I’ve been loath to write about this subject for a long time, but the time has come. I’m going to come clean and actually admit that I’ve been on an online dating site (or four), and tell you exactly what I think about them. I don’t recommend it, it’s not pretty. But if you’re determined to try it out, I have some helpful insight to share.
Be prepared. Before you even get to look around on an online dating website, you’ll be asked to answer all sorts of questions about yourself. Be prepared, and be careful. This is something you should give some thought to, or else you’ll be stuck with a headline on your profile that reads, “Headline? I have to think of a headline?”
Be brief. Nobody wants to read a lot. Be confident, but not arrogant. Whatever you do, don’t be desperate. Desperation is not sexy. For example, if your handle is “LonelyGuy69” that’s really not the most intriguing introduction of yourself. Figure out what you’re really about, what you’re looking for, and state it as briefly as you can.
But be honest. Same with the deal breakers. Make it clear, but put it nicely. You don’t have to get chatty here. That’s what the email function is for. You only need to get someone’s attention, like an ad in a newspaper. Just state the facts, and if there’s interest, believe me, they’ll ask.
Read between the lines. You can really tell a lot about a person by what they decide to write. Some will write a lot, and go on and on. And on. And some don’t know how to put a sentence together. If this is the kind of person you’re looking for, believe me, they’ll be numerous and easy to spot. Being a writer and a lover of English, I’m rather fond of capitalization and punctuation, not to mention good spelling, so my choices are well … much fewer.
One gentleman got my attention simply by using a word I had to look up in the dictionary. My attention, but not a date.
Leave sex out of it. If you want to attract a quality person, don’t talk about sex. We all know what we’re really looking for, so try a more refreshing approach and be a bit creative. At the very least, just be a real gentleman. Anyone can talk about sex, but good manners and chivalry are tough assets to find these days. Using them will make you stand out, right away.
Have a good, recent photo. The reason you want to keep your comments and description short is because most people are going to look at your photo and make a decision right there. So make sure your photo is a great one, and a recent one. If you aren’t sure if a photo shows you at your best, ask a good friend of the opposite sex to give you their opinion. This is probably not a guide for women so much as for men. But then, I haven’t been looking at women’s profiles.
It’s a bit unbelievable how many men post just one photo of themselves, and it’s a really terrible one. By terrible, I mean it’s far away. Or it’s a bunch of people and hard to tell which is the guy of interest. Or if it is up close, he has a baseball cap and sunglasses on.
Now guys, seriously. Women want to see your face. We want to see your eyes. To have an idea of what you might look like say … on a date. You know, all shiny clean and a nice smile on your face. Yes, it’s nice to see what hobbies you’re into, but add those photos later.
Wear clothes. Oh, and while we’re on the subject, have a friend take your photo. Please, no selfies in front of the computer… and make sure you’re standing up, not in a bathroom, and have a shirt on. Because photos of a bathroom are gross, photos of you lying down mean you couldn’t be bothered to get up and take a proper photo of yourself (i.e. you’re lazy), and a shirtless guy in front of a computer means – well – that you’re going to remain dateless for a long time, since your computer … er, seems to mean an awful lot to you, if you get my drift.
One guy took issue with that, and asked me how a guy is supposed to show he’s in shape. Well believe me when I tell you, we can tell that with all your clothes on. No need to go shirtless. You have to remember that you’re trying to impress women, and not other men at the gym. We’d rather see more photos of you with your family and friends than shots of your car, boat, and snowmobile.
Show your interests. Show me a picture of yourself with your dog, because pets are a great ice breaker, and show that we have something in common. What do you do outside of work? Show me a picture. Do you like to ride your motorcycle, or paddle a kayak? Let’s see you out there doing that. Things like this generate conversations, and that’s what you want, someone to strike up a conversation with you.
Start a conversation, but keep it short. Speaking of conversations, here’s another place to be careful. Generally the chat features should be used to see if there is mutual interest in meeting for coffee or a light lunch. There is only so much personality that can be reflected in text, and much can be assumed – but after five minutes over coffee, you’ll know right away if there’ll be a second date or not.
The reason I tell you this is because I’ve made the mistake of chatting too much over the email feature, and then got a request for a conversation I didn’t want to have. I was a bit surprised by this inquiry, since the conversation up to that point had been very polite, but I’m no free 900 number service, so I flat out refused and told him not to contact me again. Ladies, if a man is not behaving properly via email, you need to call him on it and end it right there.
If you make a date, keep it. A few guys have mentioned to me that they are often stood up for the initial rendezvous. I am not surprised, since it’s a bit of a scary moment and if you’re not used to meeting new people I can see how it would be easy to dump and run. However, if you go into it not thinking you’re going to find your Prince Charming and just take it for what it is, a nice conversation over a cup of coffee, then it’s much less intimidating.
Think of it like a short conversation in an elevator with a stranger. If it’s working, linger. If not, make up a reason to leave, and politely say good afternoon. Don’t take it personally and don’t sweat it, but be good enough to be direct and save the poor guy the frustration of not knowing whether he should call again. After all, he did buy you the coffee.
I have a very young and brave friend who actually scheduled quite a few dates over a two-week period and “test drove” the guys that she met by giving some of them a kiss at the end of the date to see if there was any chemistry. Not my style, but if you think that’s something you want to try, go for it. Chemistry is a very interesting subject, and for me, it’s not so obvious after just one date.
A word about chemistry. Most guys generally think since you showed up and are breathing, this constitutes “chemistry.” You’re a girl, I’m a guy, what more is there to it? But there is a lot more to it, and it might take a few dates to discover that. Sometimes things “click” and well, sometimes they don’t. That doesn’t mean you haven’t made a new friend, it just means there’s no spark. And a relationship needs that spark – it’s not something that you can force. It’s there or it isn’t, so no bad feelings should come from it when one of you states that there’s no chemistry there. Like the saying goes, you may have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. That might be true, but you will never find the frogs unless you take a few walks around the pond. Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet … and have fun!
By the way, if you plan to start looking for my profile online, don’t bother. I decided it was wasn’t my thing. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m kind of fond of meeting people through activities that I enjoy, in the flesh and not over a keypad. I’m funny that way.
What’s the alternative? If you’re thinking that online dating may not be your thing either, I have good news for you. There’s a website out there called MeetUp, at meetup.com. It’s not a dating site, it’s just a site for people to find other people who like to do the same things they like to do. That way you get to meet other people without the pressure of a date.
The Best Part? It’s FREE! Yup, it’s free, and it only takes a moment to set up a simple profile and check off your interests. The website does the rest! You just tell it how far out you want it to look for events and groups that reflect your interests, and you’ll get an email whenever one pops up. And no, they’re not paying me to tell you any of this. I’ve just had it with online dating with all its scammers, liars and false promises, and quite frankly, you deserve better.
Now you have no reason to sit home on Friday nights. Get out there and start having fun! Relax, be yourself, and have a good time. The rest will happen naturally. Promise!