Last week, I bumped into a friend Nick on the subway. Nick is single. At 40, he is an executive at a not-for-profit that works on educational reform.
Highly intelligent and quick-witted, he makes effortless conversation and has an infectious laugh. In his free time, he plays tennis competitively and is in better shape than men half his age. For the right woman, he is a fantastic catch.
Nick is Indian-American and 5’6” tall. Online dating has left him feeling as if he’s not quite up to snuff.
“I’m feeling pretty despondent about my love life these days,” Nick said during our conversation. “Despite my best efforts, women are not clamoring for the short Asian man.” Nick’s frustration was palpable. And, it broke my heart.
Can a great catch succeed online when the forum overwhelmingly lends itself to superficiality?
The answer is yes. During my single days, I dated prolifically and can attest that certain qualities elevate a man above the competition:
1. A great profile picture.
A picture is worth a thousand words. It behooves you to have a great face and full-length picture. (As tempting as it may be to take a selfie in your bathroom mirror, please refrain. Trust me, even Brad Pitt looks less than desirable with a toilet and filthy shower next to him.)
Digital technology makes it easier than ever to capture 1-2 great photographs. Hire a professional photographer or enlist a friend to take 100-200 pictures in an interesting location on a beautiful day.You’ll be guaranteed to have a picture that makes you feel confident and proud.
2. An interesting profile.
Everyone in the world has a story to tell. Yet, the majority of online profiles could put an insomniac to sleep.
Stand out from the crowd by telling a story that piques the reader’s curiosity and boldly shows your personality. Here are a few examples of great opening lines:
“In high school, I wrote an underground newspaper that exposed my principal for plagiarism.”
“I make the best French cheese fondue from my Nana’s recipe. If you twist my arm (and bring a baguette), I may even tell you the secret ingredient.”
“In 2008, I spent a month backpacking in Uruguay. It was awesome, except for one thing…”
Keep it short and simple, but give a colorful first impression that begs the reader to want to learn more.
3. Fail often. (And, take calculated risks.)
Several years ago, Edward approached me on the subway and asked for my number. We went on a few dates, and while there was no romantic chemistry, we remained good friends. One of the things I most respect about Edward is his willingness to fail often with women. As he explained, the only way he can improve his “game” and become less risk-averse is to approach beautiful women and fail repeatedly.
To me, this is the attitude of a winner.
Get in the game. Instead of passively “winking” or looking at women who interest you, drop them a line. But, remain realistic.
According to OkCupid, the most attractive women receive 5X more email than average women and 28X more email than unattractive women. 2/3 of male messages go to the best-looking 1/3 of women. Statistically, the average male sender gets a 27% reply rate from the most attractive females.
If you’re messaging the most attractive women, your competition will be intense. And, you have a fairly small chance of receiving a response.
Knowing this, you have two choices: 1. risk repeated failure (and frustration) by continuing to play the game like the majority of people, or 2. expand your mindset and reach out to the 2/3 of women who are otherwise being “overlooked.” Or, you can play the odds and do both.
4. Be sincere, honest, and confident.
Attractive women with good profiles will always have a profusion of suitors. However, quantity does not equal quality. Rise above the pack—be the one person who writes a thoughtful, sincere and funny email that engages her on a personal level.
Read her profile carefully and make reference to something contained within. While this tactic takes more time than sending mass, generic emails, the reward will justify the effort. Always close with a question that begs a response. Here’s a great example:
“I love Bill Murray movies, too. ‘Rushmore’ beats ‘Caddyshack’ hand’s down, wouldn’t you agree?”
You’ll bait conversation, as she will either be in vociferous agreement or challenge you to a fight. Either way, you have an opening. And, whatever you do, leave all sexual innuendo at the door.
5. Have a (great) plan.
Within three email exchanges, ask for an actual date. Be specific and clear in your intent. (There’s a big difference between “Hey, we should chill sometime” and “I have two tickets to the Brooklyn Nets game Friday night. Want to go?” Aim for the latter, not the former.)
Dinner and drinks are standard, but won’t make you memorable. Instead, plan a fun, interactive date (that allows for conversation without a lot of pressure). Some of my best dates were also the most unusual, including:
- A BYOB painting class.
- An orchid show at the botanical gardens followed by oysters and cocktails.
- A walking tour of Chinatown and dim sum.
- A class on Japanese and American whisky.
- A bike trip with various stops for food and wine.
Take the lead with confidence. Show up on time. Open doors. Pick up the tab, even if she offers to share the expense. (Nothing kills romance faster than haggling over money.) If you had fun, suggest a follow-up date that day.
In a world where money and looks are deemed “exceptional,” aim for the even rarer qualities of chivalry and class. You’ll be sure to stand out in a sea of mere mortals.
Photo: Flickr/ Frank Tasche