My One-Month Experience with Online Dating


A for Lifestyle: My One-Month Experience with Online Dating

Two months ago I interviewed marketing expert Melinda Rodrigues about the self-marketing aspects of online dating. I published this interview last week.  Curious to check this arena myself, I registered with one of the online dating sites and created a profile based on Melinda’s advice.  I had it active for the duration of one month. I am now sharing with you my experience and some of my insights.


About the profile

I created the profile just for the purpose of research.  I had no intention of dating anyone. I did not initiate first contact with any man, just wanted to see who would react to my profile, and how.

Before posting my profile online, I shared it with several people and asked them two questions:
A. Does the profile give you a clear sense of the person behind it?
B. Does the profile give you a clear sense of the type of person who could be a good match?
Based on the feedback received I tweaked the profile, until everyone agreed that the mental picture was very clear.

Initially I debated whether to use a picture or not; eventually I decided to use one picture to increase my chances to be noticed.

I deliberately declared that I want someone to marry. I wanted to see what type of men would approach a woman who declares her intention of wanting a long-term commitment.

While I was registered, I also used the time to check profiles of both men and women.


My insights

Accountability:


Since no one holds you accountable when you create an online profile, it’s really easy to not be completely honest with the details you provide about yourself. Of course if you create a profile with the intention to date someone, you won’t get too far by not revealing the truth.




Photos:


Some of the photos that people posted were either not the most flattering, or not the most appropriate. It seems that some people are not really aware of how their photos affect other people. Some people posted their photos taken while they were asleep; others shared photos of themselves half naked showing their muscles. There is a time and a place to share those images, and it’s hard to predict how different people might react to different pictures. My advice – show only photos that you would feel comfortable sharing with work colleagues.



More men than women shared photos of themselves hugging with someone of the opposite sex. It might be a sibling or a very good friend; but if you want people to be able to imagine themselves with you - those photos do not serve the purpose.



Sharing photos with children might not be the safest thing to do. You might be a proud and loving parent, but keep the privacy of your children. It’s enough that you mention in the profile that you have children.




Gender Differences:


When I went through profiles of heterosexual men and women, some of the known gender-behavior differences were very apparent. Here are just two examples:



Men tend to write shorter profiles then women. Some women write really long and detailed profiles that are exhausting to read.



When it comes to describing one’s body type, most women choose average, while a larger number of men choose athletic – even though their photos reveal a different reality. When I checked the profile of those men, some were engaged in activities that might be called athletic – like fishing and golfing – but unfortunately those types of activities don’t contribute much to muscle building. Also, an athletic life style is very different from having an athletic body type (see my paragraph about Reading Comprehension).




The Education Factor:


Level of education plays a big factor in someone’s ability to communicate. 100% of men with no college education approached me with a simple message that contained a single word or a very simple sentence like “Hi” or “How are you”. Only 20% of men with college education approached with minimal wording.  Most of the men with a higher level of education actually put some effort in their approach, referring to something I wrote in my profile and tell how or why they thought we are compatible.




Reading Comprehension and Attention Span:


Online dating is a very cerebral process. You need to be able to express who you are in writing, analyze profiles to consider compatibility, and be able to communicate in writing with people. To start with, not many people have a good sense of who they are. In many profiles people wrote what they love to do rather than who they are. 

I had men approach me claiming that we are compatible. Most men who did so had the tendency to cling to one item I wrote in my profile, usually the first item. Checking their profiles revealed that what they wrote was the truth, but they missed the other parts where we were not compatible.  When I challenged those men - showed them what they wrote about themselves in comparison to what I wrote about myself, and then asked them to explain how exactly we are compatible - they disappeared.



I found that people either don’t pay close attention to what you write about yourself and about what you are looking for, or they just don’t care. Here are some examples:



As I mentioned earlier, I declared that I want someone to marry – that didn’t stop people who just wanted a friendship from approaching me.



I wrote that I have a Master’s degree and I’m looking for someone who is educated and intellectual – and yet, people with no college education approached me.



I wrote that I’m 44 and looking for someone between 42-50 – I had men as young as 32 and as old as 55 approach me.



I wrote that I don’t want to have children – still, some men who wrote in their profile that they want children approached me. 



On the other hand, many people reacted to my photo and commented on it.



While Online Dating requires some level of written communication – crafting a clear message and being able to comprehend one - people still react more to visual triggers. I wouldn’t be surprised if the decision to approach someone or not relies more on how attracted someone is to you based on your picture rather then the profile text.




Time:


Most activity on my profile was registered on the weekends and a few during weeknights. It is quite logical, as people are busy with work during the week. Online dating can be time consuming; browsing through profiles and corresponding with people can take hours. For people who are very busy, online dating might be more of a chore than fun.



Conclusion


Online dating is a great tool to meet people outside of your social network. To get the most out of it use a flattering photo of yours and be very clear and blunt about who you are & what you are looking for. If you are looking for someone who resembles your social-economical & educational levels and lifestyle, networking with friends and family could be a better option. Since we tend to hang around with people who are similar to us, there are high chances that your close circle of friends and family know some people who are compatible with you. In most cases, they usually have a good sense of who you are and who might be a good match for you or not.




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