The time has rolled around for me to write another post about online dating. To be fair, this is based on my experiences. Several times I’ve nearly thrown in the proverbial towel after one too many a callous conversation. Almost as many times I will receive just the right message at the point when I start to consider deleting or deactivating my profile (the latter of which I did around the time I was cramming grad school comp questions, book reviews, etc. so I would have one less distraction).
Some of the messages I’ve gotten would curl your hair with how vile, crass, and just hateful they can be, not to mention the poor grammar, spelling, and text-speak that riddles these introductions. Just awful.
Probably one of my favorite lines related to the topic of horrible first messages (I wish I could have found the exact series of tweets, but no luck) came from Mickey Finn. We were talking about the messages where a person opens with a compliment, usually physical. This is only a paraphrase but he called them “Instant Debt” messages because they give a compliment sort of expecting something in return.
Buzz! Wrong! Thanks for the compliment, but no one owes you anything.
What follows are just some things I’ve observed and I am either a) more likely to respond, or b) more likely to send a first message when people have these in place. (It’s not fool proof. It doesn’t always mean quality messages, positive interactions, or meeting up in person, but I think it’s a start; a kind of weeding out process.)
I cannot begin to stress the importance of good photos. They don’t have to be professional head shots or anything (Lord knows I’ve seen my fair share of those in Los Angeles!), but come on. Nearly everyone has a decent iPhone/Android/whatever camera on their smart phones. There is no reason anymore for blurry, low-light photos.
Speaking of photos… I (personally) have no problem with selfies. Call me a millenial (I wear that proudly.), but selfies and mirror pics are not deal breakers in and of themselves. What ends up happening is the crap in the background will detract from otherwise attractive people. Bro, is that a toilet in the background? NEXT!
Also, it’s cool to show that you’re all social and have friends and stuff. Yay you! But, please for the love of Internet, tell us which one you are in a photo that shows a whole gaggle of people. That’s me, in the blue striped shirt.
For the bonus round, you might consider posting a photo that shows your whole self. The whole point (correct me if I’m wrong) of this online dating experience is to hopefully, eventually move into face-to-face meeting. We’ll eventually know what the other looks like.
This photo of me is probably one of my favorites. It might not be the best quality-wise, but it shows my giddiness at the snow; a novelty for this SoCal girl. And of course it showcases my awesome pink boots.
I get it. It’s hard to write about yourself and who’s even reading it anyway? I firmly believe that putting some effort in will yield some positive results. You don’t have to give your whole life story. Aim for brevity. Talk about the things you are passionate about. Tell the reader what you’re looking for in potential partner(s). I don’t see a problem with having preferences. This is valuable information and will determine whether there is any potential for connection.
Taking some time and putting a little bit of effort into your profile is equivalent to dressing nicely and presenting your best self when you first meet someone. The profile is the first look a person gets to what makes you YOU and why you might be a good match. You cannot skimp on this part.
And for God’s sake: Proofread! Proofread! Proofread! Stop writing in incomplete sentences like tweens texting. This is my biggest pet peeve. It makes you look sloppy and careless. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
My quick take away (for the TL;DR crowd): Send the kind of messages you wish to receive.
It really is that simple. Messages with “hey” “How’s your day going?” “you’re so pretty” and the like, don’t get more than a quick glance. They’re a dime a dozen and I almost always pass them by. I really believe that connecting with something in a prospective match’s profile speaks volumes. It shows you’re paying attention. Believe me, I’ve sent out many well-thought out messages that have not gotten a response. It’s a bummer, sure. But I’d like to think that at the very least they got a little boost from what I wrote. Maybe I wasn’t their type. It’s not for me to know. I am not owed a reason for why I did not receive a response.
Try to remember that it takes time, patience, and putting yourself out there. Don’t get all butt-hurt when someone says they’re not interested. It happens.
Don’t send multiple back-to-back messages. If they’re going to reply they will. Seriously, it’s creepy and feels like boundaries are not being respected.
Along those lines: Trolls. Unfortunately they also are doing online dating. It sucks. Don’t be a troll. What else can I say about that? If you wouldn’t say something to someone in person, don’t say it online. Plain and simple. I’ve found myself in situations where I took the bait because I wouldn’t just take it lying down. “You’re too picky for your type.” Uhm, how about shut your face? Or tell me more about why you’re such a jerk.
Part of the problem with online dating is there are so many possibilities. We can scroll by, almost endlessly, trying to find The One. I think it is easy to fall into forgetting that there are real, live people behind these screens. It is completely valid to have preferences and be discerning. At the same time, try to remember that no one is perfect. All of us have faults. Try to put the best YOU forward and see if it doesn’t get you somewhere in this mad thing we have called online dating.