advice for the online date-o-sphere: the profile

As anyone who's looked around on here knows, of late I have been venturing, once again, into the realm of online dating.  It's an odd arena.  Part of it feels like I'm attending a huge party full of people I don't know, with a friend whispering little facts about them into my ear.  Part of it feels like I'm shopping.  Part of it feels fun.  Part of it feels pointless and reductive.

The usual spelling and grammar issues aside (even my writer friend has told me I need to let that one go), there are some things that men tend to do on their profiles, and these things might really be reducing their chances with the ladies.  Now, to be fair, women may be doing all these terrible things and more, I just don't know because I don't look at those profiles.

Here are my latest 6 things that men need to stop doing on their online dating profiles:

1) Weak Introductions

"This is my first time doing something like this, but….", "I'm not sure how to talk about myself…", "I don't really know what to say here…"  I get it, you are not 100% comfortable with the fact that you're doing online dating.  Who is?  We all thought we would meet someone in real life, but so far, we haven't.  So here we are.  In case you didn't realize it, anyone else who reads your profile is in the exact same boat as you, so there's no point in acting weird about it.  What you're really communicating is a lack of confidence.  So cut the rambling introduction and tell me about yourself!

2) Non-answers

"Ask me anything" is not an intriguing item on your profile.  The whole point of a profile is to tell me something about yourself so I can a) decide if I might be interested in you and b) have a starting off point in messaging you.  Remember the whole analogy about being at a party?  Your profile is the friend whispering in her cute friend's ear.  What do you want that whispering to say?  Probably something that will make her want to talk to you, something that will help her figure out if she has anything in common with you.  Something more specific than "if you want to know something about him, just ask."  That makes you sound boring and un-confident.

Other non-helpful non-answers include statements like "looking for someone who is my kind of crazy", "I'm into everything", or "I need someone who shares my values" - without elaboration.

3) Interests

Men of Vancouver: some of you must enjoy activities besides hiking, camping, and generally "getting outside"!  I get it - that's a big part of what this city has to offer and it shows that you're active and down-to-earth.  Great!  I would love to meet someone who would help me get outside more often.  I would also like to meet someone who shares at least one of my other interests.  What else do you do for fun?  Do you like hosting games nights?  Dressing up for costume parties?  Going to comedy shows?  Art openings?  Wine tastings?  Dog grooming sessions?  Pig roasts?  For goodness' sake!  Tell me!  I don't think you realize it, but every single one of you lists outdoor activities, so you might want to take this chance to list at least one thing that sets you apart.

4) Cynicism

"We all know you're not even going to bother reading this and will only message me if you find my picture attractive."  Really?  Do we?  Or do we look at your picture, and, if we find it attractive, read on to learn more about what kind of person you are?  Do you really want your first impression to be that of total cynicism and a slight insult?

5) Negative Nelsons

Often paired with the cynics.  These are the "don't bother messaging me if"-types, usually followed by a list of obviously negative traits.  There are a two key flaws with this approach.  First of all, it makes you sound kind of super conceited, like you're constantly encountering people who are beneath you.  Secondly, it probably won't even work.  No girl walks around telling herself that she is vapid, self-centred, and materialistic.  Vapid, self-centred, materialistic people don't tend to be all that self-aware.  So your negativity will likely filter out a lot of the good ones (who can't be bothered with someone whose defences are so high), all while letting the ones you're trying to deflect slip through.

6) Age Issues

This is a new one that I've never noticed before, but what's with all the guys who apparently only want to hear from women who are younger than them?  I get that in general, given the choice, women will choose someone their age or older and men will choose someone their age or younger.  But to actually list in the parameters that are visible to everyone that you only want girls younger than you?  Just kind of makes you look like a sexist creeper.  Give it a range.  Or, actually, don't, because if that's how you feel then I'd rather have the advanced warning of your sexist creeper-ness.

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