Thursday, February 24, 2005

02/24/05 Thursday -- Internet Dating, The Rules

  1. Learn to write. Someone asked me once whether I had ever given thought to the fact that by eliminating from my potential dating pool people who aren't all that skilled in the English language (or any other for that matter), I might be missing out on some good stuff. Maybe. However... I don't care how thick are the rose coloured glasses you have on, get this straight: Dating is an interview. I don't care whether you do it online or IRL.. you're in the business of presenting yourself, faults & all, to someone who's maybe gonna have to put up with your sorry ass for the rest of your respective lives. And when you go on an interview, if you want to succeed, then you want to present yourself in the best light possible. I am NOT saying "lie like a rug". I am simply suggesting that you put your best foot forward. Use the tools available to you to their best advantage. That means that if you're going to use the internet as a way to meet people... learn to WRITE! Holy hounds of Bacchus, people... if you can't write, why on earth are you using a medium that is virtually all composed of the written word? Go out dancing, buy people drinks, meet them in the supermarket, church, flirt with telemarketers, offer to walk your neighbors' dog on a Saturday if you must... but pick a forum that plays up things you're GOOD at! Cripes... you wouldn't take a blind person to a silent movie, would you? Learn to WRITE or get OFF the 'net!
  2. Be honest. As mentioned earlier... do NOT lie like a rug.. or a toupee... or anything else furry, limp & potentially nasty that might cross your quirky little subconscious mind. I think we all understand that each of us may perceive ourselves in a slightly different fashion than does the rest of the world. But you, sir.. with the 148 contacts (all women) on your IM list, are not a "caring, simple, one-woman man looking to start a future with someone special sometime soon." And you, ma'am... with laryngitis from screaming for the last 6 hours at your 5 welfare-fed children are not "a sweet natured princess looking for her prince." Maybe you were when you were a sophomore in High School, but things change! Put out the cigarette while you're typing & take a good look at yourself & the life you live today. Toss in a couple of things you're still striving for to show you have goals & aspirations, but then have a sharp-eyed friend with a callously honest bent give your profile a look-see before you put it out on the dream market.
  3. Add a pic. Better yet, several pics. OMG... we all know we shop with our eyes. Or rather.. well.. let's just say the eyes pass on the information to the rest of the anatomy. It may be vital that there be a far more substansive package behind the pretty grin, but every single one of us wants to at least know that we're not going to be shopping Schnucks for their quality paper bags for the rest of our lives. Yes, photos can be deceiving. That's why more is better -- over a couple of years, or in different locales & different moods... several well chosen photos that show you at your best & maybe even your not-so-best give the viewer a comfortable feeling that this person will at the very least fall within their "acceptable range". Hey -- most of us don't want perfection, we really just want "good enough". Once we love you, we'll adore far more of you for far more reasons than you ever thought possible.
  4. Say something real. If someone's shopping the personals, how many profiles do you suppose they can look at in a single session between supper & M*A*S*H? 20? 40? Now granted, some of the subject headers they give you on some of those sites are repetetive & lame... but at least they give you a place to start. Ignore the header itself & make your own topic if you need to, but say SOMEthing! How many of them do you think a person worth having is going to look at if all the profile says is "I'll tell you later"?
  5. Quit flirting. Wait.. that's not as off the wall as it sounds at first. What I mean is quit with the standard, preformatted, boring little "I Like You"'s and "You're Cute!" crap. Send a real email with some real words in it.. ask a question or two to get the ball rolling. Start a freakin' conversation.
  6. READ their profile. Got a response to one of my profiles the other day... know what it asked me? "Do you have any kids?" The answer? Yes... living with me full time. Plain & clear, right up there as part of my basic information. Now... since I was actually in a GOOD mood at the time (having made it to the salon to get my legs waxed despite the aforementioned child), I kindly operated on the presumption that what they were really asking was "how many & how old". So I popped off a quick chatty little reply giving that sort of information... plus a bit more... asked a coupla quick questions.. that sort of thing. Know what the schmuck said next? (Without any reciprocal information, I might add.) "Cool. So what are you looking for in a man?" A brain, jackass. Without it you obviously missed the 200+ some odd words where I described what I was looking for. Read the profile!
  7. Use alternate contact information. Lots of people out there (myself included) are not going to drop their precious fun money into a personals site on a regular basis. Dude! Maybe you don't, but I've got real, LIVE friends I can spend time with for FREE! Yes, there are freebie sites, but they're becoming few & far between, and that's not usually where the salmon are swimming anyway. However, most (not all, but most) of those sites have so much traffic they can't hand filter every ad that comes in. A little bit of creativity will get past their standard filters: your email address.. your blog site... your phone#... your IM of choice & pen name.... something that someone who is both paying attention and really interested can use to find you somewhere else out here in this big wide electronic world. And if someone you're interested has that sort of information in their profile... USE IT! I have 103 messages sitting out on one site waiting for me, & I reFUSE to plop down the green to be able to read them. My email addy is in the profile .. use it. Geesh... it's there for a freakin reason.
  8. Be careful. I know.. lots of freaks out there, yadi yadi yadi.... Only you can make decisions for yourself about how comfortable you are or aren't with any other given person. Yeah, people can lie to beat the band on the Internet & be someone completely different than they are IRL. But can't they do that IRL, too? Ask the first 10 divorced people... scratch that... I'll expand the population to people who have even broken UP with someone ANY time in their lives. Ask them why they are no longer with the other person. The majority of your responses... regardless of the intimate detail (and you might just get some smokin' detail if you play your cards right!).. will be either "they changed", "I changed", or "they just weren't the person I married/started out with." But do set yourself at least some minimal lines & limitations beyond "they're breathing", eh?
  9. Move it to the real world. OK... maybe what you're looking for is something that never leaves the glowing screen in your little whack room in Boise. Bully for you, but please mention that right off the bat? Most of us out here are hoping to meet a warm-blooded, living, breathing person to leave their socks on our floors, forget our birthdays, and stink up the bathroom after a round of belly-bombers. OK... that's not really what we want. But even that beats the screen&keyboard every Saturday night for the next 30 years! The 'net is a great medium through which to meet someone, but if it's gonna go anywhere, move it to the real world as soon as you have a hopeful comfort level that you're not talking to the next featured guest at your local blue.
  10. Be ready for it NOT to work. I'm gonna get yelled at for this one.. so just go ahead and shoot me for sounding like a pessimist. I'm not, really -- it's far more a "hope for the best, just plan for the worst" sort of mindset. There's something undefinable that happens when you meet someone face to face. Regardless of the depth or breadth of your conversations... no matter how many intimate personal secrets you've shared online, how much change MaBell has managed to squeeze outta your cell phone bill this month, or how many hours you've burnt up the web-cam exchange, that in-person obscure "chemistry" that makes or breaks a first meet is something that cannot be duplicated, imitated, or replicated via any forum so far known to common man. At some point you've just gotta take a deep breath & pray like hell that Cupid's standing over your shoulder with a bazooka.............. and that he's on your side.


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