In the online dating world, you are your picture and your profile.
So as I prepare to dip a toe into that world, I’m thinking a lot about which pictures to post and what to say in my profile.
The profile — describe yourself in 1,000 words — presents an interesting challenge. Having reviewed a number of profiles to see how others manage this challenge, I can tell that people really struggle with this. Some are uncomfortable writing about themselves; others are uncomfortable writing. I do not have those problems (see, e.g., this blog). My problem is different:
I am too honest.
The point of the profile is, clearly, to reduce yourself to words without reducing yourself. The tone of these profiles is relentlessly positive; never is heard a discouraging word. Apparently we’re perfect only in our mother’s eyes and in our dating profile.
The problem for me is I seem to be incapable of writing about myself in anything other than a warts-and-all style (see, e.g., this blog).
Part of this is functional. I simply do not have time to date the world. If there is something about me that will eventually drive you away, I’d rather you figure that out now on your own than after six time-consuming dates with me, time I could have better spent with someone who liked me, warts-and-all. Self-selection is a powerful force for the time-constrained. That being said, I’m concerned that if I admit any weakness in my profile, people will assume I must be severely damaged goods (after all, no one else admitted any weaknesses), so I will end up with too much self-selection and, as a result, too much time on my hands.
So I am trying to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative, but it is a real struggle.
For example, I wrote “I am an incurable romantic seeking my one true love” but then had to add “so long as my one true love lives less than 15 miles away and west of the 405.” In Los Angeles seeing someone who lives more than 15 miles away, or on the other side of the 405, is, by definition, a long-distance relationship, and I have no interest in spending more of my life sitting in traffic, even if it is to see my one true love, so I question whether I’m even a romantic after all. I struck that sentence.
Or I wrote “My job challenges me in all the right ways” but on reflection added “and many of the wrong ways.” No one has the perfect job, and I struggle, like you, with all sorts of crap at work, and the last thing I want to convey is that I am somehow the only guy in the world with a job that isn’t sucking his soul. So I struck that sentence.
It is really tricky to describe honestly who you are looking for. Most people speak in meaningless generalities, saying they’re looking for “a strong, confident partner who seeks the best from herself and those around her,” when we know they’re really looking for a woman with a huge rack and loose morals. But you can’t say that. In my case, not being one of those body part fetishists, and being truly interested in mind as well as body, I’ve figured I can reduce this to a simple algorithm: “If IQ > lbs., yes, else no.” I’ve been persuaded to strike that and will go instead with the “strong, confident” blather that filters out no one. This means I will have to sift through a lot of women with less-than-stellar intelligence, including some with huge racks and loose morals. I guess it could be worse.
One of the dating sites asks you “What do you do on a typical Friday night?” The right answer is something like “On a typical Friday night, when not fending off eager suitors, I am surrounded by my plentiful friends as we attend intimidatingly-intellectual cultural experiences or recreate the Algonquin round table or have crazy fun times of the sort only hinted at in beer commercials.” Clearly not my life, so instead I wrote “On a typical Friday night I am staring into the abyss as waves of existential dread wash over me. Or I go out.” I’m keeping those sentences.