After my divorce was final, I decided to try online dating for two main reasons: 1) curiosity, and 2) my friends made me.
Oh, who am I kidding? I also wanted to write a blog post about it.
Friends warned me that when you first join an online dating site, you’re instantly bombarded with winks and likes and emails. That’s supposed to be exciting. Look at all these guys interested in me! Look at all the possibilities! Look at all the potential boyfriends and date nights and free dinners!
I was indeed instantly overwhelmed with men expressing interest. But I was also instantly underwhelmed by the possibilities.
My first online interaction came several weeks later. And it probably should have been an indication of what little desire I had to pursue this method of dating as well as what my overall online dating experience would be like.
I received an email from a very nice man who had clearly taken the time to read my profile and come up with relevant questions to start a dialogue. He told me about himself, and I liked his combination of confidence and self-deprecating humor. He seemed well established in his career, and we shared similar interests.
So what was wrong with him?
The man was old enough to be my father.
But because it was the most sincere email I had received on Match, I decided to write him back.
“Thank you so much for your thoughtful email. Unfortunately, I’m looking for someone closer to my age. But I wanted to respond and tell you that it was obvious you took the time to read my profile and compose an introduction that reflected both your interests and mine. I encourage you to continue that practice as you go forward with your dating journey. Best of luck. ”
He immediately wrote back.
“Thank you so much for your email. I understand the age difference thing, and I appreciate your effort to respond. You’re the classiest lady on this site. Best of luck to you too.”
I was celebrating the fact that I was just named the Classiest Lady on Match, when he emailed again.
“By the way, I see you’re a writer. Any chance you could take a look at my profile and give me some pointers?”
And there you have it. My first online dating interaction ended with me editing a man’s profile to help him meet other women.
My experience with online dating was short-lived and laughably unsuccessful, but I did pick up a few things along the way in case I ever decide to give it another go:
1. Usernames are important.
Make an attempt to come up with something unique other than your first name and your zip code. But if you’re not the creative type, don’t force it.
For instance, don’t use fancy words like “quixotic.” I get that you’re trying to make yourself sound smart, but you’ve probably just eliminated most of the women on Match because it’s easier to move on to the next guy than to find a dictionary.
Furthermore, it may be a turn on for some women, but if the word “Navy” is in your username, I’m running far far away.
And for goodness sakes, don’t include the word “lonely” in your username!
2. Profile pictures are your first impressions.
Your profile picture is the reason I either click on you or scroll past you. There are a lot of standard “rules” out there for the photos that generate the most success with online dating (yes, studies have been done!), and most people also have their own rules. One woman I know refuses to view a man if his profile picture is a selfie. Although I totally disagree, she believes this means he doesn’t have enough friends to take a picture of him.
What are my personal rules? I won’t click on you if you include the following in your profile picture:
- A cigarette.
- Another woman.
- Sunglasses. (Eyes reveal a lot. Don’t hide them unless you have something to hide.)
- A mask.
- Your tongue.
- So much distance from the camera that I can’t tell if you’re actually a person.
- A military uniform. (If you haven’t noticed, I’m over the whole military thing. Blog post to come.)
- No shirt.
- No shirt and flexing.
- No shirt and flexing and my abs are tighter than yours. ***
- No photo at all.
(***Just for the record, I have nothing against shirtless photos. Just not as your profile picture. Remember, this is a first impression. Would you meet me in a restaurant for a first date without a shirt on? Hopefully not. So don’t present yourself for the first time half-naked.)
3. Read my profile before emailing me.
As flattered as I was by your email that read, “U R HOT,” you clearly missed the part in my profile that let you know my profession. A writer probably wouldn’t be impressed by that gem. Sorry, but that won’t get you so much as a “TY.”
4. Use your words wisely.
Your initial written interactions reveal a lot about the kind of person you are. Keep that in mind before hitting send.
I had a date lined up with a Navy pilot. Although it never happened (thanks to miscommunication and then a 6-month deployment), I was already losing interest because he sounded more and more arrogant with each communication. I’ve had enough arrogance to last me a lifetime. Thanks, but no thanks.
I’m also not a fan of weirdness. I recommend asking interesting questions that help you stand out, but not so interesting that they’re borderline creepy. So while the dude who asked me who my favorite Muppet is did make himself stand out, it’s probably not for the reasons he was shooting for.
5. If you’re not ready to date, don’t date.
After my first date with you, I should not know your ex-wife’s name, where she lives, where her family lives, that you exchange emails with her every day, and the reason you got divorced. If you’re sharing these things with a woman you’re supposed to be trying to start a romantic relationship with, you’re probably not ready to date.
I also won’t open your profile if your status is “Currently Separated.” While I understand that men and women cope with divorce differently (namely, men tend to jump right back into the dating scene as soon as legally possible), I do not want to be your rebound person, and I definitely don’t want to be your tool to make your wife (because if you’re “currently separated,” she still is your wife) jealous because you think that’s how you’re going to win her back.
I may have given up on online dating prematurely, but I really don’t think it’s my thing. Maybe one day I’ll try again. Maybe I’ll return as a freelance profile editor. Who knows. But if I got nothing else from online dating, at least I got that blog post.