Believe it or not, I'm currently single.
I know, I know: "Really?"
Yes, it's true. And like too many people my age, I've joined the cadre of online daters in the St. Louis area, exploring territory long ago vacated by my buddy Dave from the on-life-support Bottle and Cans podcast.
I've met some great ladies on the site, but for whatever reason, things haven't worked out as of yet.
I blame it on bad targeting by the sites. I've been a "90%+ match" for a fair number of these girls, and yet when we meet up, the chemistry just isn't there for whatever reason, or the spark inevitably fades after a few short dates.
It's tough being a dude on these sites. No, I'm not talking about the idea of "putting myself out there"--I say stupid shit on the radio all the time, I've written controversial books, I'm a freelancer in sales and marketing. Let's just say that I long ago got used to being kicked in the junk by complete strangers--no hard feelings, folks.
What I AM talking about is the incredible similarity among ladies' online dating profiles.
Don't get me wrong--I know that reasonably attractive women on these sites get an unbelievable number of "Hey girl...what's up?" (or worse) "Wanna see my wiener?"-type messages. It has to be tough to sift through the garbage.
But as a (I think) eligible, creative, educated, okay-looking guy, it's also incredibly difficult to sift through all of the girls with some variation of the following profile:
"I'm a strong, independent woman with X job. I love to travel and see new places--looking for a partner in crime for new adventures. I love my family, and hope to find the same in a guy. Looking for someone who can make me laugh--laughter is the best medicine, after all."
Unfortunately, more often than not, I'll skip right on by these profiles.
Not because anything these ladies wrote was offensive.
In fact, it's quite the opposite.
There's no character here. Nothing to tell me anything about these girls that wouldn't better be said on a first date. Let's fisk this profile line by line:
"I'm a strong, independent woman with X job" Great stuff...but it's weird for us to reach out to you and write out a question about your job over email. Honestly, even though I have a more flexible and enjoyable work arrangement than most, I cherish my off-hours, and am looking for a partner to fill THOSE with...err..."with whom to fill those." NOT someone who's going to be bringing work home with them all the time and put their job ahead of me. Though ambitious, I work to live--I'm looking for someone who does the same.
"I love to travel and see new places--looking for a partner in crime for new adventures." Again, this prompts a question that would be better handled on a first date. Every time I've had a back-and-forth with a girl on a dating site, and I've asked about traveling, it's ended the conversation. Period. Whether it's the first thing I mention, or 3-4 messages down the road. I don't know if it comes across as "intimidating" or whatever, but it's a dead end.
"I love my family, and am looking for the same in a guy." This is late first date, maybe even second date territory. I'm not going to gush about my Uncle Goober and Cousin Athena over an online dating message system--if nothing else, it's a turn-off.
"Looking for someone who can make me laugh--laughter is the best medicine after all." Whattaya want, a knock-knock joke? I love comedy, love standup and comedy podcasts, really enjoy laughing...at stuff that's actually funny. But this gives me no frame of reference for your sense of humor, what you find funny, or anything along those lines. I'm shooting in the dark, here!
So what's the point of all of this? How can these bitter truths benefit women in the long run? With a few simple changes, you can cut the creeps out, and have a better chance of finding "Mr. Right."
1) Men Are Looking For "Hooks:" A "hook," in the copywriting biz, at least, is something that a prospect can respond to. Something that absolutely begs a question or further explanation. Something that teases the mind and gets the "prospects" (interested, put-together dudes) thinking about how to respond.
You can frame a hook by taking a controversial stance on something, by saying something objectively "weird" about yourself, or otherwise trying to entice "the right kind of guy" to buy into your profile.
They don't have to be fancy. Examples of good hooks include:
"I insist on camping without a tent."
"I've learned that a night spent in St. Petersburg is one night too many."
"I've forgotten how to ride a bike."
(Note: I use this one in my profile, because it's true. If I find a like-minded lady...all bets are off...)
Notice how a lot of these are pretty declarative? More on that in a minute...
The important thing is to give guys a lot of openings to ask thoughtful questions that they can put a witty spin on..."on which they can put a witty spin..."
2) Separate the Wheat From the Chaff
Getting too many "Hey girl...what's up?" messages? There's a simple solution that you may not have thought of yet, as abridged from Mark Manson on his fine book, Models:
-Polarize, Polarize, Polarize...
Let's face it, we all have a tendency to try to gain acceptance from any potential new partner. We laugh and agree with a lot of their statements while secretly we think "Wow, I can't believe he/she said that...well...maybe it'll work anyway..."
I say you should not only embrace these thoughts, but also pre-empt them whenever possible. Go ahead and let guys know some of the "weirder" things that you're all about. Granted, you probably shouldn't put your deepest, darkest secrets up on an online dating profile, but go ahead and embrace some of the "wackier" things about you.
While it runs counter to a lot of things that you've been taught, the important thing is that once you have something "different" up there, you can screen for the non-profile readers better, and qualify yourself to guys who really get you.
That's not to say you should "next" someone at the first sign of disagreement. Rather you should use potentially controversial thoughts and beliefs you might have as a screening mechanism to clear out the creeps and idiots.
(Unless you like the creeps and idiots...)
(Let's move on...)
Also, let's not discount the role that good looks play in online dating. Obviously, there's a baseline of good looks that you're willing to give a shot. Sorry, but that's the way it is...
3) Show, Don't Tell
This is an old fiction writer's saw. Instead of saying "I like to travel," tell me about some of the adventures you've had. I know that if you like to travel, there have to be some good stories--it comes with the territory.
Spell some of them out! Talk about that awesome hike you went on, or that reef you scuba-dived on. Putting pics of these things up isn't necessarily enough. Believe it or not, not every guy will diligently go through every one of your pics and captions and try to divine a hook from there. Paint a picture--let us know that there's some life behind the "sterile profile" with which we're often presented (see, I'm learning).
4) Personality is King
I don't know how many girls I've engaged or responded to because they had a tangible "personality" in their profile. Something other than the standard "stuff" I outlined above. Something that got it, and may have pissed some other guys off, but sucked me in.
Was I necessarily Mr. Right for them? No, not by any stretch.
But at least they got my attention.
At least they separated themselves from the legions of ladies out there with no discernible differentiating qualities.
That's the real key--set yourself apart from the pack. While attention from random dudes may be nice (and I'm speaking as a guy who gets some random attention from the ladies), if you're on a dating site, and especially a paid dating site, you need to get your money's worth. Make the site work for you. Go for a drink at a public place. Say something "ridiculous." Push the envelope a bit. Have fun. Online dating can seem like a grind a lot of times--go ahead and turn that on its head. Enjoy it for chrissake.
Follow these basic steps, and I assure you, you'll be on the fast track to sifting out the morons and finding "Mr. Right" sooner rather than later.