During lockdown, many of us have had a think about our love loves (we don’t want to spend another lockdown alone!), as a result, many more people have been dipping their toes into the world of online dating. In days gone past, online dating was for people who couldn’t meet someone in real life, however, these days, finding love online is just a part of life. Studies show that anywhere from one in five to one in three adults have tried online dating or a dating app at least once. Some even say that romance and relationships are now starting to happen more and more online. Whether you’re looking for your future spouse, your next hookup buddy, or just friends with benefits, there’s an app for that. However, as easy as it is to find someone new online, it’s also easier than ever to make a bad first impression. Keep reading for tips on how to make the best impression possible without spending a fortune or putting in too much effort.

1) Post an attractive photo. A picture is worth a thousand words, so in this case, a good one can be worth thousands of dates. If you’re using your own phone camera or computer webcam, try taking several pictures and comparing them with each other before posting online. Get up close and personal with the camera so you’re filling as much of the frame as possible and avoid using the flash when it isn’t necessary (it makes skin look weird).

2) Research members before contacting them. Before sending out any messages, check their profile to see if they’ve been active on the site in the past few weeks and if they have any good scores (or reviews). If they’ve probably been on the site for months and have lots of messages and responses, that may indicate that they’re either hiding or just not into you. You’ll also want to note any previous complaints on the site or any other social media. For example, if you see a lot of users complaining about one user or another, then it’s likely that your potential date is one of those users.

3) Don’t respond to messages too quickly. For example, don’t write back immediately and if you want to ask a question ask it casually too; be patient and don’t make it feel like you’re interrogating them about why they’re messaging you when you haven’t really given them a chance to respond yet. The more time that goes by between responses, the less likely you’ll look desperate.

4) Don’t say too much in your initial message. The standard “hey” or “hi” are fine, but don’t say too much about what you do or how you’ve been searching for someone like them on the site. Don’t say anything in the first message that could be interpreted as creepy; focus on being personable instead of getting into a conversation about hearing about their good scores and wanting to know how they got them. Also, avoid starting with something like “so what’s up. . .” because it comes across as too casual and it may seem like you aren’t really interested in their profile. Don’t ask anything cheesy either (and don’t say cheesy things). Instead, ask something about their profile or try to make a joke.

5) Bring your own experiences and personality to the table. While you should always be pleasant and easy to talk to, you should also be willing to tell your date about yourself and why they should treat you with respect. Talk about things that are important to you or ways that you’ve tried to stand out from the crowd on the dating site.

As the times change and more of us turn to online dating, it’s possible that there will be new scams or ways that we may need to protect ourselves. However, if you’re just looking for casual dates with someone nice in your area, don’t put too much effort into it and have fun. Be yourself and use your profile to tell them who you are before they’re taking a chance on you first!