We could all learn a lesson from Amy Webb. She was having trouble finding a man to date, and everyone in her life kept telling her that she was being to picky. They said true love would find her when she least expected it. So, she crunched the numbers and realized just how grim her chances were of finding a man she could consider marrying if she left it up to fate. She realized there were potentially 35 men in Philadelphia, where she lived, she could connect with, out of a possible 750,000. That’s when she decided to take things into her own hands and hack online dating.
Here are some of the lessons we can learn from Amy’s efforts to hack online dating:
- Online dating’s algorithms do what they’re designed to do… it just doesn’t always work. The questions that most of us fill out for online dating sites can be pretty superficial. They match users up based on the information we provide, connecting us to people who have common interests. But those common interests don’t mean we’ll connect. Amy’s conclusion? These aren’t bad guys, they’re just bad for her.
- Write a list of what you’re looking for. If you want to date someone of a certain religion or a specific interest, write it down. Create a list of the things you’re looking for to visualize the qualities you’re seeking. Then, see which of those are most important to you. If it’s more important to you that someone is Jewish than that they’re a world traveler, then prioritize religion above interests.
- Set a standard. While most of us are not as comfortable with numbers as Amy is, we can still work out a system. Amy decided to only message men above a certain score (based on her list from #2, prioritized). She’d only go on a date with someone above a score higher than the message score, and only consider a long-term relationship with someone whose score was even higher.
- Assess the competition. Amy’s standard ended up working for her. She found someone who seemed perfect for her. The only problem? He didn’t like her back. So, she looked at the women who would be interested in the same type of men as her. Then she tried to figure out how she stacked up. How did this help her hack online dating?
- Content matters. Amy learned that smarter people tend to write a lot on their profiles — between 3,000 and 5,000 words. Even if it was interesting, it was still way more content than the most popular accounts were using. The popular accounts tended to use an average of 97 words. Even more important, their language played a big part in how successful they were with online dating.
- Use nonspecific, optimistic language. The popular accounts tended to use nonspecific language to express their interests. For example, they might say they love movies or romance movies instead of saying The English Patient is their favorite movie. As Amy points out, if someone really disliked The English Patient, it might make them automatically disqualify someone who lists it as their favorite movie. Even if they would otherwise get along! Optimistic language also led to more online dating success. It shows that someone is more approachable, and when done correctly, tells anyone who reads it what the best way to reach out to you is.
- Timing is key. Online dating gives us access to potential partners and people to connect with 24/7. But that doesn’t mean messaging someone at 2am is appropriate. On average, Amy found that the most successful users waited an average of 23 hours between messages. Just like one would in real life interactions.
- Photos matter, too. Amy noticed as she assessed her competition that most of the other women interested in her ideal type of man were outshining her with their photos. They tended to show a little bit of skin and chose photos where they looked great. Amy? Not so much. She chose photos from far away, wearing too much clothing, and with her face not entirely clear or the angle not particularly flattering.
- Optimize yourself. Use these insights from the competition to make your profile the best it can be. Change your photos, remove The English Patient and a few thousand words. Make sure you’re still giving an accurate snapshot of who you are as a person, but make it more approachable.
- Don’t lower your standards. The most important lesson Amy learned was that she wasn’t picky enough. After optimizing herself, she had tons of men pursuing her. But none of them had a score high enough to go on a date with, based on her list of prioritized attributes. Until one came along that was perfect for her. She never settled, and neither should we.