Karen Sommerfeld, 51

Writer in Greensboro

Looking for: Men

Favorite apps: OKCupid and Bumble

One thing I like about online dating is it’s so efficient. You can be trolling for men while cleaning your oven — your profile is out there all the time, so it’s like you’ve actually left the house!

I have never cleaned my oven.

Having been on these sites on and off for five years now, there are a few things I enjoy about the men online, and some I don’t.

  1. Do actually provide detail in your profile. “Want to know, just ask” is so off-putting. We’re on a dating site. That implies that we’re asking about you. Just tell a little about what you like to do on weekends or what’s important to you in this world so I can get a handle on whether I can handle you.

2. Go ahead and have a little personality in your photos. It’s always a selling point with me. I beg you, no bathroom mirror or front seat of your car shots. Or the gym selfie. Just don’t.

3. When you write me, a reference to my profile to show you’ve read it goes a long way.

4. When you write me, a reference to sex goes a long way… towards me never, ever giving you a chance.

5. Whenever you write that you’re looking for a woman who “takes care of herself,” I assume you mean desperately perfect and I will never write you.

Emil Eichelberger, 25

Social worker in Winston-Salem

Looking for: Open

Favorite apps: Tinder and OkCupid

Being trans and dating apps/sites don’t always go hand-in-hand simply because (up until recently) a lot dating apps hadn’t taken into consideration the vast number of genders and sexualities that exist in the world. I have had both positive and negative experiences being trans and trying to navigate online dating.

If I could pass along advice to anyone who is not trans but is also not closed off the idea of meeting trans folks via dating apps, it would be the following:

  1. Don’t assume. Making assumptions about a person’s gender or sexuality can kill a conversation quick.

2. There is a fine line between curiosity and rudeness. Before proceeding, if you’re not sure, ask yourself, “Would I ever ask someone who is not trans this question?”

3. Be respectful. Asking simple questions such as, “What pronouns do you use?” is a good place to start.

4. It’s okay to want to learn, but not every trans person on a dating site or app is there to be an educator.

5. Finally, and above all else, keep an open mind.

Neferte King, 24

Writer, Greensboro

Looking for: Men

Favorite app: OkCupid

I’ve been online dating for about three months now. At a bar, sometimes it’s just awkward trying to strike up a conversation with a stranger that you’re attracted to. Then you catch yourself playing eye games with them to see if they’re mutually interested.

Online dating gives me buffer time to think about how to approach someone and an idea of the type of person they might be based off of their profile. I’ve met some studs, some duds and some studs that turned out to be beautifully packaged duds. Even though my biggest challenge has been weeding through guys and their intentions, I have had an easier time finding potential dates. Sometimes it can be just as frustrating as dating in the real world, but it can also be weirdly entertaining.

Here are some tips:

  1. Be engaging. Act like you’re interested. Ask me questions about myself, answer the questions I ask you, and try to find common ground between us. Give me something to respond to without it all being about you.

2. Stop calling women “beautiful” or “sexy.” Be polite. Ask me what my name is and call me that instead of corny pet names. Do not start a conversation with, “Hey sexy, how are you?” And if we’re of different races do not ask me to be your “(insert ethnicity) Queen.” Being excessively flirty is tacky and annoying.

3. Use an unconventional opening line to make it fun. Instead of the usual “hello,” say something quirky! Or ask a curious question. It’ll break the ice and I’ll be more willing to let me guard down and talk.

4. Do not ask for more pictures. If I already have a few pictures on my profile and they’re all visibly clear, do not ask me for more pictures. Try to get to know me first, and be patient. Maybe we’ll meet in person one day.

5. If you land a date, don’t be late. You’ve been talking to a chick for a couple of weeks and now you figure you should meet face to face. Awesome. Just don’t be late. Furthermore, look and smell clean. Make sure your hair and beard are neat. First impressions are important.

LaBorris Poole, 26

Banker in Greensboro

Searching for: Women

Favorite App: Plenty Of Fish

I’ve had my share of good and bad experiences with online dating. Not really bad experiences such as being on an episode of “Catfish” (thank God) or being bamboozled out of money. So maybe the word “bad” isn’t a good word for it. More like annoying or frustrating. Yeah, those words fit better. So personally, here are five tips I suggest to women for online dating.

  1. Having an attractive profile picture of yourself is great… but can it be of only you? I’ve stumbled across many profiles with group pictures. Multiple pictures. Which one are you? Doing that could mean that you’re not only advertising yourself — but also your friends — on your profile.

2. Engage in conversation, especially if we match. I hate forcing a conversation because I’m the only one asking questions, actually trying to get to know you a little better. Communication is key for any type of relationship. Show me you’re just as interested in me as I am in you.

3. Keep it real. I say this because you shouldn’t feel forced to respond to every message a guy sends you. It’s okay to not be interested in a guy, and it’s also okay to tell him that. Politely tell the guy that. If he still insists on bombarding you with messages, make the “Block” button your best friend.

4. Please, please use correct grammar. I’m not saying you need to use APA or MLA format while typing, but hey, we are all grown here. Misspelling words and abbreviations is so elementary. $pellin w0RdS lyke dis iis veryy [email protected]’ n a HugE TURNOFF! (See?)

5. Have fun! Enjoy it; meet new people. There’s nothing wrong with casual dating. Don’t take it too seriously or for a joke. Weigh out the pros and cons. Most importantly, be patient.

Rakeem Person, 27

Founder of OnlyOneVoice, a consulting service for writers and performers Searching for: men (but he’s in a relationship now)

Favorite app: Jack’d

I’ve been online dating for about six years. Sometimes they became long-term relationships or a short series of emotional roller coasters. I was never big on random hookups with people I had no intention of dating. Nine times out of 10 there was the glimmer of possibility for a real relationship. The problem was always around communication; being both open to honesty and actually telling me the real, instead of forcing me to draw conclusions based on a series of questionable events. I’ve been in a beautiful relationship for over three years now, and we met on Instagram. I was just looking for a friend and I got an excellent one, plus so much more.

  1. Stop asking if I want to chill, dude. I know what that means. And you do, too. Say what you really mean or have a good day.

2. Compliments are nice, but in excess it just begins to feel a little desperate, especially if there is no real conversation between the “You have sexy lips” vomits.

3. Exchange numbers only if you have had a real connection with the cutie that caught your eye.

4. If you’re just looking for a hook up, be honest. I’ll figure it out anyway. You aren’t as clever as you think.

5. Once you have my number, and the chemistry is sparking, go ahead and ask me on a date. Something simple. Yogurt bar. Coffee. Park. Any place you can actually get to know someone.

Molly McGinn is a writer and musician in Greensboro. She’s 42. Her favorite dating app is Bumble.

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