i’m no dating guru…

I have never been on a date. In fact, in my own opinion, I’ve never officially been asked out. But a few people might differ with me on that. When I was in high school, I was so revolted by the serial dating scene that since then, I’ve never been able to consider high school dating as real dating. You can ask my younger brother, if you don’t believe me. With a few exceptions, it’s all stupidity in the high school years (and the stupidity often continues for a while, afterwards).

After I graduated, I worked in a book store, and a random German guy asked me to have coffee with him. I’m sorry, but “Have coffee with me? I need a girlfriend.” wasn’t the usual response to my question of “May I help you?”, when I was the resident magazine lady. I was so startled (and slightly alarmed) that I went and hid in the back until he left the store.

So, feel free to decide for yourself whether that counts as being “asked out”. I no longer know, nor care.

Contrary to how some thirty-one year old women may act, as they listen to their “biological clock” ticking away, I am not desperate to be married. I believe that the Lord has the perfect man for me, somewhere out there. I am not always patient, but I do try. For all the things that I forget to leave Him in charge of, I tend to leave my love life in His hands, because I’d screw it up if I tried anything.

This leads up to the big reveal, and the actual point of this post. For all of my “it may have worked for you, but I will never, never, never try online dating” statements, I was conquered by the same thing that killed the proverbial cat. Curiosity eventually got to me, and over a year ago, I went exploring the world of online dating. Nothing happened, of course, and between getting bored and getting packed to leave for Australia, I closed my account and forgot about it.

But 2012 rolled around, and I became curious again, so I opened up my account once more, updated it, and waited to see what would happen. I don’t have anything against a long-distance relationship, even when I’m in the U.S., so that part hasn’t bothered me. And I don’t hide the fact, on my profile, so everyone’s aware. And I’ve been remembering what some of my wise friends have told me, that I can’t put God in a box, and deny that He can even use such a thing as online dating to bring people together.

Well, I may never have been on a date, but for years now, I’ve been watching both friends and family start dating, get engaged, and get married. And even after they get married, I’ve seen them keep the romance alive by continuing to have dates. So, I know how this works, even when I haven’t experienced it personally.

Assuming that you want to make a good impression on a first date, you take a shower (hygiene is a good thing), make your face and hair presentable, put on a comfortable, flattering outfit, and show up on time. You present yourself in the best light possible, by showing off your good manners, keeping the conversation going (but not all about you), and let your date see what a nice, lovely person that you are.

When it comes to online dating, however, why do all of these things go out the window? I’m going to sound like I’m picking on the guys, but I’m really not. I’m just not interested in going out with girls, so it’s only the guy profiles that I get sent to my inbox. I’m betting there are plenty of girls who mess this up, too. And there are plenty of people doing it right, and I hope you know who you are.

If you have a first date, you want to give an excellent impression, so that you will have the possibility of a second date. So, if you’re using online dating, then when do you make your first impression? With your profile! Everything from your pictures to how you answer the questions, these are the only things a potential date is going to see. And if you’re like me, you get about seven new profiles sent to you, every single day. So, are you going to study them in detail, every single one? Probably not. First impressions are important!

Firstly, I know that most people are not spelling freaks, like I am. I understand that it doesn’t come naturally for most. That’s ok. But you wouldn’t fill out a resume for a new job without checking for spelling and grammar mistakes, so why should you fill out a personality profile on a dating site, and not check these things, also? To my eye, when you don’t capitalize words, spell everything wrong, answer questions with one word, and use LOL constantly, I think that you’re uneducated, probably lying about being an engineer, and not really interested in impressing a woman.

Because I am unimpressed by your lackadaisical manner in looking for a woman to fall in love with, I wonder if you’re you taking this seriously. Do you want a woman to take you seriously, unless she’s equally uneducated and uninterested in giving a good impression? Get someone to check your profile for you, if you’re unable to spot these things yourself. I try to not delete profiles because of this, but it’s extremely tempting.

Pictures. Boy, do I have issues with the pictures that I keep seeing. I don’t care if you consider yourself ugly or handsome, you still need to put your best foot forward and let a girl see what you’re really like. That includes what you look like. Is this not too obvious? If you have the option of putting twelve pictures online, do it. I don’t consider myself photogenic, so I tend to think that people need to see multiple pictures of me to get even an impression of what I really look like. If you want yourself to become three-dimensional to someone, give them something to look at.

And while you’re uploading ten to twelve pictures, look for the ones that show you at your best. They can be self-portraits, but they don’t have to be taken in front of a mirror! You can aim a camera at yourself, and take pics until you get a nice one. Don’t waste your time, or mine, taking pictures of yourself when you’re pretending to look “cool”. I’m not interested in how cool you can look. I’m more likely to think you’re immature and being stupid, so why would I even read your profile? Take a variety of poses, in different clothes, or in different places. Once you get the hang of it, it isn’t hard. And if you’re not familiar with how to get your best self-portrait, aim the camera at yourself, and laugh! Yes, pretend someone just said something really funny. It works!

Have a picture with you and your dog, or you in your car, but if the picture is primarily of your car (or there are several pictures of just your car, instead of you), I’m going to think that cars are the most important thing in your life, and how can I ever compare? Or maybe that you’ll spend all of your married life washing your car, instead of spending time with your wife. I don’t have a problem with guys liking cars, but in a marriage, I want to be put ahead of your car. Don’t start off by making me think that your automobile is the most important thing in life to you.

Your cover photo on your profile should be of just you, or a really good one of you and someone else… but label which one is you! I don’t want to be falling for your brother, and then be disappointed that you’re not him. And if you’re going to post a picture of a girl snuggling up on your shoulder, you better tell me it’s your mom or your sister. How do I know you don’t have a girl on your shoulder every weekend? As for large group pictures, sure, put one in there (only one or two), but make sure I can see you. I’m not interested in your family reunion photo until I’m dating you. For now, I want to see what you look like. Besides, if your group photo has you with a bunch of guys, I may decide I’d rather have the one next to you. Make sure your pictures show me YOU!

For example, six of my pictures are just of me. By the way, seven of my total pics are self-portraits. Start practicing. Some of them, I’ve cut my friends out of the picture, but that doesn’t mean I love them any less. The picture is whole, somewhere else. Several pictures have children in them, because I’m a nanny, and work with kids, but each one shows me at my best, smiling naturally. I don’t look like I picked a kid up off the street, just to make you think I like them. Some of the kids are my young cousins, and we’re having a high old time in the pool. But you can still see my face clearly. Two of them have me wearing my Aussie Akubra hats, and one was taken in Hawaii. These show where I’ve been, that I can have fun in different headgear, and that I love to travel.

Don’t take pictures of your boat or the scenery. I have thousands of sunset photos in my albums, I don’t need to see what it looked like when you were at the beach. Likewise, I don’t really need to see just your dog, just your car, the view from guard duty at night in Afghanistan (to our military men, I love you, respect you, and thank you for your service… but this one still applies to you), any sunset/sunrise, or any picture that doesn’t involve you. If we eventually meet, I will learn all about these aspects of your life. These pictures may decide whether I click on “Close Match” or not. Don’t mess it up.

I’m sure I’m skipping more things involving pictures, but to finish up, don’t post old photos of yourself. Some of my pictures are a few years old, but they still look like me. I don’t care how adorable you were in diapers or in grade school, no woman wants to date your childhood self. If you had long hair when you were twenty, and you have no hair now, put your recent photos up. You may prefer having hair, but your future wife may appreciate that you have the maturity now that you lacked then.

And though I nitpicked on spelling and grammar, earlier, all the guys out there really need to consider what they write about themselves, and work on it. You don’t have to lie about yourself. You just need to BE yourself, and make the best case you can, that you are someone worth knowing. When the dating program asks you to write what’s most important to you, don’t just say your family. Tell us WHY they are important to you. When you’re given difficult questions, such as “What would you like people to notice about you right away that they don’t usually notice?”, don’t just say “I dunno”. Give it some thought, and make your best answer. Make it look like you put effort into it! I’ll admit, that question has stumped me for a long time, but I always had an answer, even though I’ve changed it fifty million times.

Mention your interests, and why you find them interesting. Tell us what you find exciting about life. Don’t take this the wrong way, but if you were applying for a job, you’d be trying to market yourself, and get the company to think you’re the best choice for what they’re interested in. You’re the best person for the job, make them realize it. In this case, you don’t want the right woman to overlook you, so make her give you a second and a third glance. Make her realize, in writing, what she’s missing by not considering you. Give an honest spiel that makes you look even more interesting than YOU think you are.

And my favorite question, and one that may decide whether I even look at you, is “What is the last book you read, and why did you find it interesting?”. I don’t have to marry someone that is as big a bookworm as I am, but they do have to have an appreciation for books. If you say that “I never read” or “I only read magazines”, I won’t ever look at your profile again. Now, there are lots of non-bookish girls out there, but what if she sees that you never read and thinks you’re uneducated? Uninterested in learning or in improving yourself? If you don’t read books, as a general rule, tell her what you DO read. If you spend your time on the internet, reading articles by pundits, haven’t read a book lately, because you’ve been studying too hard for your Master’s degree, or you spend hours poring over every article in the newspaper, then put that in the box. Don’t leave it empty or say “I don’t read”. Some of us will put YOU in a box, the Closed Match box, and you won’t even realize why.

This is a rant that I’ve been wanting to get out for a while now, and when I started thinking about it, I hadn’t realized that Valentine’s Day was coming up. So, even though I’ve never received flowers on Valentine’s Day from anyone but my dad, I’m not worried about it. My turn will come. In my family, we put the emphasis on showing love (and giving flowers) on other days, not just the week of the year that the supermarket runs out of flowers. But I am ranting for not just my sake, but for yours. If you want to find that special someone, and you don’t want to be overlooked by accident, then remember that what you put into print, and into pictures, on that dating profile is the first thing a potential date will see.

Don’t miss your happily ever after, just because you didn’t run the spell-check. Or any other silly reason, for that matter.

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