The Promise in a Thumbnail; Online Dating Hits and Misses
The online dating profile, a mystery, a fantasy novel, a pulp fiction romance. Whatever the profile is, it’s not reality. In looking for love online, you’ve got a lot of obstacles. And getting a handle on the bullshit detection is a good start.
- Even the unattractive and obese can score a cute photo every now and then.
- Photos from 15 years ago may not be an accurate representation of the current state of affairs. You would hope that people would clearly label the “when I was younger” photos, but they don’t.
- The one photo profile. Um, why don’t you have some other photos of your gorgeous self?
- The “just checking this out” profile. Usually with only a few sentences about themselves and a couple photos. Variation: a friend put this up for me.
- The scammer account. Too cute. Way too young to be hitting on me. Has an age range that’s a bit odd. (example: female 32, seeks males 45 – 70)
- No profile photo. “Ask her for her photos.” Um, no.
- Sunglasses make for alluring photos, but they’re not very accurate.
As long as you know you are creating the fantasy when you look an online dating profile you’ll be okay. You are filling in the blanks and missing information in your head. And most likely you are filling it in on the positive side. Often that’s not the correct data at all. If a person is 1. ready for a relationship and 2. honest, you won’t have to go fishing for too much information.
Look for how this person articulates their desires. What are they looking for?
- “I love to travel.”
- “Just want to have fun.”
- Every photo has a drink in hand.
- Glamour photos.
- The one photo that sticks out as “WOW-SHE’S-AMAZING.”
- The one photo that sticks out, “What? How is this the same woman?”
- Hyper-athletic. Too many mentions of “working out.”
- “One core relationship.”
- “Low drama.”
- Mentions a healthy relationship with the ex-partner.
The goal in online dating is to minimise the false positives and set dates with the authentic potentials. That’s easier said than done. And culling down from 1,000+ matches can be a bit of a challenge. So you have to start somewhere. Find a couple of things that are really important to you. (My current desire is tennis. If I could find a tennis-playing girlfriend, I think I’d be a long way towards compatibility.)
Then if you find a potential you are interested in, go ahead and say hello. I have found that casual and funny is better than direct. You don’t need to ask for the date right off the bat. Mention a few things that you have in common, flatter them a bit (You’re very cute.) and see what their response is.
- No response is a response.
- A casual and playful response is a good sign.
- A form-letter response is not so good. (Thank you.)
- An engaging response with lots of information can be a good and bad thing. On the good side, they are probably very attracted to your “profile.” On the bad side, they may be trying too hard, because they are not getting enough dates, or their dates are not going well.
If someone is genuinely interested you should both be able to establish some rapport within 4 or 5 messages. And when the idea of meeting for coffee or wine is floated by either party, the other person accepts and you both agree on a time and place. This is great. Now, the temptation is to continue the conversation, learn more, keep being charming. But that’s a mistake.
Here is the goal of online dating: set the date without too much effort or build up.
Once you have the date set to meet face-to-face the rest is distraction. Get this straight: you can tell very little about the physical chemistry from online profiles or even electronic flirting. While it might be fun to rev each other up before you meet, it is really a waste of time. And the real danger is setting up these great expectations and then not feeling the chemistry at all. So then what do you do? You may have had a bit of fun, but you’ve used up a lot of energy, even flirting takes time and energy, and come up empty-handed.
Online dating is not a full-time job. If you are too hungry, too available, and always online the available partners might notice this. If you are too persistent and focused on getting a date, that might be an indication of a problem.
The best approach is simple hello flirting. Gut checking the profile for reality. See if their emails or texts are also witty and fun. And then set the date and move on in your search and in your mind. You’ve got the date. There is really nothing else to do before you meet in person. You can confirm the date the day before. It’s easy to provide a phone number (texting is okay) before the date “In case something comes up.”
And then chill out and see what develops when you meet. Getting to excited or too involved with a virtual date has never worked out for me. Never. But then I haven’t had very many hits with the in-person meetings. And the handful of women who were just my style weren’t quite interested. They may not have said as much, but they didn’t ask for the next date either.
If there’s no chemistry, don’t make a big deal about it. Enjoy the conversation and make your exit. You can send them a note about “Not quite a match for me” but it’s not necessary. We all know the deal. If it was a HIT we are probably both thinking “What’s next.” If you get a “What’s next” before leaving the first date, you’re well on your way to trying a real date. Good luck.
The Off Parent
< back to On Dating Again
- The Honey Trap: How Beauty Can Lead Us Astray
- Little Turnoffs: On a First Date with a Woman
- Top 5 First Date Tips for Women
- Our Sexual Brain and the Lies it Tells Us
- Sex Rules: The Frequency, the Fun, and the Fantasy
- Browsable Women: The Three Hells of Online Dating
image: a montage of online dating, the writer