I have lost track of how many guys I have known who have said “Do you know how much goddamn easier dating would be if we could just read women’s minds?”
My other favorite is: “I just wish women would tell us what they want. Like, straight up, you know?”
Ever since online dating took off, I don’t hear that quite as much. Y’see, one of the great things about online dating are the profiles. Not only do you get to pre-screen women – maybe you want to make sure she doesn’t smoke, say or has a deep and abiding love of Gödel, Escher, Bach – but women will actually tell you all about themselves; they’ll give you all the clues you need to win them over. And why wouldn’t they? Someone who’s taken the time to post a profile on a dating site wants to make that connection with special someone. Otherwise they’d be sitting at home watching House almost kill another patient.
“But I’ve been out with girls from dating sites before, and they were nothing like their profile said they were!” I hear you cry. Well, that’s because some women don’t necessarily say what they want. Some are saying what they think they should want. Others are trying to put their best face forward and meet some standard of how women are “supposed” to be. And still others… well look, some people are just plain crazy and there’s not really much you can do there besides dodge flying crockery.
Then once you learn how to decode the profile and realize what she’s really saying?
Well, that’s just like dating with cheat codes.
The Profile Photo
The eyes are the window to the soul, and the dating site profile photo is the window into the woman’s psyche.
A posed photo will tell you volumes. Girls on the whole tend to be more familiar with how they come across in photos and use it to great effect. Is she looking directly at the camera? She’s trying to give a specific impression on you, the viewer; this is how she wants to be seen, not necessarily how she is. Any flaws – real or perceived, will be carefully minimized. A “looking away” pose? Same story, but trying to be subtler about it; these frequently are supposed to look more spontaneous. A couple of posed shots are to be expected. Several of them will tell you that she’s not necessarily the most open or secure in her self-image.
Group photos, interestingly enough, can be more honest even when posed; “sexy” poses scream “I want attention!” Goofy photos are supposed to say “I am so quirky and fun” but frequently actually say “I am actually profoundly drunk right now and this seems like a good idea.”
Watch for little imperfections; actual wrinkles at the corners of the eye, looking slightly off from the camera, eyes slightly closed. These are all indications of a more honest photo, and can give you a better impression of her real personality.
Beware common obfuscatory tactics such as the Myspace Pose (hides any double chins, slims the body profile and makes the breasts look larger – gratuitous cleavage is an added bonus), over-exposure (clears away skin imperfections, shrinks the nose, makes the eyes pop) and the Duck Face (makes the lips look poutier and emphasizes the cheekbones). These are indications of both immaturity and a certain lack of self-esteem and are usually a safe indicator of the type of guy she’s looking for. The “cameraphone-in-the-mirror” photo is a also a warning sign.
Also, beware the pseudo-nudes or profiles that mostly feature the girl in bikinis or underwear. You think you’re talking to someone who’s horny and sexually adventurous. You’re really talking to someone who believes the world revolves around them and demands all available attention and you will almost never get anywhere with them.
Her Profile Name
No. Seriously. Check out her profile name. “Amy89” or “JHanely” are run-of-the-mill profile names will tend to be… well, kinda ordinary, really, with a tendency towards “Sorority Girl”. Geekier or indie/punk girls will usually have unusual names or nicknames, frequently ones that tie into their interests. Descriptive names are safe indicators of women who crave attention. “Pretty_Jessie” is frequently a warning sign reading “High Maintenance”. “SExxxYHolly” is either an attention whore or (more often) a scam profile.
Any variation of #NAME and #COLLEGE is a Sorority type. Possibly even a cheerleader. Proceed with caution. Any name with 88 at both ends is one to avoid. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one…
Her Writing Style
This is your next clue as to a woman’s true self isn’t just what she says but how she says it. Check her grammar and spelling; lots of typos, misspellings and Netspeak aren’t necessarily indicators of low intelligence, but they are indicators of low maturity and high drama. They are frequently the hallmark of the party girl, and dating her will mean you are in for long nights downtown, lots of girly flavored shots, high-pitched squealing and the emotional equivalent of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
Longer profiles are indicators of someone who isn’t just intelligent, but actually has an inner life. In my long experience, longer profiles are safe signs of people who are emotionally more mature and intellectually engaged. So yes, size does matter and larger is better in this case.
How She Describes Herself
This is where things get interesting. This usually ends up setting the tone for the rest of the profile, whether it’s an air of “I am too awesome for you” self-absorption, hemming and hawing for paragraphs without actually managing to indicate possession of an actual personality or sly self-deprecating humor. It’s here that you will have to start trying to determine just how serious the girl is taking things; one girl’s declaration that she is the biggest thing since World War III could be a clever reference, whereas another girl saying it will actually mean it. Without any irony whatsoever.
It is here that you will also start to see how a woman is defining herself. Evangelicals will regularly make a point of stating how important God and/or their faith is in their lives. Similarly, stoners will make some sort of 420 reference in this section. Interestingly party girls and sorority types will not describe themselves as such, and instead tend to talk about how they’re “such a goof” or “fun-lovin'”. Anyone who describes themselves as “a total nerd” usually isn’t and anyone who describes themselves as “fun-loving” usually is trying to figure out what else they have to offer. Similarly, anyone who uses song lyrics here is trying to appear deep without putting in the effort to actually achieve any depth.
Some sites will include an entry for things such as “What people notice about me first”. Many women will say “my yes” “my laugh” or “my smile”. This is because either A) they honestly believe this – a warning sign – or B) they don’t want to come out and say “tits”. Any other answer – yes, including tits – is a good indicator that she is self-aware.
Fair warning: Beware of any woman who refers to herself as “blunt”, “really direct”, “doesn’t play games”, or says she “doesn’t tolerate bullshit”. At least half of the time this is code for “I’m a bitch, but I acknowledge it, which makes it totally ok.” Similarly, beware of any woman who describes herself as “a queen” or “princess”; they will be self-involved to such a degree that you will begin to wonder whether you are just occupying a role that says “Insert Boyfriend Here” and will almost certainly be trading up at the first available opportunity.
What She’s Interested In
How she describes herself is how she wants to be seen. Her interests will tell you much more about who she is.
Start by checking her musical tastes. Second possibly only to sexual compatibility, music compatibility will make or break a relationship. Keep an eye out for the most common phrase on the Internet: “I listen to everything except rap or country.” Regional variations will occasionally substitute “Heavy metal” for “country”. What this means is that she listens to whichever radio station was the most popular at her high-school and she has never progressed past it. Assume that her favorite artist will currently be on the Top 40 chart and proceed from there.
Next, look at what she says she’s reading. Look for actual books; if she only mentions textbooks or magazines, move on. Similarly, if most of the books she is reading are either self-help or the latest popular literary fiction to hit big with the Oprah’s Book Club set, proceed with caution.
Be on the lookout for contradictions. A woman who says she’s wants kids and is looking for a special man, but who’s interests include hanging out with her friends getting crazy isn’t really looking for a husband. Unless he’s, like, totally rich. On the other hand, someone who says likes going downtown but is also totally cool with a chill night in is trying to have it both ways.
Also anyone who goes out of their way to talk about sex, hooking up, how good they are at blowjobs or implies she’s on that dating site for easy sex is almost certainly either a scam account or a dude. Same rules apply here that apply to online auctions: if it’s too good to be true, there’s probably an Eastern European crime syndicate using it to snag your credit card numbers.
Who She’s Interested In
Fairly simple here. Most dating sites will have a “You should message me if” or “What I’m looking for” section. These are usually the deal-breakers. Just remember: the longer the list, the shorter the relationship.
Keep in mind: this is just a guide. Some people sound excellent on paper but are complete duds in real life, while others are amazing in person but don’t know how to sell themselves. But once you understand what you’re looking for, you’ll find that you’ll be having far greater success than when you were flying blind and hoping for the best.