I have realised that in my internet dating quest, I have been doing something rather silly.
Like many people, I have a list of requirements. As many dating advice bloggers suggest, I have pared this down as far as possible to “must-haves” and “dealbreakers”, which is to say, those things I can’t like with, and can’t live without, in a relationship. Some things obviously can’t be gauged in the space of a conversation or OkCupid profile, but for those that can I have my list.
It is depressingly easy on OKC to find reasons not to contact someone. But looking for reasons not to, is not the silly thing I have been doing.
The silly thing I have been doing is that at the same time as looking for reasons not to contact someone, I was also demanding that they give me a reason to contact them. It was not enough that they meet the list, I was asking for some positive on top of that.
Most people out there have not read the advice blogs, or their comments on how to fill in a profile. They have not read Charle Nox’s “The Babe Hack” (an ebook PDF about how to create an effective OKC profile, going into detail with practical examples for each of the sections available – you get it free if you subscribe to her mailing list, or search for the categories on her blog). Which is to say, they do not know how to write a great profile. They do not know that it is a bad idea to write that you “like all the usual stuff” (I’ve noticed that “the usual stuff” usually includes stuff that nobody else’s “usual stuff” does, or at least, some “usual stuff” is more usual than others). They do not know how to choose good photos, or make themselves stand out from the crowd.
In short, they do not know how to give me a reason to contact them.
This is not a criticism of them. I had to read Nox’s book and all those sites before I got an idea (I recently did a rewrite on my profile and dug out the PDF to refer to it again). It is simply observing that most profiles do not follow even the most basic advice that is on offer.
I realised that, if I am actively looking for reasons not to contact a person, then I cannot reasonably be at the same time looking for a specific reason. It’s just daft, or at least, self-defeating. I must choose one or the other criterion and stick to it. If there is no reason not to contact, then I absolutely must write some kind of message. Or, if there is a definite thing that makes me think “yes!” then I have to ignore the list. (I could, of course, use both imperatives).
I am not ready to abandon or ignore my list.
Therefore, I cannot demand an excellent photo, or a well-crafted profile, or some awesome point of connection. Most people, which presumably includes a lot of people who would be great partners or good friends if we don’t hit it off, don’t know how to do that, just like I don’t know how to do marketing properly.
I can scour their profile as much as I want for reasons to say “no”, but if I don’t find one then I must find something original and specific to say to them, however hard that might seem. Empty, or one-sentence profiles remain a dealbreaker, but otherwise I must do it. If I don’t make it a “must”, then it will be all too easy to slip back into thinking, “Ah, well, I’m just not feeling a connection,” which is just the same as where I was before.
If I write to the people who don’t know how to write profiles, then I can give them a chance to create that connection, to show me something different instead of “the usual”, and to wow me with what makes them an individual. They are all individuals (Monty Python reference: “I’m not!” says a lone voice in the crowd). That means I am not wasting my energies on boring people, but opening myself up to opportunities to meet people whose attractiveness takes longer to reveal. Which, after all, is what I want people to give me credit for having.
Since I made that decision, I have sent as many in a week as I used to manage in a month or two, and even had a reply, which is more than in the last year.