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How Do I Know If My Online Date Is For Real?


Art Credit: Moss and Isaac

In a recent article, dating coach Sarah Gooding gave some pointers on how to create your best online dating profile. One reader responded with a great question about how to figure out who is really looking for a relationship and who is not. Here is what Jenn asked:

As a woman who has tried online dating many times, with no positive outcomes, how do you suggest “weeding out” the guys who seem to be genuine and real, yet are anything but? 

Online dating isn't rocket science, but it often takes time to feel comfortable and to learn the various dating quirks unique to this kind of dating world. Here are a six tips from Sarah on how to hone in on the good guys and weed out the ones who aren't worth your time.


If you're serious about wanting to meet someone, only spend your time on men who explicitly describe their intention as "Looking for a Relationship," “Looking to Marry,” or equivalent. If a man says he's looking for "Dating" or "Casual Dating," believe him. He likely just wants to have fun for an evening and isn't looking to settle down in a monogamous relationship, regardless of whatever else he tells you. If you have your heart set on a relationship, don't waste your time on these men.


Be wary of generic, non-specific messages. Messages that don't mention anything specific about your profile could be copy-and-paste messages sent from men who are contacting many women at once. Similarly, men who write short messages like “Hey” or ‘Hi” are probably sending the same message to lots of different women. This isn’t always the case, but it definitely indicates a lack of interest in genuinely wanting to get to know someone. Instead, look for men who write well-thought-out messages and ask poignant questions about your profile. These men are much more serious about wanting to meet someone with whom they’re compatible.


Online dating is a way to connect with other singles and determine if that connection exists when you meet in person. If you've messaged back and forth several times and he isn't asking for your number or to go on a date, he may be more interested in messaging marathons than actually meeting someone special. Focus on the men who want to get to know you in person.


Look at how long his last relationships lasted. On PlentyOfFish, for instance, users are asked "how long was your longest relationship?" Often past success can determine future success, meaning that if he's been in a long-term relationship before, he's much more likely to be in a long-term relationship in the future. Similarly, if he's in his thirties and has never been in a relationship, he's much less likely to ever be. It's also important to remember that someone who has never been in a relationship is much less aware of what's expected in a committed relationship and may need a lot of hand-holding.


If you have hesitations about meeting someone in person, ask him to share his last name and do a quick search on him before your date. If he isn’t open to sharing this information, he may not be genuinely interested in meeting someone, or worse, he may have something to hide. Men who are genuinely interested in you want you to feel comfortable on a first date and will do whatever it takes to make sure you do.


Always listen to your intuition. If something sounds off or too good to be true, it probably is.

Photo by Moss + Isaac