Online dating sucks. You know it, I know, everyone knows it. But what was once the haven of anti-social weirdos and agoraphobes who still wanted to get laid has now become de rigeur for dating in the 21st century.
Millions of people flock to sites like eHarmony, Plenty Of Fish, and OKCupid to find love and connection (and booty) in today’s fast-paced world. But like dating IRL, meeting that special someone on the Internet can be a tremendous pain in the ass, especially since most people are as lousy at online dating as they are the real thing.
So for the online-dating impaired, may I present a few tips on how to turn your dating profile from pathetic to profound, and discover a few things about yourself along the way.
Too many selfies equals not enough friends.
|As seen on OKCupid. If I wanted head shots, I'd go to the county jail.|
It’s kind of appalling when you think about it, but all the same, there’s no better guarantee of getting a good head shot for your dating profile than taking your own.
But six of ‘em? In a row? In your car? Seriously?
It never ceases to amaze me how easily people forget that, on the Internet, perception is reality. When we go online, we’re nothing more than a bunch of two-dimensional caricatures who passively interact with one another through an endless litany of text messages, videos, and (most importantly in the case of online dating) static images.
Your online dating profile has two purposes: making a first impression, and serving as a gateway to conversation. You only have a precious few moments during which someone will make a judgment on both, so what you choose to share counts for a whole helluva lot.
So displaying what amounts to the same photo half a dozen times in a row says what about you, exactly?
- You probably have no friends.
- You’re probably really self-absorbed, which is why you have no friends.
- Your lack of friends and self-absorption probably mean you’re starved for attention.
And to all you basic white girls using Snapchat-filtered selfies on your dating profile? Just stop. They’re the Uggs of the Internet: nobody likes them, not even you. Don’t lie.
Quick & Dirty: Bad for sex, great for dating profiles
|It was the best of dates, it was the worst of dates...|
So why do so many dating profiles look like the offspring of an episode of Hoarders and a copy of War And Peace?
Believe me: there will come a point where, if we do end up hitting it off, I’ll want to know every embarrassing detail of your entire life, from your favorite shade of yellow to how many times a day you say the word “fuck” to that time you shit your pants at science camp back in the fifth grade.
But if you put all of that on your profile along with your ten-point approach to conflict resolution and your top thirty favorite movies and three paragraphs on how much you love your cat, it will either never get read because oversharing stinks of desperation and scares the crap out people, or for the few that do manage to slog through your dating novella, there will be no follow up questions because you’ve already told them everything the need to know.
At that point, those who aren’t easily spooked by your full-throated confession might be plucky enough to skip the formalities and ask you out for coffee anyway, but given the aforementioned tide of buffoons and nitwits that swell the ranks of any given dating site, we’re often doing so more because there’s not much to lose rather than because there may be much more to gain.
Oscar Wilde once said that “brevity is the soul of wit.” Keep it short, keep it sweet, and always leave them wanting more.
Self-deprecation might not hurt you, but it’s killing me.
|"It's funny, right? Why are you swiping..?"|
The problem is, most of you are a lot funnier in person than you are in print. Don’t feel bad; it’s actually really common. Comedy writing is hard. Many people who are much funnier than you or I have spent years on the process, and still suck at it. For most of you, cracking wise about your weight problem or your fear on intimacy is going to come across as nothing other than an exercise in self-loathing.
Keep the jokes to a minimum on your profile, and never poke fun at yourself. Refusing to distinguish between being laughed with and laughed at might work fine for David Sedaris, but it’s not going to net you much traffic on eHarmony.
Douchebag disclaimers only scare off the people you want to hear from.
|This one is funny. Yours won't be.|
Most of these messages are roughly equivalent to the kind of monosyllabic grunting prehistoric man used to make right before clubbing his mate over the head and dragging her back to his cave.
It’s enough to make even the most ardent and hopeless romantic begin to curdle with despair at the prospect of sifting through the muck to find someone worth responding to.
There’s no fault in desiring to buck the trend by drawing some sort of line in the sand on your dating profile, anything from “douchebags need not apply” to “message only if the living incarnation of feminist Ryan Gosling.” Sadly, no matter how cleverly worded or urgently phrased they are, they absolutely do not and will not ever faze anyone. Not anyone you want to be fazed, anyway.
First off (and this is really important): no one is reading them.
Think about it: how many of the mouth-breathers flooding your inbox with piggy grunting today actually bothered reading your profile before verbally thrusting at you? They did so because they think you’re hot and/or easy and/or you’ll drop whatever you’re doing and send them boob shots because their fedora is just so awesome.
Conversely, for those of us who have awesome fedoras but no delusions of grandeur, disclaimers indicate that the signal-to-noise ratio in your inbox is so low as to likely relegate our thoughtfully crafted messages to the back of the bus.
No one can fault your paranoia; no one who has even a modicum of sympathy for vagina-equipped Internet denizens, anyway. But the cardinal rule of social media – and yes, online dating is social media, by definition – is: never let ‘em see you sweat. Disclaimers break that rule every single time, because they don’t stir romantic passions, only civic ones. If I wanted to be your ally, I’d look for you at a protest march, not on OKCupid, feel me?
* * *
That’s it, folks: with a little imagination and some tinkering, your dating profile can be made into something truly magnificent, and get you the better class of dates that you so richly deserve.
For an example of what all of this might actually look like, check out my profile on OKCupid and see for yourself. And hey: if you like what you see, drop me a line and let’s grab a cuppa sometime! *kisses*