Is it InstaLove?

Dear Elana, 

I'm falling in love with my online guy friend. We met through Instagram and have become good friends but we've never met in person. I want to have a future with him, but I don't know how to approach things as I have no idea about his feelings and I don't want to ruin the friendship between us.

- I Never Stop Thinking About Crush

Dear INSTA Crush, 

It sounds like you're falling for this guy's emoji game, but you want some face time. 

I'm wondering where you are in the trajectory of your Instagram relationship. It seems like you have progressed through the early stages of Instaflirting: following each other, liking and commenting on each other's photographs, and moving from public communication to private messaging. 

The next step is to move the conversation off of Instagram and into more personal modes of communication: email, phone, or video chat. Once you establish mutual trust and interest, you can plan a date IRL (In Real Life) – so that one day you can post photos of the two of you together, sipping hot chocolate in front of a blazing fire. 

You can figure out if he likes you as more than a friend by watching his reactions to your posts. Reciprocity is key. If you like one of his workout pics at the gym, he should like one of your fitness selfies. You can also scope out your competition. Has he recently followed or liked other girls' pictures? Did he like all of their #instagood posts, but ignore your birthday post? If so, sorry, but he's not that into you. 

If it seems like all signs are pointing to InstaLove, try to communicate with him honesty and directly. Remember, it's easy to hide behind a computer screen, but if you want your connection to grow, you need to show him your real feelings (#nofilter).  

Best Dating Profile Pictures

Dear Elana,

What pictures should I post to my online dating profile?

Please help,
Seeking Exciting Loving Feelings In E-Dating

Dear SELFIE,

Frustrated singles often call me after giving up on internet dating. They tell me that it's useless because they didn't meet anyone. The truth is that online dating is a great way to connect with a pool of available people that you wouldn't otherwise be able to access. The key is presenting yourself with skill and style. Many profiles contain blurry, grainy, or dated photos that cause them to be overlooked. Your headshot is competing with thousands of other profiles for attention, so if you want to get noticed you need to stand out from the crowd.

I've seen the best results from posting five to seven photographs in the following categories:
1-2 Portraits that show your face clearly
1-2 Full-body shots that show your figure
1-2 Conversation Starters (hobbies/travel/pets)
1-2 Social Proof (evidence that you have friends and sometimes leave your house)

Do:

  • Match your pictures to your profile text. For example, if you write about pinball competitions at Gordon Square, then include a snapshot of your amazing score in Medieval Madness.
  • Include casual pictures: cheering at a Cavs game, wearing a goofy Halloween costume, standing next to a sign that says “No Standing” (you rebel).
  • Post recent photographs.

Don't:

  • Don't use the same photograph for LinkedIn.
  • Don't post pictures where your ex- was obviously cropped out.
  • Don't exclusively post selfies – find at least one friend who's willing to take your picture.

Lastly, get a second opinion. Ask a close friend, your mom, or another trusted advisor to give their honest opinion about your photographs. The free online service PhotoFeeler.com can also help you select your best photographs. You gain karma points by rating other user's pictures, and in return you get their feedback on whether you appear smart, trustworthy, and attractive. For professional advice, schedule a couple of sessions with a dating coach to get a polished profile.

Best Online Dating Sites

Looking for love online? Selecting the right dating site is the first step.

As online dating has grown in popularity, a multitude of dating sites have appeared on the scene. From the major players like Match and eHarmony, to niche sites like VeggieDate or Geek2Geek, choosing the best site can feel daunting. 

Fortunately, Reviews.com created a guide to the top dating sites. They narrowed the contenders down to four finalists, and then sent a tester (a straight, white woman in her late twenties) into the wilds of online dating. She created a profile on each site, uploaded photographs, and answered hundreds of questions. You can read the full review at: http://www.reviews.com/online-dating-sites

dating_sites_review.png

Once you select a site, the next step is writing a profile and posting photographs that will accurately represent your personality, and attract the matches you want to meet. The goal is to strike a tone that is light, yet intriguing. People typically play it too safe by writing generic statements that could apply to anyone such as, "I like to have fun," or "I have a great sense of humor." Or, they pour their hearts out and reveal too much, too soon, for example, "I've had my heart broken in the past. Liars and cheaters need not apply." To write a great profile, you want to share as much information as you would reveal to an attractive stranger you just met as a party. You might mention that you love going to concerts at Blossom in the summer, or that you have a trip planned to Miami next month - but you would probably avoid mentioning your student debt or your gluten intolerance. After you have a first draft, share it with a friend you trust to get feedback before posting it publicly. If you want a professional opinion, contact us to schedule a coaching session

You might also be interested in: How To Write a Great Dating Profile.

Dating after 50

More mature singles are turning to the Internet to find love – and with good reason. While Internet dating is popular for singles of all ages and sexual orientations, it has proven even more valuable for singles who have a thin partner market.

According to 2012 research by Rosenfeld and Thomas, mature singles and singles from religious minorities are using online dating to find matches more efficiently by fine-tuning the search criteria.

Karen Katz and Allan Licht met on the dating site Plenty of Fish in 2009 when they were 54 and 56, respectively but their love story began years earlier at Cleveland Heights High School.

Karen remembers vividly, “I met Allan when I was a sophomore and he was a senior, and I had a mad crush on him.” Allan admitted he liked Karen too, but “she was so shy that I didn’t feel I could approach her.”

Years passed, and their lives took shape in different directions. The stars finally aligned years later when Allan saw Karen’s profile online, although he didn’t recognize her at first.

“All of a sudden I saw this picture, and it was the cutest picture of her. I just knew she was Jewish by the way she looked. There was something very familiar, and I just had this good feeling inside that this is the person I need to contact,” he said.

They met at Sushi Rock in Beachwood for their first date, and Allan realized who Karen was as soon as she walked in. Karen knew right away that she had found her match, “I had this I’ve been waiting for him all my life feeling.” Allan agrees, “I was looking for someone who felt like home, I needed a connection to the past.”

I asked Karen to offer advice to women over 50 who are searching for love. She said that she had been single for nine years before meeting Allan. She went on lots of dates, but none developed into serious relationships. She says, “It’s a numbers game – never give up, and try to make it fun. Even dates that were duds, I always tried to learn something from the experience. I knew I would meet someone.”

Here are the best dating sites for singles over 50. Match and eHarmony remain the dating site giants. The free dating sites Plenty of Fish and OkCupid are also popular. Niche sites that cater to senior singles include Senior Match and Our Time

If you have your heart set on finding love the old-fashioned way, follow the lead of Ossie and Carole. Ossie, 78, and Carole, 74, have been married for a little over a year. She caught his attention when they were volunteering, and he needed a reason to talk to her.

He recalls, “I asked her if she liked butterflies, and she said ‘yes.’ I bought a butterfly pin, and I presented it to her. I just kept talking to her, and I made excuses.”

She started wearing the pin whenever she volunteered. Carole remembers, “It was just such a nice gesture, just to show him that I did really like him.” Ossie invited Carole to dinner, where she cut to the chase and asked him what his intentions were. He said that he was looking for a serious relationship, and they became a couple. Six months later they were married.

With all of these avenues to find love, singles over 50 have reason to be optimistic. A 2013 poll of more than 2,000 members of the dating site, Our Time, revealed that singles between 50 to 65 years old have the most positive outlook of any age group when it comes to finding love. Ninety-four percent of the 50+ singles who participated in the study stated that they are more confident in knowing what they want in a partner than they were in their 20s or 30s, 89 percent reported feeling more comfortable with themselves, and 87 percent reported being less willing to settle. Singles over 50 also know what they want: They are searching for partners who are financially stable, healthy and attractive.

As far as intimacy in relationships, older adults have varying expectations and desires for sex. According to a study presented at the Gerontological Society of America in 2011, about 59 percent of married individuals 65 and older who reported no sexual activity in the last 12 months said they were “very happy” with their relationships. For others, sex remains an important and meaningful means of connecting. A National Council on Aging survey reported that among people age 60 and over who have regular intercourse, 74 percent of the men and 70 percent of the women find their sex lives more satisfying than when they were in their 40s.

Finally free to create their own rules, mature singles are approaching relationships with more self-acceptance, more clarity and more optimism. 

--

Elana Averbach is a dating coach who hopes to be just as in love with her husband-to-be at 70 as she is now. Learn how coaching can help you find romance and companionship. 

Online dating dilemma

Dear Elana,

I’ve had it with online dating! I was corresponding with one man who seemed promising, but he disappeared after a few email exchanges. I have no idea what happened, but I imagine he met someone else and didn’t have the courtesy to tell me. I’ve sent a few messages to men I’m interested in, but I haven’t heard back from most of them. The emails I get tend to be from men who are young enough to be my son, old enough to be my father, or are just plain creepy. Am I doing something wrong, or is online dating only for the lucky few?

Thanks in advance,

Lost in Cyberspace

 

Dear Lost,

Online dating is a great way to meet single men – but it’s not magic. You have the opportunity to expand your social circle, but you run into the same kind of guys you meet in the non-digital world. You’ll find the handsome lawyer your co-worker keeps telling you about, the self-obsessed musician you just know you could fix, and the shameless guy at the bar who keeps staring at your legs. They’re all there, glowing and glowering through your computer monitor: the dreamboats, the bores, and the pervs. You’ve got to wade through the pond of frogs to find your prince.

At the end of the day, online dating is a numbers game. According to Walter Hickey, reporter for Business Insider, both men and women tend not to respond to most of the emails they receive on dating sites. On average, women on dating sites respond to emails only 4% of the time, while men respond a little more at 18% of the time. Sure, a witty profile with great photos can increase your success rates, but you still need to be persistent and smart.

Here are some tried and true strategies to increase your dateability online:

First, create a memorable username that describes an aspect of your personality. Don’t include your real name, or any numbers. For example, Sam0207 suggests little effort or creativity, while QuantumMechanic is a clever username for an auto enthusiast who moonlights as an amateur astronomer.  Similarly, Rachel440 will elicit less attention than ItTakes2ToMango for a tropical horticulturist who likes to dance.

Once you’re satisfied with your username, you’re ready to write the text of your profile.

Step 1: Include details that appeal to the senses and connect to your matches emotionally.

Instead of the cliché phrase, “My family and friends are important to me,” try, “Sharing stories on Friday night around the dinner table is one of my favorite traditions. I get a kick out of watching my two-year-old nephew gnaw on a slice of bread while my dog tries to catch all the crumbs. It’s the most peaceful way to start the weekend. I would love to invite you one day.”

Step 2: Keep it light, don’t advertise your flaws or baggage in your dating profile.

Instead of, “I’m a busy professional with limited time to date,” try, “As a pastry chef at a major Cleveland restaurant, my evenings and weekends are filled with pies, tarts, and custards. I’d love meet a guy who I can spoil with delicious brunches while we complete the Times Sunday crossword puzzle together.”

Finally, select photographs of yourself that accurately represent your appearance (on a good day, with soft lighting). Include the following snapshots: a close-up of your face, a full body shot to show your figure, and a couple of images to start a conversation such as vacation photos or hobby shots. A photograph of you playing the clarinet on stage, or skiing down the slopes will elicit more interest than a collection of selfies in your bathroom mirror.

Lastly, don’t give up. If you keep searching, you will find love.

How to Write a Great Dating Profile

Here are three tips for writing a stellar dating profile:

Step 1: Be Specific

Great profiles include details that appeal to the five senses and connect to matches emotionally.

Step 2: Be Positive

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Your dating profile is the first impression that the future love-of-your-life will see. Highlight the things that make you sweet, kind, and adorable, and let those pesky flaw reveal themselves around date five or six (after you've accrued some positive feelings). 

Step 3: Be Unique

No one sets out to meet someone average or ordinary, they set out to meet someone special. Your job is to highlight what makes you a great catch. 

Here are examples of the three tips in action:

Step 1: Be Specific

DELETE: I like to cook. 

REPLACE WITH: Whipping up blueberry pancakes and cheesy omelets with fresh squeezed orange juice is the best way to start a Sunday morning.
 

Step 2: Be positive

DELETE: My friends joke that I’m a nomad because I’m never in one place very long. I travel a lot for work, and when I’m not working, I travel for pleasure. That’s been a problem in the past, because my exes felt like I was never around. I need someone who will understand my need for independence, and let me do my own thing.

REPLACE WITH: Have you ever seen a girl at the airport carrying a half dozen Guatemalan bags, a mug full of matte, and a big smile on her face? That’s me. The customs officers have trouble finding a blank page to stamp in my passport. I love seeing places off the beaten path, experiencing other cultures, and learning new skills like how to ride a motorbike, dive off a waterfall, or cook with rich local spices. Most recently, I volunteered in Kenya, and backpacked through Prague. But as much as I like to move around, I would love to come home to the right guy.
 

Step 3: Be unique

DELETE: I’m your average nice guy. I like to joke around and I’m often sarcastic. I’m always trying new things, and have more hobbies than I know what to do with. I haven’t always lived in Cleveland, but I can imagine staying here a while.

REPLACE WITH: I enjoy trying new things from building furniture, to dining at new restaurants on E. 4th St. My great passion is film, I love everything from big blockbusters to foreign and independent cinema. I grew up in Michigan and found my way to Cleveland to study engineering, where I completed my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. After eight years, it finally feels like home. I’m really involved in the community here, and volunteering at the bike co-op is a regular thing for me. I’m looking to meet someone who shares some of my interests and will challenge me to develop new ones.

That’s it! You now have the foundation to write a standout dating profile. If you want a professional review of your profile, contact us to schedule a coaching appointment

Where can I meet single men?

Q: I’m starting to wonder if I am ever going to meet the right guy. I hear stories about couples meeting at restaurants or airports, but this sort of thing never happens to me.
- Where Are All The Single Men?

A: Great question! Single men are out there and they want to meet you. 

For the record, you are not alone in your frustration. The 2008 Harris Interactive Poll revealed that single women actually go out more frequently than single men. Modern men watch an average of 45 minutes more television each day than single women and spend 20 minutes longer online. So where are the single guys? They are inside their homes staring at screens. That makes online dating seem like good bet.

The dating sites Match.com and OkCupid are popular choices, and the dating app Tinder is increasing in popularity. 

Fortunately, men can occasionally be found in places other than their homes, work, and the gym. 

The key is to spend time in places that appeal to the type of man you want to meet. Think about your ideal match, and imagine how he would spend his leisure time. 

To meet a man who is athletic: 
Seek out co-ed sports leagues for kickball, volleyball, or bowling, martial arts classes, running clubs, bike groups, urban scavenger hunts, and events at sports bars and stadiums. 

To meet a man who is artistic:
Spend time at art openings, theatre benefits, museums, and coffee houses. If you're feeling creative, you can join a team for the 48 Hour Film Festival (or just attend the screening).

To meet a man who is intellectual:
Check out lecture series sponsored by local libraries and universities, book launches, and wine tastings. Attending a Tedx Event is also a great way to connect with men who share your intellectual curiosity.

To meet a man who is politically-engaged or an idealist: 
Try volunteering for a campaign or getting involved in a community project like cleaning a river, or building houses with Habitat for Humanity. You can find all kinds of local volunteer opportunities that match your interests on Meetup’s Volunteer Site. Many cities even have volunteer groups specifically for singles.

To meet a man who shares your values and lifestyle:
Tap into your existing social networks by attending parties, weddings, and alumni events. Ask your friends to set you up on blind dates with their single friends. 

If you are more introverted, it can feel nerve-wracking to dive into a new social scene. Allow yourself to ease into the new environment by observing your surroundings. Then, when you see someone of interest, be bold and strike up a conversation. 

It's true that you can meet eligible men almost anywhere, if you have the right attitude and the right approach. The next time you are in a public place, take a good look around, and don't be afraid to introduce yourself.