Have you ever walked into a bar and wondered where all the hot single ladies/menfolk were? They’re not at your local haunt, nope. Instead, they’re nursing their iPhones and laptops, waiting for the next hottie to send them a wink or a poke or a message or whatever the kids call it these days.
Believe me, the younger set (i.e. the twenty-somethings who grew up with the internet and IM and social media and cell phones) does not sneeze at online dating. Whereas 10 or even five years ago it was a bit shocking to find out your friend met her recent beau on the web, now it’s almost expected you have a dating account.
Match.com and the heterosexist eHarmony round out the top, each pulling in about 15 million users plunking down moola for the virtual Yenta experience. For the singles without a single to spare, Plenty of Fish and OKCupid are the next biggest draws, with around 1.4 million and 420,000 users respectively (as of 2007). Honey, we’re not in craigslist anymore.
After ending a two-plus-year relationship, I decided to putz about on OKCupid only to discover that, like, all of my single friends were already up in that business. If you think people preen and gussy up before a first date, you should see the way they get their panties in a wad over their dating profiles. Coming off too nerdy/arrogant/slutty/prude/weird/boring on your profile is the real-life equivalent of broccoli in your teeth. Bonerkiller.
A little more than one week in, I’m ready to come to the rescue to all those floundering profiles and online daters in the desperate bowels of the interwebs. Forget The Rules; these are your new rules:
1. Pick your username carefully. “PissNWine” won’t garner much interest (unless you’re trying to attract oenophiles into golden showers). If you want to be upfront about your kink, that’s totally cool–but don’t act all befuddled when people balk at a message from “DungeonDom.” Remember, some vanillas scare easily!
2. Always have a picture. Preferably two or more, and not from the same angle/with the same facial expression. Smile. Or are you always an Eeyore? Try MySpace then.
3. Crop out your friends from your pictures. It’s OK; this isn’t Facebook and they’re not going to notice. Having lots of people in your photos is confusing for other users who don’t really know what you look like to begin with. Bottom line: no one hotter than you should appear on your profile.
4. Sure, everyone says it, but correct spelling and punctuation will go far. You may be stupid, but no one has to know. Download Firefox, and the browser will underline all your misspellings just like Word does.
5. Make yourself stand out when you describe yourself. What makes you different from other people? Are you an avid bellydancer, an aspiring writer, a fungus expert? Explaining your interests not only rounds out your profile but also introduces common ground or possible topics to discuss with other users.
6. Don’t list your income. That’s what SugarSugar is for.
7. Ask questions. This is true in real-life dating as well. No one wants to do all the work in a conversation (unless you really like talking about yourself that much). Open-ended questions express your interest in the other person. Start your questions with “why” and “how,” and you’ll get more out of your virtual prospect.
8. A lot of straight guys get antsy when they don’t hear back from women they message. Tough titty. Silence means rejection, so if you don’t get a reply within a few days, move on. Do you really want a message detailing all your faults?
9. If you do get rejected, swallow your bruised ego and walk away from the keyboard. There’s no need to counter-reject or go all “jk” on your rejector. You’re not fooling anyone by pretending you weren’t interested anyway.
10. And just like when you used craigslist that one time for casual sex, always meet in a safe and public setting. Cafes, parks, beaches, well-lit bars…just in case your date turns out to be Chester the Molester.
OK, now we can all get back to our profiles in the hopes that the cute guy across the cafe will find us online and think we’re absolutely fascinating. No, no–don’t make eye contact. We must look busy and internet-famous while we tweet about this moment from our smartphone. Do you think he’ll read my tumblr when he eventually Googles me?
Image by ktpupp.
The Sexual Manifesto is Christine Borden’s weekly column on sex in the city, sex and culture, and, well, sex. Got a tip for Christine (and it’s not in your pants)? Email her at email@example.com.