Online dating can be a tough world. You spend hours swiping, finding matches, chatting to people, and potentially facing people rejecting you. It can also be easy to get caught up in fun and end up meeting someone you might not usually meet. This can be one of the big advantages of online dating, but if you aren’t careful, you can lose sight of what you’re looking for in a partner in favor of someone willing to spend some time with you, even if they aren’t necessarily the best person for you. To help preserve your mental health, we’ve put together this list of tips on how to best use online dating websites and apps for your own fun and benefit.

Find a place that suits you.

When most people look to start dating online, they naturally go to the most well-known websites and apps such as Tinder or Bumble. They may also sign up to a dozen different websites to play the ‘numbers game.’ This might make sense if you’re looking to meet someone, as the more people you talk to, the better chance you have of finding someone you click with. However, in reality, it can be tiring trying to manage so many apps and messages at once. With so many apps and websites out there, all catering to different people, we recommend finding one that works for you and sticking with it. If you’re looking for interracial dating, find a website that caters to this. If you’re looking for a long-term relationship rather than a fling, find a website you need to pay for, or that’s advertised for this, rather than apps with people looking for a fling. You can try a few websites and apps to start with, but once you find one that suits you best, stick with it and try to find someone you really connect with.

Know your boundaries.

Meeting lots of new people online can be a fun and rewarding experience, and talking to lots of new people is fun! To stop yourself getting overwhelmed or meeting people that aren’t really a good fit, you need to have a list of deal breakers you can use to screen the people you match with. This means that if someone says something you don’t like or if they have a habit you don’t agree with, then you should think about stopping the chat sooner rather than later. This is particularly true if you wouldn’t accept their behavior in real life, and some people can find it easier to act in ways that aren’t okay online more than if you were to speak to them in person.

Be yourself 150%.

Many people take social media as a chance to only show their ‘highlight reel’ online, and hide certain parts of themselves or exaggerate other parts of their lives. This naturally transfers over to online dating, and it can be tempting to say you like the things you actually don’t when talking to someone you think is attractive or you like. In the long run, though, this won’t work out, and if you do start dating, your real self will come out eventually. Instead, focus on being yourself completely and talk about who you are and what you like without filter. This may screen out more people initially, but when you find someone that likes you for who you are, you’ll be able to form a connection much faster.