(Doctor’s note: a lack of free wifi and getting back into the country LATE last night meant that Monday’s article didn’t get uploaded until… well right now. Sorry guys.)
I’ll be the first to admit: I write most of my articles with a male audience in mind. To start with… well, I’m a guy, and a lot of my advice is naturally going to be coming from a male perspective and male experiences.
However, most of my audience are guys. As a general rule, women are more socialized towards being willing to ask for help when trying to improve their chances with guys. Men, on the other hand, are told that they exist in binary states; either they’re good with women or they aren’t. There are fewer outlets for dating advice for guys than there are for women.
That being said, I do welcome questions from women… like this one:
I just joined OkCupid on your recommendation, and I have to say you were very right about it being a buyer’s market for ladies. I was just wondering if you have any online dating profiles tips for girls. Should I message some of the guys that seems interesting? Or just weed through the messages that may come in. Do your tips for guys still apply? I feel overwhelmed!
This is an interesting question, OKNewbie1 because it comes down to a number of differences in male and female psychology and sexuality.
Women are From Venus, Men Are From Clichés
At it’s ultimate base, dating is the evolved equivalent of a mating dance as men and women are trying to determine whether or not they would want to reproduce with each other. When we go through the motions of dating, we’re evaluating one another on a number of levels – physical attractiveness and facial symmetry as indicators of health and desirable traits, the ability to provide for young and to protect the young from predators and raise them to sexual maturity.
In theory, it should be fairly simple; dude with the brightest plumage, women with the best child-bearing hips, 10 minutes of squishy noises and then a whole lot of controversy as to whether primates pairbond monogamously or polygamously.
But because we had to go and evolve and develop complex brains and societies, we had to go and make it all complicated and shit; what used to be instinctual has become confusing, and we end up overanalyzing it…if a woman is interested in a guy, shouldn’t she be willing to make the first move – after all, it is the 21st century. On the other hand, being too forward would make a guy think you’re easy, and no girl wants to be thought of as a slut… guys have it so easy, they’re supposed to be the aggressors…
And when it comes to guys, is it purely physical at first, or can there be an emotional connection as well?
One would think that when everybody is working at a step or two removed from the immediacy – via online dating – those questions can still crop up and make people want to throw their hands up and scream in frustration.
Ultimately it’s not that complicated. You just have to understand how guys think and how to make that work for you.
He May Love You For Your Mind…
I’ve mentioned before that online dating, for women, is basically dating with the cheat codes on. You can put in the minimum amount of effort and still reel in emails from men. You literally can just show up with one photo and a screen name and be rolling in instant messages, winks and emails within minutes.
The problem is… you’re probably not going to want to actually respond to most of those; 99%2 is going to be the Internet equivalent of dudes in a car yelling at every girl they see in hopes that someone will be so overwhelmed with instant lust that they’ll throw caution (and panties) to the wind and bang a stranger.
Since you’re reading this, I’m assuming that you’re not necessarily looking for Mister “‘sup gurl, u fine. Wuts yur name?got pix??” who’s busily cluttering your inbox. You’re more discerning. A woman of quality and taste. And that means you want quality guys.
Well, if you want quality guys, you’re going to put the effort into the profile. Your online dating profile is your verbal equivalent of a peacock’s lustrous plumage3; the better the profile, the better the results.
In short, you’re trying to seduce him with your brain.
When you’re writing your profile, think about the sort of guy you’re looking for; while guys in general are wider ranging in the types they’re willing to date (or bang), there will be plenty who have a narrower focus. If you want a particular kind of guy, you’re going to have to know what he’s looking for.
Y’know. Besides sex.
As I’ve advised guys before, if you want a type, you have to be able to show yourself as someone who that type would be attracted to; think if it as proving that you know how to speak their language. If you like nerd-boys, mention your own geeky interests. If you’re looking for hipsters or socially aware, politically active vegetarians, you want to play up your own music snobbery or your volunteer work for X candidate’s election campaign. Just be sure to use specific examples; it will help elevate you from the mass of poseurs who may be trying for the same guys you’re looking for.
In general, the rules that I’ve outlined before for guys and online dating still apply for women; write with proper grammar and spelling, know which parts of your dating profile are critical (about yourself, what you’re looking for) and which you can blow off (cheesy “I Couldn’t Live Without…” lists and the like).
That being said…
…But He Wants You For Your Ass.
The best online dating profile in the world won’t mean anything if your profile photos are working against you.
I’m going to level with you here: your photos are going to be first – and possibly last – thing guys look at when they visit your profile. The cold hard truth is, your photos are the most important part of online dating, and it’s critical that you understand how they can make you or break you.
Men are visual creatures; we base a lot of our initial judgements on a woman’s looks long before we get to know her as a person. There’s no point in trying to get around this, so you may as well learn how to use this to your advantage.
You see, when it comes to online dating, men will look at profile with attractive photos and then use the profiles to retroactively justify (or revise) their attraction. I’ve lost count of the number of women’s profiles I’ve viewed on OKCupid or on Match.com with amazing profile photos… and then clicked away when I realized that the last original thought they had died of loneliness years ago.
When it comes to a girl’s photos and online dating, less is frequently more. Single figure photos work best; the less work men have to do identifying you in a crowd, the better. Genuine smiles and candid photos are more attractive than stiff poses; you should let your personality shine through rather than giving the standard Glamour Shots Special.
The one exception to this is your primary profile photo, the one that will be displayed in the search results and on your profile page. This is going to be the first impression, and you want it to be a good one. You want a photo of you from the waist up at a medium length and little in the background to distract from you. You should face the camera as directly as possible; if you know your “good side”, then feel free to angle yourself in that direction, but you do want to be looking at the camera. Show a little cleavage; hint at the sexual side of you without over-promising or appearing as though it’s the only thing you have to offer.
A note on “sexy” photos; you’ll see many women’s profiles with extremely low cut tops, deep cleavage shots, bikini pics, “self-portrait in the bathroom mirror” style lingerie photos and other cheesecake-y poses. Do yourself a favor and avoid them. Yes, they’ll get lots of attention from men… and it’ll rarely be the attention you want. I’m not saying you have to be a buttoned up prude, but in the world of online dating, a hint and a tease of sexuality will serve you in far better stead in the long run then laying it all out there. You want to find quality guys, not setting yourself up as an anonymous deposit in random dude’s spank banks.
Also: If you have any physical aspect that you feel is less than “perfect”, don’t make the all-too common mistake of trying to hide it, disguise it or otherwise de-emphasize it. Whether you feel your nose is too large, your breasts or too small or you’re just a whole lot of woman, a dishonest photograph will only hurt you in the long run – eventually you’re going to want to meet some of these guys in person and they’re going to see the truth. Be willing to own your self-perceived “flaws”; you might be surprised to learn that they can increase the responses you get to your profile. “Perfection” can be intimidating, and guys are more willing to reach out to girls who they don’t feel are necessarily out of everyone’s league. Besides, you never know who’s looking for the very thing you’re trying to hide.
Set Your Filters On High
You’re going to be deluged in messages. If you want to actually find the needle-in-the-electronic-haystack of an attractive, quality guy, you’re going to have to learn how to sort out the losers and undesirables in a rapid fashion.
To start with, I strongly recommend a zero-tolerance policy for text speak, poor grammar and misspellings. The occasional typo or split-infinitive is one thing; abuse of the English language in the form of “Ur” “want2” and the like is another and the odds of finding a guy you might actually want who just happens to write like a sub-literate moron is so remote that I don’t think we have numbers that large.
You can also feel free to ignore any and all winks, flowers, pokes, nudges, smiles or flirts. At best, these are the chicken’s way of trying to goad you into making the first move. At worst, it’s a passive-aggressive attempt at the same thing.
Next, watch for attitude. One of the biggest complaints I have heard from women when it comes to online dating is the profound sense of entitlement that men can have. If he comes across as though he’s doing you a favor by talking to you, you can safely delete his message and move along. Similarly, weed out guys who are obsequious or overly deferential and self-deprecating; overtly putting women on pedestals is a form of misogyny I have mentioned before and it really will only end in tears of frustration for you.
Guys you should talk to will give you some indication that they’ve actually read your profile; they’ll bring up something you say either to show a commonality or else as a springboard for conversation. Just be on the lookout for the ones who skimmed your dating profile for the highlights and want to make it look as though they’ve read all of it.
If you’re feeling especially tricksy, you may want to do your own form of “Captcha” coding; post something in the middle of your profile that guys should mention specifically if they want to hear from you.
Be Aggressive. Bee. Eee. Aggressive.
Browse profiles of guys you find interesting. If you like how they look or what they have to say, don’t be afraid to send them a message saying so. They may have missed your profile for one reason or another, so there’s never any harm in pointing out that you exist, you’re awesome and you think they may not be so bad themselves.
Most guys will appreciate a woman making the first move. Ones that don’t are probably ones you shouldn’t be interested in dating anyway.
Keep It Sane. Keep It Safe.
This should really go without saying, but you want to go into dating with your eyes open. Let a couple of back-and-forths happen via the dating site e-mail system before you move things to your private e-mail, IMs or exchanging phone numbers. Not being willing to have a few “getting-to-know-you” chats before moving on to more personal contact is one of the ways nature lets you know a guy’s not worth it. Get a real, full name from the guys and then Google the shit out of them.
First meetings – not necessarily dates – should be in a public place, with lots of people around. And trust your instincts; if you feel anything hinky about him, you may be picking up on something that your conscious mind isn’t aware of. If you want to give him the benefit of the doubt… well, that is what a second – and very public – date is for. Considering the unfortunate risks that women inherently sign up for when they meet new guys, it’s better to have a few false positives than to ignore a real warning to tragic results.
- names have been changed in order to protect the innocent… and because if I’m gonna rip off emulate Dan Savage, I’m gonna do it right. [↩]
- a conservative estimate at best [↩]
- Yes, I know that it’s the males with the gaudy tails and the hens are kinda drab. I’m rolling here, just go with it [↩]