1. What sort of username should I choose for my online dating profile?
There isn’t much time to grab someone’s attention as they swipe their way through dozens of online profiles. Even the most creative among us might panic at trying to make the best possible impression in such a short amount of time. Although some of the popular gay online dating sites and apps encourage you to use your real first name, many allow you to choose a username that says something about your personality. But what?
One idea is to focus on an aspect of your personality that you feel defines you. For example, if you enjoy outdoor activities, you might like to go for something that reflects this—with a name like ‘WeekendHiker.' If you love working out, you could call yourself ‘GymGuy,' or if you are passionate about food and cooking, perhaps ‘FineDiner.' It's important to choose a name that exudes confidence, as that's a real turn on for prospective matches. You might be the shyest guy out there, but always select a username that says something about who you are. If you’re proud of your body, if you love music, if you have a particular hobby—that’s what will make you stand out as yourself and help catch attention online.
Another option is to go for something that inspires you. Perhaps your favorite song title, a reference to lyrics, or a poem or book you particularly love. This is another great way to show a bit of your personality online, and it also acts as an excellent icebreaker and conversation starter. If you have a job that inspires or defines you, a username like ‘YogaTeacher’ or ‘CharityGuy’ will showcase that side of you.
Just take care: think twice before choosing a username that focuses on looks or appearances. If you’re looking for a casual hookup, that’s absolutely fine—but if you’re on the hunt for a long-term relationship, steer clear of sexy usernames that focus on the physical side of a relationship.
2. I really like someone, but they are not in my age range, and I'm not in theirs. Should I make contact?
One of the disadvantages of online dating is that so many details are laid down in a profile that can never take into account real life ‘chemistry.' Someone might write in their profile that they are looking for someone aged between 20 and 30. If you are 35 or 40 and love the look of them, does that mean you can't start a conversation?
Many of us worry that age differences can pose a real barrier in long term relationships. We might worry what our friends and family will think. But ultimately, everyone on your dating site or app is a grown-up who can make his own decisions about who he wants to meet. Be aware that the gay dating world is smaller than the heterosexual world, and the pool of potential partners is smaller. If you like the look of someone, it can’t hurt to open the lines of communication between you. Online dating makes it easier to reach out and minimize that feeling of rejection that makes us feel so vulnerable in a face-to-face situation. Try it. Go for it. Give them the chance to make that decision. And if it doesn’t work out, move on without shame.
3. What sorts of questions should I ask online? Should it be like a face-to-face date?
Meeting someone online gives you a great opportunity to find out about that person before deciding if you want to meet him in ‘real’ life. But it can feel a little awkward or unnatural to get a meaningful conversation flowing on a screen. Here are some suggestions of how to ask questions that are fun, and also helpful for getting to know each other’s personalities:
- The first questions should be basic ‘getting to know you’ openers. Questions like “Tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you like to do?” are a great way to give the other guy a chance to choose where to take the conversation, so it doesn’t feel like an interrogation.
- Asking if he likes where he’s living at the moment will give you an idea of his goals and ambitions.
- See if you can include things about yourself too, so they get a chance to learn about you while you’re asking questions.
- If you’re into something, make it your opening: ‘I love traveling. What's the last place you visited?' Or, ‘I’m a big foodie. What’s your favorite restaurant in the neighborhood?’
- If you want to take a break from traditional questions and answers, you might want to have some fun playing games. Try sending him 2 truths and a lie, and get him to guess which is the lie. ‘Would you rather’ games can also be fun and help you get to know each other.
4. How do we know when we're both ready to meet face-to-face?
Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for this question. Different people will feel differently about how they want to take each relationship. Once you feel that there is a connection, there is no harm in meeting up straight away in a safe, neutral place like a local coffee shop. It will be easier and more natural getting to know someone in 30 minutes of ‘real life’ than in many hours of carefully constructed messages online—especially if you are not a natural writer and prefer to chat and communicate in person.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with waiting to feel more certain before you make the emotional investment in a ‘first date.' If you don’t live near each other, that would be another great reason to delay the first meetup. But be careful—if you know you are the sort of person who is anxious to discover as much as you can before you go on a date, remember that there will always be somewhat of a leap into the unknown when you meet someone for the first time, however well you have done your homework! There will always be more to find out about the other guy—so don't put off that first meeting just for the sake of wanting to ‘be prepared,' because otherwise you may end up never meeting at all…
5. Is there anything I should *not* do when looking for my perfect match online?
In general, you want to keep your online profile free from relationship baggage. There will be a time and place for going into more details about your preferred sexual role, all of the things that bothered you about your ex, or your whole life history and emotional dramas. Everyone’s got a story, everyone has experiences—but it’s only once you have made a connection with someone that we would recommend sharing more. It can be a little overwhelming or off-putting to be given too much information about a guy before you know him.
If there are personal or health issues you initially want to keep private, that is something everyone needs to respect. But don’t go to the other extreme of pretending to be something that you’re not. Make sure you keep your profile, and of course, your communications, fully honest and upfront from the beginning if you want to build a relationship of love and trust further on down the line.