How to Read an Online Dating Profile (Second in a Series)
A famous television psychiatrist, who I usually think is full of common sense, when talking about dating over 40 on one of his shows said that you should “think outside the box”, “go out of your comfort zone”, “don’t be too quick to judge”. For instance, don’t turn down a man because he’s wearing Birkenstocks and you HATE Birkenstocks and the life style you think most people who wear them are into. So, when I first began online dating I took his advice and didn’t read too much into profiles with bad photos, poor English, not enough information, etc. Don’t be too quick to judge, I told myself, after all it’s only a coffee date.
After about a hundred coffee dates I’m here to tell you: Judge! Use your judge-o-meter! If the man looks like a hippie freak, and hippie freaks aren’t your type, move on. Politely say “no thank you”, and spare yourself the wasted hour. There may be diamonds in the rough at a younger age but, in the over forty crowd, who we are and the essentials of our life style are pretty much well established and not likely to change. I can’t tell you how many boring coffee dates I sat through with men I met because I was “giving them the benefit of the doubt”. It amazes me that so many people can live over 50 years and not have anything to talk about.
I don’t spend much time reading women’s profiles, other than one or two of my friends who’ve asked for my advice, so I can’t speak to that. Men, you’ll have to find another article written by a man for advice. But, here’s what I’ve learned from reading men’s profiles and chatting with, emailing, and meeting many of them. Save yourself five years of bad coffee dates ladies and learn from my mistakes.
First of all, start at the beginning. The profile name a man chooses can tell you a lot about his personality before you decide to read further. It depends, of course, on what you’re looking for so you can decide for yourself if they might be your kind of guy. Here are just a few actual profile names used on one of the sites:
Next, never waste time with a man who only posts one picture of himself, especially if that photo is one he took of himself in the bathroom mirror. Think about it for a minute. We now live in a society where everywhere we go at least fifty percent of the people there have a camera with a cell phone, and are posting to Facebook before we leave the event. And this man hasn’t gone anywhere in the last year where one person, not even his mother, took a photo of him enjoying himself in a social setting that he can post? Worrisome at best.
Ask a few important questions up front such as: Where do you live? What do you do for a living? Do you have a car? Not to judge whether or not the man has money, as they may think, but to verify that they actually don’t live in a tree house or are writing from prison.
Are you laughing? I once had a weekly email exchange with a man for three weeks before he mentioned that he lived in a tree house outside of town and only came into town once a week to shower at a friend’s and check his email at the cyber café. Absolutely true story!
I also emailed a man daily for a week before finding out he was writing me from the state penitentiary. (By the way: even HE had more than one photo and not in his prison garb either!) I think the answer to the “What do you do for a living?” question would have keyed me in to this one quicker. Do they still make license plates in prisons?
Plenty of Fish gets right to the point on the car issue and asks whether or not you have one when you’re setting up your profile. This may not be important in major cities like New York where many people can’t afford to house a car in the city and use cabs and public transportation to get around. For the rest of the country, however, dating without a car is a bit tricky. Most of us don’t want to go out on a bicycle built for two no matter how catchy the tune to that old song may be. In Weird Town, USA, men will try and tell you they don’t own a car because they are eco-friendly. This rarely stops them from wanting to bum a ride off you or anyone else around, however. The truth of the matter is usually they either don’t have a job, and therefore no way to pay for a car (or your dinner either), or they’ve had so many DUIs they’ve had their license revoked.
If the first line of their profile admits that they lied about their age, because telling the truth would have put them out of your eligible age range, why bother? Do you really want to get to know a man better if before you’ve even met him you know he’s dishonest if it will get him what he wants?
Men who are serious about dating and meeting women don’t actually spend a lot of time emailing. They want to meet you. That’s why they’re on the sites. If they chat forever and don’t ask for the meet…move on. It’s not going to happen. Talking to women online is simply their way of amusing themselves in the evenings. They may be married and bored and this is what they do for fun, or they’re just too shy to leave the house.
Which leads us to… drum roll please…the fake profile. Usually this man is too good looking to be true. Head’s up…he’s not. He’s posting many, many fake profiles a day from a cubicle in India, or Nigeria or somewhere else outside of the US. Clues? He is always a widower. His young daughter is the one pushing him to get out there and date again. If you read his profile carefully, even though it says he grew up somewhere completely mundane like Omaha, and he went to a US University and has a Masters Degree, parts of his profile will be written in broken English. Sometimes they are so quick to post they get the sex wrong and will say they are looking for a “man” who wants a relationship.
He’ll send you an email. He is going to treat you like a queen. He read your profile and he saw in you something he’s always been looking for. Right! From your three paragraph profile that says you like to dance and from the photos of you, a cute, slightly overweight, middle-aged woman, he is now completely beside himself having found the woman of his dreams. He is dying to meet you BUT, he’s out of town on business. He has to go somewhere exotic…like the diamond mines of Africa…but can’t wait to meet you when he gets back. Ladies…this is real life not a fairy tale. If he appears too good to be true…it’s because he’s NOT TRUE! He simply wants you to fall in love with his beautiful photos and love letters so that when he gets stuck in South Africa having lost his passport and needs $5,000 to pay off the guy at the Embassy and get home to you, his beloved, you’ll be willing to whip out that credit card.
Those are just a few of the more obvious and easiest to spot pitfalls of online dating. If you’re new to the game you’ll pick up on these relatively quickly. But, there’s also a special art to the language of the internet. Here’s a little glossary of often used terms to help you read between the lines of the regular guys profiles.
I look young for my age (This one always cracks me up because their picture is posted and they always look their age to me):
This means they are only looking to date someone who is younger and way more attractive than they are which they think they can make happen because they have money and own a lot of toys. (Also used by men who don’t have money or toys and are simply delusional.)
Often followed directly by, I Act Young for my age:
Men in quest of the eternal fountain of youth who think continuing to ignore responsibility and adulthood makes them appear youthful, rather than just like sad men looking for their lost youth between a young woman’s legs.
Looking for a woman of substance:
This one caught me off guard at first. It may sound flattering to be flirted with by a man who has this in his profile but what it really means is…I like fat women. Yes, my dears, these would be the chubby chasers.
No Drama Please!:
This one is a bit obvious. It means I have no interest in a relationship with an actual flesh and blood woman with a real life consisting of a job and friends and family, any of which may have challenges associated with them. These boys just want to have fun. If you have a problem they won’t be there to support you unless the problem is how to get more tequila in you so they look attractive enough for you to want to sleep with them. They will most likely complain about their drama filled ex who whines all the time just because they don’t pay child support.
I Like Romantic Walks on the Beach:
They simply have been told by someone that all women like this. It’s amazing how many men include this line in their profile even though they live in land locked states.
Looking for a woman who is equally comfortable in jeans or a little black dress:
Look carefully, but the key word in this sentence is “little”. Once again, this simply means, I want eye candy on my arm. Often posted by men who haven’t been anywhere in their adult lives that would require a date to wear a cocktail dress.
I Love the Outdoors:
This is the most frequently used line in profiles of men of the Pacific Northwest. Often the same men who post a photo of themselves proudly holding some enormous fish they’re about to gut. If you’re into the outdoors and a camping trip up the McKenzie is your idea of a good time, this is your man. If you have visions of romantic, candle lit dinners and the theatre he’s not a good match.
I Love Sports:
IT means just what it says so don’t respond unless you really are willing to sit through every single college and professional ball game, rain or shine and want your television constantly tuned to the sports channel!
I enjoy cuddling on the sofa and watching a movie:
This man is never going to get off that sofa. If you’re looking for a couch potato…here’s your guy.
It used to be reading profiles and deciding whether or not to contact someone or respond to a wink or email was all you needed to do. But nowadays most sites have enabled The Chat Feature! Most men simply want to chat in the evening because they are sitting home alone bored. Most of these men will keep you online for hours if they can. Be aware, they may be chatting with several women at the same time as you. They will most likely never mention getting together or going out.
Many men use the chat feature because they think it will lead to the late night phone call and some free phone sex with a stranger. Personally, I have more respect for the men who actually pay for phone sex. Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against phone sex and in many relationships, especially if you have a partner who travels a lot, it can be great fun. But if I’m going to have phone sex outside of a committed relationship…I want to get the same rate of pay other sex callers do! Interestingly, on most of the sites you can’t block anyone from chatting, only emailing, so no matter how many times you ignore them they may just keep coming back.
Like everything else in life online dating is a learning process and there are special social rules and nuances involved. I hope this gives some of you who are thinking of trying it for the first time a little jump start on the process.
Good luck and happy hunting!
July 25, 2011