Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Something interesting

People seem to think that online dating is hard.  According to most people I hear talking about it you need to go on dozens of first dates at the very minimum to meet somebody you are going to want to be with for any amount of time.  I have heard the estimate that only 10% of first dates actually lead to a second date.  I think the biggest reason that online dating is so tedious and inefficient is that people's profiles suck.  You can't guarantee that a person with a great profile is going to be a great match but at least it is a useful guideline.  The standard profiles out there are pretty much set up to be failures from the get go.

"I love dogs, having a glass of wine with friends, and Breaking Bad."

That is often the entirety of useful personal information people supply.  Oh, they have more words there, like "I am just living life the best I can." and "Getting by one day at a time." but those are utter wasted space, worthless filler with no meaning.  What exactly can you do with the knowledge that a person likes a glass of wine with friends, dogs, and Breaking Bad?  NOTHING.  Liking the same TV show is a useless indicator of long term compatibility, particularly when it is a hugely popular mainstream show.  Liking dogs and a glass of wine with friends narrows your search down to ... pretty nearly everyone?  Cutting out teetotallers with dog allergies is hardly relevant.

The fundamental problem here is that people are scared of revealing anything important.  They somehow feel like if they only say completely inoffensive, wholly irrelevant things that Magic will happen and their Perfect Lover will just swoop on in.  The advantage of internet dating is that it lets you look through huge numbers of people rapidly to search for important things you have in common and issues that could be dealbreakers.  If you have a thing that is important it should be in there so that you don't have to date a bazillion people who are going to break up with you or make you miserable on that basis.

Saying important things will put some people off.  This is an advantage!  Yes, some cute folks who have political views you find repugnant won't message you.  Yes, people who cannot deal with your religious belief / nonbelief will run away.  Yes, people whose sexual identity / style / kinks don't mesh at all well with yours won't want to date you.  Hurray, you just saved yourself twenty awkward first dates with people you don't want to date!  More importantly though when a person who is absolutely right for you stumbles across your profile they are way more likely to message you and to want to go out with you if they see all those things that match.  How is someone wonderful going to know how great your relationship could be if you look exactly the same as everyone else?

The epitome of this problem is the question on OKCupid "The most private thing I am willing to admit."  People constantly answer this one "Heh, not willing to say that here, get to know me first."  The bloody question says the most private thing you are *willing to admit*.  If you won't admit it, then it doesn't qualify!  By saying that you won't tell you are admitting that not only did you not understand the premise but you were also totally unwilling to offer something interesting, fun, or saucy.  The question is optional - you could have chosen to simply not answer it, but you decided it was important to emphasize that you have nothing to say.

At the very end of their profiles many of these folks complain that everyone who messages them has only looked at their picture.  If you refuse to say anything interesting what exactly are they supposed to comment on?  How much they also like Breaking Bad?  Your amazing and unpredictable shared liking of dogs?  Perhaps that they too have enjoyed a glass of wine and what an amazing coincidence!  Your picture is the only thing there that is remotely unique to you.  I totally empathize with how obsessed with appearance people are but if you want them to judge you by your amazing personality and interests and quirks then you have to write those down.

If you really want online dating to work then your profile should scare away those who aren't compatible with you and intrigue those who are.  To do this you have to write things that frighten you to say out loud and things that will offend others.  The scariest thing of all is someone who would be absolutely wonderful for you clicking on your profile, skimming through it, and then then clicking away again saying "Meh, wine, dogs, Breaking Bad, whatever.  Next."

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