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Cyber Dating Dos and Don'ts

I spent one single month on the world’s most popular dating site and learned a lot about this fascinating and circus-like community of people in such a short time. Probably because I treated this one month like a dating scavenger hunt slash triathlon slash game of red rover. All the men were lined up shouting, “Red rover, red rover, let Kimberly come over!”

It became a challenge for me to walk down the street in public. Not because I was afraid that someone would recognize me from my profile. Rather because I had become so accustomed to seeing a description of someone’s personality, hobbies and favorite qualities in a mate laid out in neatly lined text next to their face that I began to visualize this very thing when I was out and about. Suddenly walking, talking, 3-D dating profiles were everywhere.

The first time, I walked by a guy at the mall who likely worked at Abercrombie and Fitch, due to the fact that he was wearing head to toe A&F apparel but was upwards of twenty-five, and my new Dating Profile Vision (DPV) displayed some helpful text next to his moving headshot: “Grew up in Minnesota, loves dogs, enjoys boating and wake-boarding; looking for an adventurous and laid back girl who wears a size 00; will never hold a job outside of this mall.” I probably appeared stunned as he walked past me, then the overwhelming cologne scent knocked me out.

A bar is a mess of a place to keep your head on straight with a problem like DPV. I could not keep my attention on a conversation with friends when every person who walked by our table had such information readily available for me to read. Ill-fitting business-shirt-and-tie-guy with spiky hair had a profile that read, “Works boring 9-to-5; drives sports car and listens to rap music; only pretends to work out at the gym; will make you feel like you’re his mother with all the nagging you’ll have to do.” V-neck T-shirt guy with buzzed hair and five-o-clock shadow’s said, “Excellent at both making eye contact and making out; will write decently beautiful songs about you; will randomly stop calling after three weeks of bliss.” College-football-hat guy’s says, “You’ll love my friends, I’m tons of fun to drink with, and I’ll make you feel like a queen because I think you’re so amazing. Then after a year I’ll decide we aren’t right for each other because the shine has worn off. Save yourself now.” Wait, that was my last boyfriend. Signals crossed.

Anyway, here are a few things to keep in mind if you dare venture into cyber-searching for a mate, other than being wary of DPV.

Any man who posts a picture of himself doing bicep curls: Ignore.

Dude, it’s great that you work out. Write in your profile, “likes to work out,” or “avid weightlifter.” Even post a picture of yourself in a well-fitting T-shirt to show that you are in shape, —not something shiny or with the sleeves cut off, and not shirtless at the gym. That’s also an “ignore,” girls. Shirtless on a boat…that’s a maybe-ignore. First ask yourself, how amazing are his abs?

 Any man who’s opening line to you is, “What were you for Halloween, a hottie?” ignore.

This really happened. That was all he said, and that was his first contact with me. It was also his last contact with me. It would have been fun to write back, “I’m a hottie every day. For Halloween I was a mouse,” but I thought better of starting a chain of communication with this guy at all. I also heard, “You have the most beautiful eyes, but I guess you can see that.” Delete.

Run your own sort of IQ test.

First portion: Writing skills. If his emails are casual or informal, that’s one thing, but if he uses run on sentences, incorrect grammar, or uses the phrase “hangin’ with ladies,” then that’s beyond informal. That’s uninformed.

Test Two: If you ask his favorite book and he can’t even name a book, he’s out.

I once dated a guy who said, “I don’t care if my kids can read as long as they can throw a football.” I wish the online dating sites had an IQ test built in. They’d make bank in extra fees.

 Watch out for the template.

I’ve gotten some messages from guys that don’t reference my profile at all. They are long, fairly thought out, and super generic. This guy is so used to not being responded to that he has to send messages to five times as many women to get normal results. This can be time consuming, so he has composed an email that covers that he likes your picture, thinks you have a lot in common, has a lot to offer you, and would love to chat sometime. The template allows him to send out more-per-hour, but he’s probably wasting your time.

 Don’t feel bad about not responding.

Your profile probably says something like “looking for men within 20 miles of Jacksonville between the ages of 25-35 who have never been married…” Most of the men who contact you will be 42, divorced and live an hour-plus from you. Sorry, buddy, you should have read the not-so-fine-print. Even if he fits some of your basic criteria, is okay-looking and sent you a nice message, you can usually get an idea from his profile whether you’re actually compatible. If not, it’s appropriate to just bypass him. On to the next.

I have to say, it seems that there are some decent men on these sites, so I’m retracting any previous judgments I made that dating sites are solely for freakish men and desperate women. Just like the real world, you have to dig through the weeds to find the flowers.

You can read more from Kimberly Novosel on her blog.

Feature image via.

  • Holly Roberts

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  • Holly Roberts

    These tips are completely true. The only other I would add is to be open minded about it, and meet people in areas that are conducive to conversation. It’ like you are meeting someone for the first time just like you would in any other situation Also, there is nothing wrong with being on a dating site! I live in the middle of nowhere. I would have never met my boyfriend had I not been on one.

  • Alexis Krapf

    After fine tuning my profile, and talking to guys about what they liked about women’s profiles, I found ways to reduce the number of “Hey sexy, wanna get a drink?” responses, and received more messages from guys I’d actually want to meet for coffee.
    -Avoid the laundry list. Highlight core qualities in yourself and in others you find attractive. Be more detailed about your favorite activities and save your other likes for later conversations.
    -Be honest about your likes, and appearance. If you don’t like sports, don’t pretend to just because a lot of guys will respond to that. There are tons of great guys that love full figured gals, but if you say you’re “a few extra pounds” you’ll attract guys that aren’t interested in someone that’s more than a few extra pounds and a face to face meeting can be rather awkward for both of you.
    -Post more than one photo and make sure at least one is of you doing something you love. My boyfriend I met online, ignored any profiles that only had staged photo studio pics. For example, if you like reading, post that adorable picture of you in your pj’s and glasses curled up on the couch with your dog.
    -Keep it positive! Write about what you are looking for, not what you aren’t.
    -(As many writing professors have said) show, don’t tell me why you’re awesome.
    -Please, please, please, don’t mention past relationships.

    If you’re feeling stuck or unsure, have a friend help. Heck, have a profile writing party with your guy and gal friends, and invite your coupled friends–they’ll have great insights too.

  • Colleen Sweeney

    The book thing is definitely a good one. And some guys may just go through a list of books and list them there. Make the effort and ask them. It’s an ice-breaker, so that works in your favor. For me, I get the guys who use gangsta speech and think I am so uneducated woman who likes the beach. I am so much more than that, if you’d take the time to read the profile. That’s another thing: keep your profile short, guys don’t want to read dissertations.

  • Jessica Jones

    I live in Jacksonville, and I’m 25, based on what my friends have told me about the online suitors in this area, I’d run! One guy found my friend out at a bar she was taking her visiting father to, called her out from her dating account and then proceeded to stick his tongue in her mouth (in front of her dad!). Too terrifying.

    • Colleen Sweeney

      Wow. I panicked about that sort of thing living in a small town.

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