If you're not feeling confident in the online dating department, experts from EliteSingles are here to help.
Just in time for Valentine's Day, dating website EliteSingles has unveiled it's 2017 report on USA dating habits. And there's some good news for single parents. The company's research shows that it's users are four times more likely to secure a date if they put photos of their kids on their dating profile, especially if dating after a divorce or following the end of a long- term relationship.
Here are a five other tidbits the site uncovered for all the solo mamas and papas out there looking for love:
1. A picture is worth a thousand dates.
No surprise here: EliteSingles found that the profile picture is one of the most important factors when looking for a potential match. "If you are serious about finding a meaningful relationship online, the one thing you can do is invest in some good quality photos that capture you (in perfect focus) looking like you, but you on a really good day," explained dating photographer Saskia Nelson. In addition to honestly depicting your current situation and lifestyle—hello, kiddos!—Saskia suggests bringing your personality to life through your photos via your clothes, locations, and the use of props.
2. Spelling counts.
Even in the age of TTYL and LOL, a quarter of the respondents said spelling mistakes and bad grammar in profiles are a complete turnoff, and 1 in 3 found spelling mistakes in private messages even worse. While 90 percent said they'd be too polite to point out a mistake to a potential suitor, they also admitted they wouldn't write back. Moral of the story? Spellcheck, spellcheck, spellcheck! And please remember to make each of your messages personal—half of the daters surveyed said they can easily spot a generic copy-and-paste.
3. Talk the talk.
Get this: While 1 in 4 respondents said awkward conversation was a deal-breaker, 82 percent admitted they don't know what to say on a first date, and 84 percent said they don't have a go-to convo starter prepared ahead of time. Yikes! Relationship expert Hilary Silver offers the following advice: For starters, slow down. "Don't be in a rush to avoid a lull in conversation so much so that you just fire off questions," she explained. "Give time for answers." Also, try to keep things equal. "If you've been speaking for a while, make sure to notice and turn the conversation back on the listener," Silver added. "Be genuinely curious about the person across from you and this will happen with ease."
- RELATED: The Single Parent's Guide to Dating
4. Dress for success.
We know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but nevertheless, 83 percent of the daters surveyed said wearing a good outfit is an important step toward making a positive first impression. According to Lauren Dimet Waters, co-founder of FountainOf30.com, that means saying no to too much makeup, revealing outfits, and wrinkled clothes. That's right—42 percent of EliteSingle's users said un-ironed or dirty clothes on a first date mean there's not gonna be a second one. Which means it's time to bust out that iron—you know, if you can find it!
5. Lose the phone.
We know you want to keep in touch with your kiddos when you're away from home, but checking a cellphone during a first date turned out to be one of the biggest deal-breakers. In fact, 30 percent of EliteSingles said it would completely end the date. According to etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore, there are three situations (other than real emergencies) when it's OK to whip out your cell on a date: To take a photo together, to show your date pics of your kids, or to find the answer to a trivia question that comes under discussion.
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Of course, we'd add taking a call from your kid to that list, in which case Whitmore advises you to alert your date ahead of time if possible, then politely excuse yourself. "If you do take the call at the dinner table," she says, "keep it as brief as possible and avoid 'cell yell.'" Instead, use your regular conversational tone, and when you're finished, silence that phone and stash it ASAP so you can focus on the person in front of you.
Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and mom of two who writes about parenting and pop culture. Check out her website holleeactmanbecker.com for more, and then follow her on Instagram and Twitter.