Hotel seeks guest (m/f)

Online dating has become as normal as booking a hotel in the digital age. Great love stories are increasingly often beginning on the internet – provided that there's a spark. Naturally, this will only work if you present yourself well. That applies as much to hotels on OTAs such as HRS as to singles on internet dating sites.

text: Sven Heitkamp 

It happened very quickly. His profile had been on the dating website Parship for just 11 minutes when the 50-year-old man with greying hair, sporty, humorous, friendly, was sent his first smile. The sender, by her own account, was independent, 52, attractive, young at heart and reliable. It happens many times a day. Smiles and compliments are exchanged, profiles are viewed, photos are released and messages are written along the lines of: "Looking at your profile, I get the feeling that a date with you definitely wouldn't be boring." This single man's profile was evidently fairly attractive to women.

But how do you present yourself online in such a way that others will notice you and like you? What magic words will enchant the other sex, what pictures will make them curious? One thing is clear: people who are surfing the net want to be able to get the picture in a few clicks and are usually impatient – just as in the analogue world. They make decisions in a split second based on gut instinct. The first seven seconds of an encounter generally determine whether or not we like a person.

There's no second chance to make a first impression

The magic of the first moment is important. "You don't get a second chance to make a first impression," says qualified psychologist Lisa Fischbach, in charge of matchmaking and research at the online dating site ElitePartner, which is owned by Parship. "It's difficult to correct a false impression." It would therefore be completely reckless to mess up your first opportunity to present yourself. Fischbach knows what she's talking about – she's been researching the nicest feeling in the world for over 12 years.

"Use your chance!", Fischbach says. "Your online profile is your personal calling card. You should put a lot of work and passion into completing it – and not make any mistakes." It's important to use the various categories you can fill in on the portal for a charm offensive, to increase your attractiveness. Free text fields in particular should not be left empty. On Parship, this includes the category of "What I'm into right now". Members who complete this free field are contacted almost twice as often as others, because they stand out and offer a good starting point for first messages. Or, in other words, the best equipment won't be any use if you don't put it in the shop window.

Eric Hegmann has been working for years as a singles expert, couples counsellor and coach for Parship, and gives advice on structuring online profiles. His first tip is to beware of general statements and platitudes. "Almost everyone writes sentences like 'I enjoy reading' and 'I like listening to music'", Hegmann says. "They won't get you anywhere." The same goes for wise sayings that look like something you'd find in a calendar, which one in two people use. A classic example would be: "You can only see clearly with your heart!" A landlord letting out rooms wouldn't simply write that the rooms are in a nice quiet location and have a shower and WC.

It's much better to go into detail and back up what you're saying, for example: "I really liked the film '50 First Dates' because it's incredibly romantic and funny." A classic Parship question such as "A perfect day for me would be…" shouldn't just be answered with "Playing sport" or "Pursuing my hobbies". It's better to provide individual descriptions like: a relaxed walk around the Outer Alster Lake in Hamburg, because it's my favourite place and the best location I've found to unwind. "If you make descriptive statements, you'll open up a different world," Hegmann says. "Being truthful and specific doesn't mean painful self-promotion, but will show you to be authentic. The reader will get a picture of what you're like." Catchphrases, on the other hand, can mean everything and nothing, because they can mean something different to everyone. The chances of a match and a date therefore increase as a person enters more concrete details about themselves. Hegmann's advice is therefore: "Paint a little map of your personality."

It's worth investing in good photos

If you're trying to woo potential partners online, you should in any case bear in mind that you're not alone. Millions of users have profiles on the various dating sites. To attract the right people, it's therefore important to describe yourself so well that you sound interesting, stand out from the rest and arouse emotions in the other person. Above all, Fischbach recommends painting pictures with just a few words and using scents and sounds to bring them to life. For example, you could give a taste of your "perfect breakfast at the weekend": "I buy fresh bread rolls from my favourite bakery, make a little fruit salad, boil some eggs and make green tea." In addition, she says, it's always worth investing in good photos. They often say more than many words.

The advisers to the online portals highlight what a carelessly thrown together and poorly maintained profile conveys: a person with a slapdash attitude to their online profile gives the impression that it's not that important to them to search for a partner and to make contact. Hegmann says, "A bad photo that isn't clear, is blurred or has shadows suggests symbolically that you're making no effort in the search for a partner. So you probably won't put any effort into your relationships either."

Naturally, a charm offensive also means showing yourself at your best. Parship has found in studies that positive profiles receive significantly more attention and responses. However, as soon as the impression that someone is fun to be with is spoiled, visitors will click elsewhere. "Pessimists don't get kissed!" says Hegmann. "You should be passionate about something – because enthusiasm is contagious." A profile should therefore be upbeat, optimistic, curious and open – then it will come across as likeable.

However, you should also stick to the truth. Experience shows that if you build castles in the air, you'll be found out – on the first date, if not before. A very bad foundation that will only lead to disappointment. You will soon come across as dubious and untrustworthy if you have to make confessions and explain yourself on the very first date. "Truth is the foundation on which everything is then built," says Arne Kahlke, an insider who has been at Parship since day one. He founded ElitePartner and now runs the portal Lemonswan, which is free for students, trainees and single parents, who often can't afford other platforms. "The truth will out, and your lies will catch you out the first time you meet," Kahlke says. Instead, it's better to sum up your good points and unique features. "Honesty with yourself and realistic assessments are vital," says Kahlke. Your mantra should be: Be good and show it!

Ask close friends and professionals for their opinion

However, if you sit in front of a computer by yourself for too long, you'll get lonely. You can quickly lose sight of what would fit into your online dating profile and what attractions are missing. The experts' unanimous advice is therefore to talk to close friends, as they are familiar with the single person's personality traits and can describe them honestly. Some dating websites also allow you to get feedback on your profile from experts or other guests, in order to make it more appealing. The man with the salt-and-pepper hair who received lots of smiles did it. The high flirt factor has proved him right – now he has fallen in love.

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