Bad Online Dating Game

As online dating sites go, I like OkCupid’s the best, because it has a smooth interface, and because its profile process tends to produce more interesting profiles than the other sites I’ve checked out.

To make a long story short, OkCupid has several short-answer sections in its profile, such as “what I’m doing with my life,” “the first thing people usually notice about me” (I give honesty points to women who put “boobs”) and “the six things I could never do without”.

One of these short answers is headlined, “on a typical Friday night I am…”

And I can’t believe some of the answers I’m reading on (female) profiles. I won’t post any examples out of respect for privacy, but they usually go something like this:

“Either at a happy hour, or watching a movie with friends.” [Replace one or both of these with any number of quotidian after-work events.]

It blows my mind how many people are missing the point of the question. It’s not a fact-finding exercise; the point is not to answer the question directly. The point is to give you a springboard, a constrained point of entry to express your personality.

Imagine all the questions you get at a job interview. There’s a subtext to all of them, subtexts you need to hit if you’re going to impress your future workmates. Things like “what do you think is your biggest weakness” is not really about your weakness; they want to hear that you have progressed as a person by identifying a flaw and honing yourself to eliminate it, so they know you can self-correct in the workplace.

Or consider a college admissions essay – they don’t really want to know the factual details of a time where you faced a moral dilemma in your life as a way of examining your character and integrity, they want to know you’re a living breathing person who is interesting and will add to the colorful life of their campus.

I should add this paragraph is a frequent victim of “can’t decide syndrome,” where a woman confesses that she likes to stay in, but likes to go out, enjoys meeting new people but has a core group of long-tenured girlfriends, etc.

A hint: it shows a lot more personality to put paradigms instead of events, like “Friday nights are for unwinding after a week of work” or “I’m getting a head start on the weekend.”

 

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “Bad Online Dating Game

  1. Opus

    I am not sure I can really agree with you. I always try to answer the question I’ve been asked, and if you ask me a vague or misleading question you will get a vague or misleading answer. If you want to know how I feel on Friday might, then that is the question to ask. So, on a typical Friday night (like tonight) I am in the pub with friends. As for Interview questions, questions such as you example drive me to despair, and tend to produce predictably negative answers from me. The questions suggest to me that the Interviewer has no idea what they are after. If you want to know how I have progressed; ask, in sufficiently concrete terms. Perhaps it is just me?

  2. @Badger
    I hear you re “can’t decide syndrome,” and the most common responses are boring even if they’re true. But I’m not sure the paradigm really works either – the examples you give strike me as a little shady. Like “what is this person trying to say?”

    Maybe I’m just pervy but “unwinding after work” made me think of weird sex – like you’re going to a swingers club or something. And “getting a head start on the weekend” sounds like getting totally wasted or high.

    Perhaps I have an overactive imagination, but when people are vague I suspect they’re being sketchy.

  3. Arch

    I always thought “getting a head start on the weekend” meant you start drinking Friday at lunch.

  4. jen

    Susan, you took the words right out of my mouth. I only want to add that anything vague-like unwinding-just sounds like the person just didn’t know what to say and felt they couldn’t leave it blank.

    although in trying to answer some of the questions myself, I kept thinking “these questions are stupid”. I am not sure this is the kind of stuff I’d want to know about someone I want to date.

  5. 108spirits

    People tend to answer those questions poorly because they try to describe every possible thing they might do on a Friday night. It’ll sound boring and wishy-washy. It’s far better to scope it clear & hard, i.e make up some constraints so that you only have to describe one particular Friday night activity that you enjoy, that you feel most comfortable and at your best self.

  6. johnnymilfquest

    Co-sign everything Opus just wrote.

    Susan wrote:

    “Maybe I’m just pervy but “unwinding after work” made me think of weird sex.”

    I thought of tea & biscuits.

  7. jen

    Susan wrote:

    “Maybe I’m just pervy but “unwinding after work” made me think of weird sex.”

    I thought of tea & biscuits.

    ————————–

    made me think of a nap

  8. @ Opus: sorry, but always answering the question you’ve been asked isn’t just bad online dating, it’s bad conversation – with women, at least, but arguable with men too. If you’re just answering questions straight up, you’re not taking an active role, not imposing your personality on the interaction.

    Just answering the question is the natural mode of interaction for guys (and I include myself) whose normal conversations are about conveying information and ideas, but it’s pretty bad for socializing with new people.

  9. tenthring

    I hate women’s online profiles. They are boring and uninspired (yes, many of these women are boring and uninspired, but you’d think they would put on their best face for dating).

    Your suggestion to go more in the direction of vagueness is the opposite of what I’d like to see.

  10. Johnny Milfquest said:

    “I thought of tea & biscuits.”
    _________________________

    Dude, I did that with my ex-girlfriend a couple of times. It was fucking amazing. I had no idea she was so dirty.

    My pelvis was sore for a few days after that.

  11. I want to participate, bit I have ZERO exp with online dating.

    I’d suck t it though, I do better face to face. I need to see a womans reaction to my comments to gauge my next move.

    fml.

  12. johnnymilfquest

    “I want to participate, bit I have ZERO exp with online dating. I’d suck t it though, I do better face to face.”

    I don’t know Danny. I think you’d be pretty good at it. I can’t guarantee that you’d find any of the women on POF attractive, but if you did…

    I’m thinking about giving POF another go. The last round was a real eye-opener for me. But my job search comes first at the moment. I need to be disciplined about that.

  13. johnnymilfquest

    Dogsquat wrote:

    “Dude, I did that with my ex-girlfriend a couple of times. It was fucking amazing. I had no idea she was so dirty.”

    If the biscuit collapses after you dunk it in the tea, it does get messy.

    http://www.teadunking.co.uk/

  14. SayWhaat

    My response to that question on my profile is, “Friday nights are for recovering from Thursday nights. (Kidding!)”

    Hmm..thinking about it now, I should probably change it, as it makes me look like a lush.

  15. Johnny-

    I’ve considered giving it a go, just to say I tried it. If I do, I’ll definitely post about it and ask around for tips.

    Badger recommends okcupid, guess I’d start there.

  16. johnnymilfquest

    Danny wrote:

    “Badger recommends okcupid, guess I’d start there.”

    Depends which free site has more members in your area. For me and privateman its definitely POF.

    For Gmac and Badger, it appears to be OKC.

  17. I’ll give a try just as an experiment. One of the girls I work with met her hubby on POF.

  18. Hope

    What if the girl wrote that she stayed inside all weekend and played video games?

    My thinking is that nerdy girls who actually are interested in nerdy activities and nerdy guys have an edge in online dating. But a lot of guys (including Finkel apparently) hide their nerdiness to appeal to the greater majority of girls that are mainstream (and presumably more attractive).

  19. A good online dating website has some appropriate “barriers” for entry. The barrier for Match is the cost. The barrier to OKC is all about those questions and quizzes.

    Because Plenty of Fish has few barriers, it gets the most people but many of those aren’t serious and so while there are indeed many fish, the fish ain’t biting.

  20. Stephenie Rowling

    “A good online dating website has some appropriate “barriers” for entry. The barrier for Match is the cost. The barrier to OKC is all about those questions and quizzes.”

    I agree with this. I know word in the street says that you shouldn’t have to pay for a website because is usually free for women and costly for men, but I think a website that charges a moderate amount for both genders is a good barrier for people really willing to find a mate and not just looking for a self steem bust and less be frank a woman that not only tries and date but pays money herself for it, is surely looking for someone for real, YMMV.

  21. Brian

    “I hate women’s online profiles. They are boring and uninspired”

    A summary of 90% of the profiles I see:

    “I am a down-to-earth, laid back woman who loves music, movies, going out to eat, and spending time with my friends.”

    It’s like a window into their soul.

    Granted, half of the time their 2-3 sentence personal description is followed by 2-3 paragraphs of what the guy MUST bring to the table. The entitlement can be pretty repulsive at times.

  22. Pechorin is closest to what I’m getting at here. The point isn’t that someone is going to decide to message you because you because you put exactly what they were looking for in your Friday night question. It’s that you create an impression of your personality with everything you write in your profile, and listing a bunch of activities is not a very effective way of creating that impression. All the questions on OKCupid are opportunities to show your personality. Some of the best profiles I’ve read don’t answer the questions at all.

    Susan,

    “Maybe I’m just pervy but “unwinding after work” made me think of weird sex”

    I think you’ve answered your own question here.

    tenthring,

    “Your suggestion to go more in the direction of vagueness is the opposite of what I’d like to see.”

    Vagueness may not express it properly…perhaps “holistic” would be a better term. In any case I mean being impressionist about oneself, giving an image instead of a detailed description.

    SayWhaat,

    “Hmm..thinking about it now, I should probably change it, as it makes me look like a lush.”

    In one of the funnier profiles I’ve read, an otherwise put-together and straight-laced woman answered this question with “Katy Perry has this one covered.” The sarcasm was unmistakable. Another woman alluded to the lyrics of Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It,” which was laugh-out-loud funny.

    Hope (welcome back to the Hut):

    “What if the girl wrote that she stayed inside all weekend and played video games?”

    That’d be awesome! Not because I’m into video games (I’m not all that much) but because it implies a woman who’s not obssessed with status and gossip, which is what underlies much of these “happy hour/brunch/cosmo” profiles.

    Brian,

    “It’s like a window into their soul.”

    That’s a scary thought isn’t it.

  23. Brian

    “It’s like a window into their soul.”

    I throw that out pretty sarcastically whenever I describe that to friends. But, in retrospect, I realize that it’s exactly that more often than not.

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