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What to Know About Online Dating From an Expert

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We teamed up with Pepsi Mango to help you celebrate unexpected matches — and embrace surprising pairings in every aspect of your life with a little chispa.

Did most of your friends meet their significant other on a dating app, while you're still struggling to choose a profile pic? Don't worry — pretty much anyone who has spent time swiping, liking, or chatting on a dating app has been there. How do you know which pics are going to grab their attention? What's the best opening line?

To answer all your burning love questions, we asked dating expert and founder of Latinx Love Magazine Sujeiry Gonzalez, also known as Love Sujeiry, all of those questions you're wondering but might be too afraid to ask. Keep reading to find out everything from how to take the ideal photo to knowing when it's the right time to meet IRL — and take your virtual dating game to the next level.

But First, the Profile Pic!

Your profile photo should be a current and solo photo — meaning no photos with groups of friends. You also want something taken with natural light (outside is best), with no added colorful filters. "I also suggest front-facing photos, so they can see your real face," Sujeiry said. "You want your first photo to depict your appearance in the present day. We all have a good side, and it's OK to tilt your head and show off your best features. Just refrain from using filters and angles to hide and manipulate what you look like." Essentially, you want to look like you — especially if you plan on meeting up with people in real life.

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Find a Balance Between Confident and Cocky

For many people, it's not easy to talk about themselves, especially when trying to highlight their best qualities. If you struggle with that, try asking your friends what they love about you. "These descriptors will help ease you into describing yourself," Sujeiry said. "You can also think about your last relationship and how you shone brightly with that partner. What made you a stellar girlfriend [or boyfriend]?"

Keep It Mysterious but Genuine

The goal is to let people know a bit about you, but not too much. Save something for real life! As Sujeiry said, writing your bio is about giving potential matches just a taste of your personality — enough to be interested in connecting with you online. Keep it brief — no need to write an essay.

How do you figure out the right balance between sharing too much right off the bat or not enough for them to get an idea of who you are? The key is being honest rather than thinking about what others are looking for when describing yourself: "Talk about what you love to do and what brings you joy," Sujeiry said. "When we write from a heart-centered space, we are the most genuine, and that energy radiates."

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Remember That Words Matter

You don't have to lean on an online thesaurus to write a good bio. If you have a few key adjectives to start with, an interesting "about me" should be a cinch to write. Some adjectives that Sujeiry recommended are: kind, thoughtful, friendly, confident, communicative, loyal, family-oriented, hard-working, and loving.

She also recommended avoiding adjectives with potentially negative connotations like introverted, talkative, loner, homebody, arrogant, and quiet.

Get to Know Your Match

What kind of questions help to really get to know someone — even before meeting face to face? Sujeiry said it's important to ask your potential matches about their favorite activities and passions. Ask questions like: "What are your hobbies?" or "What is your favorite book, movie, or food?" These can be good ice breakers and also give you information about what you might have in common. But make it personal, too: ask questions about their relationship with their family, how they feel about their career, or what would be their dream job.

Leave the Past For Later

"Ex talk is a no-no!" Sujeiry said. She also recommended avoiding questions that can feel accusatory and confrontational, like: "Have you ever cheated?", "Why don't you have kids?", or "Why aren't you married?"

She advised getting to know them a little more before asking, for example, what they want for the long-term. "However, you can share what you are seeking and why you are online," she said.

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Premeet Before Meeting

Some people would rather meet someone right away to make sure they are who they say they are and look like their profile photos, while others prefer to text and talk for weeks to get to know their match's personality better before having a date.

"Not sure where you fall? I suggest asking them on a video date after chatting for a couple of days," Sujeiry said. "That way, you know they look like their photos and can feel out if you have a connection in person. It will save you the trouble of getting dressed up for a catfish or wasting your time with someone that you have no chemistry with IRL."

Choose Your Arena Wisely

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If you feel comfortable meeting in person, choosing the right spot can make a difference. "Choose locales that are familiar to you but not those that you visit too often," Sujeiry said. "You don't want to constantly bump into your awful date because they are now a regular at your favorite place."

If you're feeling more adventurous than the usual drinks and walk combo or want to surprise your date with an unexpected plan, you can always try an activity date. These kinds of dates are great if you're terrified of an awkward silence or sitting across from each other at an intimate dinner. Here, you can do something together, like a paint-and-sip class, play pool, or bowl a few rounds. "These kind of outings show a lot about your personality," Sujeiry said.

Can a place be too romantic? Yes! She also recommends staying away from places that are too intimate, too loud to have a conversation, or somewhere overly isolated.

Safety First

Always tell your friends where you are going, and be as specific as you can. "Text them the address, and let them know when you arrive via group chat," said Sujeiry. "Ask them to text you at a specific time and excuse yourself to the bathroom, so you can accept the text or call without seeming rude." That will not only let your friends know that you're safe but can also help you get out of a bad or boring date with ease.

Don't be Afraid to Confirm Ahead of Time

Though it's beyond rude, people may ghost their dates for many reasons, and it's hard to tell why someone doesn't show up on a date. To try and get ahead of this issue, Sujeiry said you shouldn't hesitate to confirm the date in advance — even a few times.

"When you have a date planned, confirm the date a few times before meeting," Sujeiry said. "The night before, the morning of, or even safer, before heading out to your date. A quick 'on my way!' is a good test. If they don't reply the morning of and especially when you're on your way to meet them, you may be getting ghosted." Hopefully, if you've come this far, you're at least in for a real date, even if they don't end up being the one.

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