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5 Crucial Online Dating Pointers

By Andrea McGinty October 09, 2023 Dating

I’ve seen so many intelligent singles make simple errors that hamper their chances with online dating. Before you say, “Online dating does not work,” (it does) or “It will not work for me,” (why not?) or “My friends tell me horror stories,” (believe me, they are doing something wrong – it’s them, not the app/site), here are some things to think about:

An Error-Free Profile

When you create your app profile, make sure it is grammatically perfect with no mistakes. Yes, people read these, and if they see you using “there” and “their” wrong, they very well may skip right over you. My recommendation: Write it in a word document first. Then run spell check it.

A Unique Profile

Short and sweet is what you’re aiming for. No one wants to read a long monologue. Yesterday, working with a client, we saw an attractive, accomplished man who used two paragraphs to describe how wonderful his wife had been. He listed all her amazing traits. However, she had passed away 5 years ago, and while we felt for this man, he was obviously not ready to date. He probably wonders why he is not getting any responses!

We bumped into this profile also that I thought was succinctly and cleverly written by a man:

“YES: vanilla, rosemary, Buenos Aires, humility, Barnes & Noble browsing, bourbon, cilantro, dogs, generosity, bikes, empathy, skates, skis, boats.

NO: beets, videoconference dates, whining about online dating apps, Red Wings, selfishness, arrogance, snakes.

I can’t grow a bougainvillea to save myself. It grows like a weed here and I can’t keep it alive for 10 days.”

Ok, there was a bit more to his profile but he clearly and with humor got across his likes and dislikes. Of course, I had my client message this man!


If I hear one more woman tell me the man should reach out first, I’ll lose it! No, no, no, is my emphatic answer. Men love when you make the first move. Men love when you are not afraid to reach out first. In fact, they are bummed if they have to do all the first-time messaging all the time. Almost as bad is when they receive a like/heart/wink with no message.

This is the area where many singles fail. If they do send a message, it can be one of two big mistakes:

  1. It’s a short generic message.
  2. It’s a 3-paragraph novella where you get cross-eyed by the end with way too much information. Just like a long profile, nobody reads long messages.

This is my favorite area to coach clients on! Here’s how it goes: We are on the site/app together, and for the first few weeks of coaching, I type the message, then read it to my client before hitting send. Sometimes I hear a sharp intake of breath followed by “What? Are we really sending this?” Yes, and I explain why!

Most of my clients quickly get the hang of it, though I do wake up to a few texts each morning with screen shots saying, “Help, how should I respond to this person,” which I must admit, I love crafting messages that get responses!

The Phone Thing

Pre-date, why do you need to chat on the phone? Here are the issues with that:

  1. A 45–60-minute call gets people all excited. They have deduced they have so much in common with the other person, and their first date expectations have risen astronomically. Very few dates can measure up now.
  2. A short, awkward call and no date ensues. This is a bummer because the other person may just not be good on the phone – perhaps a bit reserved, shy, etc. This could have been the right person for you!

The only time I encourage a phone call is if there is significant distance. Let’s say you live in Los Angeles and he lives in Laguna Beach. The traffic is rough! Then I encourage a 10-minute call first. Here’s how I recommend that you phrase it in a message: “I’m totally interested in meeting you. Let’s do a 10-minute chat to see if we’d like to meet in person. My number is XXX.”

This way, we have put in place two boundaries: the call will be 10 minutes and the reason for the call is an in-person date.

You live within 20 minutes of each other. Go on the date. It’s coffee or a drink. It’s an hour. Let’s stop with all these time-wasting phone chats. You would be surprised, but people do complain about meeting someone for a short date. Why? The response I get is, “I have to get dressed.” Well, get dressed and go!

Your Photos

Nobody – yes, nobody – goes to your profile first. Photos make or break you.

If you are serious about online dating and going on good dates or perhaps beginning a relationship, 5-6 great photos are a necessity. And by that I do not mean filtered, air brushed, highly edited photos. I just mean you at your very best. And current – as in from the past year. And what you will look like when you show up on your date.

I vet client photos. In my experience, about 50% of my clients already have online-ready photos. The other 50% I recommend they go to photo service that is reasonable, takes two hours, and they turn around the photos to us within 48 hours.

And the type of photos? After your Zoom call with me, I give you a photo shot list. And it’s not your LinkedIn or fancy, boring in-studio poses. It’s you – in action! What do you enjoy? That’s what we need captured in photos. I had an NYC Wall Street type juggling as he enjoys it. Plus, he bowls. (It seems no one bowls and that grabbed a bit of attention). Not the stereotypical private equity guy, right?

I hope this helps you a bit on your search to a great next date.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Where do you need help with online dating? Do you think online dating will work for you? If not, why not? What do you write when you initiate a message to men?

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I have been on and off online dating for at least 10 years (after becoming a widow). I get plenty of attention through my photos and wonderful comments about my profile. My problem is, that all I seem to attract are the wrong men: ones that look old, don’t take care of themselves, etc.. I’m at a loss as I love being in a loving relationship but the frustration is overwhelming. help


Hi Pamela—I feel your frustration and many people come to me frustrated and discouraged. I’m thinking it’s either the wrong site or the type of messaging you are doing. When I work with a client, we ignore the likes and I put in algorithms and search filters so we identify the right types of men you are looking for. Then we reach out—-over 60% of my clients are in relationships so I am a big believer in online dating—done right. Perhaps you can book a free 15-minute call with me and we can chat about what you’ve been doing and a better strategy. My widows have had much success. You can sign up at I’d love to help! Warmly, Andrea McGinty


After reading this, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s too time- and labor-intensive at this point in my life. It would be fun to have someone to ski, hike and kayak with. However, I work up to 50 hours per week, and take care of family members 3 hours away on my days off. I don’t have the time or energy for online dating.


Felicia—don’t give up on love. My average client tells me I take 80% of the online work off them and actually make it fun. Yes, I said fun. Hard to believe right? You have a super busy schedule—but i work with clients like you. I have one woman that works 50-60 hours per week plus cares for her mother with severe dementia. She is now having fun dating and met someone she likes. It had relieved the pressure in her professional life and caretaking life to have some fun. Just a thought. Warmly, Andrea

Holly Schmitz

I’ve been doing online dating for 3 1/2 years and had some wonderful experiences and some heartbreak. I’m not sure what to say to guys who are interested in me after our first meeting — but I’m not interested in them. It’s important to me that a man is in shape and active because I am. I want a playmate to do water sports, tennis, dancing, and much more. I know I’ll never meet a guy who does all of this but an out-if-shape, uninteresting, inactive guy is just not appealing to me. Also, I’m 76 and look younger. The fact is that there aren’t many single guys out there who have my energy and look somewhat attractive. Many younger guys who I’ve met on my own are interested in me though the age thing is a problem. I try not to bring up age too soon. When doing online dating the age is known immediately. It would be much better if we didn’t have to state our age — but just put the age range of men we’re interested in, and vice versa.

Back to my original question — how to kindly tell a guy that I’m not interested in continuing to date after our first meeting. Recently I met a man who is very nice BUT 30 lbs. overweight, inactive because of bad knees, inactive, etc. I can certainly his problems because I’ve had several knee surgeries, including a total knee replacement. I stay in shape and keep my weight under control by always weighing myself and not letting myself gain more than a few lbs. before cutting back. If the man isn’t at all appealing to me I don’t see how I can lead him on and continue to see him. I’m very kind and don’t want to hurt them. What are some suggestions?

Sue Legree

Tell him “be what you want to date” simple.


Holly—there are active, in shape and health-conscious men in your age group—I know—I work with them! Where do you live? Also, I’m happy you are kind—the best is a text message saying something like “I’ve enjoyed meeting you but don’t feel we are a match. I wish you the very best”. You can’t date someone when you don’t have basic activities in common and you are vibrant and active—-and You need to say that in your online profile to weed out these type of men. Plus use the algorithms on the site—that’s what I use for my clients and over 60% are in relationship which makes them happy—-and me happy. I’d recommend a 15-minute free call with me—sign up at
Look forward to chatting with you—Warmly, Andrea

The Author

Andrea McGinty is the founder of It’s Just Lunch dating service. She sold it and founded so she could help singles navigating online dating. In the 2020s, she knows the best way to meet people is through online dating using a professional coach and specializes in singles in their 50s-70s!

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