Last week I shared my six pet peeves about middle-aged men's online dating profiles, and I promised everyone that this week I'd focus on middle-aged women's online dating profiles. Since I'm far more familiar with men's profiles, I recruited some of my single male friends (and the Twittersphere) to help me with this post. The following list is my best attempt at summarizing the results of my informal survey, with a few of my own observations based on a bit of research I conducted myself. Disclaimer: if you're a woman between the ages of 45 and 60, living in the Chicagoland area, and I popped up on your "Viewed Me" list, I'm sorry, really. Anyway, here goes:
- Waaaay too Many Pet Photos. This was a huge complaint among the men I interviewed. They are looking at your profile to learn more about you, not your pets. So delete the pet photos, particularly the ones without you in them. Oh and while we're on the topic of pet photos, I have a personal request of all you single, middle-aged women out there on dating websites: please, please, please delete any and all photos of your cats. This is so important. I can't emphasize it enough. Single, middle-aged women already have to deal with far too many negative stereotypes, and the cat photos (you cuddling with your cats, you kissing your cats, multiple cats on your bed) only serve to reinforce them. I once wrote a blog post about how dating sometimes made me feel undesirable, and I got hundreds of comments from single middle-aged men throughout all of North America informing me that I must live in a dark apartment with 100 or so cats, so really, please delete them.
- No. More. Instagram. Photos. I love Instagram photos because many of the filters make my eyes look strikingly blue (or green, or lavender), and some even shave about 10 years off my face. But do I post these photos on my online dating profile? No I do not. Why? Because my eyes aren't really that blue (or green or lavender), and I'm about 10 years older than my Instagram photos would have you believe. This was the number one complaint among the men I interviewed - artistically filtered (i.e., deceptive) photos. Truth in advertising ladies, truth in advertising.
- Looking for Your Knight in Shining Armor. I'm not sure if men have an issue with this one, but I find it a tad bit, well, exploitative when women don't list an occupation or income level, and yet have a lower income limit for men of $150,000 per year. C'mon now, it's 2015. Let's put our interests and actions where our collective feminist mouths are. Gender equity means we are financially responsible for ourselves. Period.
- Athletic and Toned Means, well, Athletic and Toned. I hate the body descriptors as much as you do (well, except for you size 0 women out there, you probably love them), but I do think it's important that we at least strive for honesty. The word on the street is that far too many women out there in the online dating world are using the "athletic and toned" descriptor in reference to their "about average" bodies (this complaint applies to men as well, of course). The thing is, there really isn't anything wrong with having an about average (or curvy) body so let's take the pressure off ourselves and heed the advice of Amy Schuler, and recognize once and for all that a little meat on our bones isn't going to kill us, and it isn't going to drive away the good guys either (right, good guys?).
- Tone Down the Boudoir Shots. You say you want a quality man who respects you as a human being and is interested in having a serious relationship with you, and then you post photos of yourself next to your bed (or on your bed, or in your bed, or in someone else's bed). And if you aren't posting photos of yourself next to your bed, (or on your bed, or in your bed), you're posting photos with far too much cleavage. Now, that's absolutely fine -- I have no problem at all with this, and I'm sure many men don't have a problem either -- but what some men do have a problem with is when women post said super-sexy glamour shots and then complain to their friends, or make statements on their profiles about how all men are dogs and only want them for sex. And while we're on the subject of complaint-filled profiles...
- Stop Using Your Profile to Complain about Men. Several men noted how many women's online dating profiles are comprised primarily of complaints about men - either their profiles, or their behavior in general. I agree with the men on this one. There is no point in using your profile narrative as a soapbox for your negative perception of all single, middle-aged men (for heaven's sakes use a blog for that). So while I'm certain there are men (and women) out there who are logged on and behaving badly, I believe that women must take responsibility for their own choices. We can maintain our positive expectations while at the same time heeding our inner voice that warns us when something isn't quite right. Far too often some women are guided not by common sense, but by wishful thinking and a desire to be nice and not appear rude, so we ignore the big, red flashing warning lights raging in our heads and proceed without caution. I once met a woman who expressed great sadness that she just couldn't trust the men she met online. She then proceeded to tell me a story about one of these men who spent days (yes, days) wooing her via email. He told her stories of his limitless wealth and his connections to powerful people all over the world. She slept with him on the second date (after he promised to whisk her off to a private island that next weekend). But that's not all. She also gave him all of her identifying information when he told her that she needed to be vetted by "his people." And guess what? Yep! Her identity was stolen. Complaining about how she could just no longer trust men she met online was a bit like complaining about how she could just no longer trust Nigerian princes.
One more thing. I would like to ask all of my middle-aged online dating male and female compatriots a favor. Please, let's rid our profiles of these overused phrases once and for all: glass-half-full, sensual, drama-free, and easygoing. And these, let's omit these too: "I look 10 years younger than I am," "I hate talking about myself, but..." and any and all derivatives of "my friends/mom/ex/kids tell me that ...I'm a glass-half-full optimist, who is easy going and looks 10 years younger than I am." I think that if we can all agree to clean up our profiles then maybe, just maybe, we can find some common ground and get back to the business of falling in love (or at least having fun trying).
Earlier on Huff/Post50: