Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

Posts tagged “a man’s tips for your online dating profile

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.

  1. Even the unattractive and obese can score a cute photo every now and then.
  2. 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.
  3. The one photo profile. Um, why don’t you have some other photos of your gorgeous self?
  4. 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.
  5. 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)
  6. No profile photo. “Ask her for her photos.” Um, no.
  7. 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?

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 8.43.51 AMBad signs:

  • “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.”

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 8.18.57 AMGood signs:

  • “Intimacy.”
  • “Honesty.”
  • “One core relationship.”
  • “Low drama.”
  • Mentions a healthy relationship with the ex-partner.
  • Semi-athletic.
The goal in online dating is to minimise the false positives and set dates with the authentic potentials.

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.

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.

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

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image: a montage of online dating, the writer

Online Dating Undercover Revelations: OK Cupid (Pt. 2)


Let’s dig a little deeper into OK Cupid’s DNA, and what we’re looking for when we go online to find a “partner” a “hookup” or “a relationship to last the rest of my life.” (Start here: Online Dating Undercover Revelations: OK Cupid (Pt. 1) )

They offer a little “What’s my best picture” service that delivers some interesting feedback about the demographics and the types of women who find your pictures attractive. Well, it’s not a very scientific process, as most of my raters were in their early 20’s, and pretty far from my desired demographic. But the data is fun anyway, and heck, they picked my main profile picture for me, so that’s good. Here are my top three photos and the fuzzy data that goes with them.

attractiveness demographics from OK Cupid

click to view larger version

So in my demographic of 31+ girls (eh hm: women, thanks) here are my big winners. These are my rater’s self-identified types. I’m glad conservative and stoner fell right off my map all together.

Nerd < maybe
Free Spirit

If you find it’s working. That might be even more frightening, for both of you. What if… So don’t go there. Slow down. 

And sure enough the picture of me as a parent (with daughter) doesn’t even register with the 18 – 22 yo girls. Okay, fine, so the man as an artist appeals to my demographic. Fine.

But it all really boils down to who I’m interested in. And I’d say my top types are in alignment with my tastes, so we’ll go with that photo for now. And let’s see how it’s worked so far, in my two weeks back on the site.

OKC reports I get about 5 views a week. Hmm… That sucks. I’ve been sending out emails and “Hellos.” Again, I’m guessing a lot of women are using the A-List paid option to NOT show up in my visitors list. Oh well.

So let’s see if I’ve gotten any responses via email. messages on OK Cupid

Yep, a few have responded. And a couple I’ve gotten to texting with. That’s a higher form of intimacy, because it requires the exchange of phone numbers. I don’t think you’d give a creep your phone number. And it usually takes a bit of emailing first to establish a mutual appreciation. And then you move to the quick and telling text exchanges. You can tell a lot about someone’s self-expression. How do they respond to jokes? Are they playful? Are they friendly? Are they tech-savvy?

One of the best reality checks I’ve come up with for online dating is to send a real-time selfie. If the person on the other end is overly self-conscious they won’t be able to send one back. They’ll send something else or ignore your request all together. The selfie is the lowest common denominator of glamour shots. If they radiate in a selfie, you have pretty good odds that their profile photography isn’t photoshopped or glammed into unreality.

And really that’s all we’re trying to establish at this point. Is this person real? Are they authentic in their behavior (texting and responding) and their appearance (if you can get a selfie)?

And next can you move it to an in-person meeting? How smooth is that transaction? Time and place? Do they reset the date several times? Do the postpone? Often it has been my experience that a postponement (even if they say they are sick) really means they are having second thoughts. Or they have started up with someone else and are hedging their bets. The longer the postponement, the more likely it will not happen at all. And that’s okay, you don’t want someone who’s sort of in and sort of out.

The most frustrating near-miss is the one with someone who’s not sure what they are looking for. If they are on a dating site, shouldn’t they be interested in a relationship? Or is the R-word scary? Maybe they really just want to “date.”

And one of the things we can be sure of, none of us has the answers. What does dating after divorce, or dating as a single parent look like?

There are a few controls built-in that help buffer the startup process, in my opinion. If we both have kids and ex’s in town, we will be navigating a fairly complex scheduling process. And you can get a feel very quickly if it’s going to be easy to negotiate or a pain in the ass. If it’s really hard to find the time to get together, it’s probably not a fit. Or perhaps the other person is scared to get in a Relationship. No problem, move on.

Here’s what you want, regardless of what you call it.

  • Time together.
  • Both people making efforts to come up with solutions to the scheduling issues.
  • Laughter and easy-going conversation.
  • Fascination beyond the physical attraction.
  • Sexual chemistry.
  • Emotionally and mentally stable, as far as you can tell.
  • Deals with changes and uncertainty easily.
  • Joy.

And in my estimation those qualities in ONE PERSON are hard to find. Don’t rush through it, if you’ve started to make a match. Slow. Keep building on the friendship. (Does that sound cliché? It might, but really, you get over the “let’s just have sex” part of relating to someone pretty quickly. And I’m pretty sure most women would not be okay with every date night having us say, “Let’s just stay in and do it. I’ll bring Chinese.” It doesn’t work that way in the long-term, and it shouldn’t be your focus in the short-term.)

If you get too far ahead of yourself, thinking about pairing up, or how they would do as a step-parent, you might need to take a time out. This is no longer a race against time, it’s a race with time. You’ve got limited time. You need to make the most of the opportunities you do have to meet and greet. If there are a lot of signals that “this is not working very easily” you might consider resetting expectations and going back to the dating pool.

Do you know what’s enough for you? I know my ideas change all the time. But I keep coming back to the smile, the joy, and the friendship.


If you find it’s working. That might be even more frightening, for both of you. What if… So don’t go there. Slow down. Take it easy. Enjoy each other’s company, in and most importantly out of bed. And then just bask in the time you do find to be together. And see how flexible you can be with the idiosyncrasies of life as a single parent. There is a long way to go before you need to begin planning.

So don’t set your expectations too far in the future. Stay in the moment and see how compatible you are, how close your friendship can become. See, for me, part of the problem is I was drawn in and captured by the beauty and sex thing before I really got a deep understanding of the person I was committing too. Don’t make the same mistake again. There’s no hurry to move into the next stages, and in fact, just mentioning them might freak both of you out. When you hear yourself talking about (enter your freak out here: moving in, marriage, step-parenting) just take a deep breath and drop back into the moment, into the presence of this cool person, who happens, if things go well, to think you’re cool too.

For now, that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I like you. I like hanging out with you. And that’s enough.

Do you know what’s enough for you? I know my ideas change all the time. But I keep coming back to the smile, the joy, and the friendship.


The Off Parent

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image: she is my drug, bryan brenneman, creative commons usage

Promises and Lies In Online Dating Profiles

I’m beginning to get tired of online dating. Like “real tired” of it.

okcupid and online dating

Here are a few observations I had while checking into my online dating profile this morning.

Thumbnails can tell a lot about a person.

  • Too plain (maybe they don’t have friends or advisers who can help them spruce up)
  • Bathroom mirror shots (maybe they don’t have friends or a modern smart phone to make a proper selfie)
  • Too radical (if they are trying really hard in their profile picture, they are hiding something)
  • Too glam (too much makeup and flash and that’s how I’m going to think of you – puffed up)
  • Too many tattoos (I find tattoos kind of sexy, but if it’s your lead story, you’re probably a dancer or a roller derby star)
  • Too Annie Hall (it was cute back then, but frumpy is just not sexy or intriguing)

The rest of your pictures.

  • There’s usually that one picture that’s a bit more realistic – like what you really look like. You can either hide these or show them as a way of weeding out the misses. Cause in person, the real you is going to show up. You can’t keep your profile in perfect perspective in real life. I currently am employing the “here’s a wakeup photo” method. When we finally meet, you’ll already have a good idea of what I look like. As in RIGHT NOW.
  • Pictures that are from ancient times. You can tell when someone’s using a picture from college. It’s obvious. Make sure your photos are real, and up-to-date. If you’re trying to inflate how you look now, you’re going to spend a lot of time in disappointing first dates. When I see you across the room and notice you look nothing like your photos. Um, is that really what you want?
  • Pictures of your beautiful smile that show little or nothing else of your frame and figure. (Um, what are you hiding, exactly. The answer, actually, is often quite a lot. I was a few dates in with a woman, before I really got a good idea of what the rest of her body looked like. OOPS. It was an uncomfortable situation. I’m not saying you should show your flabby whatevers, but don’t present yourself as a runner and “thin and athletic” if you haven’t worked out since high school.
  • Pictures with kids are okay. I’m sure they will weed out the non-kidded prospects, but that’s probably a good thing, if my experience is any indication. If they don’t have kids and you do… There’s a disconnect immediately. They simply won’t understand about half of your life. They can say, “I love kids.” But they didn’t put them as a priority in their lives. And they probably won’t understand you putting your kids before them.
  • Pictures with drinks in your hand. Fine, we all like a (some of us) like a drink ever now and then. But if you’re leading with you interest in drinking, well, you might be indicating more than you know. I am happy to share a glass or bottle of wine. But it better not be the formative activity in the relationship. That leads to disaster.

Language in your profile.

  • Stay away from Jesus references, unless that is the only type of guy you are considering: the Jesus guy. Because I am spiritual and believe in God and some-variations of Jesus, might not mean I’m ready to be with a Jesus-girl. It’s okay if that’s the priority in your life. And if that’s the case, be sure and be up front about it. But if you’re simply saying, you like to go to church and pray. Leading with your faith, is a bit of a turn off.
  • The words “drama” and “easy-going” are antonyms. But you don’t need to disclaim your dislike of drama. Who really looks for a “scene?” We’re all looking to make life a bit easier. And for some reason we’ve each turned to online dating to try and fill that last little, but critical, tidbit in our lives. The drama, or easy-going-ness will be apparent as you begin to engage with a potential date.
  • Too recent in your divorce trajectory  If you indicate you’re “recently” divorced, I know a lot of us are going to avoid getting involved. Who wants to experience all that turmoil. Call me when you’ve got a few years under your belt. I supposed the contrary is also possible, opportunists who see “recently divorced” as vulnerable and potential objects for bootie calls. The opposite is probably more likely. But if you did hookup with the newly un-married be ready for a lot of drama. The emotional roller coaster is real. I prefer for things to be a little more even keel.
  • Too much “follow your bliss.” Yes divorce is a HUGE opportunity to re-invent yourself and rediscover your priorities in life. But if you’re too far out there in the “exploration” mode you’re probably ignoring some of the basics. Like: do you have a job, are you happy with your job, are you happy with your life, and what else do you do for fun. Too much “ready for the stars” language sets up an expectation of fireworks and flightiness.

Again, these are my opinions. I’ve stripped my OKCupid profile of a good portion of my story. I have the “telling” picture in my set. I’ve decided this time around NOT to answer any of the questions. This creates a 0% match, 0% friend, 0% enemy. And that’s okay. Often I found myself getting worked up, or intrigued by women’s answers to the questions. Really, I just want to get a good picture of who you are, what our potential might be, then I’d like to move towards meeting in person. All this dance before meeting is exhausting and not all that productive.

Finally, my current approach is to only pursue 100% awesome. If there are obvious flaws or misses in the categories above, then I’m out. NEXT.

And that’s also a problem. There are currently ZERO women of interest on my OKCupid radar. That’s okay, I’m more interested in the current rising star. (see: It’s About Time) But at the same time, I know it’s important to keep farming, keep looking for options and information about what I do and don’t want in my next relationship. That’s my part of the equation. Putting all of my eggs in any basket before the hatching begins is just bad farming.


The Off Parent

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