I have been a member of a popular online dating service for a little over a year now, and I have to say that, overall, I'm pleasantly surprised by the quality of men I've met online. While I haven't yet met "the one," I remain hopeful that eventually, I will. Yet despite my generally positive experiences, I have come across a few (hundred) profiles that completely baffle me in a these-men-clearly-were-not-raised-with-sisters-and-can't-possibly-have-any-female-friends sort of way. Like the man who thought that selecting the username "Undertaker" was a good idea, or the guy who shot his photos in a room that clearly screamed "locked residential facility." Or, the childless man who expressed his deep desire to meet a woman with young children (preferably boys). One of my all-time favorites though was the man who spent half his profile narrative writing about how he was still deeply in love with his ex-wife, but since she wouldn't take him back, he was forced to find love online (yay us!).
Some of these profiles represent random oddities, the one-in-a-hundred profile with an eyebrow-raising narrative or a few gasp-worthy photographs. These profiles can actually be a wonderful source of entertainment, particularly if wine is involved. But what I find somewhat troubling are some rather disturbing trends I've noted in many men's profiles who seem to be quite normal otherwise. I do empathize, really. Many of us are dating novices, jumping back into the dating pool after years (sometimes decades) of marriage and child-rearing. We're all winging it to a certain extent, unsure of what the other sex is looking for, or how to get their attention. But these gaffes are so obvious that I think it's time someone opens a dialogue and asks the important question: Why? No really, why?
I'm not the only one noticing these trends. Often, when I get together with my single girlfriends the subject of some men's online dating profiles is raised with a collective "what in the world were they thinking??" From time to time I've looked past these profile peculiarities and gone out with some of these men because I sensed they were really nice guys. And let's just say that I wasn't surprised when they shared their frustrations with online dating - of rarely receiving emails from women, of their emails often going unanswered. I wanted to grab these men by their shoulders, and give them a robust (albeit friendly) shake, while sharing my suspicions about their errant marketing techniques. But I have always resisted the temptation to do so out of a fear of appearing rude and ill-mannered.
So instead, I've decided to blog about it! And without further adieu, here is some friendly advice for all of my middle-aged brothers who are trying to find love online and not having much success. This advice should be placed under the broad umbrella of Know Your Audience:
- Please remove all of the fishing photos from your profile, now. The number of men's profiles with fishing photos truly baffles me. I mean, nothing says love and romance like a sweaty man holding a 16" writhing and bleeding smallmouth bass, right? Wrong! Think of it this way: if you're trying to impress your fellow fishing buddies, keep the fishing photos, but if you want your profile to appeal to women, my advice is, scrap 'em. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn't make it right.
- Avoid the temptation to use sports-themed usernames, sports-themed narratives, or sports-themed photos. Of course, a brief mention of your love of sports is fine. There are many women out there who love sports as well, and I'm certain they would love to watch your favorite team with you. But remember, you are attempting to appeal to the female demographic, not your buddies, thus boasting about how you spend every single night and all weekend watching sports sends the wrong message, plain and simple.
- I can't say it any clearer than this: Do not post any selfies of yourself looking into your bathroom mirror, period. Seeing a man standing next to an open toilet, or even a toilet paper dispenser, is an immediate turn off. Take a selfie the way everyone else in the world does, by using a selfie stick and pretending as though you're doing something fun (like fishing or watching football). Or, if you don't have a selfie stick, take your profile photo the old fashioned way by tapping the reverse camera view on your smart phone and then snapping a selfie in your car. Worst comes to worst, have a friend take an action shot of you standing alone with a glass of wine pretending to laugh at someone just out of view. If you don't have a single friend who can take your photo, or you don't own a smartphone, then you probably shouldn't be dating in the first place.
- Do everyone a favor (including yourself) and select an appropriate dating age range. Just because most online dating services allow you to select a wide dating age range doesn't mean you should. If you're 50, your lower age limit really shouldn't be under 38, regardless of how much money you earn or how much hair you have (okay, 35 tops, but only if you're super hot).
- Stop telling us that you don't want a woman with drama. We get it. You don't like drama. But unless you're willing to go the extra mile and define exactly what you mean by "drama" it just sounds like you want a woman without a past or emotions. So be specific, please. Also, I'd like to point out that there is such a thing good drama too (so there!).
- Right now, before doing anything else, delete all of the naked upper torso shots. This includes the ones that seem spontaneous (as if you were unaware of the camera), including you lifting weights shirtless, you pulling yourself out of the pool shirtless, you casually frolicking in the waves shirtless, and yes, even you posing with your kids at the pool or beach or gym, shirtless. Shirtless photos make you seem narcissistic and insecure, so unless that's the message you're trying to send us, delete them.
Okay, that's it for now. I hope you find these helpful hints useful. Next week I'll post my advice for women. Here's a hint: Avoid usernames with the words sexy, vixen, pouty, kisser, or kitten in them, unless you're trying to attract men who want to bang you in their mother's basement and never call you again.