Online daters have a reputation for being a pool of desperate hopefuls and total creeps, but the idea behind internet dating is actually brilliant. The point of creating a dating profile online is to weed out unlikely matches, and thereby get closer to finding your next sweetheart.

For the purposes of my online dating experience, I used the Plenty of Fish website/app and kept it for 48 hours. Plenty of Fish (POF) is great because unlike some dating sites/apps, POF allows you to message users without having to pay for a membership. In less than 12 hours of creating my profile, I had gotten at least hundred messages from men all over my state. The overwhelming response prompted me to write this piece.

Although I made a few tweaks to my “About Me” section throughout the 48-hour span that I used POF, it stayed pretty close to this: “I am a driven young student finishing up a Bachelor’s degree in English. I am on here for casual dates/friendships (not sex). The right man for me would be someone a lot like me: a hard-working follower of Jesus; health-conscious and kind, who shares my love for dancing and old music. I love all music from the 50’s and 60’s, as well as classic rock and today’s rap. I am a feminist and believe all people are equal. Smokers, heavy drinkers, and UNC fans need not apply.”

At least five diehard fans of the University of North Carolina messaged me solely to tell me how much I was “missing out.” These messages varied in hatefulness, and I didn’t respond to any of them.

I responded to messages when I could tell that the user had read my profile in its entirety. I was most eager to communicate with users who told me that we had something in common. In my 48-hour stint on Plenty of Fish, I learned a few things I’d like to share with those of you who may be brave enough to take the virtual plunge into internet dating.

My Tips for Success on Plenty of Fish:

  1. Your photo is important. Your profile picture should not be blurry. Your profile picture should not be a group picture. Your profile picture should accurately depict how you look, and I would suggest that you use a picture in which you are fully clothed.
  2. Your “About Me” is important. Many users write an abridged autobiography, leaving very little for other users to ask them about. A lot of other people only write, “If you want to know, just ask.” This makes you seem closed off, and does not help other users figure out what you might have in common. Discuss what makes you unique, your interests, and what you’re looking for.
  3. Your inaugural message to someone is important. Keep it to a few sentences, maximum. Greet them (“Hello,” “Hi,” “Hey”) and mention something that you have in common based off what you’ve read in their profile.
  4. Do not send a second message before you receive a response. Sending a second message before a user responds comes off as impatient and abrasive. Take time in crafting your first message – it is the first impression they will get of you.
  5. Do not say anything you wouldn’t feel 100% comfortable saying in real life. This includes giving pet names immediately, because I truly hope you wouldn’t go up to a stranger and call them “babe.”
  6. Don’t be rude. You may think that someone who hits you up online is unattractive, beneath you, or just plain not your type. That doesn’t give you the right to crush them, and you shouldn’t be hateful unless they give you reason to be. As Dalton from Road House would say, “be nice until it’s time to not be nice.”

One last thing: You won’t find your soulmate on day one, but don’t let that discourage you. Love takes time in both the real and the virtual world. Talk to different types of people and try not to make snap judgments. Everyone on there is an individual, just like you!