Walking up to someone at a bar or going on a blind date can be dreamy, embarrassing, and frustrating all at once. In most cases, online dating is no different. Reading someone’s profile and sending the first message can feel scary, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

If your search for a special someone takes you to Tinder, Bumble, or one of the many other online dating services, how can you increase your chance of building lasting relationships? From creating a profile and fun first date ideas for handling rejection and exploring long-term compatibility, here are six simple tips to help you survive and thrive in the wild world of online dating.

Show The Real You

Creating a great profile is the first step to a positive online dating experience. Many people stress over the smallest details, photographs mainly, but one of the keys to connecting with people is being honest. This starts with pictures that look like the real you. If you don’t rely on camera tricks or old photos to attract potential matches, your nerves will be much more manageable when the time comes to actually meet. If you don’t like any of the photos you have, this could be a great opportunity to hire a photographer and one of your favorite places for a portrait session.

As you fill out your dating profile, remember to show what kind of person you are rather than tell. Instead of saying you are fun, loving, or creative, think about how you exemplify those qualities. Give potential dates more than a pick-up line or some cliche personality description. If they have a clearer sense of who you are, the chance of finding a match who is actually compatible with you is much higher. 

Before you publish the profile, think about what you’re looking for in a relationship. Do you prefer casual dating, or are you into something more exclusive? Once you’ve considered what you want, be sure to communicate that clearly in your profile, your first few messages, or on the first date. Chances are, your match will also be seeking something from the relationship and if you both start on the same page no ones time will be wasted.

Don’t Be Quick To Judge

When searching for a match, it’s easy to get excited about a person who likes the same things as you or to dismiss someone because they don’t. Maybe you prefer blondes to redheads, or you’re a huge fan of Harry Potter and your match has never heard of Daniel Radcliff. Just remember, you aren’t looking to start a fan club for your favorite TV band or TV show. And in some cases, it’s even better to find a date who can introduce you to new movies, music, and more.

Differences to keep in mind include personality and lifestyle traits you find important. Are they a kind, caring person? Do they prefer relaxing days indoors or exciting adventures outside? These traits go a long way in dictating how two people mesh after a few dates.

Make The First Date Memorable

Once you’ve found a match the next step is setting up the first date. Obviously, you will want to dress nice and show genuine interest by listening and engaging in conversation. More importantly, find a fun activity or memorable way to spend the evening. Who knows, you might look back on this night years from now, remembering the story of how you connected. 

Pick something you can both enjoy like a cooking class, an escape room, or another fun date night idea. Don’t sweat it if things don’t go perfectly. A fun first date will take some pressure off of conversating and reveal more about your match’s personality.

Don’t Waste Your Time

Knowing the difference between being open to new things and deal breakers is very important too. Everyone has different morals, habits, and lifestyle choices  — there’s no sense in trying to adapt to these mannerisms if they are bothersome to you. When it becomes clear the date is not going in a direction you would like or the match is not working for you, be kind and communicate this with your date. 

Sometimes this confrontation can be difficult. Hopefully, your date is understanding and appreciative of your effort not to waste anyone’s time. Be sure to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings, but going along with a match in spite of your better judgment will rarely work out.

Managing Rejection

To no surprise, rejection can happen to you as well. Your match may not feel chemistry on the first date, or after a few dates, and decide to end things. Always remember this doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. This person recognized a clear incompatibility and decided not to waste time. This is something you would ideally have done in the same situation.

Take notes from their method as they break things off. Especially if you think the communication was clear and well done. Reflect on the date or relationship and move forward smarter and more understanding of how or how not to end a similar relationship should the situation present itself.

Exploring Long-Term Love

After a few dates and a lasting sense of chemistry, start to open up with your partner about long-term commitment. What are they looking for in the relationship? Do they have any 2-year, 5-year, or even 10-year goals? This can be a good time to talk about your physical chemistry if you’ve been getting steamy in the bedroom. The discussion might go so well you find yourselves shopping for sexy lingerie

Exploring long-term love can be complicated and tricky. The best approach is always straight-forward and clearly lines out your wants and needs. This part may seem tough at first, but at least you’ll be able to stop worrying about dating sites, profiles, and first impressions.