I have a wonderful, younger, recently wed male cousin who has decided it is his mission in life to remind me that “time’s running out.” In his words, “You’re getting old Cheryl! What are you waiting for?!” When I try to explain how difficult it is to find a suitable mate he asserts that I’m not trying. It’s a funny thing to think about – how do you try to date? I hang out in places I enjoy and do things I like but to make a concerted effort to date? I’ve been having problems with that one. I’ve never been a “good” dater.
But I’m trying. I’m trying real hard. But everywhere I look tells me that I should try harder which has led me to Internet dating. Yes, this is what it’s come to since every time I think it’s okay to be over 35 and enjoy a single life something reminds me that I must be delusional. This week’s reminder was brought to me by 30 Rock. Tina Fey’s character is having relationship problems. While donating blood she goes into an unprovoked account of her recent dating woes and confides to the black nurse that she is going to break up with her boyfriend. The nurse looks at her chart, “Hmm, 35. Single. No children. Maybe it’s time for you to just settle.” Cue laughter. Wait, that’s me!
Well, I decided to share this wonderful journey with you. If you’ve never searched a dating site (and you probably have but won’t admit it) the ground rules are simple: 1. Everyone has to have a username, tagline, and profile; 2. Photographs are optional but highly recommended. That sums it up. I’m currently listed on Yahoo! Personals. After a few weeks on the market here are some of my observations/annoyances/experiences.
Your first line of contact is usually an e-mail and let me give any guys reading this some advice, make it personal. There is nothing more unflattering than receiving a generic e-mail. Even Spam cares enough to put my name in the subject line. I’m not asking for a ten-page letter listing each of my attributes. In fact, you can have a template and just tweak it with a line or two to let me know that you did more than see my picture and decide to go for it. Let me give you some assistance – if a woman says she enjoys spelunking then mention it in your introduction. It doesn’t need to be anything spectacular just something to let me know that the 100 other women you’re contacting aren’t receiving the exact same pick-up line.
If your e-mail is the first line of contact then your picture is the first impression. It’s hard to understand how something as simple as posting a recent, good quality picture can be a stumbling block for so many?
Let’s start with the guy who doesn’t post a picture. This is one area where you really don’t want to leave it to my imagination. My new rule of thumb is ignoring any communication from someone without a photo and no, I’m not being shallow. What was one of the qualities that attracted you to my profile? The witty headline? Nope! And do you expect me to believe that you’re contacting women who don’t have a photo? Nope!
Okay, so I found a profile that has a photo but it’s a little out of date. I know you think that great snapshot from your 30th birthday party would be perfect for your profile but here’s the problem – you turned 40 last month. Don’t post old pictures because it reeks of bait and switch. I get that you were a hottie back in the day but if you show me a picture from a few years ago I need you to hop in your time machine and make sure that’s the person who shows up to the date. And in all fairness, if you’ve made any major changes in the past year like getting fatter, grayer, balder, skinnier, etc. then post a recent picture that looks like you or a reasonable facsimile of what will show up on our date.
If I can’t tell if the picture is showing you or the ever elusive Sasquatch then post a higher quality picture. Again, warning bells are set off by someone who puts grainy, out of focus shots of himself as if he’s intentionally being vague about his looks. No, I will not give you the benefit of the doubt. I will think Sasquatch is a safer bet.
Big Foot or Friday’s hot date?
Have you heard the expression, “Even a broken clock is right twice a day?” Well, same goes for just posting one picture. I am suspicious if there’s only one picture because I’m sure somewhere there’s one photo of Mike Tyson with the right lighting and a great angle that’ll turn me on. This is especially true for hat guys; the ones who are ridiculously cute in their hats but fail to mention the receding hairline or thinning hair that the hat is covering. I need more than one picture but this leads me to…
Don’t post too many pictures. It feels like I’ve sat through a vacation slide show when you have more than six pictures and I’ll honestly get bored, yes bored, from looking at all the pictures. I will also think you’re a narcissist.
Hey look! The gang’s all here! All of them right in the photograph and I can’t tell which one is the person of possible interest. Group photos are cool for posting on Facebook but not such a great idea for your profile. Beware if you post a picture with you and your boys it’s only natural for me to compare them to you and if someone’s outshining you… Oh, and as an aside, posting pictures with you and another female, even if she’s not your ex-girlfriend, is a turnoff.
Whew, I think I’m finally done with pictures. Oh, there’s one last request. Don’t post scenic pictures. I don’t mean a picture of you in front of a beautiful sunset; I’m referring to the shot of a beautiful beach with crystal clear blue water lapping gently along the shore while the sun quietly sets in the background. Who cares?
I know it’s difficult to come up with a tagline but you’re screaming “BAGGAGE” when it’s filled with negativity. Here are samples of headlines from men who’ve contacted me:
“Women complain there’s (sic) no good men”
“Where are all the good women?”
“Looking for someone real”
“Good guys finish last”
And you’re not getting anywhere if I can’t understand it:
“tall seeks confident”
“hey nice brother coming youre way meet”
“Special man seeks special woman” – okay, I understand this one but it makes me giggle.
Yahoo! Personals scores pretty high on the unintentional laugh scale. They give this great option where you can respond “I’ll tell you later” to items that, well, you get the idea. This option is completely acceptable if you’re responding to salary. I find divulging my salary as a criterion for dating repulsive. If I share that information with a guy then we’re definitely beyond the “getting to know you stage,” so I completely understand when a guy uses ITYL as his response. However, if you reply ITYL to “do you have any kids” guess what? I already know the answer and my only question is how many? And under no circumstances am I touching a guy who lists ITYL with marital status. Are you kidding me? And why would you need to tell me your age later? Are you so old that you forgot it?
Guys, honesty really is the best policy because I’ll find out you “stretched the truth a little” in your profile especially if you’re lying about your height. Listen, I’m a legit 5’9″ so I know the difference between 6’0″ and 5’7″. Stop giving me your basketball height. It’s so disappointing to show up for a date in my funky chunky heels to stare at the top of your head. This lie is so common that I have a theory there must be an alternate gender-based measuring system where 5’7″ = 6’0″ for men and 165lbs = 130lbs for women.
A close second is body type. Many, many guys list themselves as fit or athletic and many, many guys are obviously lying or just have an inflated sense of self. And because you play a sport once a month doesn’t automatically give you an athletic body. You are not allowed a fit body type pass based solely on drinking diet soda instead of regular. Again, the moment we meet in person the jig is up so cut to the chase and use “average”. No shame in that.
Yahoo! Personals (as do many sites) allows you to see “who’s viewed me” and on what date, which is a pretty cool feature. You can disable this feature and view profiles anonymously. With this in mind, if I see that you are viewing my profile on a daily basis I’m not sure how to feel about it but I can tell you it ain’t warm and fuzzy. In fact, it’s more the call is coming from inside the house! feeling. Stop freaking me out. Say hi or move on.
I am not a rude person. In the real world I say hello and smile and I’m generally pleasant. However, in the virtual world if I didn’t respond to your first communication move on. I understand that silence can be interpreted as many things but most times a reply, even a negative one, encourages a rejoinder. I don’t want to engage you in a conversation as to why I don’t want to go out with you. People are paid by the hour to deal with such issues; I am not one of them. Here’s an example (verbatim) of a recent one-sided exchange:
On 10/01/2008 11:39 am EDT, Alton wrote:
Hello Cheryl,your profile caught my eye and if you email me i will respond back.My family means everything to me cause when others are gone they will still be there.
On 10/02/2008 12:48 pm EDT, Alton wrote:
Hello Cheryl,my name is Alton and i’ve email you a couple of times waiting for you to respond,all i’m asking is that you hold off on judging me until we’ve went the course.
On 10/04/2008 12:37 pm EDT, Alton wrote:
On 10/06/2008 10:07 am EDT, Alton wrote:
Hello Cheryl,how you doing?
There was a better example but this guy stepped out of bounds so I blocked him from contacting me again and deleted all of his IMs and e-mails before I realized how perfect his craziness would’ve been for the blog.
Oh, speaking of craziness, you will be Googled. Period. There’s not much you can do about it except remember whatever half-truths you told on your profile may be revealed via the Internet. For example, my co-worker searched the name of a potential suitor and came up with a few disturbing entries. It also revealed his profile pictures were at least ten years out of date. (As a side: I realized that he had contacted us both when she showed me the Google results. He also had a very distinctive name. I dodged a bullet on that one!)
And here are just a few more things to be mindful of:
- There is a difference between a compliment and a come-on. Let’s say one is nice as in “you have pretty eyes” and one is creepy as in “you know I’m a leg man.” Yuck.
- Please check the spelling of your profile. Big turn off when you say you own a jewelery (sic) store. Leads me to believe otherwise if you can’t spell it.
- The last one is age. It is quite apparent you’re not 39 so stop it. Now. You know what really gives it away? Your out of focus picture.
The journey continues. Next…my first date!