Finding Damo’s Guide to Online Dating
I was going to do this blog on conspiracy theories, after the aliens and angels got into my head from last time. Two things stopped me:
- The secret government group that monitors all web sites referencing conspiracy theories (hi guys) and stops us when we get too close to the truth, and
- A friend contacting me to find out what she should do to improve her online dating profile.
Now, this might have been at the request of the secret government group – I’ve been quite lax in wearing my tin foil helmet lately – or it may be that I’ve just gotten engaged to a girl… that I met through online dating.
Either way, apparently now I’m a success story (don’t get me started on success. That’s a whole ‘nother blog). I hit the firewall running and came out, oh, fourteen years later with the future Mrs. Perry (or not Mrs. Perry – a whole ‘nother blog).
Some might say that fourteen years counts more towards statistical probability rather than success. I’m a cup-half-full kind of guy. I say it’s hard work, perseverance and a winning smile. But a goodly number of my friends regularly use online dating (for some, it’s like a heroin addict uses needles). I’ve seen my fair share of dating profiles. I know what works, and I’m willing to share.
So read on.
Finding Damo’s Guide to Successful Online Dating
First up, it helps to be incredibly attractive, wealthy and fit. If you’re all three of those, you’re pretty much set, and you can just write “hi, I’m single” and wait for the contact requests to start flowing.
If, like most of us, you just have to get by on being incredibly attractive, the following might help:
1. Choose your site.
I’m only going with what I know, and there are thousands of dating sites out there, but there are a few major types worth mentioning.
The major dating sites include RSVP, Match.com and eHarmony. These are the ones that advertise in Prime Time rather than after 11pm. They are usually associated with a major publishing firm. RSVP belongs to the Fairfax Group. Match.com was, last I looked, attached to Yahoo7. They’re slick, well populated and a good safe starting option.
There are a number of free dating sites, for the cheapskates and the brave amongst us (yes, I’ve been there). Oasis and plentyoffish are the two I know about. My experience of both of these is you get what you pay for. My contacts through Oasis included two amiable lunatics and one island girl who wanted me to buy her a web cam and a plane ticket.
There are also a number of “adult” dating sites out there. I’m not linking to these, but it’s enough to say that members of these sites are not, in general, looking for a long term relationship (and no, I’m not accepting comments on here from people who claim otherwise).
My most success has been with RSVP. I’ll concentrate on that one.
2. Choose a pen name
This can be an absolute date-killer. Or it can be an instant in. For example, I was searching for a friend of mine on RSVP to show the girl mentioned in the opening. I looked for a guy between 35 and 40 living on the bay. Here are some guys I would never date, without even looking at their pictures:
CuteEuroMale, Metrosexual007, Laidbackguy71, Kissesdeep1000m, Hawkz2011
Here are some guys who, if I was a girl with similar interests to me the guy, would pass onto the next round:
Shivermetimbers (gotta love a pirate), Bombadill, EdRooneysOffice (save Ferris!), BashfullyCheeky, ilikebooks (but I wish he’d used capitalisation), JustGotBackToAus (travel: tick!), EmbraceAdventure (ditto).
My own moniker was OmenToo. It amused me, did nothing for anyone else, except for the girl who said that she was slightly disturbed by the demonic references. See? Names help.
3. Choose a photo
Once they’ve gotten past the scary screen name, they’ll have to deal with the photo. For all of you out there reading, gorgeous folk that you are, this shouldn’t be a big problem. However, there are a few pointers that might help:
– don’t wear sunglasses – your eyes are your best feature, no matter what you think.
– Don’t use photos that you’ve taken yourself by holding your phone out at arms length, or standing in a mirror. Self-taken photo = “I have no friends”. It might be false. You may have hundreds of friends. Then, we ponder, why couldn’t one of them taken a photo for you?
– Don’t use photos of you and your ex with your ex cropped out. Seriously, that disembodied arm could either be an ex-girlfriend or Thing from the Addams Family. Either way, not pleasant.
– If you’ve been somewhere brilliant or done something breathtaking, AND you had a friend or total stranger take your photo, AND your ex or Thing wasn’t in the shot with you, why not use it as a profile shot? You in front of the Sphinx is way cooler than you in front a brick wall.
4. Write your profile
The penultimate step. Also, the hardest. I’ve written a novel. I’ve written three full-length plays and innumerable short stories. My online dating profile was the hardest thing I’ve ever written (to my darling fiancé: don’t worry, I haven’t started on the vows yet). Profile writing is an art. Compressing yourself into the breathtaking first-impressions-count summary of the century isn’t just difficult, it’s virtually impossible. But the following might help:
People who run these sites keep saying “don’t say you have a great sense of humour, show it.” My profile ran to Dad jokes and Monty Python quotes, but it worked. And girls knew what they were getting: bad puns and pop culture overload.
Living in Australia, it was useful to stick a bit of Nihongo in my profile, because it was unusual here. What is special about you? Make sure it’s in your opening statements.
You should increase “How do I look?” from “Average” to “Petty damn good”. Don’t tell me you’re “a little overweight” when you’re actually quite slim, as far as Australia’s average is concerned. A lot of guys (and girls) will do searches with a baseline of Great or whatever. One of my fiancé’s more embarrassing stories about me is that one of her reasons for seeing me in the first place was that I wasn’t overly interested in body image, as I picked “average” body type and upwards. My response was “Oh, no. I just know that women usually underestimate their attractiveness and didn’t want to discount a beautiful woman with low self-esteem”
Conversely, don’t lie. On one date, my supposedly “slim” date (with no photo) sat in the booth of the restaurant where we were to meet, red flower in her hand. I had to look twice to make sure she wasn’t under this 150kg imposter. And I’m not so callous as to just cut and run, which was my first impulse. But I felt a little betrayed at the lie, and the date went absolutely nowhere.
5. Go on dates
This sounds obvious, but the fact of the matter is, you can be on all the dating sites you want. You can have the perfect profile and have guys or girls contacting you in a flood of anticipatory longing. But if you never meet any of them, you’ll die alone. With your cats. And an old dressing gown. Yelling “WILL YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN?” But you don’t have a lawn. Trust me. It’s not good. And don’t have unreasonable expectations. I’ve been on some shocking dates. And some ok dates. And a couple of fantastic dates that went nowhere but both of us had a good time. And a couple of fantastic dates that led to long-term relationships.
And one that ended in proposal by the water in Williamstown, with her laughing through her “yes” because I’d pretended to drop my sunglasses so I could get down on one knee.
So online dating can be fun. It is a minefield of hidden messages and secret rules (and codes for meetings of secret government agencies) which you’ll only decipher after going on a few dates and saying “ah, so THAT’S what it means”, but it’s worth it. My friend told me:
“I work seven days a week, so if I have spare time, I want to spend it with my friends.”
Which is totally fine. And as I said, go on a few dates and you’ll start to learn how to weed out the unsuitable from their profiles. But in today’s 7-days-a-week lifestyle, with our insular, Facebook-driven social lives and our forsaking of bush dances, ballrooms and church picnics, we need other avenues to find that special someone and propagate the species.
I found my special someone. Now, Grasshopper, I have taught you what I know. Go out into the world and become a man.
Or get yourself one.