Internet Dating 104: Ladies & Gentlemen, Start your Search Engines
Once you write your profile and upload photos, it’s time to begin “the hunt.” The more specific your criteria, the fewer profiles your search will yield. For instance, if you’re only willing to meet men who are exactly 6’5, Zoroastrian, blue-eyed, bald, politically conservative, work in Finance and enjoy line dancing, you'll probably be disappointed.
Know your preferences. What qualities and characteristics are you looking for in another person? Have you ever thought about it? In addition to finding someone who shares mutual interests, consider personality traits and values that are important to you. Remember, outer beauty eventually fades, so you’d better hope that your “soulmate” has a good personality and sense of humor, too!
Be realistic. Do you resemble George Clooney? No? Then why are you only willing to meet women who look like Jessica Alba? Take a good look in the mirror and shoot for those who are in your general ballpark. People have a greater success rate with others of similar physical characteristics, (i.e., “7’s” with “7’s;” you very rarely see a “3″ with a “10″ unless the “3″ has 10’s of millions in the bank). If you don’t believe me, look it up in any Social Psychology textbook.
Deal-breakers and deal-makers. Know which qualities and traits are an absolute must (“he has a college education and is monogamous”), those that are absolute no-no’s (“he’s still separated and a smoker”), those that are tolerable (”she likes Jane Austen films; I like David Mamet”), and wish list traits (“it’d be great if she’s a gourmet cook, but, hey, that’s why take-out was invented.”)
Decisions, decisions, decisions. “There are so many profiles! Who should I e-mail?!” Don’t sweat it. It’s just an e-mail; not a marriage proposal. If you’re new to Internet dating, choose 5 or 6 profiles (or whatever number is comfortable) and contact them. Keep in mind, some, none, or all may respond.
Meeting a compatible person is a number’s game. When I was actively internet dating, my response rate was 6-7 replies to every 10 first e-mails sent and 1 out of 20 that I really liked. (I employed a broad range of criteria in my search). Additionally, just because a person responds to your e-mail doesn’t mean you’re obligated to meet them or even speak on the phone, if you’d rather not.
Profiles are best read with a grain of salt (or several grains of salt on the rim of a Margarita glass). I know it seems counter-intuitive, but don’t place too much stock in a person's profile. It isn’t necessarily an accurate reflection of how you’ll like the individual should you meet or that you’ll hear back from the person if you contact them.
Oftentimes, people present differently “on paper” than in reality. Taking each profile at face value can lead to feelings of discouragement and annoyance if you put too much credence into what someone’s written, especially if it turns out to be untrue. It’s like falling in love with a book and then seeing the film adaptation; the film usually disappoints.
Subtract 3; Divide by 2. Exaggeration, minimization and/or eradication of personal and physical attributes in profiles. A profile is an ad; an advertisement. In advertising, you’re supposed to “sell the sizzle,” but come on. Do you really think it’ll go unnoticed if in person you’re 3-inches shorter or 50 pounds heavier or bald or black (true story- it happened to me) or whatever you lied about in your profile once your date meets you?
There’s a cutural height bias whereby tall men are perceived as more successful; more everything. Perhaps as a result, many men augment their profile height. The following isn’t an absolute, but a general rule of thumb: If a man claims to be over 6′0, it’s highly probable he's his stated height. A man who claims to be 6′0 tall and/or under, has probably added a few fictitious inches to his profile stature.
Additionally, if a man’s willing to lie about his height, he’s more inclined to lie about other things. Therefore, subtract by 3 (if he claims to be 6′0 and under) and divide by 2 (if he claims his income is over $150,000- if income level matters to you, that is). It’s not always accurate, but it’s better to be forewarned because there’s a great deal of misrepresentation on the Internet. I’ve heard similar complaints from men about women’s Internet profiles, except that women tend to lie about weight, age, and sometimes about having kids. Odds and Ends. Here are some other conclusions I reached as a consequence of my Internet experience. Please take these with a grain of salt, too. Especially long profile essays lead me to question if the person’s a narcissist. Especially short essays make me wonder if they’ve anything to offer in a relationship. Profiles that are an endless stream of clichés don’t convey what’s special or unique about a person.
Alternately, some people don’t express themselves well in writing. Some people don’t know how to describe themselves because they haven’t had to do so before. Some people are modest and may not want to come across as “braggarts.” Some people don’t know what information to disclose and what information to keep under wraps until later. Sadly, some people don’t actually have a personality to describe.
Remember, Internet dating isn’t an exact science. Sometimes you need to give people the benefit of the doubt and a chance. Like anything in life, it requires self-knowledge, self-awareness, good judgment, good timing and good luck