Friday, September 26, 2014


Okay, given my track record, I am the last person who should be offering advice about online dating. But you could flip things and realize that I have extensive experience in this realm. I may not know what works, but I have an idea or two about what doesn’t.

I keep seeing the same ill-conceived tactics and I feel compelled to comment. Give yourselves a better chance. And if you think I am completely off base, please leave a comment. Prove me wrong. Maybe I am the one who needs a new approach.

Just One Look:  Basic rule—Must include a photo on your profile. Actually, photos. In the age of the selfie, how can you only have one photo? Snap away. Change your clothes, move to another part of your home. Snap again. Upload. Post. I’m a brain-stunted techno-sloth, but even I can figure out how to do this.

Why do you need multiple photos? Everyone can have one insanely good photo. The stars aligned and the shot gives off a slight resemblance to George Clooney. Not the National Enquirer caught-off-guard-with-some-mistress-in-Madrid Clooney, but the photoshopped swoon-worthy Clooney. (And we’d all settle for “slight resemblance”, wouldn’t we?) I’ve gone out with a few of these one-shot wonders. I don’t recognize them in the coffeehouse. How could I? Heck, they’re not even a slight resemblance of the slight resemblance of Clooney. From the in-person intro, the interaction is doomed. No match between the photo and this coffee mate. No match at all.

Keep Current: Think of your photos like that carton of milk in the fridge. Eventually it goes sour. Chuck it. Even if it’s the best picture of you. Ever. I’m getting to be a schoolmarm over this. A guy messaged me yesterday with a brief, complimentary note about my profile. I glanced at his. Common interests,…great. Multiple photos,…super. But the captions under each of them noted they were from 2008. Ah, a very good year, to be sure. Katy Perry Kissed a Girl, that cute little American Idol kid sang about a Crush, Betty was still Ugly, the Housewives still Desperate. But time didn’t stand still. This guy even anticipated ogler perplexity by writing, “I still look as young as these photos.” We all like to think that. Prove it. Again, selfies have become so much more commonplace in the past SIX years. Don’t be lazy with your profile. This is not how to stand out amongst hundreds of other alleged singles.

Even if you are less forthright and don’t disclose the date, people will make assumptions. If you say you’re 53 and your main photo looks like you’re skateboarding to a pep rally, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Eventually you’re going to meet a few of these online browsers—that’s why you created a profile, isn’t it?! You’re ensuring disappointment for the first coffee. A dated photo is deceiving, even dishonest. Is that how you want to come off on the first meeting? If you happen to look much younger than your age as people say I do, add the month and year that each photo was taken under each photo. Be real. Eliminate the doubt.

The Devil Is in the Detail: Once you’ve mastered the phone photo, take a look at all that appears in each photo. Go beyond marvelling at the astonishing feat of minimizing your crow’s feet. What else will an online peeper see? Maybe you want to share your continuing obsession with Iron Maiden on a date—I’d suggest the fourth or later—instead of letting a sloppy t-shirt do the talking. Fashion might not matter to you, but is this really your best first online impression? (Iron Maiden?! I'm not making this up.) Same for holes just below the t-shirt collar. It may be your favorite shirt for lounging around the house because you can splash bacon grease and ketchup all over it, but it’s too homey. (Hint: Put on a shirt that matches your eyes. You want someone noticing them more than a t-shirt flaw.) These sites are designed to get browsers to keep clicking and you’re making it so much easier. If a shot of you provides a glimpse of your unfolded laundry strewn all over the sofa, I’d suggest kicking all the garments to the floor, out of view, and taking another picture. (Folding and putting them away would be preferable, but I am not your mother. I’m guessing that if a first date goes really, really well, you’ll lobby hard to go back to his place instead.)

I’ve passed on a few profiles of self-declared non-smokers who have a cigarette in their hand in a photo. For a growing number of us, it’s as bad as having a ring on a certain finger. Is this a dated photo? Delete it. If you are a smoker, then be honest about it. Non-smoking means just that. My ex has been “trying to quit” for twenty years. Until he actually succeeds, he’s a smoker. There’s no sugar coating that.

Go Easy on the Gear: Apparently there is some online dating advice guru who advocates extremism. I suppose the correct term is xtremism. Get your tandem skydiving bud to snap you in the air. Throw in shot of yourself motocrossing through a muddy course. Have your guide take a picture of you rappelling down a rock cliff. All very impressive. But there is no way to make out your face or your body. Too much equipment. You might as well be this guy  or one of these guys. Type your daring endeavors in the Interests section of your profile and stop hiding under a helmet. And as an aside, don’t cover the top of your head with baseball caps and toque in every single shot. Whether you’ve got hair or not, give the browsers a glimpse. If you are self-conscious about a receding hairline, gray hair or a full head of hair that doesn’t shine and bounce like in those shampoo commercials, so what? There’s a whole spectrum of head hair and an equally broad range of what guys are attracted to. Show what you’ve got (or haven’t got).

Got Teeth? I know there’s a study out there that says men are deemed more attractive in photos in which they don’t smile. You can find a study that concludes just about anything. This study keeps popping up online because it’s utterly ridiculous. If you want a stud shot—all sunglasses and stoicism—go for it. Let it be one photo. But it can’t be just me who finds a half dozen unsmiling pics distressing. Why so serious/sad/grumpy? Are you hiding braces or some dental disaster? I can’t bear the thought of coffee with you. I fear I’d spend the hour watching you sit in silence or listening to you blather on about that goldfish that died when you were five and your thoughts on the apocalypse. Lighten up. Smile.


So have fun with that phone camera. Snap away! Delete what doesn’t work. You’re bound to come up with a few decent pics. Give it a shot.


oskyldig said...

Interesting perspective. I feel as though when I went through dating phase of my life I did it all right, but alas some people can't be helped I guess.

Seems pretty reasonable tho.

Rural Gay said...

I suppose the good ones get scooped up, leaving a pool of repeat offenders!

Garima Pal said...