Monday, October 1, 2012

Dating rules

I love you I adore you!
Cripes, I thought she'd never leave...

How to filter dating profiles
(aka don't waste time!)

RULES, ho. Gotta have 'em. First off, no dinner dates. COFFEE. Then if you both hate each other instantly, you only have 20 minutes to suffer through, not TWO HOURS. (God, that was a shitty date.)

No long, drawn-out conversations either. ONE phone call before the date so you can hear their voice and see if it clicks. I only turned down one date because of the guy's voice but he sounded so much like Bill Clinton that I knew I'd never be able to concentrate on what he was actually saying.

You can't be messaging for eons either, you have to meet. It doesn't matter how well you click as pen pals, you still have to be attracted to each other and that can only be determined in person, no matter HOW compelling the photo.

Disclaimer: because these are my dating rules, these are targeted towards women looking for men.
1. Screen dating profiles carefully.

Red flags:

--- Mentioning sex, intimacy, or any reference to the physical aspects of a relationship:
Everyone loves getting it on, dude. Why you gonna mention it in your profile? That's just creepy. Any reference to sexual prowess or awesomeness in bed is TMI and just made me lose respect for you. The one time I overlooked this rule because I didn't actually catch the reference, I was sorry. Chemistry is as private as it is unpredictable and should not be mentioned in a profile. It it something only to be unveiled between two partners when the time feels right.

--- Signs of negativity:
That huge list of everything you don't want, sir, is also a turnoff. Statements like "please do not contact me if you have trust issues" or "not looking for someone to take care of" or "do not want someone with baggage" can hold valuable information to what went wrong before but here's why you're doing it wrong: people who fit those descriptions probably don't see themselves that way. So it won't work as a screening tool. You just have to get good at reading signs.

Aside from it being ineffective, the main reason I distrust negativity is that it can be sign that previous wrongs are carried too prominently and thus you may be categorized according to those that wronged them before. You will be viewed through the lens of other people's mistakes which is an unfair, reductionist view of all the  beautiful, unique snowflakes in the land of singledom.

It is also flippant to discard someone without seeing how they may actually manifest their issues and whether or not the good points override the bad. Someone might think they don't want to deal with trust issues, for example, but maybe it's not that substantial. A sense of flexibility and acceptance in a person is a sign of a generous nature, one of the most important qualities you can pick in a mate; people have to be discriminating, sure, but you don't want someone who's dismissive.

Negatives can also be a sign that there is a line of defenses guarding against getting close. Someone who is emotionally unavailable may be unconsciously looking for excuses as to why no one will be right.

--- Read into declarations:
If the dating profile says: "I am looking for an independent woman" that can be a sign that they may be vulnerable to feeling depended on or crowded. Most women who actually are independent wouldn't classify themselves as such; it's just part of their personality. For women who like very close connections or a lot of attention, this could be possibly interpreted as dependence, triggering a sensitive partner into aloofness. Pay attention to signals and don't get too invested too quickly.

Some dating rules advocate acting "cool" -- like you don't, in fact, need attention but then you will just find someone who doesn't like the real you. Why would you want that? If you like to be connected, then connect. If this is uncomfortable for a potential partner, you just learned something valuable and avoided a lonely relationship.
--- Income:
I get suspicious if people list income in their profile. The guys that I saw do this seemed on the egotistical side and bragged about their money (and then wondered why they were attracting money-grubbers). Income should be private until you and a partner establish appropriate trust levels.

--- Work:
They need to have a job. Ain't nothing going on but the rent. It's hard to respect someone with zero ambition who's not even trying to better themselves.

--- Angry or unsmiling photos: 
Really? That's the best they can do for a DATING profile? Maybe they never smile in real life either. I admit that I do look for a warm, open face.

--- Grammar & punctuation errors:
A dating profile is like a job interview: every person on a dating site should be putting their best foot forward. If their profile is riddled with errors, either they don't know or care about how they come across.

--- Lists too many books, movies, songs, etc.:
This isn't a common flag but I have seen it more than once. It's just weird that someone would list their top favorite 800 books, movies and songs. Who has time for this? Are they even working? Who even remembers that many? It seems obsessive.

--- Odd age range idiosyncracies:
If their preferred age range does not include their own age, that's weird.

2. Be selective about messaging back & forth:
"And you first met this guy in real life?
How do you know he's not some homicidal maniac?"

--- No corresponding with blank profilers:
Do not respond to anyone who does not have photos or details in their profile. Lots of people have logged in to surf before they were ready to put themselves out there, sure -- I've lurked through profiles too -- but I'm suspicious of anyone who reaches out while their own slate is blank.

--- Did they put some time into reading your profile?
Do not respond to anyone who does not give any indication of having spent the time to read your profile. "You're cute," "Hi" or any other short snippets do not warrant a response. Also ignore messages that look canned, like "Hi, your profile looks interesting and I thought we could meet." If they are interested in your profile, it will show in their contact.

--- The merit of old-fashioned ways:
I generally do not reach out or contact people first. Old-fashioned, I know. I will visit profiles and sometimes favorite or rank them highly but that's usually the most I will do.

Here's the benefit to being passive:
  • You get people who are actively looking. You won't get those who are dating someone and not logging in as often.
  • They'll see that you visited and so now they can check you out -- if they like what they see, they can initiate contact. This eliminates reaching out to someone who isn't receptive. I try to have my profile contain realistic pictures -- both flattering and those less so. Whoever still likes me at least knows what they're getting into looks-wise.
--- Avoid overt flirtatiousness or familiarity: 
Anything too flirty in a message, shut it down.

--- Permission to listen to your gut: 
If anything about your correspondence together turns you off (they write 17 pages, they sound too flippant, they talk about the last 10 women they blew off, etc.), shut it down politely. I had someone recently send a nice, thoughtful message and append it with the footnote that they were looking for a "50 Shades of Grey" type of relationship. I haven't read the book but I don't need to in order to know I will not be writing back.

--- Don't become penpals:
Don't spend too much time writing before you meet. I give it 1-3 weeks with several exchanges before I will meet. I do not give out my phone number until we are about to agree to meet.

--- Protect your identity:
Use the dating site to message and refer to yourself by your username to continue maintaining your privacy. Do not shift to your regular email until after you meet and establish trust.

--- No texting:
No texting before you meet unless you are communicating about the meetup. Texts carry an intimate tone and that informality is unwarranted until you meet and establish a connection.

3. One phone call:

Have one phone call before you meet. You can tell a lot about a person by their voice and also their personality and whether or not you click. Yes, you will both be nervous and guarded but this will save time from meeting if you find that you absolutely do not click at all.

If possible, use Google Voice or another resource to get an anonymous number.

4. Quick coffee date:

Meet in public and let someone know where you'll be. Safety first! That goes without saying. Here's what to look for on your first date:

--- Are you attracted?
Do you like the way your date looks, carries themselves, smells, etc.?

--- Is conversation easy?
It doesn't have to flow perfectly, but it's a good sign if conversation is easy on the first date. It means you have established a good rapport.

--- Watch negativity: 
If someone spends the date recounting their many wrongs or if they have been "screwed over" many times, you're next in line to be badmouthed. Steer clear.

--- The ex should not be in the room: 
You want to learn about each other's history as trust levels dictate but too much talk about an ex can indicate that their presence is too large. I once dreamed I was lying in bed with a new partner, ready for sleep and their ex lay between us. I didn't take the dream seriously at the time but it turned out to be more telling than I realized.

--- Is the conversation one-sided?
Make sure they ask you about yourself and seem interested in getting to know you.

Aaaand. the horror stories!

See how MUCH can go wrong at the Annals of Online Dating.



  1. I totally get and agree with most of your rules. I'll only respond to one point, though. The "Signs of Negativity" always amuse me. Lots of women like to say they're looking for a guy who doesn't "play games." (What, you don't like backgammon?) This phrase just SCREAMS damaged goods. The funny thing is, dating IS a game. You shouldn't be dating if you don't want to play the game. What you want is someone who plays the game by the same rules you do.

    That Annals of Online Dating is hilarious: "+10 for whoaaaaa suicidal! You want to know what you are doing wrong? That is what you are doing wrong."

  2. Haha, so true (re: "no games"). I wonder, if you line up the demands, would there be a higher percentage from one particular gender or would men & women be about the same?

    I love the Annals of Online Dating. I subscribe to that site and pretty much every post makes me laugh.

  3. I wonder what magazine would publish your guide? It might be worth asking... I believe it will be received well.

  4. FWIW, when I answered my husband's personals ad *ahem* 20 years ago, he did have a couple of negative statements in his ad: "no double-dipped Baptists and no women who can't recover from their recovery." While IRL, he does tend toward negativity, I think my more positive outlook has canceled it out. Or, I ignore it pretty well. Good luck on your journey!