They might not help you meet your soulmate, but these five rules certainly won’t make your online dating experience any worse.
I’ve been online dating and I have not met my one true love, my soul mate, my Prince Charming, my knight in shining armor, or my other half. You may consider this a failure, but by my metrics, it’s going just fine. I’ve met fascinating, attractive, intelligent, opinionated, funny people and enjoyed a ridiculous range of conversation over a delicious assortment of snacks and beverages.
I have a lot of male friends who are online dating as well, and I’ve learned that the rules are a little different for straight dudes. What follows are some suggestions for gentleman who want to meet some ladies from the safety of their living rooms. Caveat #1: I cannot speak for all ladies dating online, I can only speak for myself. That said, my advice is aimed at men who want to appeal to the set of women whose profile features more than a bikini pic. Caveat #2: This is not advice to get you laid.
1. Online dating is not fair. I am a girl and I receive a bajillion messages. You are a guy, and you send a bajillion messages. For every ten messages I get, I respond to one. For every ten messages you send, you get one response. I repeat, this is not fair. We (collectively) are sorry that we don’t respond to every single message we get. Please understand that it can be very overwhelming, and in the mix of presumably nice guys like you, there are a whole lot of crappy messages that include things like “I think we would have hot children,” and “bb u r fiiiiine.” Don’t be horribly crushed every time your notes go unanswered.
2. I can tell when you’re spamming. An inoffensive letter along the lines of “Hi, I’m Josh! You seem pretty awesome and I think we would click! Let me know if you want to chat or hang out!” is problematic because we don’t know that you didn’t copy and paste that into 40 different messages. If you did, smart move if you’re going for quantity over quality, but you can’t be pissed when we don’t find your generic approach swoon-worthy. I would recommend a brief note (a paragraph or so) that introduces yourself, proves you’re writing to me, specifically, and lets some of your sparkling personality through.
3. Be yourself, within reason. Everybody says that they are a “laid back, down to earth, fun-loving guy.” It may be true, but you need to find a more unique way to convey it. Like the old creative writing adage, better to show than to tell; how do you spend your time? What do you think about? Favorite places/people/books/music/movies and why. Here’s the thing about profile honesty; there’s a fine line between being yourself and being a caricature. Say you like Star Trek. Once she’s met you and likes you and knows 100 other things about you, a Klingon pun might not be a deal breaker. It’s just one goofy fact in the grand scheme of all you have to offer. But in an online profile made up of five brief questions and a few multiple-choice answers? That Trekkie joke starts to look like your one big defining feature. Do you really want to be “the Star Trek guy” when she describes you to her friends?
4. Cut down your list of deal-breakers. This goes for everybody. You’re online dating because you haven’t met someone through “traditional” channels. One might wonder if you actually know your own “type” as well as you think you do. Keep the pool as wide as you can, and be open-minded. Don’t draw hard lines unless you absolutely must (you are allergic to shellfish, she is secretly an oyster). Height, race, income, body type…. do your best to relax your “preferences” as much as you can. You just never know.
5. Oh, for the love of God, enough with the pictures! I will laugh at you (not with you) if you’re pictures fit the following categories:
- They show you from a great distance away, and covered by a motocross helmet, mosquito netting, ski goggles or a snorkeling mask. Anything patently designed to obscure your face will suggest to me that you don’t like your face, and therefore I shouldn’t like your face either.
- They show your abs, and only your abs. I’m glad that exercise has been so rewarding for you, that’s just wonderful. But you should know right now that if Matthew McConaughey himself posted a picture of his abs as his profile, I would not respond to him either.
- There are five consecutive shots of you in front of your Mac making variations of kissy-face at Photobooth. I suspect this happens when there are no pictures of yourself you like. The solution is NOT to post half a dozen snapshots wearing the same plaid shirt with your Bieber bangs swept this way, then that way, then with your head tilted down, then tilted up…. enough already. Pick one.
- They are you and a swarm of hot girls. I can’t decide if your point here is to make me jealous, or to deter unattractive girls from messaging you. Dude, we get it, you bang hot chicks. That might be great for bragging to your bros, but when you’re trying to land a new lady, it just makes us feel cheap and/or inadequate.
- They feature a bicycle, cat, dog, motorcycle or flat screen TV instead of your face.
Choose a few pictures (say four or five) that show what you currently look like. Smile. Some women are into the intimidating bad boy thing, but unless you are actually a Hell’s Angel, just smile. If you can’t decide, ask friends of the opposite sex and they will be honest with you. Nobody is ever satisfied with his or her pictures. Choose the best ones, and I absolutely 100% guarantee you that there are some people in the world that will like what they see.
—Photo Flickr/Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com