A Psychologist on the Power of the First Impression When it Comes to Online Dating

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We all know that first impressions are everything. That’s why, when we’re getting ready to meet someone new, we feel extra pressure to be the best version of ourselves.

This is especially true when it comes to dating. First impressions can really make or break a potential romantic future, and, while some of it is out of our control, it’s important to try and make a good first impression.

While you may think of first impressions as more important in real life, they’re actually equally as important online, with over half (55%) of Australian’s believing that the content of the first message is a deciding factor whether to progress things with a new match.

But how do we make a good first impression online? And why are they actually so important? Relationship expert and psychologist Sharon Draper answers all our burning questions, and gives us tips on how to nail a good first impression.

What Is a First Impression?

“A first impression is your initial perception of another person when interacting with them for the first time. For some, this can evoke a strong negative or positive evaluation. Although we later receive more information on others, it’s often our initial perception that persists.”

Why Are First Impressions So Important?

“Although a person shouldn’t be defined by one mistake or a negative encounter, our brain argues otherwise. We often size up a person within nanoseconds of interacting with them. Be it facial shape, humour, response time, vocal inflection, attractiveness and overall demeanour — we’re wired to make quick judgements on these factors to survive.

“Once these judgements are made, it can be hard to shake them, especially when it relates to your eligibility as a romantic partner and match. A bad first impression can put a stop to a relationship before it can even start, or it can continue to be brought up through a relationship. Whereas a good first impression is more likely to give you an opportunity to build a relationship. So, as you can see, first impressions are significant!”

Can You Recover From a Bad First Impression?

“Although initial perceptions are difficult to change, it’s not impossible to recover from a bad first impression. A second impression can be made; however, it takes persistence over a period of time for it to stick. Unfortunately, not everyone will give you a second chance, so it does depend on the other person’s willingness. I think the most common mistakes singles make after making a bad impression is giving up — if you keep reinforcing who you actually are, it will stick eventually. “

3 Top Tips on How to Nail a Good First Impression Online

Here are Draper’s top three tips on nailing a good first impression online, and giving the relationship the chance to flourish:

  1. Appealing to someone’s humour: humour is often regarded as the most desirable personality trait, but it’s important to do it with tact. For example, be careful not to cross the line between flirty and sleazy.
  2. Replying quickly: Research shows that women actually see a decrease in interest if they wait too long to reply. Research done by eharmony also shows that 85% of Aussies actually believe men shouldn’t be the ones to message first. So ladies, if you’re interested in someone, just go for it.
  3. Taking the initiative: it’s best to ditch traditional notions about ‘who should message first.’ I empower all of my female clients to initiate conversation, rather than waiting for the other person to message.

Important note: when it comes to your online dating profile, make sure you select a range of images of yourself, so that you give potential lovers a three dimensional view of how you look, but also your personality. Try to choose a photo where you’re smiling or laughing, one doing something you love and of course, one that you think highlights you assets. Go get em’, babes!

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