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.

5 Comments on Online Dating: I Did It For the Blog Post

  1. I totally signed up for online dating for post-divorce dating practice and blog fodder. It ended up being a good experience. Have fun with it and just don't take any of it too seriously! 😉

    • Glad I'm not the only one with other intentions! 🙂 Good to know another person who had a positive online dating experience. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Online dating is how I met my husband many years ago. I signed up partially as a joke, and partially to see if it did work. I was tired of meeting men in clubs and bars, so I tried. I never thought it would work out. Although, I do agree with you. Online dating is not for everyone.

    • That's awesome you met your husband through online dating, Angie! I love hearing those success stories. It wasn't for me. Maybe I'll try again in the future now that I got this blog post out of my system. 😉

  3. You are wise beyond your years. I hope that the Times and the Huffington Post pick up this blog because it is a true gem. Single people can learn a lot from your suggestions and I can't believe that people post no shirt selfies !
    Call me and old prude but at least a shirt with a collar, well maybe a tee would do if his abs are great.
    There is someone out there for you, of this I am sure.

    BPinVA

    P.S. You were so generous to edit the older gentleman's profile. I wish you both good luck on and off the internet.

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