Dating Interview: What I Didn’t Write Is What Gave Me the Most Success with Brad of Dating Advice Guy
Brad runs the online dating guide and blog, Dating Advice Guy. He started online dating in 2004 and through it met his wife. He started Dating Advice Guy to give honest advice on how to get first dates - something at the time very few websites talked about. Today he shares his thoughts on online dating.
Even though online dating has become more socially acceptable there are still people who are against it. How would you convince someone to give online dating a try?
If I were to try to convince someone use online dating I’d start by asking how they’re finding their dating opportunities now. Often the response would be that they’re not finding any opportunities and at that point I would want to know if that’s acceptable. Is it something that’s acceptable forever? If they’re still not having opportunities in 5 years, is online dating an option then? And if it is an option then, why not now? Is meeting at a bar really that much better than an online dating service? Generally those are the types of questions I would ask. I don’t usually say to someone, “You should use online dating” but I do hope that when they look at their own answers to these questions, the choice they should be making becomes clearer.
And to be honest, I don’t go out of my way to try to convince people to try online dating. There are some people who are most concerned with what others think of them…what others think for this person is actually more important than finding a good relationship. For this type of person, I’ve rarely found that what I can say about online dating will help change their mind.
Then there is another type of person: those who really just want someone to talk them into trying it. A lot of the people “against” online dating are also some of the most curious about it. After I have a debate with someone about online dating and they sign up the next day, does that means I’m a great debater? I don’t think so. I think there are many people out there who desperately want to try online dating but just need someone to tell them that it’s okay to do so. In those cases, convincing someone to try is as simple as answering their questions and talking about my success.
All that being said, I’ve been giving online dating advice for quite some time and early on I liked to try to talk people into giving it a try. But at this point, I prefer to spend time helping those already using online dating as opposed to spending time trying to convince people against it to change their mind.
There are tons of online dating sites out there which ones do you recommend and why? How do you determine what makes a good site vs a bad site?
generally recommend those that I used myself, mostly eHarmony and Match.com. I had experience with them and also a big part of my success was in all the opportunities those sites provided me because they have so many members. I hesistate to suggest smaller or lesser known sites to people since I didn’t use those sites myself and I worry the opportunities would be limited.
That being said, I think niche dating sites can be great. A big site like Match may have tons of members but if you’re looking for a specific quality, you may end up having far fewer options than it looks like. Niche dating sites also make it clear to everyone what is important in the relationship and that can help. For example, if I had to enter the dating scene again (and if my wife reads this let me just say how thrilled I am that I don’t have to!), I’d think find Geek 2 Geek something that would be fun to try. Even though it has a smaller number of members, I suspect I would still have a lot of opportunities.
So I guess my advice is if you want to go with a generalized site, go with one of the big ones because the more opportunities (members) the better. If you have something specific you want to find in a relationship on the other-hand, I’d investigate the niche services that might meet that desire.
After reading about your online dating success story one thing that stuck out was the fact that it seemed like by getting better with online dating that it translated to you getting better with real world dating (and getting dates in real life versus online). Was this the case? Are there any other skills that online dating taught you?
Yeah, that was the case. I remember one night I went to a wedding and got two phone numbers and then left that to go to a birthday party and ended up getting a third. That was totally out of character for me and honestly still is today (I’m a happy introvert).
I think what I was finding was that dating was fun and I had become comfortable with it: the successes, the failures, the rejections, the misunderstandings, the excitement and nervousness of meeting someone new. It was something I learned how to handle and stopped seeing it as confusing.
A lot of people say that confidence is the most important thing with dating, but for me I think it was more about being comfortable. The reason I got three numbers in one night is not because I was the most confident guy in the room. I definitely wasn’t. But I was totally comfortable with the idea of being turned down. The fact that I had something like 3 first dates scheduled the next week didn’t hurt either! Getting rejected is surprisingly easy to take when you have multiple other dates on the horizon!
As for other skills online dating taught me…I’m honestly not sure. I will say that dating a few dozen women did teach me that what I think I want and what I really want in a relationship were quite different. The more women I met, the more I understood what I was really looking for and I think that was a huge help. When I met my wife on our first date, by the end of it there was no question in my mind that this was a woman I wanted to pursue with all of my attention. At least in that one area, I truly was confident and I’m thankful for all the struggles and learning in online dating that brought me to that point.
Messaging people through online dating sites is a big part of “getting the ball rolling.” From your experience what did you write in your initial messages that got the best response or reply rates? What about for asking to meet up for an actual date?
Honestly, what I didn’t write is what I found gave me the most success. When I first started dating online, I felt like I need to get paragraphs of information in my first email. At times, I felt like I needed to defend why I was contacting the woman as well: I would explain in great detail why I decided to contact her and all the things in her profile that we had in common. Those approaches worked horribly. For months I did that and couldn’t understand why so few women would respond!
The advice I give today is that the first email is really just bait to get someone to read your profile. Have some things you want people to know about you? Put that in your profile, not your first email. Then keep your emails short. Generally I would write three or four sentences: I’d say that I liked her profile, perhaps point out an interest of hers that I shared and then ask a question based on what she included in her profile. Compared to my previous approach, this approach was amazingly successful. I still had more emails that didn’t get a response than those that did…but that didn’t matter when I was getting enough responses to be talking to half a dozen women at once.
As for when to ask someone on a date, as soon as possible is my recommendation. If the woman claimed to be out-going or adventurous or if we had a lot in common, I’d often ask her out in the first email (because what’s more adventurous than that?). If they said they were new to online dating or expressed nervousness about it, I’d wait until the third or fourth email. I do think it is important to get the message out early and often: I want to meet you. If she said no, that’s okay. We’d keep talking and I’d ask again in a few days. Even though I had women say no, I rarely found that asking a woman out would cause her to stop talking to me. Often “no” just meant “not yet”.
Also, meeting is so important! If you talk for weeks in email and then meet only to find there’s no connection…what a waste of time! So I encourage people to meet sooner rather than later. And, as I like to point out, I asked my wife out in the first email I sent her (and she said yes!)
So after all of this dating experience what made you want to start Dating Advice Guy?
I really wanted to be someone that would just offer honest advice. Which isn’t to say there aren’t a lot of people giving honest advice today, because there are. But back when I was dating online it seemed that all the advice was either trying to sell you something or just talked about sex. None of that advice was really helping me get to first dates and once I found what worked for me, I wanted to share that with others. Plus, I found that I really enjoyed giving online dating advice to my friends as they were trying it after my success. It’s been very rewarding running the site and I still enjoy connecting with my readers and helping them have success. The best is when someone writes me about their engagement or, as happened once, invites me to their wedding!