The Online Dating Expert Shares Her Secrets for Success!

by on February 12, 2014 · 18 comments

If you’re single and looking to meet that special someone, technology could be your greatest ally. Online dating sites may be the source of your next romance, maybe even in time for Valentine’s Day!

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of chatting with Julie Spira, the Cyber-Dating Expert, to find out her secrets to successful online dating. Spira is the:

She also runs a website about couples who met on Facebook called Facebook Love Stories.

About Online Dating

Online dating can be an exciting and effective way to connect. “We’ve never had so many tools to meet so many new people that didn’t exist 10 years ago.” Spira points out that when your friends are no longer fixing you up and you don’t want to be single anymore, online dating can be a very attractive option to meet new people.

Spira has been involved in the online dating world for over twenty years and has seen the industry shed its stigma to become widely accepted as an efficient way to meet people with similar interests. “The stigma started to dissipate three years ago, coinciding with people embracing mobile apps and Facebook. Because so many singles were logging on to their Facebook accounts so frequently, they were spending more time online in general which made it more comfortable for them to join an online dating site.”

As much as people are connecting online through social media sites such as Facebook, Spira says that the online dating sites are where people are finding romance. “If people are really serious about meeting someone, they’re going to join a dating site.”

Many people are choosing to join two online dating sites, both a free site and a paid site. “ did a recent study that showed that online dating was the number one way that people meet, even more popular than through friends or in bars. It’s a lot more cost-effective than $50 dates or going out to a different bar every night hoping you might get lucky,” said Spira.

Niche vs. General Dating Sites

Online dating sites have expanded from the general dating sites such as and eHarmony into niche dating sites such as ChristianMingle, JDate, and Farmers Only. “Because it’s so hard for new companies to compete with an eHarmony or, the easiest way to create an online dating site now is to create a niche site.”

There are plenty of niche dating sites for those who want to target a group with a certain interest. Spira gave examples of these niche dating sites:

“They may make you giggle but they really work for some people. At the end of the day they don’t have as many members as the large, general dating sites, but they’re flavorful. I always say, ‘There are 64 colors of crayons in the Crayola crayon box and there’s certainly a dating site for everyone,’” said Spira.

Secrets to Online Dating Success

In many ways, the secrets to online dating success are new to the genre. Learning about a person online is very different from meeting them in person. Spira has lots of helpful tips to increase your chances of successfully meeting someone special online.

Make Your Facebook Page Datable

Spira strongly suggests setting your relationship status as “Single” on Facebook if you’re looking for a relationship. “Advertise it! It’s like free advertising to say, ‘I’m available for a date. If you think I’m cute then connect with me on Chat.’ If you have no relationship status listed on Facebook, change it immediately to ‘Single.’”

Spira points out that you never know who might have a silent crush on you but didn’t think you were available. By doing something as simple as changing your Facebook status to Single, you might be opening the door to a new relationship.

See Spira’s article: 7 Ways to Make Your Facebook Page Dateable.

Make the Most of Your Online Dating Site Profile Pictures

Spira shared lots of advice for people who want to create profiles for online dating sites. Choosing which profile pictures to use becomes very important. She suggests using three to five pictures on your profile.

– Use a close-up photo with a smile

Your primary profile photo should be a close-up of your smiling face. “They want to see what you look like, they want to look into your eyes and imagine giving you that first kiss.” Spira advises against wearing sunglasses in your photos because you look like you have something to hide.

– Don’t wear your Little Black Dress/Wear Red

Spira advises keeping your favorite Little Black Dress in your closet for your profile picture. “When a guy is scanning through 500 thumbnail photos of women in his target demographic and his location, he sees black dress after black dress after black dress. Then he sees that smiling face with a red top on. Boom! She gets all the hits.”

Red and hot pink are Spira’s two favorite colors for profile pictures. “There have been studies that have shown that women who wear red actually get more hits and women who wear red on first dates get more money spent on them.” Spira attributes this to two factors: men being visual and red being the color of romance.

– Full Length Body Shot

In addition to using a close-up photo, you should add a full length body shot to your profile. Spira says not to worry if you’re not model-thin and points out that many men prefer women with more meat on their bones. She says the full length body shot is the time when you should pull your Little Black Dress out of the closet if you want to appear thinner.

“A man will automatically think that you’re hiding something and you’re significantly overweight if you don’t post a full length body shot. Truth in advertising: you are who you are.” Spira says that when comparing profiles, men will choose the woman with the body shot, even if it isn’t the ideal body, over one who doesn’t include that photo in her profile.

– Include an activity shot

Your profile should include a photo of you doing an activity you enjoy. This helps show your personality and helps a guy envision what you two will be doing on your dates, Spira reasons. If you enjoy golf, use a photo of yourself on a golf course. Spira points out that some guys are on dating sites because they were divorced by women who didn’t relish being “golf widows.”

– Use “Yoga” in your profile (if you do yoga)

Spira says lots of guys look for women who do yoga because they will be in better shape. She recently advised a client who was a yoga fan to add “yoga” to her profile and she got many more hits after that keyword was added.

– Don’t use a group shot

Spira advises against having other people in photos on your profile. You can give the appearance of being too into partying, plus potential dates have to figure out which person in the picture is you.

Getting Started with Online Dating

Spira suggests reaching out to five to ten people a day with the hope that one or two will write back to you — you may get three dates a week with three different people. “The more you date the better a dater you become. If you put all of your eggs in one basket you may come away empty-handed. Eventually, in time, one person is going to rise to the top and you may want to date him exclusively.”

Be careful, don’t become a serial dater who always expects the next person to be smarter, wealthier, more attractive, etc. advises Spira. “Sometimes, if you have a really great date with someone, be happy and just look forward to the next date.”

Be a Cyber-Sleuth

Spira recommends looking at a person’s other social media accounts to find out more about them. Check out their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts. Spira explained, “I know a woman who checks out a guy’s Instagram account to see what kinds of photos he posts before she accepts a date. If he’s a foodie, that’s great, he posts pictures of food. But if he has his arm around a different girl in every Instagram shot or on his Facebook page, she’ll think he’s a player. It might be his ‘kissing cousin’ but she’ll think he’s a player and pass on that date.”

Social media sites can also give clues about the photos people use on their online dating profiles. Some people use photos that are out of date or touched up enough to be unrecognizable. Spira says it’s important to check that the photos on the dating site match the photos on other social media sites. “Someone who looks too good to be true may be using a stock photo of a model. That’s such a red flag but people still get sucked in because they want to meet a good-looking guy.”

You can also see whether you have friends in common with that person. “Women want to feel safe and if they see that you have a friend in common on Facebook then they can check out that guy.”

Spiro advises that by checking someone out you can decide whether you are willing to date that person. If so, you can initiate contact. If not, just move on to someone else.

See, Meeting Online Friends in Real Life — Good Idea or Nightmare Waiting to Happen?

Don’t Seem Like a Cyber-Stalker

Although Spira recommends checking out social media profiles, she also suggests not revealing the information you learned from being a cyber-sleuth.

“I tell people not to ‘kiss and tell’ and not to search and tell. There’s nothing worse than going on a first date with someone and have the guy say to you, ‘Hey, I Googled you and then I went to your Facebook page and I saw you in that hot red dress, who was the guy in that photo?’” People can get defensive if you share the fruits of your online research, Spira advises.

What to Expect with Online Dating

After you’ve connected with someone via an online dating site you should generally have 2-3 emails and then a phone call to chat. Spira considers this phone call a pre-date where people can talk and get to know each other better. If the conversation is forced or awkward then you won’t have to spend an entire evening figuring out that you’re not compatible. If the conversation flows easily then you’ll feel more comfortable moving on to a real date.

“Any phone chemistry is good. It doesn’t have to be off the charts. You just want to know that you can have a conversation with someone.” Spira suggests that the phone pre-date last only 20 minutes and at the end people should set up a real date.

Spira advises against using Skype with someone before the initial date, “Meet in person first. No one looks better on Skype.” After you start dating, then Skype can be a very useful tool to keep in touch.

Meet in a Public Place

Spira says that the most important thing with online dating is that people feel safe. She suggests that people meet each other in a public place for lunch or after work for drinks, not late at night. She advises against drinking  a lot of alcohol so you can keep your wits about you and so your judgment doesn’t become blurred.

Consider People Outside Your Geographic Region

Most people start out wanting to date someone local but if that doesn’t work, people soon want to broaden their horizons. People don’t intend to begin long distance relationships, but Spira says that’s often what happens.

She points out that most people would be willing to move for the love of their life. “In online dating it’s easy to cast a wide net. If someone would say to you, ‘You’re going to be single for the next five years if you only want to date within five miles of your geographic area. Or a year from now you are going to meet the love of your life: one of you is going to have to move but you are going to have the most extraordinary relationship with your best friend and soul mate who lives 3000 miles away.’ What would you do?” She points out that most people would choose the latter.

As the Online Relationship Progresses

The fact that a couple started dating online can have implications as the relationship develops.

When to Put Your Online Dating Profile on Hold

One of the issues is when to withdraw your profile from dating websites. “This is absolutely the trickiest part,” said Spira. “The women always want to take it down first and then want the men to take theirs down.” Spira points out that men might just be curious about who is checking them out but women may get jealous.

“Having the profile take-down conversation is really important and needs to happen when you want to be dating exclusively.” She suggests that planning a trip together may be a good time to agree to date exclusively. You don’t want your partner checking up on the online dating site while you’re on the trip. If your partner isn’t willing to take down their profile, then maybe you’re not ready to take a trip with them, Spira explained.

Spira points out that taking down your profile is really an act of good faith and she advises against using it as a bargaining chip. What you don’t want is for someone to agree to take it down, but the re-activate it in the middle of the night to check in while his partner is sleeping.

She also suggests putting your profiles on hold for a temporary three-month trial period instead of doing it permanently. “That way people can give the relationship a try without it seeming like a life sentence.”

If both people agree to take their profiles down at the same time, you can even have a romantic date to celebrate the event.

Trouble in Paradise/Don’t Panic

Most dating websites show you the most recent date when a person logged on to the site which can cause problems as relationships progress. Spira advises against checking up on people you’re dating to see the last time they logged in.

If you see that your partner logged onto the dating website after you had both agreed to take down your profiles, don’t panic. Spira says there are reasonable explanations why that could have happened including someone accidentally clicking through a link in an email.

“Don’t jump to a digital conclusion just because someone logged on to the dating website. These are things that make people have meltdowns. Until you have the conversation that both of you are permanently disabling your accounts, the relationship isn’t exclusive,” said Spira.

Take Your Time

Spira advises that people take relationships slowly so they can enjoy the courtship. Relationships that soar too quickly can crash and burn just as fast. The longer you take to get to know someone the greater the chance that you are seeing the real person instead of the person you want to see.

“I believe that the best relationships are ones that start off as friendships because that’s the glue that keeps things together when the inevitable bumps on the road occur,” said Spira.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Some things are constant, whether the dating starts online or not. “Guys still love the chase. If the guy gets the girl too fast, they get bored and they look for someone new to chase. Caveman behavior is still rampant in the digital world,” said Spira.

Valentine’s Day Ideas

As Spira is a dating expert, I asked her for great date ideas for Valentine’s Day. Spira pointed out that this year is ideal with Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday of a three-day weekend. If you can’t get together on Friday night you can still celebrate over the weekend with a romantic date.

Spira suggests using Facebook’s Graph Search to find just what you’re looking for. For example, you could search for “Restaurants in Philadelphia” to see which restaurants are Liked by your friends. She also suggests posting a question on Facebook to get immediate feedback from your friends such as asking for their favorite recipes or gift ideas.

See, Facebook – Your New Search Site? for more information on Facebook Graph search.

She also suggests using Pinterest to get ideas for recipes and romantic gifts. You can also make a Pinterest wish list board to give your special someone a hint about what you like.

Spira even suggests having a first date on Valentine’s Day. So long as you keep the date light and fun, nothing too serious, you could just enjoy each other’s company and begin something new.

See, Your Top 10 Tantalizing Valentine’s Day Tech Gifts!

Your Thoughts

Do you think of online dating sites are a good way to meet people? Do you know any couples who have met using online dating? Do you have any advice for online dating that you’d like to share? Let us know in the Comments section below!


* Dropped Heart photo by Kevin K
* Find Love Keyboard photo by UrbaneWomenMag (edited)
* I U Candles photo by Doug Wheller
* Candy Hearts photo by duncan c

Comments on this entry are closed.

Mike Maynard
February 12, 2014 at 9:05 am

Hi Carolyn,

Have you seen my new Facebook profile picture? It’s one of me when I was about 2 years old. That was the last time I looked cute! lol
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr February 12, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Hi Mike, Yes, well that is what Julie was talking about when she mentioned using an outdated picture. Truth in advertising, Mike! ;-)
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Bill Dorman
February 12, 2014 at 11:00 am

I think I want to date an inmate. Of course, my wife thinks all the social frivolity is just a guise for people trying to ‘hook-up.’ I suppose it could be if that is what you were looking for; personally, it’s way too out in the open for me if that is what you were trying to do.

Interesting; I’ll pass it on to my son to see if he’s interested. Prob not however; I think it still has a ‘stigma’ for him.

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Carolyn Nicander Mohr February 12, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Hi Bill, Yes, if you want to date an inmate then you have found the way to do it now. I think Julie makes lots of great points, including that people who are serious about wanting to date should go to the sites that have people with similar interests.

I have single friends who swear by dating sites, think they’re the best thing ever, and say that the stigma is long gone. Hey, if you meet the love of your life, who cares how you met, right?
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Priyanka February 12, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Today i really learned something worthy…I am agree with the point that online and face to face dating differs a lot…Thanks for this helpful guide..
Sharing this on facebook so some of my followers could get a valentine on this valentine day..
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr February 12, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Hi Priyanka, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! I’m so glad you found this educational. I learned a lot about online dating from talking to Julie. Thank you so much for sharing this, I hope her helpful tips bring together many couples!
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Julie Spira February 13, 2014 at 2:15 am

Thanks so much for the terrific conversation and interview Carolyn. I’m enjoying reading the comments and hope that singles will have a few takeaways for Valentine’s and beyond…… Julie

Carolyn Nicander Mohr February 13, 2014 at 10:17 am

Hi Julie, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! Your tips and online dating advice will certainly help many people have better success in finding love online. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me about the best way to meet people online. I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!
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Jon Rhodes February 13, 2014 at 10:46 am

Lots of people I know are meeting people on online dating sites. I would think that it is better than meeting people when you both half toasted on alcohol and can’t hear each other speak because of the loud music.

Maybe this is one reason why here in the UK all the bars are beginning to disappear. People are going online instead to meet people.
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr February 13, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Hi Jon, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! Good point about online dating sites being a better venue for meeting people than a bar. But people still need places to go to have their dates and a British pub would probably be a lovely place for a first date.

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Jon.
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Jon Rhodes February 14, 2014 at 2:21 am

I’ve never used dating sites (been in a relationship for 10 ten years), but I believe people chat quite a bit before meeting. By that point you’ll have a good idea of what mutual interests you have, plus whether you’re looking for the same thing. Then a nice British pub lunch would be a great thing Carolyn!
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr February 14, 2014 at 1:03 pm

You’re right, Jon. I liked Julie’s advice about couples chatting on the phone a few times before meeting for a first date. No need to rush to meet in person, you can check for chemistry over the phone. But if things are going well, then soon it will be time to meet in person.

I’m not in the market either, but I did find it fascinating to learn from the expert on cyber-dating how all of this works. It’s funny how some things are very different and some never change.
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February 13, 2014 at 2:20 pm

I wear the hell out of a red dress. ;-)
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr February 13, 2014 at 6:22 pm

I’m sure you do, Jack. Work it! :-bd
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February 14, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Hey Carolyn,

I finally made it by and even though I’m not interested in doing this I was curious. I have been on online dating sites in the past.

One site I ended meeting someone that I now consider a very good friend. It might seem weird but he’s a much older gentleman and we just struck up a conversation. After three months of chatting he finally told me that his daughter passed away several years before and she would have been my age. He was curious to know what women my age were interested in, what we did for fun, etc. I later learned, and you’ll love this, that he use to be the principle at my cousin’s school and he went to church with my aunt and uncle. When I go visit my relatives I always call him and we get together. He’s one of the sweetest men I’ve ever met and the last time I was there I met his lovely wife.

I’ve only dated one guy I met on a dating site and we went out for six months. He was a great guy but he was a race car driver. He so loved what he did that he would get so involved in working on his car and testing it that he oftentimes would totally forget we had a date. I wouldn’t hear from him until maybe two days after the fact. That got really old really quick.

One guy I met for lunch and he had made this big deal about women not putting their real pictures up. You know the kind that have their “thin” selves up online but are actually about 50 pounds heavier then that. When I walked in I didn’t see him. He walks up to me and he’s 50 pounds heavier then his picture. I gave him a piece of my mind and walked out.

I’ve scanned the sites from time to time and I tell ya, they just don’t interest me at all. Not sure how else I would meet anyone when I was ready though so I guess only time will tell.

Thanks for sharing this though, it’s nice to hear from someone who really knows the ins and outs.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Carolyn Nicander Mohr February 15, 2014 at 8:57 am

Hi Adrienne, Thanks for sharing your experiences with online dating sites, both good and bad! How interesting that you made a friend through a dating site. It just shows you never know what you’ll find when you reach out.

Yes, that is one risk with online dating, that people’s profile pictures aren’t accurate. I don’t know what people are thinking, you’re going to see them in person eventually so why misrepresent yourself?

If you ever decide to check out online dating sites again, Adrienne, I hope you find Julie’s tips helpful. Online dating sites seem to be a very efficient way to meet people you have something in common with. I like her idea of joining both a general and a niche site to increase your chances of meeting people.

Have a great weekend, Adrienne!
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jery jhon February 16, 2014 at 10:29 am

Excellent posting :-) Thanks so much for the terrific conversation and interview Carolyn. I’m enjoying reading the comments and hope that singles will have a few takeaways for Valentine’s and beyond


Carolyn Nicander Mohr February 16, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Hi Jery, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! Yes, I hope that singles are able to use Julie’s advice to bring love into their lives even beyond Valentine’s Day.
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