The world of online dating offers plenty of opportunities to meet someone special. Wading through the sheer number of prospective dates can be a little daunting, however – and you need to make sure that you stand out in the sea of profiles.

To succeed at online dating, you’ll need to bring a healthy dose of patience and learn how to avoid common pitfalls. Though it takes quite a few dates and some initial effort to get started, you could find a lasting relationship that changes your life. Here’s how to achieve success at online dating.

Common Profile Mistakes to Avoid

Although your dating profile doesn’t need to be as professional as a resume, it’s good to follow a few basic tips. First, use correct spelling and grammar. Slang and abbreviations make your profile look messy and juvenile. Don’t go too far in the other direction either, however; using flowery or pretentious language will make you seem narcissistic. And always make sure to proofread your profile multiple times, or ask a friend to do so.

It’s also important to choose each word you use carefully. Flooding your profile with adjectives might seem smart, but simply telling people you’re adventurous won’t give potential dates the information they need to decide if you’re a good fit for them. Instead, talk about how you enjoy mountain climbing or kayaking rapids. Try to catch the reader’s interest with a profile that goes beyond the typical basic details. A profile with specific information is more memorable than a list of common traits.

Finally, positivity can make a big difference in your profile. Instead of focusing on the types of people you don’t want to date, talk about the types of people you’d like to meet. Demonstrating positivity and optimism helps potential dates to see you as a positive person. Bitterly listing traits that you don’t like, on the other hand, encourages profile viewers to disqualify themselves from dating you.

Choose a Profile Picture Wisely

Profile pictures are the first impression you present to potential dates online. In many cases, it’s not about how attractive you are; rather, you want to give anyone who views your profile an accurate visualization of who you are as a person. You want to highlight your best features while capturing a realistic, honest photo.

For example, using filters or old pictures makes it difficult for anyone to get a sense of how you really look. Group photos and poorly taken selfies can also give the wrong impression. Instead, choose pictures that show you looking natural and enjoying life. A picture of you playing music or walking your dog conveys some personality and interests in a single glance.

Reach Out Instead of Waiting

You have two options when it comes to online dating: wait for potential dates to come to you or actively seek them out. If you’re confident your profile is appealing or are just too busy to do any legwork, the first option might work for you. However, putting effort in on your end will help you find potential dates faster and more efficiently. Looking for people to meet is also a fun way to spend a few minutes each evening. Take the time to browse others’ profiles every so often to increase your chances of a match.

Avoid Pursuing Too Many Options at Once

Unless you have hours of free time to devote to reading dating profiles, you need to narrow your search to improve your success. Take the time to carefully read every profile that intrigues you; skimming won’t give you a good impression of the profile and may lead to awkward conversations if you choose to pursue that individual. And don’t be afraid to say no to matches that aren’t a good fit. Despite good intentions, some initial conversations with prospective dates just don’t work out. Ending the conversation and moving on spares both of you from investing time into something that wasn’t going to progress.

Expect a Realistic Timeline

Finding your soulmate doesn’t happen in an instant; establishing a long-lasting relationship takes time and work. Although no two relationships are the same, it’s important to prepare yourself for a realistic timeline. Taking it slow is smart in a new relationship. Talking about marriage or combining finances after just a handful of dates is premature. However, meeting your date’s friends and staying over for a weekend is common after a few dates.

Cultivate Communication

Communication is essential during all stages of a relationship, but it’s especially important when you’ve only known your new partner for a short while. Checking in with each other can ensure you’re both on the same page. When an issue arises, remember it’s best to address the issue directly with your partner. Setting realistic expectations can help you avoid frustration and allow you to judge your new relationship on its own merits.

Even more importantly, communication is crucial if you meet someone from another region — or another country. When you turn to online dating, you won’t be meeting solely people from the U.S. on a U.S. based app or website, for example. People from all over the world try the same online dating sites because they work! You could match with someone in India, Mexico, Canada, or the Philippines; the most popular U.S. dating sites are known internationally for making matches between people around the world.

And if you form a connection with someone from another country, communicating regularly and discussing your hopes, goals, and personalities is key to making the relationship last. Long distance relationships are built on strong communication. A common mistake is not being open, honest, and available when communicating with someone both near and far to your hometown when dating online.

Remember, plenty of people have had success, lasting relationships based on online dating. It opens up an entirely new world of potential connections – and it’s easy to get started.

Like anything, it’s always a good idea to be aware of the latest research. We recommend comparing at least 3 or 4 options before making a final decision. Doing a search online is typically the quickest, most thorough way to discover all the pros and cons you need to keep in mind.