The Simple Science of Online Dating – My Perspective & Process
ONLINE DATING LAW: If she/he doesn’t say, “What’s next,” then they aren’t that interested. Move along.
First dates via online dating are not my favorite activity. BUT, you can’t get where you want to be without starting out on the journey, so off we go to Match.com, eHarmony, Plenty of Fish, OKCupid, etc. And it truly is a jungle out there. Photoshopped glamour shots. Ages that can’t possibly be honest, when you meet the person in person. “You’re HOW OLD?” I wanted to ask her. And “How long ago was that photo taken?” Often it’s several lifetimes ago, when they were feeling pretty and youthful, regardless of how they are feeling or looking now. And I’ve heard these shenanigans happen on men’s profiles as well.
So that’s a problem. Cutting through the fake and beautified to see the real person. It’s a hard nut to crack. Here’s why.
Either the photos are
- Too beautiful (if you look like that why would you possibly be online looking for a date?)
- Too plain (good lord, did you even try to look pretty or interested or interesting?)
- The near miss (she’s got a great smile, but there’s something not quite right)
- Edgy to the max (if your tattoo or ability to hold a mixed drink is a highlight, we probably don’t need to meet)
- The just plain sad (girl, your bathroom mirror pic is just sad, even your bathroom is sad, go outside, get a friend to take a picture, please)
It’s clear we all have different methods for PRESENTING ourselves. Some people need glamour shots, some people want wrong-side-off-the-tracks bad girl vibes, and some just don’t care, they’re just putting it out there to see what happens. (Well, good luck with that last approach. In marketing, packaging does account for a lot)
Last week, a very interesting first date asked a very interesting question. She was clearly a research-oriented searcher.
“So what was it about my profile that caused you to call me?” she asked. She was new to the online dating process and wanted direct feedback on her photos and what she said about herself. I tried to give her an honest answer. Here’s what I came up with.
1. Is there an instant appeal? (Like looking for a house, when there are 1,000 listings, you skip right to the ones that have instant curb appeal. That say, “I could live there.”)
2. Does their body type fall within my range of desire? (I think mine is pretty broad, but I certainly have some limits.)
3. Am I within their desired age range? (Age is a funny thing. I suppose it’s the grand filter on dating, but it’s not really a very good indicator of compatibility. I’ll come back to this in a second.)
4. Do I send a message? (Mostly this is the ice breaker. Show interest. Write a short blurb about what in their profile you were interested in knowing more about. Make a casual offer for a meeting.)
From there, I really believe it’s a numbers game. Plant a lot of seeds and see if you get ANY that sprout. So in my process, I don’t spend a ton of time on the profile until I get a ping-back from my first email contact. For me it’s these three things. 1. Can I imagine her smiling across the table from me? 2. Does her body fall within my acceptable range? 3. Am I within her acceptable age range? 4. Put out a lot of feelers.
Spending too much time on any given profile or potential date is like reading pornography. If she’s that fantastic she’s probably flooded with messages from guys, and guys more qualified and charming than you.
Seasoned Online Dater Tip: When you are searching, orient your searches towards “Who’s New” because their in boxes will be a little less overwhelmed and you have a better shot at cutting through the noise and getting your message to her.
That’s it. You put out a lot of first-glance-she-looks-good hello messages and wait to see if ANY come back.
Of course this is from a Man’s perspective. Women’s experience of online dating is very different, but I thought this might be helpful to know what we’re looking at and what we’re looking for. (Me, anyway.)
In asking a number of women, what online dating is for them, they are often overwhelmed by the responses in their inbox. And of course the bad eggs are trying to send them pictures of their junk, but mostly for them it’s weeding through all the introductions and offers, much like it is for us MEN just looking through the potentials. But even if they have more “hello” openings, it does not mean it’s easier for women.
I would guess the games are very heavy coming from the MEN. And I’ve heard some funny horror stories from some of my “dates.”
My bottom line awareness: As a man, I am going to have to do the work to say “hello” in a fun and charming way. And I need to do that A LOT if I’m hoping to get 1% response to my “marketing campaign.” If a woman reaches out to me, WOW, let’s check that out and see if she’s within my spectrum of desire. (90% of the “hello” messages I’ve gotten in my 1.25 years in online dating are from women who look and feel much more like my mom than my potential date. I know I’m young for my age, but goodness, the emails are almost depressing.)
A thought about age: You are as old as you seem. Too much pontification on how old you are, how old you look, or how much “energy” you have will really not serve you well. If someone is very focused on their AGE RANGE why try to penetrate their prejudice. What I believe is, age is amazingly relative. I’ve met older women who ran circles around me. I’ve met women my age (50) who seemed like they were closer to retirement than going out to see live music on a Saturday night. And I’ve met younger women who were charming, intelligent and not afraid of my “experience.”
Unfortunately, at this point the three main points AND chemistry have not fallen in place for me. YET. But I’m hopeful when I open up OK Cupid. (I’ve killed my Match.com account and I tried eHarmony once, but hated their selection of women they thought would be good for me. Let me browse.) I am hopeful that my next relationship is out there.
And it’s important that I don’t thrash or work too hard to make it happen. I believe, when it happens, my concepts, even my method will prove to be useless. That’s what I hope for, anyway. A connection that says, “YES.” And a first date who asks, “S0 what’s next?”
That energy you would spend trying to woo or convince her that you are awesome, is better spent making yourself more awesome (eating better, exercising, reading, expanding your horizons).
The Off Parent
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