6 online dating tips for complete beginners

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Online dating is so ubiquitous now that everyone has heard of it, but that doesn't mean that everyone has tried it: there are plenty of beginners out there! Whether you've just come out of a long relationship or simply haven't got round to trying it yet, dipping your toe into the online dating pool can feel a bit scary at first. However, if you bear in mind that everyone was a beginner once, and follow our handy tips, you'll soon be using mysinglefriend.com like an absolute expert. 

Tip 1: Be prepared to put some time in

Though it does sometimes happen, it's unlikely that you'll meet the boy or girl of your dreams on your first date. It takes time to fill out your profile, choose pictures and chat with others, and then it takes more time to meet up with people and figure out which ones you want to see again. However, the more time you put in, the more benefit you'll get out, so don't be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get to it.

Tip 2: Get a wingman on board

Mysinglefriend is all about getting your mates involved, and we guarantee that having a cheerleader will make the experience much more fun. Get them to write your profile (or check what you've written and make sure you're not selling yourself short). help you choose some pictures and then search through the site for potential hotties.

Tip 3: Post a selection of good pictures

Research has shown that we tend to be bad at choosing pictures that show us off in our best light. Whilst you may think that super pouty selfie makes you look all seductive and mysterious, your mate will probably think that you look a bit grumpy and not demonstrating your sparkling personality. Listen to their advice and post a selection of pictures that show the real you.

Tip 4: Cast your net widely

If you get bogged down in the details of trying to find exactly who you think you're looking for (e.g brown hair, over 6 foot, green eyes, is fanatical about Emmerdale), you're going to narrow down your options instantly. Being open minded about meeting all sorts of different people gives you much more opportunity to meet someone lovely, even if they don't fit your tick list. In fact, we recommend chucking away your tick list: we know couples who would never had met if they had stuck so rigidly to their imagined perfect date! 

Tip 5: Don't be shy about taking things offline

Thought the idea of meeting up with a stranger in real life can feel intimidating, it's important to remember that it's the whole reason you've started online dating in the first place! Once you've had a bit of a chat online, suggest meeting up IRL so you can see if you really click when you aren't both hidden behind a keyboard. The first time you meet someone will be nerve wracking, but, like everything in life, the more you do it, the easier it will get.

Tip 6: Relax and enjoy!

The most important thing to remember is that online dating should be fun! It sometimes requires a thick skin, as not every date will be perfect, but as soon as you learn to chalk those up to experience (and enjoy telling it as a funny anecdote), you'll have no problems. See it as a fun hobby, rather than a stressful chore, and you'll soon be having a ball!

Looking for a delightful date? Join mysinglefriend now!

5 simple ways to get a reply to your first message

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Once you've got your dating profile online and honed to absolute perfection, it's time to start sending messages. This is the tricky bit and it's easy to feel disheartened if you're sending out messages but not getting many replies. However, there are a few simple tricks that you can employ to hook the interest of potential dates and make sure they reply, without coming on too strong or resorting to silly pick up lines. Here's how...

1. Make your subject line more interesting than "Hi"

If the person you've messaged has got an inbox stuffed with messages that start 'Hi', 'Hello' or 'Hey', you won't stand out from the crowd if you do exactly the same. Spend a little time thinking up a witty one-liner or something else that will catch their eye. Another great tip is to refer it back to something in their profile, which leads us neatly on to...

2. Make it clear that you've read their profile

Mentioning something you've read in their profile shows that a) you're showing a genuine interest in them and b) you aren't just copying and pasting the same message to everyone. Copying and pasting a message to loads of people is the dating equivalent of throwing mud at a wall and seeing what sticks, which isn't a position your potential date will want to be in. Make your message personal and people will be much more likely to reply.

3. Tell them about yourself

Yes, they can find out about you from your profile, but telling them a bit about yourself will grab their interest and make them more likely to visit your profile than one of those hideously banal messages that goes something like 'Hey, how are you?' Whilst you might be the most fascinating creature to ever walk the earth, they'll only know if you tell them, so get some details in there before they click away to a more interesting message.

4. Ask a question

Asking a question in a message is like offering them a hook to hang their answer on. It opens up the conversation immediately and makes it easy for them to reply. Bonus points if the question refers back to their profile, because you're killing two birds with one stone. If they say they like cooking, ask them what their favourite meal is. If they like the cinema, ask what's the best movie they've seen lately. It's a simple strategy, but super effective.

5. Ask them out on a date

We make this suggestion with the caveat of '...if you feel comfortable with that'. If you like to spend a little time getting to know someone through messaging, then stick to that, but if you're happy to meet up with people straight away (keeping our safety tips in mind, obvs), go for it! It shows a level of commitment to your online dating adventure and is certain to grab their attention in amongst all the 'Hey, how you doing?' messages. Be brave, be bold and get dates.

Looking for a delightful date? Join mysinglefriend now!

7 tips for a safe online dating experience

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If you take care of yourself, everything will run smoothly

There are often articles in the news about people being duped by internet scammers, so some level of wariness when it comes to your online interactions is always a good idea - safety first, safety second! as the saying goes. However, as with all areas of life, if you take care of yourself and are aware of any potential problems, everything will run smoothly. Here are a few tips that will help you have a fun, enjoyable and, above all, safe dating experience.

Don't share too much online

Of course you'll have to do a bit of initial messaging, but we recommend keeping it to the messaging system within MSF and swap numbers when you've actually met. Don't respond to requests for sexy pics or information about where you work or live; if someone is genuinely interested in a relationship, all of that stuff can wait.

Don't be afraid to say no

Even if you've shared lots of messages with someone, you have no obligation to meet them IRL if you don't want to: you're allowed to change your mind at any point. Don't worry about offending someone and don't allow yourself to feel uncomfortable simply to save their feelings.

Arrange to meet in a public place

This is online dating safety 101, but it's always worth repeating. It's easy to build up a quick rapport online and feel like you've got the measure of someone, but there is no escaping the fact that they are a stranger. Meet in a public place where you can easily leave should you wish to.

Tell someone where you're going

Another basic, but also easy to forget. Tell a friend where and when you're meeting, basic details about your date (name, phone number) and what time you expect to be home. Check in with your mate during the date (not too much, obvs, no one wants a date who is glued to their phone the whole time) and send them a text asking them to call if you need a reason to escape.

If you need to drive somewhere, drive yourself

If you have to drive to the place you're meeting your date, don't allow them to come and pick you up. Having your own transport puts you in control of when you leave, plus it's just basic common sense not to get into a car with a stranger. It also gives you a handy reason to...

Stay sober!

We know that a little bit of dutch courage goes a long way if you're nervous about your date, but we're putting the emphasis here heavily on the little (and none at all if you're driving!). Alcohol creates bad judgement, which could lead to anything from making a tit of yourself by talking endlessly about your ex to going home with someone who you don't know. If you accidentally get drunk, excuse yourself and call a cab.

If you're getting bad vibes, act on them

Bad vibes can be hard to pin down, but if you're feeling uncomfortable in any way, don't be afraid to leave the date. Make this easy for yourself by arranging to meet for a coffee or a drink - something that could reasonably be over inside an hour - rather than agreeing to a three course meal followed by dancing. Your safety comes first, so don't worry about potentially offending someone if you feel the need to get away. 

Looking for a delightful date? Join mysinglefriend now!

 

How to get your date off to a great start

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So, you've aced the initial online messaging side of things and have bagged yourself a hot date. Now it's time to meet in real life where you can't hide behind your keyboard or ask your mates for help constructing pithy, flirty one-liners. It's down to you to make a great first impression and get that date off to a flying start. But don't worry, this doesn't mean you need to be as impressive and charming as a Beyonce/Tom Hiddleston hybrid. Just follow these few simple tips and you'll be having a fabulous time before you've even realised it.

Make an effort with your appearance (but not so much that you feel weird)

It's important that you look good, but 'making an effort with your appearance' shouldn't be confused with 'dressing up like you're going to the 6th form leaver's ball'. If you're the type of person who wears a sharp suit or fancy dress every day of the week then that is what you should stick with, but if you spend most of your time in jeans and a plaid shirt, then getting super dressed up is only going to make you feel uncomfortable. Choose an outfit that looks tidy but helps you feel like you, as being relaxed will make the best impression of all.

Be on time

This is basic stuff, but being late is the ultimate in making your date feel like you just don't care enough. Of course, you could be beset by all sorts of disasters on your way to meet them, from a delayed train to a 'What the hell am I wearing?!' freak out, but build these possibilities into your schedule and leave a nice big buffer of time to absorb any disasters. It's much better to be way too early than rudely late.

Doing an activity can really break the ice

When we say activity, we're not suggesting you spend your first date learning how to knit tea cosies (though why the heck not?!), but it is worth considering whether having something to do might be helpful.. If you're used to a first date scenario that involves staring at a stranger across a table and panic-drinking yourselves into oblivion, you might like to try something a little different. Meeting in a museum or art gallery, for example, gives you something to look at and talk about apart from each other, which can ease the pressure of a first meeting.

Be inquisitive

If you're nervous, asking your date questions about themselves helps to take the spotlight off you and will enable you to relax and warm up a bit. It is also an attractive trait, as no one wants to spend an evening (or, indeed, the rest of their life) with someone who talks about themselves incessantly and shows no interest in others. Being inquisitive about the other person is another incredibly basic tip, but it's surprising how many people think the purpose of a date is to sell themselves rather than find out about someone else.

Focus on having a good time now, not on your desired outcome

If you arrive to your date with your head full of dreams about how this person could be The One that you marry, start a family and fulfil your dreams of opening an organic avocado farm in New Zealand with, you're going to have a less successful date then if you just turn up hoping to have a bit of laugh for a couple of hours. We all have ideas about how we'd like our lives to pan out, but if you immediately project them onto everyone you meet, you're giving them an awful lot to live up to, which just isn't fair. Concentrate on just having a nice time on your first date, rather than hoping for it to be the beginning of your elaborately constructed happy-ever-after fantasy.

Looking for a few first dates? Join mysinglefriend now!

Why you shouldn't sweat the small stuff

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When we stop obsessing about the little things, our pool of dates immediately gets much bigger 

When you embark upon your online dating adventure, it's very easy to get so caught up in the tiny details about other people that you can end up letting some cracking potential dates slip through the net. One couple who met through MSF and are now getting married probably wouldn't have met up at all if they had paid close attention to the small print. Caroline told us that she hadn't looked in much detail about Sid's profile and the night before they met up he sent her a message asking if she had realised he was about about five inches shorter than her. Caroline told us: "In my mind I thought 'Sh**********t' but I wrote back saying 'Of course I knew, it's fine'. 

"We met at Covent Garden tube station, looked at each other and didn't speak for what felt like a few minutes. We later told each other that Sid was thinking 'F**k, she's tall' and I was thinking 'F**k, he's short'. After we'd stared at each other in shock for a while we decided to go for lunch. We chatted non-stop and had so much in common that the height thing just wasn't important!"

Height seems to be of particular importance to women, with research showing that men who are 6ft and over are 33% more likely to be contacted than men of average height (5ft 7). However, we all get hung up on the details and people of both sexes will easily dismiss others based on being a couple of inches too tall, a tiny bit chubby, having the wrong hair colour or living half a mile outside of their preferred area. If we are prepared to be a bit more open minded and stop obsessing about little things, the pool of potential dates will immediately grow much bigger and the likelihood of meeting someone lovely increases.

Caroline and Sid are proof that letting go of our ideas of what someone we fancy 'should' look like can result in a happy-ever-after story, so stop sweating the small stuff and start dating lots more great people.

Fancy a date? Join mysinglefriend.com now!

Success story: Liz and Andy

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We'd like to wish a huge congratulations to our latest success story, the wonderful Andy and Liz! The happy couple got in touch recently to let us know all about their new relationship.

"I knew that online dating worked, and now I can say so from experience," says Liz. "I only went on one date, though, and I wonder whether I have missed out on having some of those funny stories to tell, or whether I would have cringed and ditched the whole idea after one or two tries. . I would definitely recommend it to others with a caution to have an open mind and not judge people just on their photos or profiles. What are their emails like? What questions are they asking you and how are they responding to yours? And people can appear very different when you meet them face to face.

"Since we both lived in the same town we met somewhere local and low-key. I was late (this was beginning to be a theme) and he was waiting. As I approached and he turned to greet me, my heart leaped! He was so charming looking. This was it! My first date and its already better than I expected. We hit it off and chatted and laughed over dinner. Then I challenged him to a game of pool at my local - he didn’t let me win - I didn’t want that kind of treatment from an accomplished snooker player - but I think he went easy on me! The date was lovely and he was such a gentleman.

"MSF is the only site I tried and I chose it because (a) some of my friends found love on it and (b) because it meant I didn’t have to write my own profile and blow my own trumpet. Having others do it for me was a bit of an emotional experience - is what they think I’m like? Are these my best characteristics and my funniest stories? It was very interesting but I confess I made them change it a few times so I didn’t sound like a drunken loon! And of course you can write your own profile and respond to theirs so it’s very flexible. I love that your friends can also search the site for you. That could be quite fun and, if nothing else, you can get a second opinion on some potentials!

"Andy and I are looking at moving in together and seeing what happens from there. We’re looking forward to some great holidays and getting involved in each other’s hobbies. We’ve had so much fun together so far and I never imagined I could meet someone so decent online - why wasn’t he snapped up already? Same reason as me, I guess - he hadn’t met the right One."

We're so happy that we helped Liz and Andy both find The One! If you're still on the lookout for your perfect person, sign up to mysinglefriend.com now and get searching!

Featured Profile: benedict

We see a lot of profiles here at mysinglefriend.com and each one is as unique and special as the next. Sometimes, though, there is one that stands out from the crowd and deserves to be shared more widely. This week we'd like to introduce you to the lovely Benedict, who clearly has a sporty and adventurous lifestyle and has a great philosophy on life: 'Carpe noctem - seek the original'.

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Success story: Caroline and Sid

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The best part of our job is hearing from happy couples who met through mysinglefriend.com. Today we'd like to introduce you to Caroline and Sid, who met on the site 7 years ago and are now about to get married!

"We actually met by mistake because when I first went on MSF I saw all these gorgeous men and I just clicked the heart on the photo on all the chaps I found attractive. It was only later I discovered the filter of age, area, height etc. By this point I had received a few messages and started a conversation with Sid, who had the most gorgeous photo, he was wearing a blue polo shirt and I remember his arms looked amazing!

We went for lunch at 1pm and left the restaurant at 10pm. We chatted non stop and had so much in common. We are getting married in Norfolk next September and we are currently living together in Fulham with our 2 spaniels Bruno and Dyson. Thank you MSF and Sarah Beeny for giving us this opportunity to meet. We are very grateful."

It's our pleasure! Huge congrats to Caroline and Sid from all of us here at MSF! Are you looking to meet The One? Sign up to mysinglefriend.com now and get searching! 

why using great quality pictures will get you more dates

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"It's all about the visuals in that first moment of attraction."

It's said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and nowhere is that more true than on your online dating profile. Just as in real life, first impressions count when someone first casts their eye over your profile and if your photo isn't up to scratch, that potential date is going to move on quicker than a camera flash. Just as when you first see someone across a crowded bar, it's all about the visuals in that first moment of attraction and adding a photo that is the onscreen equivalent of you wearing your PJs and knackered old trainers on a night out isn't going to cut it. Here are the types of photos you should avoid using to maximise your chances of getting plenty of dates.

Bad quality photos

If your photos are fuzzy, pixelated or you're so far away from the camera that your features can't be clearly seen, we guarantee that you won't be doing yourself any favours. Well-focussed, colourful, head and shoulders shots will get you the most attention (we've been doing this for ten years, so trust us on this one.)

Selfies

Unless you've taken a particularly good shot with the aid of a selfie stick, selfies rarely show you off to your full potential. Pictures taken in the bathroom mirror are an absolute no-no, and even those taken with the front camera setting are hard to get a good angle on, creating a minefield of double chins and strangely-shaped noses. Ask a friend to take a nice shot instead.

No pouting please

Whilst you might think that ultra moody black-and-white shot makes you look all smouldering and moody, the chances are that a potential date thinks you look grumpy and miserable, which is an instant turn off. Smile and the world smiles with you, as the saying goes, so find a picture where you look bright and smiley.

Group shots

Your primary profile photo should be a photo of just you - no friends, no exes and no random bunch of strangers on holiday. The people viewing your profile won't be dating anyone other than you, so you're the only one they need to see (also, it's helpful for them to be clear which one is definitely you!). Save group shots for the rest of your photos.

Visit mysinglefriend.com and sign up now.

We need your success stories!

 Gareth and Annabelle, who recently met on mysinglefriend.com

Gareth and Annabelle, who recently met on mysinglefriend.com

Over the years, mysinglefriend has brought together countless singles who have gone on to form long-lasting relationships, live together, get married and even have babies. Hearing about MSF success stories always makes our day, as helping people to meet is what we're all about, and it's the cherry on top of the cake when romance blossoms and true love is found. 

As well as making us feel good, success stories go to show that mysinglefriend.com really works. We've always been proud of our community of singles and their friends, and we want to shout it from the rooftops when one of our highly valued bunch of members meets someone special. We'll be featuring future success stories on our brand new blog, so if you are part of a happy MSF couple, or you know someone who is, please get in touch and let us know all about it! Apart from being a wonderful celebration of a budding new (or even old - we often hear from couples who have been together for years) relationship, reading about other people's transformation from hopeful single to happily loved up other half is a wonderful morale booster for everyone else on the site! Drop us a line at blog@mysinglefriend.com if you'd like to share your story.

Visit mysinglefriend.com and sign up now.