• Rita Györfi

The Art of Online Dating

Part 1 - from the first match to the first date

This article discusses some aspects of (online) dating based on the work with my clients as well as through my own experience as a communication advisor. It incorporates knowledge from peers, scientific publications as well as seminars about relationships. It is not exhaustive and has the goal to share the knowledge and experience available to me at the time of writing.

This is to help better navigate in the world of (online) dating. Some of the revelations in this article might sound trivial for those mastering the dating subject already. If you consider yourself a notorious single however and see online dating as part of the problematic why, you may find useful infos here. My focus is not on gender or individual specific advice. I reserve this to my one-to-one advisory as not one person or not one situation is the same.

Having a great profile up on one of the online dating apps is a good start in order to mingle. Once you launch your search and have got a match, you may want to initiate a conversation. While there is not one pick-up line that works for everyone, saying hello, thanking for the match and pointing out something you like on the pictures or profile of the other can’t get you very wrong. Keep any remark genuine though. If no answer is coming back, it means that the person is either not interested or not available. There is not much point in sending (multiple) reminders since it can feel like pressuring. Those who intend to date will look into the app regularly and respond as soon as they can or want.


An online dating app is a platform to bring people together, it is like a gate or first entry point into meeting someone new. It is definitely not the place to get to know each other. The initial conversations are a great opportunity to see if your expectations will be met. This looks like asking questions on both sides about what and who you are looking for. The best is if these questions include all criteria that are non-negotiable for you, be it family status, age, height, place of living, profession, diet, beliefs, values, religion or anything else that matter so much that you don’t feel ready to compromise them.

It’s great to ease these questions with humor and airiness otherwise they may come across very dry, with both of you feeling like being in an interrogation. It is best to keep these initial exchanges rather swift and short and let it truly remain a real conversation instead of a long monologue or description. Wait for the other person to answer before getting in touch again.

These opening chats are not only essential to find answers to the non-negotiables but they are key to get a first feeling too. Most of us has a unique, fixed communication style which reflects our vibe as well. Some of these will build the first (online) impression you both will make.

During the texting, bare in mind that you don’t know the other person yet. And thus, your communication is to be subtle AND authentic at the same time. This may be a difficult mix sometimes. Traits that are non-negotiable are vital to be shared at an early stage to assess compatibility. Being too protective about important parameters in your life might scare your match off. This however doesn’t mean that you share sensitive data or private information about your life. Those are for much later dates.

When presenting yourself and while interacting, it is absolutely normal if you want to put your best self forward. This is not some sort of manipulation but a natural human behavior. Just think of the example of a professional interview or encounter and the ways we strive to emphasize our strengths. Why would be doing the same in your private life morally wrong? This however, does not mean that you alter your persona (ie the outside self) in any way to overtly please or deceive someone else.


Before starting the exchange, and if you expect to be successful, the first step is to make up your mind about what you want on that dating site, be it just checking in there for curiosity, looking for fun or friends to hang out with, finding a casual relation, a lover or a committed relationship. It’s a cliché but if it is not clear what one is looking for, the search will be random and it won’t be easy to find it. It is essential that you define first what your goal is being there and that you also dare to communicate it. You will then need to consistently stick to this goal during the search. This I call ’filtering while flirting’ which means that there needs to be a selection process in place during which you can say good bye early on to anyone who won’t fit into your reality for whatever (small) reason. This brings you one step closer to achieving our goal.

I personally don’t believe that there is just one soul mate in life. I think that there are many great men and women that one can potentially build a fulfilling relation with. Relationships will differ in terms of intensity and quality, for sure. I believe in abundancy which in this context means that there is a large pool of potential mates who can qualify as a great partner. One only needs to find one of them, recognize and open up for the opportunity and give it a try. Believing in scarcity would limit one’s own motivation and would foster dwelling on past trial-and-error dates. Except learning from them, it’s not worth putting too much energy into hanging up on or regretting those relationships. If you have come to a point where you say that you have really searched a lot and are still not getting there, I would like to encourage you not to give up. If your goal is of significance to you, it’s vital to search consistently and persistently while not getting to nervous about the process itself and rather taking it as a fun activity to meet many new and interesting people.


Knowing what and who you are searching allows you to channel the conversation much better. Don’t get lost in an endless and detailed exchange about 'what you are doing now', about your daily routine or your plans for the weekend since this doesn’t turn out particularly efficient when your goal is to get to know someone. Knowing somebody’s schedule doesn’t mean knowing them. I firmly believe that it is not worth investing time and effort into very long chats until the first few dates take place. Quality comes before quantity. It is best to shift things toward a personal meeting as soon as this is possible, unless your goal is to make online (chat) friendships.


The first ’live-date’ is exciting and decisive and so are its circumstances. Where to meet and how should the date unfold? A great first date is rather a short one just to see the other person in real. I would say that don’t go for a half-a day program or a long lunch, diner at first. A half-an hour meeting over a coffee or a drink is the length that is likely not to get you into embarrassing situations. If you like each other a lot, there will be anyway a second date. If you just don’t feel it, than half-an hour will be more than sufficient. Lots of expert agree that most of us decide in the first few seconds when meeting someone new if they are right for us. This is the power of the first impression which is made up of not only our look but face expression, body language, posture, voice of tone and our vibe. My view is that going for a walk is probably not the best option. Although it may be romantic, walking involves spending quite some time looking into walking direction (if you don’t want to fall to the other’s feet ;). By this, you will miss the person’s face expressions and body language a big time. You might make less eye contact too. As we make eye contact, oxytocin (also called bonding hormon) is released in our body. This does not only play a role to build trust and intimacy but studies in recent years have shown that oxytocin improves our ability to distinguish between trustworthy and untrustworthy faces. So oxytocin does not boost trust unconditionally but influences us in choosing a person or not.

In my eyes, a good first date involves more of non-verbal communication and a bit less of verbal one in terms of quantity. You can smile, touch the other’s arm, gaze into each other’s eyes in silence, alternating proximity like getting very close and pulling away etc. Many expert argue that talking very long (or talking at all) about work, family or sensitive topics is not a great idea during this first encounter. These are often emotionally loaded subjects and since your first date is with a stranger (except if you date one of your friends), it can feel weird on both sides to express strong feelings or opinions since your are not yet so close. Discussing such topics require a certain level of familiarity as well as intimacy (not talking about sexual intimacy) and for you to be each other’s confidants. So just keep it fun, talk about peak-life experiences, places you have been, about the weather, about your passions and what makes you happy in life etc.

Don’t forget that we are bound to make and perceive first impressions and this means that after the few first dates, it can easily go either direction between the two of you. Anyone can pick up on the tiniest detail of the other and consider it a turn-off. It is almost impossible to predict what that will be (apart from some extremes), therefore it is best to let go control over it. Being yourself in a nicely moderated manner will take you much further 😊 and very importantly, we all need to deal with accepting a No afterwards. Trying to convince the other of the opposite rarely works.


Now, there are situations, where after the first few dates, especially this can happen if you are at a more mature age and with very clear expectations, you find yourself to be undecisive whether you want to pursue / accept the pursuit of the other. So you keep continue dating them while you know deep inside that they are not the person that you are longing for. It feels good to ’keep’ your date around maybe for company, because it is flattering or in case you wouldn’t find anyone ’better’ or it wouldn’t work out with your other dates. I have a strong take on this point. Parking someone this way may not feel very good to the other and it may shift your focus from finding someone who is a real connection and who you feel truly happy with. In my view, as soon as you made up your mind that you are not attracted enough to your date - which might happen incredibly fast! - , it is great to let the other person go instead of dragging them along. Spare the time and energy. It is sometimes difficult to make this step but it might feel like a relief soon after. You will only know once you have tried.

You do not have to tell them that you are busy, not yet over your ex or not ready for commitment (unless this is really so). There are quite some honest and considerate ways of saying No to someone. For instance, you can tell that „I feel really sad but I don’t feel a spark between us.” Or you can say that „I feel so sorry but I am not interested in seeing you any longer”. Or another one: „I feel a bit embarrassed saying this but I only feel friendship for you.” It is honest and although it might hurt the feelings of the other for a moment or longer, it is also liberating at the same time because it gives the chance to both of you to truly find in life whoever you are looking for. We all deserve to experience love the way and to the extent we have always imagined and don’t have to settle for anything less.

If you would like to talk about dating or other relationship issues, you can reach us here for a personal meeting.

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