Washington - I spoke to Meredith Golden, a married mother of two, who, for $2 000 (about R25 000) a month will take over your dating apps and impersonate you - doing all the matching and messaging on your behalf.
Here are her do's and don'ts for finding a valentine online.
Don't ask someone "Hey, what are you looking for?"
Go ahead and note what kind of relationship you're looking for in your bio - experts usually recommend doing that - but avoid asking about specific character traits.
Men are more inclined to ask this question than women are, Golden says. And while it might seem innocuous, Golden thinks it gets you nowhere. "It's such a silly question," she says. Because even the "right" answers don't mean much until you've met in person and can judge whether or not you have chemistry. "Just because someone's perfect on paper, that doesn't mean you're going to mesh well," Golden adds.
I can confirm this one from personal experience. While on an app date this fall, my date kept asking what I was looking for and not-so-subtly letting me know he fit the criteria. In his mind, maybe, but not in mine.
Keep the conversation moving
A big rule of dating apps is just simple manners, Golden says. "If someone asks you a question, respond and ask a question back," Golden says, adding that you should respond in a timely manner - back and forth twice a day so that you don't lose momentum. This one sounds so easy, and yet anyone who's on dating apps will tell you, it's apparently very difficult to follow.
Golden meets with singles who will say something like "Wednesday's my dating-app day." It doesn't really work that way, Golden says. "You can't be on for 16 hours a day," she notes but adds that if someone consistently spends 30 minutes a day swiping and messaging, Monday through Friday, that could yield them one date a week.
After three to four days of chatting, schedule a date - or move on
You have to do more than message consistently to make dating apps work for you. That person who messages consistently, asking about your day, your week, your weekend - over several weeks or weekends - without asking you out? It's not that your answers aren't riveting. He just wants a pen pal. "They're on there to boost their ego," Golden says. "They're dating app recreationalists; they're just on it for sport."
Golden remembers messaging with one guy, on behalf of a client, and in an attempt to nudge him to ask her (client) out, Golden said something about how much more fun she was in person. He responded by saying that he's never met anyone from an app and and he's never going to. "I really hate my job," she remembers him saying, "and this is a good way to spend my day."
To weed out the office pen pals, Golden suggests asking someone out after three to four days of messaging. It's fine if you schedule a week or two weeks out - just make sure you get something on the books. If a date isn't happening in that time frame, unmatch and move on.
When you're scheduling that date, stay in the app
When someone asks for a phone number in an effort to convert the conversation to texting and then schedule a date, there's a high drop-off rate. So "keep it in the app until you're scheduled," Golden suggests.