In today’s click-friendly world, about 4.5 million Australians hunt online for love every year, according to industry figures.
On the surface it might seem easy to snare a potential mate from the virtual smorgasbord. But a common gripe from men is that women are too picky and dating sites are dominated by dudes.
So, what factors can help men succeed? Services (offered by many dating sites) exist to help you present yourself. Alternatively, why not take advice from those who know best – women on dating sites.
Apparently, many men are simply presenting themselves in the wrong way.
Since starting online dating last year, 42-year-old Sydney-based Sheralyn Mackay has seen a range of common faux pas – from blurry profile shots to pics of men in sunglasses, stained singlets, holding fish, axes and alcoholic beverages. “You come across as an alcoholic,” she warns.
Also avoid semi-naked photos of yourself. “It’s too sexual,” Ms Mackay says. Women are more attracted by a well-dressed, handsome man with a good personality.
A sense of humour is a plus, but pulling funny faces suggests more school-boy immaturity than wittiness. Also watch your user name, she says. Names like ‘cheeseballs’ don’t promote your better qualities, while ‘hero4you’ reeks of cheesiness.
Displaying yourself in any of these ways shows you’re not thinking about what a woman wants, Ms Mackay says.
When crafting your first greeting, take the lead from BBC drama Poldark and keep it gentlemanly.
“Don’t use terms of endearment straight away like sexy, honey,” Ms Mackay says.
“It’s too familiar. Be respectful. Use classy words.”
Also be positive, ask open-ended questions and listen. Experts reveal the secret to making a good impression is about crafting a memorable, bonding and engaging experience.
Another turn-off is pushy communication and unrealistic expectations. Ms Mackay, who is bombarded by up to 60 messages daily from would-be suitors, is unable to answer them all.
“They need to realise we have things outside the dating site, going on. I have children, I have a job.“
You may have the gentleness of a puppy, but remember you’re a stranger in a world where rape, murder and violence are a thing. A 2017 poll by Relationships Australia found 21 per cent of female respondents thought online dating was unsafe.
“We need to get to know you,” Ms Mackay explains. “Just keep messages going for a while. That upsets men. They want to do things straight away. But I have no idea if we have anything in common and whether we get on.”
Ms Mackay has turned down men because of pushiness, including unwanted physical touches, expectations of lengthy first dates and staying the night.
“Do not turn up to a date expecting a relationship. It’s okay to have a greeting hug,” she warned.
Nice guys handicapped by fate can still come out on top. At 57, Melbourne-based Debi Slinger overlooked her partner’s physical limitations after finding him on Zoosk.
“This man’s had three strokes, but he has a big heart, a big sense of social justice, and a good sense of humour,” she says. “That’s what women care about.”
Ms Slinger, an outdoor educator, recommends men put effort into a quality profile shot. “I don’t mind what it is as long as I see you being a person. But I don’t want to see your wife cropped out of your photo; men on their motor bikes; with their fish.”
“None of my photos have pictures of me white-water rafting or angling – my hobbies. It feels a little self-absorbed. If you’re with your dog or cat, that’s kind of cute. I don’t put a pic of me doing needlepoint. Say it rather than show it.”
Stand out from the competition by displaying positive personal qualities – like wit, intelligence, optimism and compassion.
“We like a person with a smile in their eyes and caring fathers,” she says. “Your wealth doesn’t come into the radar.”
And don’t bag the ex, another common mistake. “How you speak about your ex shows your maturity. We’ve all been burned.”
Ms Slinger’s new partner wasn’t offended when she told him she was dating six other guys.
“He said: ‘I’ll rise to the top of the pile. I’m dating you and I’ll be wearing a shirt and tie.’
This guy was really making an effort for me and that made me feel special and that did it for me. Dress as though you’re trying to impress. Cause she’ll have made an effort. You put a man in a suit and you’ve got me.”
One guy who caught her eye described himself as a property.
“His whole thing was ‘I’ve been renovated a few times and I’m open for inspection.’ I really wanted to talk to someone taking the mickey out of himself.
“In a crowded, noisy environment of faces and images you’ve got to catch the eye. I will date a man of any age if we have things in common,” she says.
“Most of us are trying to find a connection.”