What would you do to find true love? What have you done to chase your romantic happiness?
In the next few hours, millions of men, women, and children will celebrate, mark, or otherwise pull their pants down and moon the world’s most romantic day to profess their love of someone special, or make a mockery of all the commercialism associated with this day. While I have my own romantic tendancies, I have to admit that I wouldn’t really be doing much more with Valentine’s Day this year if Wikileaks founder Julian Assange hadn’t been arrested. Let me explain.
Confession: before I get into Assange’s mash up connection to Valentine’s Day, I have a confession to make. I secretly like certain aspects of Valentine’s Day. I like how it unites everyone to think about love at the same time versus our individual anniversaries and special moments of love. I like how it gives shy people license to take a chance and tell someone “you’re special.” Like most of you, I don’t like the commercial aspect, or how some people demand that their loved ones prove their feelings through extravagant gifts. Sometimes it’s just spending time together that is the most precious gift of all.
But I am a romantic, and I do believe in love in all its forms. Years ago, a man I loved shared a story of trama regarding Valentine’s Day. As a young boy, his elementary school class decided to pick a child to withhold Valentine’s from as a joke. While everyone else opened their cards and exchanged candied hearts, he received nothing. From then on, he hated Valentine’s Day. When I heard that story retold by this broken-hearted man, I asked his roommate to give me permission to enter the house while he was away, and I hid over thirty Valentine’s Day cards all over the home: in the refrigerator, cupboards, medicine cabinet, books, sheets, and clothing. He ended up finding these cards for months to come, and said it was the sweetest thing anyone had ever done for him.
Fast forward: I took some time to carefully remove the footprints of someone off my heart. Memories are often tender and bittersweet, and while I don’t believe it is possible to forget, even if I could remove them, I think they help define who we are, and who we’re becoming; thus we must not forget. In my economy, the memories are lovingly reframed, stored, and flipped through from time to time. But one day, I was going through my Twitter feed and caught a bit of a story about Julian Assange, and how he had a very cocky profile on a dating site called OK Cupid. While I never looked at that profile, I was intrigued. Why did someone like Julian Assange have a profile on OK Cupid? Wasn’t that, well, weird?
Can you hear the problem with this question? I once believed that the only people who used online dating were those having difficulty finding anyone to date because of something they lacked, rather than what has happened to the way we live as a society. Our busy lives, the way we work, and even ways we are housed make it difficult for people to find love. Many are turning to online dating because technology (and a good profile!) increase the odds of meeting more compatible people in a shorter period of time. While opposites may attract, psychology has taught that similarities tend to attract for the long haul.
My secret revealed: for this Valentine’s Day (and the days leading up to it), I have quietly placed a personal profile on OK Cupid with the goal of testing it for thirty days, accepting a few dates after using the free service, and sharing with my readers what it’s like to try online dating for the first time.
You might be surprised to hear this, but my first 120 hours into online dating have been really positive and mostly fun. Within the first ten minutes, I received over twenty five responses; in 48 hours, over a hundred messages, winks, requests, and profile reads. I now have several dates and meetups to casually chat F2F with those who have virtually conversed with me.
How did I do it? Here are my seven best tips for successful online dating.
1. Use a current photo that is really you. Men, if you think women don’t care how you look, please take a hard look in the mirror, and get some constructive criticism if necessary. Smile, and make sure you don’t look scary. Ask a woman about your picture if you are unsure about it. Bottom line: you should look friendly and approachable. Ladies: you do not need to put your sexist picture ever on your profile. Be yourself. Of course, if you are a sex kitten, that’s going to come across in your photos anyways.
2. Write a profile that gives an honest snapshot of what you’re like, and what you’re looking for. If you’re not honest, you will only receive what you put into it.
3. As you receive requests for contact, weed out the ones that aren’t of interest to you, and see if there’s a pattern among those you deselected. Go back and adjust your profile accordingly. People do read these profiles.
4. Be polite. Thank people for contacting you, and be honest about your level of contact or interest. Don’t waste anyone’s time, and don’t be mean just because conversation isn’t being done face to face.
5. Look at other profiles you admire, and adjust your own if it helps you to improve your own profile. Refrain from listing every single like and dislike you have. Not only is that exhausting for the reader, it isn’t the best way to get to know someone. A profile is designed to give people a snapshot, not a novel. If you want to write a novel, contact a publishing house and get paid five cents a word. With a profile, remember it’s like shampooing directions: Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Don’t leave your profile static. Add, amend, and tuck in little bonuses now and again. Add onto your profile with other features of the online dating website.
6. Write down five adjectives about yourself that you enjoy. For example: funny, kind, adventurous, creative, spontaneous. Next, make sure those five adjectives are reflected in multiple ways throughout the profile without using those specific words. For example, if you enjoy humor, share about how you have a standup comedy routine, or what is your favorite comedy movie. If you are kind, write about the charities you volunteer for, or what you enjoyed doing for a neighbor, coworker or family member. Stories say so much more than pure descriptors.
7. Ask specific questions regarding the other person’s profile. Ask someone to elaborate on a point s/he started. Don’t simply say, “Tell me something about yourself.” Writing that to someone is like saying, “I didn’t bother to read your profile, so I’m going to ask the most open-ended question I can think of to try to hide the fact that I wasn’t paying attention.”
One thing I enjoyed about a couple of profiles I saw is how the men enlisted the help of friends to write a sentence or two in reference. A few references are fine: an entire profile made up of other people’s words are not.
And a few don’ts:
1. Don’t leave your profile unedited. Check your spelling and grammar. One inquirer wrote only two sentences, but had four spelling errors [ouch].
2. If someone doesn’t respond immediately, do not keep sending messages. Wait. If you don’t hear anything, the other person may not wish to respond. Don’t get hung up. Move on. If you pester for a response, you’re likely to be met with silence.
3. Don’t focus on one aspect of a person. It’s a compliment to say, “You’re beautiful”, or “You’re really smart” a time or two, but if you don’t go beyond those comments, you’re only scratching the surface. Many factors go into a successful relationship, so you want to become better at interviewing and listening.
4. Unless you believe in true love at first sight, try refraining from wedding proposals, requests to bear children with the person, and professions of determination to make the other person your girlfriend/boyfriend/lover [yes, I have received all of those in under a week].
Editor’s note: I’m addressing the needs of those who are using online dating as a way to meet potential long-term relationships. If you’re just looking at hookups, some of these tips will not apply to you.
Well, we’ve come to the functional question of this post. What are you doing for Valentine’s Day this year? And what am I doing? While one in five people surveyed around the world indicated they’d rather spend their V-day with their pet than a partner, I checked it out with Charles-Monet the cat, and he’s going to watch a chick flick alone while I go out on a, um [gulp] date!
Want a cute video to send you honey bunny for V-day? I made one just for you!
Happy V-day everyone!
Need a few pointers on kissing? Violet Blue’s Seal It With a Kiss is a sweet book that makes you enjoy the art of kissing all over again.
Editor’s Note: Matt Inman (the Oatmeal) re-released some of his comics about dating today. Just about pee’d my pants reading this. Check it out! Phases of Dating.
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