Fair warning: this is more a rant than a true advice post. Even so, I firmly believe that my suggestions are credible and valid.
First, a little background. My regular readers (all three of you) can skip this part. For most of the last four years, I’ve been active on many different dating sites, but most of my efforts have been as a paid member of match dot com, and a free member on plenty of fish. During this time, I have written to hundreds of ladies. I don’t know exactly how many; I stopped counting at two hundred. Less than ten responded in any way. Personalized responses (rather than an automated, “Thanks but no thanks” reply) can be enumerated using the digits on one hand. Only one said yes to an initial meeting, but she disappeared before the details could be worked out.
During this time I did go out with three ladies. One didn’t make it to a second date, one “relationship” crashed and burned short of three months, and the third detonated at a few days under six months. None were the result of contact that I initiated on a dating site. Yes, I’m bitter. At the same time, I’ve seen many active (new pictures, edits) ladies’ profiles spanning years who seem to be having about as much luck as I’ve had.
It’s not widely advertised, but men outnumber women on dating sites by about four to one, on average. Between that and the genetic predisposition to pursue that many men possess, ladies aren’t likely to want for attention, absent a serious disability or disfigurement. But, as you know if you’ve been active for more than three days, quantity does not equal quality. It is my intention to help with the latter.
First and foremost, don’t join a site unless you’re available and genuinely interested in meeting new people. If your interest or availability changes, update or delete your profile promptly, as appropriate.
Clearly state what you’re looking for, both generally from a relationship and specifically in a match. Spell out your requirements and any deal breakers. Be reasonable, but use it as a way to throttle responses. You got a hundred messages on the first day? Tighten up your requirements. Make some of your strong preferences deal breakers. One message in two weeks? Take a hard look at your requirements and decide if you’re being reasonable to demand a clone of Richard Gere, unless (or even if) you look like Julia Roberts.
Tip: Even if you do find him, he’ll probably be a dick and you won’t want to keep him. Tall, good looking guys don’t have to be nice to get women, so they often aren’t. Those of us who are short, somewhat overweight and out of shape, and average looking know our limitations. We work extra hard to be a good catch. There are exceptions, but generally speaking, you can have either a hot guy or a nice guy. Not both in the same person.
Don’t set your standards too high. That guy you just blew off because his message and/or profile didn’t wow you? Obviously not all that witty or clever, but he may be the kindest and most attentive man you’ll ever meet. Think twice before you say no. And when you do say no, if there was a specific reason, gently sharing that information would be greatly appreciated. We like to know why we are being rejected. If we know, perhaps we can avoid it in the future.
Also, realize that the process is going to require time and effort on your part. Don’t start if you don’t have the ability and willingness to invest a fair amount of both into the endeavor.
Answer. Every. Message. Except for those that are rude or disrespectful, are less than ten words total, or whose authors obviously don’t meet your requirements, every message deserves a response. Even if it’s simply, “Thanks, but no thanks,” take the thirty seconds to write back. If we meet (or are very close to) your requirements, don’t have any of your stated deal breakers, take the time to read your profile and write a polite message to you, we deserve at least acknowledgment. If you can’t manage that, you should find a different method of dating, or give up and resign yourself to a life alone.
Don’t try to excuse it by saying that everyone does it, or by putting something like, “If I don’t reply…” in your profile. That’s lazy. And a cop out. And it’s hateful and rude. If you do it anyway, you need to die painfully. Preferably in a fire. This is my biggest pet peeve with online dating. Can you tell?
Don’t say (much less start your profile with) something along the lines of, “My kids are my world/are my life/will always come first.” Any adult of at least average intelligence knows that unless you’re a horrible parent, your kids are very important to you, and you will take care of and protect them to the best of your ability. Spelling it out like that sends a completely different message, though, whether you realize it or not. This is what a statement like that really says to us:
If you enter a relationship with me, you will be required to accept and love my kids. You will probably be expected to help provide for them eventually. However, you will not have any say in raising them, disciplining them, or any other meaningful aspect of their life. They will get their every wish before your needs and wants will even be considered. You will be forbidden to have (much less voice) any opinion of them besides how great and wonderful they are. When conflicts arise that involve them, even indirectly, I will automatically take their side against you. They will get the benefit of every doubt, and you will get none. I may very well end our relationship over such a conflict, even if you have done nothing wrong. Proceed at your own peril.
If that is how you are, by all means leave those comments in your profile. We will
avoid you like the plague steer clear of you. Otherwise, please consider putting a little less emphasis on your offspring. We males of the species know that your kids are a significant part of the package, and understand that we will often take a back seat to them. All but the most unreasonable among us are fine with that. Most of us are parents, too. They are your kids, after all, and the final decisions will be yours. But we would like to have our opinions at least seriously considered before being rejected. Any man worth having needs to know that he has the chance to earn a place by your side as an equal, not be forever banished as a subordinate who is, and always will be, subject to suffer at the whims of your children.
By all means, disclose the existence of the furry members of your household. However, unless your pets are so important to you that anything short of unbridled exuberance at the thought of meeting them is a deal breaker for you, don’t make half of your profile pictures either of your pets, or of you with your pets. If we’re an animal person, we’ll ask you about them, and you can share your cute photos then. If we’re not fans, just the information that you have them will probably cause us to skip over you. But a high number of pictures, or frequent mention of them and how much you love them may very well scare away those of us who are good guys, but don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other.
We don’t want to play second fiddle to your dog. And most of us don’t want to smell dog on you from ten feet away because it sleeps with you and when you’re not home it lives in your clean laundry basket. Been there. Did that. Was thoroughly disgusted. Refuse to repeat the experience.
Don’t be afraid to write to us first. I know that most of you will be busy answering your incoming mail, but if you have time and notice someone who catches your eye, write. I saw a profile some time ago in which this lady bragged about having never written to anyone first. My immediate reaction? You’re still looking, too, aren’t you? Maybe there’s a corollary there.
That’s pretty much all I have for you. Happy hunting.