A first date is pretty much a sexualized job interview. You spend a ton of time getting dressed, carefully considering what each article of clothing you choose might say about you. You do your research (depending on where you met and how much information you can obtain in advance). You might even practice in the mirror how to respond to certain questions.
Once on the date, you try not to fidget too much, bite your nails, pick your skin. You try to respond to questions intelligently, showing aspects of your personality while hiding others. If you feel the chemistry's right, you try to put your best foot forward and leave a lasting impression that proves why you're the right fit.
At the same time, you're sizing up your date. Do they have potential? The right credentials to warrant making the commitment? Is this someone you can imagine yourself with for an extended period of time? After each date, you wonder what the next steps will be. Will you hear from them? Will they call you back? Will you never speak to them again?
Sometimes, the first "interview" goes well and you arrange a follow-up date. Other times, you never hear back, even though you were positive you both had an incredible time.
In these situations, it's impossible not to be reflective about the big, looming question: WHY? It's even harder to not turn the mirror on yourself, examining and critiquing the facets of your personality that may have been off putting. To ponder what red flags you might have put forth to make a person say "not for me."
That's why, when a few weeks ago, I got an email from someone who had read this very blog and, as the creator of an online dating platform, was interested in my demoing his site and giving him honest feedback, I jumped at the opportunity.
The founder of IgniteYourMatch.com, described his site as helping people with their online dating profiles: "Ten men or women critique the profile. People can now use crowd-sourced information to improve their profiles and their chances of getting dates and finding love." Hearing his explanation, I said, why not, uploaded my OKCupid profile and sat back to let the comments roll in.
While awaiting my feedback, it felt remarkably like the moment when you send a resume in and await the much-anticipated request for an interview. What are they thinking? Do they see something they like? I anxiously awaited the ping of my email and after a brief 10-minute period, the first comments arrived.
As the remaining nine reviews populated my inbox, I tried to read them over with an open mind. These were complete strangers, who having never met me, were passing judgment (though the truth is, that's precisely what happens in the world of online dating.) Without an in-person interview, you have to somehow put forth something that others might find enticing enough to warrant arranging an in person meeting. So I read on.
Some of my favorite comments:
1.Any red flags? "Has cats" (This made me giggle. As the daughter of a veterinarian, animals are a huge part of my life. I just loved how bluntly my reviewer had stated this.)
2. Does any part of my profile turn you off immediately? "It actually turns me on immensely ;)" (No explanation needed.)
3. What are my best aspects and qualities that I can emphasize more in my profile? "I like your diversity in what you like to do. I really like the writing and the reading. Things like that are things that women are normally afraid to put on their profile. Go for it! Be different!" (Reading is apparently cool and not many people do it. So smart is sexy again?)
I could go on and on but I think you get the gist. Some of the comments were a bit harsh, others humorous albeit mildly inappropriate. Overall, the experience of seeing how people responded to my digital presence in a situation where there is nothing to lose by being honest, was an interesting one. After reading the reviews, I definitely changed some aspects of my profile, removing elements that were considered off-putting in multiple reviews and capitalizing on elements that begged for more information.
My comments were free but for a 10-person review, it usually costs $29. If you're interested in hearing what people have to say about your site and have wondered what image you project to the dating world, I think it's 29 dollars well spent. You might even figure out how to get that coveted interview.