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The Most Common Online Dating Mistakes That Will Only Waste Everyone's Time

Updated on February 20, 2013

The Beginner's Crash Course

Whether you have tried online dating or not (there's no shame in admitting it), you may find this article useful. In it, I will regale you with my trials and tribulations before I recently decided, "Ah screw it, I'll just get a blow-up doll, name it, occasionally ask it how it's day was, and try to remember our anniversary!!"

The world of online dating is not like that of real world dating, oh no. You must sift through many absolutely awful profiles. Then, when some pretty girl (or guy) catches your eye, you must send them an awe-inspiring message, hoping to sell them on the idea of "you" using only black and white word text.

It's not easy.

Do you go with charming and sophisticated "you," or funny and disarming "you?" It's not a matter of just being yourself since you don't have the advantage of body language, your voice, your mannerisms, etc. All you have is words on a monitor, a vague idea of what the person's like, and one shot to make an impression.
Good luck, f*cker!

This article is about the many common mistakes the average online dater is likely to make, and how to avoid attracting the wrong kinds of attention, thus wasting your time and theirs.


Let's start with the visual aspect since this is usually the first thing others will see, along with your (terribly clever, I'm sure) screen name. A poorly planned photo can make or break you and it's also a sad opportunity to make someone believe you look a certain way when you really don't.

Common mistakes:

1. The extreme close-up: This is usually done by people who find themselves overweight and think that no one will notice or care if they have a pic keeping the focus on their face. It's ultimately deceptive and speaks poorly of their self-esteem. If you are overweight, just be upfront and show yourself off. Plenty of people go for the full-figured look (not me, but I am a shallow jackass) and, if you aren't comfortable in your own skin, get out and do something about it. Be the you that you want yourself to be. Plus, did you know that an extreme close-up makes you seem untrustworthy?
Another aspect of the extreme close-up is trying to show your artistic/creative side. I've seen many close-ups with enhancements such as a blurred effect or a color wash. Yeah, it's not a terrible plan, but when it's the only photo you have, or you have multiple photos that are similar and don't clearly show you off, it's annoying. Potential mates are, in essence, shopping and when the product isn't clearly displayed, people don't want to buy it.

2. The far away "visionary": The opposite of the extreme close-up, this shows you far off in the background on top of some mountain you climbed, or a plane you just jumped out of. Referencing online dating as shopping once again, would you buy something that you could only see from the far end of the store by squinting really hard?

3. The party grrrrrl! Spring Break, wooooo hooooo!! (Ver 1): The individual, more often than not a girl, in shown surrounded by her friends, holding an alcoholic beverage up and wearing something gimmicky or slutty. This is the photo meant to show the person as "fun-loving" and "adored by many," but will be translated by many as the "unreliable party girl type," shallow, easy and dumb. I'm not saying that it's true, but it's the image one risks projecting.
BONUS: Soooo many people don't give any indication of which bar patron in the photo they are! There are 5 women and I have to guess which one you are? If I guess wrong, will you give me that chick's phone number at least?

4. The party grrrrrl! Spring Break, wooooo hooooo!! (Ver 2): Same as version 1, only the one looking for a date is at the bar surrounded by members of the opposite sex. It doesn't matter if they are your gayer than gay best friends or your brothers, you are showing a potential mate a photo of you with guys hanging all over your (probably) drunken ass. It's only natural for the male brain to assume that shortly after this photo was taken, you got wasted and had a wild Jell-O covered tryst with these 3 dudes and caught chlamydia. No thank you!

5. The bathroom mirror: This one is tricky. Some people think it's a bad idea, others think it's perfectly fine if done tastefully. Personally, I see it as just a normal photo to post online and show yourself off, so I'm cool with it. However, there are a few "don'ts" one must observe: Guys, put your damn shirts on! I have read many women's profiles proclaiming their disgust for so many men showing off their abs in the bathroom mirror. It's not sexy to them and unless you are simply looking for a shallow one-nighter, knock that shit off.
It is wise to try to make yourself look presentable. Think of it like you are heading out to a job interview, or having a professional headshot snapped, or if you want to make it super creepy, look at yourself in the mirror and ask, "Would you f*ck me? I'd f*ck me," before dancing around the bathroom with your junk tucked between your legs, Buffalo Bill-style. Put THAT pic on your profile!

Here's Some Examples:

"I'm the one in the middle, with the hair."
"I'm the one in the middle, with the hair." | Source
"These nuns who taught me at the orphanage."
"These nuns who taught me at the orphanage."
She's actually 750 lbs and has tentacles.
She's actually 750 lbs and has tentacles. | Source
"This is from a while back, after the 'shrink ray incident of 2010'."
"This is from a while back, after the 'shrink ray incident of 2010'."

Your Stats

Many dating sites offer a chance to display your statistics to your potential dates. Information such as age, race, height, weight, occupation and income can be listed on your profile if you wish. I think in this area, the ladies tend to get more dishonest than the men, but I might just be playing to stereotypes here.

It's tempting to lie about less obvious things here, isn't it? You may be overweight, but you've been to the gym a few times this year so just list your body type as "average," no biggie. Or maybe you feel that 40 is the new 30, so you should probably just put 30 as your age, it's cool.
You work in food service and you make $75K a year? Wow, you must be the best waiter of all time!

These are tiny little white lies that will come out in a relatively short amount of time, leaving your date feeling betrayed and angry and leaving you caught with your proverbial pants down, maybe even your literal pants down. I'm not sure how that would happen exactly, but it would be pretty damn funny, you lying bastard.
But I digress.

As you will hear a few more times in this article, if you want to attract the best mate, you have to be honest and upfront about who you are. Getting one response from the right person is better (and easier on the wallet) than getting 100 responses from the wrong ones because you were too scared to reveal your true income or debilitating cocaine habit.

The Main Body

Here is your chance to shine, you badass rock star, you!

It's also the chance to perpetrate the crime of cliche.

Did you know that nearly every human being likes hiking and going to the beach? It's true, they also enjoy staying in and watching movies! Amazing!
Also, get this, people enjoy eating at nice restaurants. Before trying online dating, I just assumed that every single woman was content with raiding the dumpster behind Del Taco on date night.

Use the main body of your profile to go beyond cliches and explain what makes you unique, separate from all the losers on this site who shouldn't even be considered an option by the one reading your profile. For example, I like to do parkour, an outdoor activity that most people haven't even heard of. It's a conversation starter, allowing me to explain the concept of my hobby to a pretty girl, making myself appear interesting and special. That's the idea at least, it hasn't worked yet, but you get the point.

Also, try to avoid describing yourself as the perfect human being. You don't have to highlight your flaws, I've seen a lot of profiles where the person seems like the greatest thing since Hot Pockets on paper (screen, whatever) but when I meet them, they are sometimes revealed to be full to the brim with steamy metaphorical horseshit. Nobody is perfect and that's okay, just remember to avoid using "used car salesman" sales techniques to amp yourself up beyond the truth.

Humor is also a winning idea. Reading profile after profile is tedious, so if you pump your profile up with humor and originality, making it a joy to read, people (the ones with a sense of humor comparable to yours) will respond and many laughs will be shared. Yay!

As with all aspects of life, you have to find a reasonable balance to achieve the best results. With an online profile, highlight that which makes you unique and avoid using favorable traits that you don't have. Sometimes a little self-deprecating charm can go a long way too, for example, "I pride myself on being very competitive, so if I don't win at something, I might just curl up into a fetal position and cry for days," or "I guess I'm a pretty good looking guy, when I comb my hair and brush my teeth, the priests usually stop trying to perform exorcisms on me."

He enjoys hiking, baseball, reading and HEY YOU GUYS!!!!!
He enjoys hiking, baseball, reading and HEY YOU GUYS!!!!!

In Conclusion

I have been trying for quite some time to get just the right girl to give me a real shot, but I keep coming up short, which has convinced me that online dating is not the correct path for me, personally. The process can, however, result in some pretty nice friendships from people who may share many of your interests and values, but for some reason just didn't click romantically.
It's happened to me a couple of times and I hear many similar tales as well, so there's always that silver lining.

Remember, you are essentially selling the very concept of you as a person, a friend and a lover. So well-thought out, clear photos will serve you better than you think and as far as the descriptive element, yeah, it's so easy to lie about yourself to gain favor, but your lies will always come out and you will lose it all, having wasted who knows how much time and energy. It's not fair to you or the other person, so knock it off, dickweed! Simply put yourself out on display and know that those who do not respond favorably are not the ones you want hanging around you anyway. By being open, honest and true to yourself, you just saved the two of you a lot of trouble and you can get back into the fray faster.

Here's a profound question to ask yourself: What if, by selling myself short and spending my time trying to attract someone under false pretenses, the perfect mate for me slipped by and found someone else because I wasn't available to find them?

I mean, come on ladies, who WOULDN'T want a slice of this hot man-pie?
I mean, come on ladies, who WOULDN'T want a slice of this hot man-pie?

Comments, Thoughts, Opinions and Shenanigans

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    • Sarastheboss profile image

      Sara Jean 

      7 years ago from Northern Illinois

      This made me laugh. Good hub!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Love this hub!

    • James-wolve profile image

      Tijani Achamlal 

      8 years ago from Morocco

      Very interesting.I believe that it can turn to love for some people, and many people have had successful relationships which started online. But is that compared to those who haven't? Online you essentially don't know who your talking to (even if they have a webcam). In reality, offline a woman can be extremely quiet and shy, which is why she turns to online dating, where she can act confident and outgoing. Typing to people is completely different to being with them and speaking to them in person, because through the computer it's easier to act and to pretend to be a certain way. Your not going to know someones annoying habits if they only speak/type to you for a certain amount of time of day, at a certain time. Your not going to see her true personality and temperaments. Lying is easy online because you don't have to face to truth, you don't ever have to look a person in a the eye.

      Finally, I believe you can find someone anywhere and anyhow just be careful.Thanks for the common online dating mistakes.I voted up.

    • Andy McGuire profile imageAUTHOR

      Andy McGuire 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Yummy, tastes like sarcasm. LoL. There is the real world Andy that actually is the stereotypical "nice guy," then there's my online writing persona that tends to rant and rave every so often.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I don't know why you have a hard time meeting someone, you really come across as a warm and caring person.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Andy, Sounds like a lot of trouble for what? Yes, I have heard stories of people meeting and a few hooking up, but wouldn't you have a better chance meeting someone at the grocery store? Or the laundromat, or (maybe) at a bar, or the dog park? Online seems pretty hit and miss. Although I wonder how many (if any) Hub Pagers have tested the waters. Seems to me the whole beauty of the internet is people can pretend to be whoever they want to be. Regards, snakeslane

    • Andy McGuire profile imageAUTHOR

      Andy McGuire 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      This comment had me laughing a mighty laugh. Thanks for that. You forgot to add that you're east coast and I'm west coast.

    • macteacher profile image

      Wendy Golden 

      8 years ago from New York

      This is an even better, more twisted version of the article I wrote on dating. Looks like we're sort of on the same page, except that I'm a middle aged, slightly overweight gay woman - and you are a hot, straight, young man-pie. Go dude!


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