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How to Be a Better Dater: Follow This Four-Step Plan

You can become a better dater with the right plan. Start by becoming a "psychotic optimist" and saying yes to everything.
Couple holding hands.
Couple holding hands.cyano66 / Getty Images

Believe it or not, there are 107 million single Americans — 43 percent of the adult population. So why does it seem so hard to find a match when you're looking?

The dating world has gotten increasingly complicated over the past decade, with thousands of sites and apps coming to market, changing the way people date. But it's within your power to become a better dater with the right mindset and plan. Believe it or not, dating can be fun, easy, and successful if you follow these tips:

1. Become a Psychotic Optimist

When talking about love, a friend of mine called me a “Psychotic Optimist,” because I fervently believe that love can and will happen for anyone who wants it and is ready to do something about it. First, understand the numbers are in your favor, so even if you feel like you’re the last single person left in Chicago, you’re not. Trust me. At my Smart Dating Academy, we tell people to date as if finding love is a “WHEN” not an “IF.” You are patiently in the game — whether it takes 10 dates or 100 dates. Being a Psychotic Optimist makes dating MUCH more fun, and therefore, much more successful.

Tinder research
If you're looking for love, embrace online dating as one part of your three-part strategy.Jonathan Brady / PA Wire/AP, file

When you want to achieve anything big in life (career, health, finances), you put together a plan with specific steps and goals. But we often think dating and love should "just happen" if it’s meant to be, and that planning is "unromantic." Au contraire. To be successful at finding love, make a plan that is realistic, fun, and that you can stick to. Your plan should include 3 major categories:

  • Online Dating – One in three marriages in the US take place because of online connections, so even if you’ve tried it and haven’t had good results, there IS a better way to do it! (More on that below.)
  • Real Life – Meeting people at parties, at work, at fundraisers, even at Whole Foods is almost everyone’s preference! Look up, get off your phone, and smile at people. Make conversation, be friendly and people will start to gravitate toward you.
  • Set Ups – Identify the people in your life who are "super connectors" – people who love to connect people, are extroverted, and preferably not trying to date the same people you are! Have lunch with your super connectors and enlist their help. Nominate them to be on your team, and watch how they will start to find matches for you!

3. Say Yes to EVERYTHING!

Commit to saying yes to everything (or almost everything!) you get invited to. I hear great stories every day about someone who wasn’t going to go out and her friend talked her into going to the local bar, and she met the man of her dreams right then and there. Say yes because you don’t know where love will come from, and you want to take advantage of all of the opportunities that come your way.

4. Do Online Dating Right

Image: Online dating profile
This client of the Smart Dating Academy shows the right way to start a profile: big smile, eyes to camera.AJ Kane

Pick 1-2 sites or apps, maximum. Being on too many sites/apps can give us Dating ADHD. Choose large sites with big denominators like or eHarmony. Dating often feels like needle in a haystack, so make sure you’ve got a big haystack. Then choose a specific number of people to email per day. Our clients email 3-5 per day at minimum. Respond first to interesting people that email you proactively, and after you’ve exhausted those, do your own proactive searches.

Think about your online profile and photos as your personal marketing campaign in cyberspace. A great profile should take several hours to put together.


Image: Online dating profile
Follow head shots with other photos that show your whole body, like this one from the Smart Dating Academy.AJ Kane

Great photos will determine 90 percent of your success. Most of us don’t have a lot of great photos of just ourselves, so getting great photos taken is one of the best investments you can make in the process. A survey Smart Dating Academy and performed with more than 1,500 singles said that approximately 5-6 total photos (mix of head and body shots) is the magic number.

  • Your opening photo is the most important picture. Direct eye contact with the camera, with a great smile. You should look warm and welcoming, so that the viewer will want to click on your profile, instead of one of the multitudes of others on the page! Well lit and high resolution works best.
  • People also want to see what you look like from head to toe. Have at least three full body shots in your online portfolio.
  • No other people, pets, sunglasses or kids in your shots. This is YOUR profile.
  • And dress to impress in your photos.

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Profile Text

A common question I get is, "Do people REALLY read your profile text?" The answer is yes. The kinds of people you want to communicate with will read what you write. So how do you write a good profile?

  • Stand out: Use fun facts about you that are different. For example, maybe you’re a secret ballroom dancer, you've hiked up Mount Everest, you're a 10-time marathon runner. Tell 1-2 sentence stories that will set you apart from other people.
  • Be positive! Talk about your most positive traits and what you’ll bring to the table in a relationship, and talk about the positive traits you’re looking for in a mate. Stay away from all negativity.
  • Be brief, but not too brief. 200-300 words on a dating site is great. If you’re on an app, you are more limited to number of words/characters, so curate your words well!
  • Spell and grammar check profusely. People judge our intelligence by our word choices, spelling and grammar. It’s SO easy to make little mistakes on our cell phones and tablets. Pay close attention to what you’re writing because one small error can have big consequences, especially in the beginning phases of dating.

Become psychotically optimistic about finding love, make a fun dating plan that you can stick to, say yes to everything, and get online the right way — and you are sure to start seeing a better dating life!

Bela Gandhi is the founder of Smart Dating Academy.