It's no new news that online dating has its challenges. First off, the whole process of getting up and running can be pretty time consuming. You'll need to take the time to figure out what photos you're going to use — and make the tough call on which one you're going to lead with in order to attract the most matches. Once you're done making yourself look good, there's the task of deciding what to say about yourself. Walking the line of coming off as confident but not too conceited is no easy feat — especially when you've only got 150 characters or so to play with. And after you've got your pictures set up in the right order and feel like you've nailed that "about me" section, you'll need to spend some time mastering the art of the first message.
All of the above can involve a lot of trial and error — adding to the time suck that is online dating. But not all single guys are spending hours figuring out how to get it done. In fact, some of the smartest single guys have this thing down to a science, from the right time to message their matches to what to include in their online dating profile, and even how long that first message should be.
Ready to steal their secrets? Here's what the latest online dating studies from Zoosk had to say about what the most successful online daters are doing to get more matches and go on more dates in 2017.
1. They Use Full-Body Photos
You're probably wary of profiles that don't show off a woman's full body. Just like guys, ladies want to see the full package. According to Zoosk, online dating profiles that show off all the goods get a whopping 203% more messages than those that don't. But don't think that the group photo you posted of you in your buddy's wedding party is going to do the trick. Having more than one person in your profile picture will earn you 42% less messages than if you were standing alone in that tux, the same study found. One more factor worth considering when you're embarking on your full-body photo shoot: Men with photos of themselves in an outdoor setting get 19% more messages.
A Real Girl's Take: To be honest, this guy's profile initially caught my eye because he's showing off major arm muscle — but not in a douchebag, mirror-selfie type of way that makes me think he's too into himself. He's just being sort of accidentally hot, in the great outdoors, with a casual zebra grazing in the background — which also makes me think that he enjoys doing things other than pounding drinks at a bar. A first date at the zoo? I'm sold.
2. They Know Which Traits To Highlight
Sure, we all have our unique hobbies and attributes, which can make figuring out what to say in that little "about me" bubble feel kind of impossible. Good news from the researchers at Zoosk: There are a few simple words that attract more matches, which you can easily weave into that write-up. For example, using the word "laugh" in your profile will earn you more messages — whether you love to laugh or you're the guy who makes everyone laugh (or both). Another word to consider using is "honest," since the same study found that people who describe themselves this way in their profile also get messaged more. Maybe you're really into CrossFit or running or biking. All of that is great, but make sure you include the word "healthy" in that description, since doing so has been found to earn 17% more messages.
A Real Girl's Take: There's a lot that I like about this profile, but especially the way that the word "honest" is positioned here. The more you over explain your honesty, the less genuine you seem. Placing it by itself in your description puts it out there in a way that feels believable and, well, honest.
RELATED: Check Out AskMen's In-Depth Review Of Zoosk
3. They Send Messages At The Right Time
Your mind might be at it's peak for writing clever messages in the morning, afternoon or even early evening. But according to Zoosk's data, the best time of day to message a lady is between 9:45 pm and 11:00 pm. Why? Peak online dating hours for women are between 10:00 pm and 11:00 pm — but men typically sign off earlier, and use the site most from 9:00 pm – 10:00 pm. Meaning, you're signing off right when most ladies are just getting started. Can't function during that time of night? The stats don't lie, so it might be worthwhile to jot down that brilliant first message when you think of it — and stay up past your bedtime to pull the trigger on sending.
A Real Girl's Take: This was one of the first messages that I saw when I signed on, and we kept the conversation going (but I'll spare you the details). Not only did he catch me at the right time, but his first message showed that he had read my profile (where I mention I'm a sex & dating writer), which I appreciate.
4. They Write The Right Amount
When it comes to sending that first message to a new match, you probably know you need to walk the line between "hey" and a novel-length manifesto. But how long should a successful first message be? Zoosk found that the sweet spot for your first message to a match to be between 61-69 characters. Reply rates are 15% higher than average when your first message hits that character count. If you don't have time to be typing your messages into Word and figuring out how long they are, typically you're looking at five healthy sentences or so. At a loss for words? Zoosk also found that if you make your messages longer than 17 characters, you're 17% more likely to get a response.
A Real Girl's Take: Not only did he hit the right word count here, but this message also gives me a flavor of what his personality is like. Immediately poking fun at the message you're sending takes the pressure out of the whole situation — and giving just enough without going overboard, word count-wise makes this an effective first message.