Love at First Swipe: We Talk Digital Dating and Valentine’s Day with Celebrity Matchmaker Carmelia Ray

These days, almost everything can be done online so it’s no surprise dating has reached the digital world. With 36% of Canadians using online dating and 20% of current committed relationships beginning online, digital dating is becoming just as common as meeting at a coffee shop or missing a step on the sidewalk and comedically falling right into the arms of the tall, dark and handsome stranger who just happened to catch you in the nick of time (thanks Hollywood). It seems there’s always a new dating app that makes its way out of the romance factory designed to ensure users are finding true love. Not to mention the endless –and extremely adorable– social media romances such as the #WeMetOnTwitter hashtag and the #StartedFromTheDMs saga. Online dating is a thing and it’s not going anywhere but how does it work exactly? Which apps really do ensure the best love-related results and how does one find their prince in shining Armani when the Internet is so vast and endless?! (Asking for a friend). Thankfully, one woman knows much more than we do and she was super willing to dish all the details on digital dating. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we caught up with celebrity matchmaker and dating coach, Carmelia Ray to discuss all things online dating as well as some dating tips for the upcoming official day of romance. Read on below to see what she has to say about becoming more matchable and how to tackle Valentine’s Day as a single.

Online dating is so major right now. Meeting organically is becoming quite rare. So what are the best apps for finding that special someone?

Well, there is one app that did win Dating App of the Year at the iDate awards in Miami –where I won Best Dating Coach 2018 woo, woo!– it’s called The League. The League launched in Toronto quite recently. I actually signed up quite recently to check out their singles and what I’ve been finding is that the information about their singles are really detailed. Their info is pulled from Linkedin so you get their education, their title, where they work. There’s complete transparency. The criteria they’re basing The League on is education and profession on top of visual appeal. They also have events users can go to. The League is concerned about true compatibility from a social, economic and educational standpoint which is why it’s the best dating app right now. Second, of course –which is always going to be the OG of online dating platforms– is has been around forever. Match has actually launched a new feature called ‘Match Stories’. So now users can create a story with photos or videos like on Instagram which helps in authenticating. You can’t be a bot with a story! So The League as an app and as your typical dating site are my top 2 for online dating.

Even though it is so common, people are still a little embarrassed when discussing how they met online. How do you suggest couples tackle that?

It’s really all a matter of personal preference or choice. A stigma only exists when you believe in it. How you met this person doesn’t matter. The fact that you met the person is what’s important. Imagine if you stood for how you met because there are always going to be other people who have doubts about the process. If you meet a wonderful person on Tinder —or whatever app— that could really create a lot of hope for other people that are wondering about whether online dating really works or not. People just need to get real with themselves. This is the way people are meeting now. There is no embarrassment in meeting the love of your life.

Now, I heard online dating is at its peak around this time. Why is that?

This is a fact! From December 26th through to February 14th, is peak time for online dating. It’s because people just got over the holidays. They were single and they were surrounded by family and the “man, I want to have that” feeling is even more glaring and in your face. Anyone who is single and wants to be in a relationship feels the impact most during the holidays because that’s when family, couples and gifting are really in your face. New Year is also a great time because it’s reset time. Everyone’s thinking about goal setting and resolutions and the two biggest resolutions for most people are relationships and weight loss. Then there’s the month of love coming up, Valentine’s Day. If you weren’t feeling it already during the holidays, February comes around and now you’re really thinking relationships.

So let’s talk online profiles. How does one put forth their best self online? How do we become more matchable? 

Image is everything. You just can’t get away from physical judgement. The first thing that people look at is first impression. From head to toe everything speaks volumes. If you want to get ahead in the online dating world, images are the number 1 thing. With the majority of Millennials using their smartphones to download dating apps, a cell phone with a great camera is essential for taking a gorgeous selfie pic. It’s best taken it in natural lighting where you control your most flattering angles. I’m personally in love with my Huawei P10 camera with an engineered camera by Leica. My MUA refers to her P10 as, “The Channel” of selfie cams. It’s literally the equivalent of having a portrait studio in your purse. Not only does it take stunning photos, the technology is super fast, has great battery life, and turns your digital dating game to level 2.0! Be ready to snap yourself in action doing your favourite things. Postings pics of you doing something you love increases your attraction factor, and makes you seem so much more interesting! Second is a great username. A great username is super important. You can’t have something like ‘sad and lonely on a Saturday night’. People do that and they want to play the sympathy card but that’s not attractive. So you really need to have great photos –don’t hide behind hats or sunglasses– and a username that doesn’t scare people away.

What are some major red flags we should avoid when online dating?

There are a lot of red flags actually but a big red flag would be a single photo. This is synonymous to a scammer account. Usually if the one single photo is a model-esque type photo but there are no other photos it’s a red flag. Another thing to be weary of is when someone doesn’t write anything about themselves and then they say “ask”. Two things could be happening here, either this person is lazy and they just got on to see what’s up or they could be somebody that’s in a relationship or hiding something. Another would be when someone sees your profile and they start to instantly profess their love for you. On first interaction if someone says “you’re the love of my life”, “I love you and I want to be with you” etc, these are also signs of a romance scam. Other things include responses in an untimely manner and overly neediness.

Circling back to dating apps. Bumble is a really big one right now and it encourages women to shoot their shot. I know there are a lot of women that find that a little intimidating. Do you have any advice for the women making the first move?

If you find it intimidating you may not want to be on Bumble [laughs]. My advice to women who are afraid to make the first move is this, you’ll be missing out if you don’t because there are a lot of other women who are not. If you’re considering dating in some way as a competition, how can you compete when you’re sitting on the bench? You need to get in the game and if part of the game is expressing interest, then you have to go for it. There’s a big difference in how you communicate and express interest. If you stand out as intelligent and genuinely intrigued by a profile, versus coming on really strong and aggressive, you are going to receive better results and all of this can come through coaching so I would say work with a coach.

So say we’ve done all these things. Our profile is booming and we’ve secured the date but the economy sucks! What are some budget-friendly dates that will impress for less?

 For the creative and artistic people, you can always go to the ROM where you could each pay for your entry. In Toronto we have lots of galleries, Ripley’s Aquarium, the CN Tower, catch a baseball game. A really cool thing would be to reference what events are currently going on. There’s always something happening in the city, a lot of which you can see for free. Just walking around enjoying the scenery. Another would be game nights. Cafes like Snakes & Lattes are super inexpensive. For the more competitive people, why not try an escape room? A cool source is to check out Groupon. Groupon has a ton of really cool recommendations that are a third of the original price.

What are some first date tips? How do we keep our cool and ensure we lock them in for a second date?

 First dates, no matter what, can be very nerve wracking. It sounds very cliché but practice makes perfect. If you’re only going on one date a year it’s always going to be very hard. The more dates you go on the better you get at communicating. You can also get involved in more social networking and more activities. And plan well! Make sure you have time for your date. You’re not squeezing it in after work but before a big event, things like that. Try to think about what you want to talk about and the questions you want to ask beforehand. Do a little bit of research about the person so you have things to talk about. Also, meditate, dance, workout before the date. You have to do things that relieve your stress so it makes the stress of dating less stressful.

What about the people who have just gotten out of really long and/or serious relationships and they want to get back in the game? What advice do you have for them?

 Everyone has a different level of readiness and being sure you’re ready is super important. You don’t want to go into dating carrying all the weight of your past relationship. You have to do a lot of work to ensure you’re not looking at a new person like your ex. So making sure you’ve given yourself time and also knowing what you’re looking for rather than going into it blindly. When you fail to plan you plan to fail so figure all of that out before you start dating is my biggest tip.

Now, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and a lot of us will still be kicking it solo. How do you do Valentine’s Day as a single?

You can be your own Valentine! Take that day and pamper yourself. Use that day as a self love day and take yourself out. Make plans for yourself doing all the things you love. If you don’t want to kick it solo, go hang out with a BFF or visit family. Do whatever makes you happy and puts you in a space where you’re not focused on being single. If you want to use the day to change your single status, this is the perfect opportunity to go to a single’s event and do something out of the box that will challenge you to get out there.

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Courtesy of Carmelia Ray