I tweeted out today some observations about what’s happening in the online realm.

Which, considering this stuff is my “business” — might be considered a bit risky.

“Wait Pat, you’re saying that your clients aren’t getting great results online? What does that say about you?”

It says I’m honest.

It’s not just my clients, it’s friends, colleagues… this is a relatively acute problem. The game has gotten MUCH harder than it was a year ago… which was itself harder than the year before that.

The reality is simply that the culture around online dating is changing.

So before I show you guys the solution, I want to take you back through the history… so we can see how we got here, and what to do about it.

The Golden Age of Online Dating

Back between 2011-2014, online dating was at it’s zenith.

Before that, it was considered something only “old” or socially awkward people did.

But around 2011, it started becoming more normal. People still MOSTLY met the “old fashioned way,” but online had become an acceptable outlet… even if you’d still make up a cover story for how you actually met.

Online was a new and exciting way to date, and was a treasure trove for girls you might not otherwise meet.

Understand: you didn’t just go online for the sake of going online. It wasn’t “normal” enough to do that.

And if you really wanted results, you (including the women) would have to put the time into making a profile — which meant investing in your experience.

So when people messaged you, you were responsive.

Girls of course always got more messages than guys, and were more flakey — but it wasn’t like it is now, and the consequences of this modus operandi weren’t as severe. 

First, most guys’ messages were dog-shit, so messages with actual thought put into them set you apart. And since you’d usually “log in” to a desktop to check you matches, the process felt more serious. It wasn’t an app on your phone you’d swipe while you were taking a shit — there was less distraction, and the tension around a delayed response more plausible.

Secondly — and probably more importantly — the ELO score (what essentially determines your status on the app and which matches you see) wasn’t as “sophisticated” back then.

On OkCupid, for instance, they mostly matched you simply via questions you answered — and you could still message anybody.

Now, the algorithm enforces the standard 2-3 point “looks” differential between a guy and a girl based on messages received and answered. A 5 thus gets paired with a guy who looks like a 7 or 8.

And since this inflation has gone to girls heads, you’ll almost never find girls that are 8+ (and even then, just try getting them to respond to the 1000s of messages).

Which is why — even though I’m not opposed to online dating — guys need to internalize: you are dating beneath you online, especially in 2020.

It’s no longer a niche place for shy artsy types while the “basic normie” girls are out at bars — it’s where normie girls go when they’re bored and looking for attention or a quick fuck.

Online dating has, in short, become the romantic path of least resistance; it’s the abode of lazy, dull people.

And it’s reflected in the quality of the matches.

Where To Go Online

All that said, online dating is still very much a thing, and I don’t recommend guys give it up entirely.

The real issue is guys who limit their whole dating experience to online, and become dependent on it. Make sure you are taking alternative approaches to meeting women, like daygame, nightgame, or social circle game. Diversify your portfolio.

This is ESPECIALLY the case — and I hate to say it, but I’m here to be honest — if you are of certain demographics not in your control.

Specifically, I am referring to height… and race.

OKCupid gathered this data back ~2013, and ultimately removed it due to its obviously sensitive nature.

But I bring it to your attention not to discourage you, rather so you can strategize accordingly.

It’s not fair, but this is how women respond when all they have to go on is looks.

If you are not a tall white guy, it’s not a good idea to put all your eggs in the online basket (and don’t do it if you’re a tall white guy either).

Your personality and game is what will need to shine, and in the real world you have a much better chance of expressing this.

So make sure you’re not hiding your gifts behind a screen that judges you.

That said, there are some rules that will make you stand out beyond the competition online, regardless of your background (and we’re going to get to them in a minute).

But first thing you need to do is choose an app that best fits your goals… as well as your age and social class.

The most attractive and responsive girls are, unsurprisingly, on sites like Seeking Arrangements. However, as you might presume, this can be a bit… costly. There is a way to date girls like these without paying, but it’s beyond the scope of this article.

As for the rest, this may change, but as of July 2020, in the US & Canada, the apps / sites more or less attract groups as follows:

OkCupid: bastion of SJWs and hipster / artsy types

Plenty Of Fish: low/working class

Tinder: working / middle class (18-30, casual hookups)

Hinge: middle / upper middle class (20-40)

Bumble: upper middle class / upper class (25-40, more liberal)

Coffee Meets Bagel: more introverted upper middle class

The League: upper class (25-45, but it’s a scam)

Match: middle/upper middle (30+)

EHarmony: middle/upper middle (more conservative, 35+)

Note many of these sites may not exist or have a large enough user base outside of North America. In Europe, for instance, Tinder is very much a mainstream thing, and does not have as much of a “reputation” for simply cheap hookups like in the states. 

Also note different countries / regions have their own dating apps —eastern europeans, especially the less international ones, often use a site called badoo.

There are, of course, plenty more sites… including ones that cater to specific demographic groups (muzmatch, indian cupid, christian mingle, etc.) These are self-explanatory and I won’t go into these. But they’re worth considering if you’re from niche ethnic or religious groups and dating in the mainstream wouldn’t be productive.

But regardless of who you are, or where you decide to go online… there one difference between the guys that do well, and the guys who don’t.

The ones who do well follow these rules:

#1 Rule of Dating Online Today – Look Good In Your Photos

The first rule is the most obvious of them all, but I’m mentioning it because despite this, I still see guys constantly breaking it.

So I will say it clearly:

Do not expect to have success online if your pictures suck and you look unattractive / boring.

As mentioned earlier, you are already punching beneath your weight online. Looks matter ENORMOUSLY on a platform that is mostly visual and has more guys than girls. 

The only way to compensate for not looking physically good is to look cool — and realistically you need to have images of both. Show yourself doing fun and interesting things, going to to different places. Have some smiling, have some with you looking off into the distance.

You want to look fit and interesting, and you want the images themselves to be high quality… though watch out about making them too professional.

So much of dating online is like dating in general — you want to appear attractive, but you also want it to appear like you weren’t trying. Instagram style photos work well (we’ll get to that in a minute).

Some good rules of thumb:

  • don’t look fat, try to have clothes that maximize your v-taper
  • have profile picture of you looking off into the distance, with face visible (this tends to do better for whatever reason)
  • don’t use multiple photos from the same setting, and try to provide photos with contrast 

If you have a great smile — show it. If your smile is flat, don’t (remember to smile with your eyes!)

Finally, if you have abs, consider showing them too — just be aware, you will draw in more superficial women the more obvious you are about this (think male-thot). A photo of you doing something shirtless — on a yacht in the mediterranean sipping rose, a boat deep-sea fishing with a beer, a beach playing volleyball — is much better than you just lifting it up.

#2 Rule of Dating Online Today – Show, Don’t Tell… Unless It’s A Story

There’s one mistake almost every guy makes in his profile… and it’s brutal.

DO NOT “tell” girls what you like or what you do. SHOW IT.

This is both with your words and your photos.

Understand: you get a woman’s interest by engaging with her emotionally. Spitting out facts about yourself like a resume simply won’t do it for her.

(Incidentally, this is a mistake guys make on first dates as well)

You want to convey who you are implicitly, not explicitly. And you want to leave her enough space for her mind to “fill in the lines” in a positive way.

But crucially here, you also don’t want to be one dimensional — even if what you’re conveying about yourself is cool.

If you just look like a party guy, you might be fun, but you’re predictable. And once a woman has figured you out, her interest in you drops dramatically.

Effective profiles rope her in, create mystery… they make her want to meet you to learn more.

So rather than say you like rockclimbing, show a picture of yourself doing it.

Instead of claiming you love animals, share an image of you nursing a stray puppy.

Oh what, you don’t have these pictures?

Well get into the habit of getting them.

Women don’t care what you say, they care what you do. Let your photos do the talking for you.

That said, your words aren’t worthless… quite the opposite. But they should be used to help her IMAGINE life with you. They should be specific enough to make her feel the experience.

I was talking about this on the phone with a client the other day.

Notice the difference in how it feels when you say “Must love traveling” vs “Must be willing to take the middle seat on our seasonal flight to Rome”

The former is boring and generic, it creates zero emotional response… whereas in the latter, she imagines flying with you, she imagines a life traveling with you… with the bonus of a little push-pull tension, giving her the opening to banter with you, ’demanding’ the window.

This applies as well to anything you list about yourself. Be specific and descriptive. You don’t like sunsets, you like “summer sunsets over the pacific.” You don’t like books, you like “19th century Russian literature.” It makes you into a unique person she can engage with, even if her response is a test.

Finally, if you’re looking to be very advanced… you can throw in a bit of future pacing and NLP (neurolinguistic programming).

This is painting a story of the two of you together (it doesn’t have to be real):

“I picture us on a boat in the greek isles, the sun setting, fresh caught fish for dinner and a bottle of local white wine. You’re wearing a blue and white sundress, the frills flapping in the wind. I take your hand, you look at me. We kiss…”

The idea here is to get her to fall into fantasy.

I know it sounds cheesy, but this is the stuff women read in romance novels. It gets them off. I was surprised myself, but I had something like the above in my profile… every other girl referenced it, horny and curious.

Just make sure it’s congruent. My profile made it seem possible like something like this could happen. If your look is more rugged, tweak your fantasy accordingly.

#3 Rule of Dating Online Today – Qualify… Gently

I’m sure you’ve run across it with a girl’s profile. She’s got all sorts of “requirements” — no kids, makes 6 figures, needs to accept her shitty attitude, etc. etc.

These profiles are obnoxious because the requirements are heavy-handed, and she’s not bringing anything to the table.

But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have requirements at all.

I recommend having 1-2 real “deal-breakers” and a couple of light, silly ones… or what I call “false disqualifiers.”

A good example of this is something I helped cultivate with another client a few months back.

We did a pros/cons list:


  • I run my own business
  • I don’t buy my clothes from walmart
  • Your mother will probably like me


  • I don’t eat processed food
  • I often leave things on top of cars as I drive away
  • Your mother will probably like me better than you

This list is good for multiple reasons, but let’s focus on Con #1, as it presents a great example of a “false disqualifier.”

You are mentioning something “negative” about yourself that is actually a positive to most people you’d want to date. The question is — why list it as a con then, and not as a positive?

The reason is because when it’s represented this way, it doesn’t come across as arrogant. It sets standards, but in a subtle way.

It pushes and pulls simultaneously, drawing in girls you’d want while repelling ones you don’t.

One of the big lessons beneath this is to not try and sell yourself. You want to be the discerning buyer, not the desperate used car salesman.

You want to make her prove herself to you, not vice-versa.

That said, don’t make the mistake like the girls referenced above and put all sorts of crazy criteria on there. “Must have DD breasts, x hip-waist ratio” — unless you look like a male model, women are going to sense the overcompensation in your profile and ignore. Indeed, even if you do look like one, you will lose women you would have had otherwise.

Firm criteria like “I like women who wear sundresses and enjoy cooking for the man they love” are fine. But you can go even further, adding in humor and contrast to make it nuclear.

An example putting it all together:

“Don’t swipe right if:

  • You don’t read. Looks are common, intelligence is rare — when we’re not being silly and having fun, I want to be able to have meaningful conversations”
  • You don’t like surprise adventures. If I decide to book us a flight to Mexico for the weekend, I want a girl who says yes
  • You don’t like animals or nature. I volunteer at a shelter and spend a lot of time outdoors, there is nothing sexier that a woman who does too

Do swipe right if:

You do all of the above and enjoy cooking breakfast naked”

If you mentioned the “naked breakfast” without the rest of this — women would think you were a tool. But mention it in the context of the profile above, it becomes funny… and part of her fantasy. Good chance she mentions it (positively or as a flirty challenge) over text.

#4 Rule of Dating Online Today – Make Assumptions

Some women don’t give you much to work with on their profiles. These profiles suck to work with (I would generally avoid them, says a lot about the girl’s investment on the site). 

But most women in fact tell you much about themselves… even if they don’t mean to. Is her smile genuine? Are her eyes dead, or alive? How does she dress? What matters to her?

This is discernment — something I explore in detail in my masterclass. And not only will it protect you from psycho women, it will help you to cold read — and thus attract — the women who are not.

I’ve talked about assumptions more generally with women, so I won’t go into it too much detail here. But the point is to glean insights about the girl, and use them to hook… rather than to ask lazy questions.

These can be inferences about where she’s visited, what she’s like, and what her background is:

“You seem very carefree and sensual — Caribbean vibes… I like that. Are you from the Dominican Republic”

Sometimes you will simply make an assumption as a statement, sometimes you will make what I call an “assumptive question” — like in the above. These questions are OK, because they show your curiosity in her, and the question itself is almost an afterthought.

DO NOT ask boring questions like “So what do you do for work?” “How are you enjoying things in Cleveland”

It is honestly much better to ask STUPID questions than boring ones. Which brings us to #5…

#5 Rule of Dating Online Today – Be Casual, Flirt Like A Kid

Don’t make this conversation SERIOUS. Make it fun and playful.

It is better to act like a kid on the playground and ask things like:

You: “you seem cool krista, but before we accidentally fall in love… a serious question… i need to know it if we are going to work out…” 

Her: “lol ok what is it”

You: “what’s your favorite color”

This stuff is dumb and mindless, I know, but women eat it up. They LOVE the casual, “girls have cooties” 5th grade flirtiness.

The problem I see over and over again with guys is they get way too intense and overthink stuff. Obviously mirror her, but she is attracted to the vibe you put out. If your vibe is too “try hard” she will get bored and leave.

Yes, you can overdo this lassitude, but 95% of guys aren’t anywhere close to doing it. Move just a little in the care-free direction and you will drastically improve your situation.

This is all I’m going to mention about messaging here. If you want to do really well online, I STRONGLY SUGGEST you buy my book Tackling Texting. While officially designed for after you get a girl’s number in-person, it is basically a crash course on how to message women.

It goes in detail, step by step, from the start of the conversation all the way to getting her on a date… with examples, mental shifts, and tons of tactics and techniques along the way. And it’s only $4.99.

#6 Rule of Dating Online Today – Don’t Overswipe

Now we get more into the technological aspects of online dating. One mistake guys make is thinking they “play the odds” better if they just swipe right on every account.

The problem with this, is that there is an algorithm… and the algorithm doesn’t place guys with low standards, who convert poorly, high in their rankings.

This is the ELO score, mentioned in the beginning of this post. The less interest girls show in you, and the worse engagement you get from your swipes / messages… the lower quality (and quantity) of girls they will give you.

Which is why it’s very important you don’t spam likes early on, and blow your leads when you sign up.

Everyone who starts a new account gets a matches “bonus.” This is when you must prove yourself to the algorithm. Mess it up, and you’ll get “graveyarded” with the girls who are unattractive / have been determined to be time wasters themselves.

A lot of this ELO variation is why some people swear by online dating, and others hate it.

If you’re inactive for awhile, your ELO score usually gets a bump — this is to encourage you to spend more time on the app.

This can be an opportunity for redemption. But if your matches really sucks, it’s often just better to start a new account (note: you may need to be tech savvy to do this on some apps, as I believe they often track you).

The lesson is to be more discerning in who you message, and put some effort into your messages, so your rank rises and doesn’t fall.

All of this begs the question: given how they punish you, shouldn’t you just shell out and get “premium” services, like Tinder Gold?

Obviously there is some benefit to doing this… if you’ve got the cash, and are committed to an app, why not. But ultimately, it doesn’t stop your score from going down. You get a slightly better cushion — that’s all.

#7 Rule of Dating Online Today – Connect Your Social Media

Which brings us to the final rule, and the one that is really a HUGE force multiplier… and can guarantee you far more success than anyone else online.

Connecting your social media to your dating profile.

Of course, all of this is contingent on you having a social worth following…

But if you are doing a good job maintaining your image on social media (especially the visual ones like Instagram), you MASSIVELY increase your odds of picking up a girl online.

And the reason my friend is your preselection and her sense of comfort with you will simply go through the roof.

Understand, women don’t know anything about you when you’re messaging them online. Your profile could, theoretically, be completely fake.

Connecting them to your social turns you into a real person. They can get a feel for who you actually are. And if your social is done well, it won’t simply make these women feel more connected to you… it will amplify (and confirm) everything on your profile: that you are a fun, cool guy she’d obviously want to spend time with.

And if your social following is big… it’s game over, because then your status will do the work for you. Getting her to meet will be easy.

How To Date Online: Conclusions

The “golden age” of online dating might be over, but it doesn’t mean there still aren’t attractive, high quality girls you can meet there.

Let’s recap on how to do it:

  • Use high quality, interesting photos
  • Be descriptive and show contrast in your profile
  • Show you have standards
  • Make inferences about her
  • Be casual when messaging
  • Online swipe on girls you’re really interested in
  • Build up your social media and put it on your profile

And if you want personalized help crafting your profile, and help crafting the perfect messages to send?

Apply to work with me here: www.patstedman.com/application

– Pat

PS – If you liked this blog post, I email my list with content regularly. Sign up here (it’s free): www.patstedman.com/optin