take advantage of reaching out to men through private messaging on dating sites, especially when the site indicates there might be chemistry between the two of you. If you’re not sure how to start, Stanger advises you refer to the site as a friend who introduced you. “Say, ‘The system says we’re a match, wink wink…'” she says. However, if you don’t get any response, go on to the next guy.
6. “Facebook-stalking will get you nowhere.”
You probably don’t want to do too much if any Googling before your dates, and Stanger says to skip Facebook and Twitter, because they reveal too much of a person’s casual side. “Everybody’s Facebook page has things they don’t want to be judged for! Maybe it’s smoking cigars with the guys, or maybe it’s before you lost 25 pounds.” She thinks too much pre-date research will unnecessarily stress you out. But, she often advises clients to do a quick perusal on LinkedIn to see if prospects are lying about basic information like employment.
7. “Sign up for at least three sites.”
To make the most of your odds, Stanger suggests you play the numbers by going broad, then narrow. “The first should be Match.com. People who use pay sites like Match are serious about finding relationships. The second should be a niche site, such as J-Date, or MillionaireMatch. Then, third, sign up for a free site like OkCupid or Plenty of Fish.” With such a range, you’re likely to increase your odds of meeting more interesting people who will ultimately connect you to what you want.
8. “Don’t become addicted to finding love.”
True story: Stanger has had clients who lost their jobs over their addiction to checking their profiles and prospects while at work. She tells clients to reserve online dating as a special experience, by dimming the lights at home, uncorking a bottle of wine, and playing fun music. Stanger also cautions against only using the computer to find a match, and not working it through friends, at the gym, chance encounters…the list goes on. “The secret is to use as many methods available as possible to meet people,” she says.
9. “Be nice to everyone.”
Your mom probably said this too, and Stanger backs it up. “If you go on a date with someone and he or she turns out to be a total dud—or worse, downright obnoxious—they may have a friend for you! Good looking, successful, funny people hang out with similar types. The best way to meet a guy is through a referral; before you know it, you’re six degrees-ing it. Dating online opens up so many possibilities for offline.”
10. “Cheer up if you don’t have good luck.”
Stanger is relentlessly positive. “Don’t be depressed if the first few dates are bad. Don’t be upset if the wrong people are picking you. Just redo your profile to get better matches. The secret is to get out of your own way!”
Learn more at Patti’s website, follow her on Twitter, or check out her book Become Your Own Matchmaker: 8 Easy Steps for Attracting Your Perfect Mate.