These days, it seems everyone has a bad date story. If you don’t, chances are, YOU’RE the bad date story. But don’t worry – encountering nightmare scenarios on dates is entirely normal (and surprisingly very common!).
The question is: How can you ensure you don’t become someone’s “date from hell?”
I’ve gathered some helpful tips (backed by several online dating studies & statistics) to help you do this.
Do a video call first
Don’t make a fancy restaurant reservation just yet.
It turns out that video calls can help you avoid becoming a bad date.
To say that the pandemic revolutionized dating is an understatement:
Half of the young singles have had a video date before meeting in person with someone they met online.
Around 71% of singles say video chatting helped determine if they wanted to meet in person, and 47% of people think it helps avoid a bad date.
And 63% of singles admit they are more comfortable on a first date if they’ve already had a video chat with the person beforehand.
This statistic isn’t only true for younger people: Gen X (66%) and even Boomers (72%) think the same.
So, if you like someone, try scheduling a video call with them first.
Skype and Zoom calls tend to inspire a more formal setting, so stick to FaceTime or Facebook video calls so your date can feel more comfortable.
After all, this is for a date – not a meeting.
Be open to sharing these critical details on your profile or during your conversations
Transparency is valued in the dating scene.
Make sure to include details such as your height, occupation, and type of relationship you’re looking for in your profile.
Do you have children? Include it in your profile.
Around 48% of women and 43% of men consider this important.
If you want to take the safe route on dates, you may think avoiding key topics is the right thing to do.
You’d be surprised to know that discussing heavy topics such as politics can help your date feel more comfortable with you.
For example, 45% of American singles want to know their political stand by the second date.
And 76% say it’s important that their partner shares the same political views.
While topics on religion or politics are not the best conversation openers, what you can do is steer your conversation to include these things.
Do principles matter in online dating?
Dating has come so far, but many people still prefer to do things the traditional way.
According to Harry Reis, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Dean’s Professor in Arts, Sciences, and Engineering, at the University of Rochester, some things are impossible to assess online.
For example, can your date make you laugh? Will you enjoy your date’s company in person?
These things are integral predictors of a relationship that are not readily available in one’s profile.
Considering this, treat online dating as an opportunity to meet and date more people. If you have to kiss or swipe right on a few frogs to find your Prince or Princess, then so be it.
A study showed that intrinsic qualities like compassion, warmth, and honesty were more important to relationship satisfaction than extrinsic qualities like having resources or being attractive to others.
This is not the only study that proves this.
Andrew T. Fiore and Judith S. Donath of MIT Media Laboratory also found out that people fall for those who are similar to themselves.
Particularly regarding the desire for children, religion, relationship history, and even pet preferences.
Considering this, do not be afraid to open up to your potential romantic partner.
The words that improve and ruin your chances of getting replies
When it comes to dating, you need all the help you can get. This includes knowing how to choose the right words to increase your chances of being liked by others.
In research performed by Zoosk, they found that some words are better used than others, especially if you don’t want your love interest to go stone-cold silent.
For example, “LMFAO” gets 193% more responses compared to “ROFL” (down 13%).
Even smileys matter! The smiley “:)” received 66% fewer replies, while “:-)” received 13% more.
Moreover, colloquial spellings such as “ur,” “im,” “u,” and “cuz” are 13% less likely to receive positive responses from others.
For men, words like “my ex,” “separate,” “divorce,” and “separated” can increase the chances of receiving 52% more messages.
More personal words like “daughter,” “son,” or “children” can also increase your response rate by 7%.
Unfortunately (and unfairly), the same data does not apply to women.
For women to see a bump in their messages and profile replies, they can take control of their date by using words such as “lunch,” “dinner,” or “drinks.”
Don’t eat your grandpa
Many people don’t realize the importance of proper grammar when texting.
Even one missed comma could give a sentence a different meaning.
“Let’s eat grandpa!” is not grammatically wrong, but if you don’t plan to eat your grandpa, you should put a comma there.
“Let’s eat, grandpa!” reads much better.
So next time your online match stops replying, double-check if you interchanged “you’re” and “your.”
In one study, 71% of respondents said that intelligence was synonymous with grammar, while 69% revealed that they judge romantic interests on their spelling and grammar in texts.
While only 1 in 3 people say wrong grammar and spelling can be a deal-breaker, watching out for occasional errors in your messages can make a difference.
Around 47% of people in the same study said that when someone has correct spelling and grammar, it is more attractive than receiving gifts.
Additionally, 3 in 4 people believe having a high-level vocabulary is attractive.
So, double-check your spelling and grammar next time you send a text or message! Autocorrect is a brilliant invention. Use it. 🙂
Tidy up your social media
Do you still have photos from your YOLO days? How about cringe-worthy selfies from 10 years ago?
If you’re bent on not being “the bad date,” consider cleaning your social media. Most (60%) of US online daters look up a person’s social media profile before physically meeting them.
Make no mistake – they will not add or follow you. Most people simply lurk on your profile to gauge what kind of person you are.
You may be familiar with the adage “honesty is the best policy.” It turns out this applies to dates as well.
San Francisco and Oakland-based psychologist Keely Kolmes, PsyD, said that people should treat online dating as a chance to be clear about who they are and who they want to meet.
On the surface, this seems like the easiest thing to do. But what if your “issue” becomes a deal-breaker? Is telling a white lie okay?
For example, if an attractive person asks you if you like volunteering but haven’t done it in 10 years, how badly would it hurt to lie about it?
While it’s tempting to build a perfect version of yourself, doing this based on lies is never recommended.
After all, how would you feel if you got lied to? Coming up with fake stories to make someone like you will always backfire.
Show emotional availability
Emotional availability refers to the extent to which someone can be fully present in a relationship, regardless of the relationship status.
This is a key indicator of whether a romantic relationship will succeed since emotionally available people are open to being more vulnerable and sharing emotions.
The importance of emotional availability in dating cannot be overstated.
In an experiment, the social psychologists Stephanie Spielmann and Geoff MacDonald found this:
When given a choice between someone less attractive but caring and emotionally responsive, and someone who is sexy but emotionally unavailable, both men and women preferred the former.
But how can you show emotional availability? The answer lies in being honest and genuine. Reveal your inner feelings, show empathy, and don’t stay silent.
Doing these things will make it easier for you and your date to express negative and positive emotions.
Don’t make these worst mistakes on dates
Prevention is better than cure.
If you’re driven not to make a poor impression, you must know people's worst mistakes during dates.
In a survey, 28% of people say showing up late is the worst thing that can happen during a date. Meanwhile, 27% said that not getting asked about themselves is the worst.
That’s not all.
The worst mistake a date can make, according to 45% of people, is answering their phone or texting during the date.
Next time you’re going out on a date, stop being glued to your phone. If you answered your phone or texted, you should have a good reason for doing so.
After over two years of dealing with social isolation, stress, and anxiety, you’re probably ready to go out and forge new romantic relationships.
However, dating post-pandemic is not the same as dating pre-pandemic. It requires preparation and careful planning.
For example, body language, contact, and gestures are crucial in today’s dating scene.
Around 40% of women do not prefer to be greeted with a hug or handshake on dates.
And 20% of single people have less desire to be touched at the beginning of the date.
Not only that but taking public transportation to the date location can also be a deal-breaker: 37% of people prefer not to go on a date if it requires commuting.
Sebastian Klein is the founder of RelationshipsAdvice.co. He loves writing insanely practical guides based on scientific studies to help couples and individuals create the relationship they want. After a tough breakup, he started studying relationship dynamics to help people get from the “What should I do?” to “How to do it.” If you want to get in touch with him, visit his blog.