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SXSW Interactive: Digital dating


by April Kinser 15 Mar 2009

There’s no doubt the digital world has transformed how we form relationships with other people. More people are meeting online and building lasting partnerships. Others, however, haven’t quite grasped how to make it work for them. Ryan McMinn was one of those who struggled after ending a six-year relationship a few years ago. At a […]

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Digital dating guru, Ryan McMinn. Photo courtesy of SXSW.

Digital dating pro, Ryan McMinn. Photo courtesy of SXSW.

There’s no doubt the digital world has transformed how we form relationships with other people. More people are meeting online and building lasting partnerships. Others, however, haven’t quite grasped how to make it work for them.

Ryan McMinn was one of those who struggled after ending a six-year relationship a few years ago. At a recent panel discussion, titled “Brave New Dating,” McMinn of Microsoft opened up the conversation about forming relationships online. And people had plenty of horror stories and online dating advice to share. Here are the top five pieces of advice from McMinn and others who joined the conversation.

1. First impressions: If you’re looking for a serious relationship, don’t put the photo of you doing a keg stand at your buddy’s party as your profile picture. “Always have your friends pick the photo for you,” McMinn said. “They’ll pick the photo that’s a more honest representation of who you are.”

2. The beginning stages: Meeting a person on Facebook or other social networking site can be a great thing. Reading a person’s blog posts, movie interests and seeing what their friends are saying about them is like cramming six months of dating into two weeks. The flip side? You tend to manifest a close relationship in your head that isn’t actually there yet. “Like a long distance relationship, it amplifies things,” McMinn said. “You start thinking you have a relationship, but it’s not real at that point.”

3. No spam please: Guys, this one’s directed at you. Nothing is more annoying than having a “Hey what’s up, hotness?” posting on your MySpace page from some guy you’ve never met before. Even more annoying? Finding out from six of your girlfriends the creep posted the same exact message on their pages, too. “I guess they think the laws of averages will play to their benefit,” McMinn said. Bottom line: People hate email spam. It’s no different in the dating world.

4. Breaking up is hard to do: We all want to try and make the “Let’s just be friends” scenario work when you break up with someone. But with Web sites like Facebook, it becomes extremely difficult. When an ex posts status updates about tropical vacations with her new boyfriend, it’s not the healthiest way to move on from the relationship, McMinn said. “You may just have to delete them as a friend,” he said.

5. Just be honest: When it comes down to it, just be honest about who you are as a person from the beginning. And if you lie, you’re more likely to get caught in the online dating world. For example, if you lie to a potential love interest about being out of town for the weekend, they’ll find out when they see photos of you on Facebook partying at a mutual friend’s house. “You’re forced to be more honest in online dating, anyway,” McMinn said. “So why not be honest from the beginning?”

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  • Interesting take – now that the internet leads to many more real-life friendships/relationships than it used to, I wonder if we’ll see a decrease in “internet bravado” in online personas. Does this comment count? Does that include me?