It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it, that there are vast differences between the genders? Yet we seem to forget that fact all the time. And nowhere is this amnesia more evident than in the world of web-based romance.
Don’t believe me? Consider some of the things I’ve seen on men’s profiles during various forays into online dating. Lines like “Oh man, I have to write a summary? Just email me for any info.” Or “It seems like nobody reads these all the way thru, so let me be quick and say my friends describe me as funny, smart and down to earth.” Or “Clearly the women on here only care about looks and money so if you don’t care about those things, then you are the woman for me.
Those are just three of countless phrases that send almost all women screaming from their computers, tablets and smartphones. And as I see it, they all come down to one basic misconception. Men care little about what they write on their profiles because they assume women make online dating decisions like they do: based primarily on photos.
Before anyone gets up in arms at my reverse sexism, rest assured that I’m not necessarily talking about you. Perhaps I’m only talking about the 39 guys on OKCupid who contacted a “hot girl” whose profile was created to seem as “idiotic” and “unappealing” as possible within six hours of the profile being created. Or maybe the guys who jump all over an obvious troll profile with a male profile pic. Perhaps a few more. So please consider the following ways women look at online dating differently than you do. It’ll pay off big the next time you log on. And by that I mean, you’ll have a much better chance of getting laid.
We care about spelling — A lot
“Bad spelling is just a deal breaker,” says Amy, 35. “We live in the era of spell check so if the guy is misspelling basic words, it means he’s really stupid or he just cared so little about what he’s writing that he couldn’t be bothered to correct it. And when someone cares that little about writing their profile, it’s like they’re asking me to not care at all either.”
We look at pictures—but not in the way that you think
Women have very creative ideas about what we find attractive, and the je ne sais quoi required for us to want you physically is not always based on “good looks.” (“Hot men make me uncomfortable,” says one friend). So instead of how you look, we process what your photos say about you. “If a guy has pictures of himself with his mother, that suggests he’s a mama’s boy,” says Lauren, 33. “But if he has photos where he’s holding, say, his brother’s baby—or an animal—I can’t help but think he’s kind of great.”
We’re not big shirtless photo fans
Have a great upper body? Please, please, please allow us to simply see how good you look in your clothes. No, it doesn’t matter if you happen to be on a beach. A quality woman isn’t going to be drawn to your upper body if you’re advertising it that hard. Take it from Maria, 29: “Oh God, selfies in the mirror where they’re showing their pecs? Please no!”
Like you, we disdain clichés
Don’t you hate when women write that they feel just as comfortable in their hiking boots as they do in formal wear? I don’t know the women behind those horrific lines, but I do know their male counterparts, because many have contacted me. Cue the turned-off eye roll. “When a guy writes that he likes hiking and yoga and checking out new restaurants, I have to wonder if he even has a pulse,” says Jamie, 38. “Everyone loves traveling and eating, so saying those things is really just saying you’re boring.”
We don’t want to be propositioned
It may seem obvious, but you wouldn’t believe the men out there who are “just reaching out to see if you’re into” some pretty funky stuff. News alert, men: women on traditional dating sites are, in all likelihood, not looking for threesomes or “just a random hookup since the wife’s out of town.” They’re not into “primarily gay” guys who want to try it with a woman now and again. There are plenty of sites out there for women into these specific things, and only about one in a thousand on Match will be. You wouldn’t bet on a horse with those odds, would you?
We’re not impressed by how much you can drink
So you drink a lot. Let’s not call that good or bad since you can find plenty of women who are completely fine with it, and some who will even like it. But why lead with this information and risk having some women dismiss you out of hand? You have plenty of other interesting traits besides the fact that you can still handle yourself after six shots of tequila, right? (Right?) “It’s a bad sign when they list ‘beer’ under things they can’t live without,” adds Maria.
We expect you to stress your best and hide your worst
Some guys seem to think, a woman’s going to learn this secret someday, so why not now? I’m talking to you, men who stress that they have herpes but it hasn’t been active in a while, or who paste huge chunks of ALL CAPS text in their profiles sternly warning the dating site about reprinting their info in ads. “If you’re that paranoid, you shouldn’t be on a dating site,” offers Jamie. “Whenever I see those weird ‘don’t invade my privacy’ notes on a profile, I just think, ‘Wow, you sound really laid-back and like you’re a lot of fun.’ ” As for the STD confessionals, she asks, “Don’t you want to give me a chance to like you before you give me reasons not to?”
We’re being bombarded, so try to stand out from the crowd
Women hold all the cards at first, and the competition for our attention can be fierce. The good news is, most of your competition sucks, so you can win with just a bit of flair. “Funny messages that show they responded to something—anything—in my profile make such a big difference,” Maria explains. “But men don’t seem to do that. Instead they ask these boring, broad questions like, ‘What are you holding in that photo?’ My feeling is, show me why you’re writing me instead of just peppering me with random questions.” Fun fact: that advice applies in the real world, too.
We don’t applaud your honesty when you “call us” on what we’re supposedly like
We’ve all been burned, and sometimes we think that we can avoid ever being hurt again if only we show up prepared. That, I can only imagine, is the thinking behind those profiles that pre-emptively relay a man’s bitterness about the women he believes will be judging him. “Guys who turn their profiles into opportunities to vent about the superficiality of women online are always the ones whose profiles will have the tag ‘No one’s reached out to him this week,’” says 33-year-old Lauren. “It’s like, no kidding—no one’s reached out to him any week.”
We want to like you, so just give us a chance
The truth is, online dating is your game to lose. Women join these sites with all the optimism in the world, hoping against hope that they’ll find their dream man. Unfortunately, profiles give both men and women many opportunities to hang themselves. But if you just embrace your best self while keeping in mind the viewpoints above, that “online dream guy” role can be yours for the taking. The dates themselves, of course, are a story for another day.
P.S. Protect yourself from the coming data-powered panopticon by getting a VPN.