Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Joys and Perils of Online Dating

After a...period of time without dating (you didn't honestly think I was going to say how pitifully long it's been since I dated someone, did you?), I recently decided to take the plunge and set up a profile on an online dating site. I think it might have been the commercial I saw at the gym (that and the lonely nights...the lonely, lonely nights...) that finally gave me the chutzpah to do it--1 in 5 couples meet online, it trumpeted. The subtext here, of course, reads something like this: "Sure, back in the 90's, or even the 00's, online dating was the province of irredeemably dorky Linux fanatics with industrial-grade acne and those with crippling agoraphobia. [PS--as a Linux dork with an anxiety disorder, I'm allowed to make that joke] But now, we at have ushered in a new Golden Age where normal, non-neck-bearded individuals can find each other online! 20% of couples meet online! The former stigma is no more!"

The most difficult part is writing the 'about me' section for your profile, of course, as well as coming up with your 'tagline' (the short phrase that appears, along with your photo and age, when people perform a search for potential partners). I had a lot of trouble with this. Fit and funny, for friends first? Too alliterative. Looking for love, are you the one? Might as well be a Nicholas Sparks novel. Young professional seeks same? What the hell is this, the Wall Street Journal? Needless to say, I did finally come up with a decent tagline, which I may patent at some point, as it managed to avoid the pitfalls of corniness, elitism, and Dr. Seussery.

Then I filled out a mini personality quiz, filled in an inventory about what I want in a partner, downloaded a few photos, and was on my way. Let's start with that inventory, as it would be beyond the scope of this blog to address all that is misguided about using a 5-minute 'personality quiz' to match people up. I was amazed by some of the things the inventory asked about. For instance: Would you be willing to date someone shorter than yourself? Huh? What astrological signs do you prefer? WTF? I can think of a number of reasons for automatically screening someone out of my potential dating pool--most involving personality disorders and/or fondness for the music of Nickelback--but size and date of birth are not among them. "Yeah, we both love running, and she has a great job, and she's incredibly thoughtful and giving, and we both want kids--but I just couldn't be with a Sagittarius." Sorry, but if that's your attitude, maybe you're alone for a reason.

And last, let's talk about pictures. It's both common courtesy and a favor to yourself to present current pictures--that  is, that are 1-2 years old at most and at a reasonable approximation of your current body weight. It may sound petty, but it's disarming to meet someone at a coffee shop for a first date and realize that the picture you saw online was taken 5 years and 50 pounds ago. And don't think that just because it's not a solo portrait it's not worth putting up: pictures of you engaging in hobbies or hanging with friends prove that you do in fact have both hobbies and friends (OK, OK, so maybe not ALL of the stigma of online dating is gone). Additionally, it's always better to put up SOME picture than to leave that part of your profile blank. It's not that without a picture I think you must look like the Phantom of the Opera, or have a vestigial tail, or wear socks with sandals; well, OK, maybe I do, a little. But it's human to want to connect a name with a face: to truly SEE our options.

Post coming later this week: "Why I didn't respond to your online personal."


KCTH said...

"...willing to date someone shorter than yourself?" Clearly, you were not the 6-foot tall girl in high school that everyone thought it would be funny to sing the Jolly Green Giant jingle for... Decades ago, but still...

african girl said...

For me,when it comes to online dating I really find it entertaining and most of all very exciting. I've been an active member of different dating sites and I met lots of friends from there. The sad part is that I haven't met my desired man but I'm not losing hope anyways.
By the way thanks for this one. It's highly appreciated.