Deriving web dating from 36 Questions

In my post about the “36 Questions to Fall in Love” article last week, I wrote that, “I want to come back to this, and see if I can construct a way of using the concepts in dating. For instance, does it hint at ways to construct a good profile? First message? and so on.”

The excellent Charlie Nox’s “The Babe Hacks” (not nearly as unpleasant as the title sounds) offers advice on how to construct a dating profile. One of the key suggestions is to answer some random questions to create quirky or unusual facts about yourself. The 12 “Set I” questions in the Arthur Aron study seem to be targeted versions of this: using maybe half of the answers, the ones you’re most happy to share for the dating world to see (and are most interesting), construct an interesting profile.

As an experiment, I have rewritten my Plenty of Fish profile (two reasons why PoF: 1st, I find more women’s profiles I want to approach there, and 2nd, OKCupid’s modular format makes adjusting the whole profile more time-consuming; and I might want to restore the old version after the experiment). I intend to use the escalating intimacy theory encapsulated within the Aron study to see if it is more effective at getting contacts, or responses, from women.

In the end, I felt only three of my Set I answers were suitable to put into a dating profile:

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

I’d like to be famous, but only because of doing well at the things I love doing most: music, writing, communicating. If those things don’t make me famous, then it means I haven’t done well enough at communicating.

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

Every time! I overthink everything, so I want to make sure I have some idea what to expect, and what order I want to say things in. Then I usually end up forgetting something anyway and having to call back.

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

I sing to myself every day. Not always a recognisable tune, though. The last time I sang to someone else was probably Christmas carols at a family gathering.

Not all of them were “too intimate” or “buzzkill” answers (as I complained in my previous post). Some just didn’t lend themselves well to a general thing. Though inviting Danielle Corsetto as my dream dinner guest might attract the subset of daters who know and read Girls With Slingshots, it’s not going to do anything either way for anyone else (bearing in mind that one purpose of a dating profile is to scare away the ones you don’t want). Some questions I just overthought them (like the body or mind of a 30 year old).

In the end, I found that in my previous effort I had answered something similar to, ” Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?” which was, “What will your tombstone say?” So I left that in. I also left in some of the earlier material to bulk out the questions (and the astute reader may be able to figure out where in the intimacy questions scale they might fit).

The resulting profile text, once I welded it all together:

The most important things about the person I’m looking for is that they should be enthusiastic about something (I don’t mind what) and value compassion.

As a child, I wanted to drive a steam train when I grew up. Then I learned they don’t have those any more, so I learned to play guitar (and double bass, and ukulele), studied maths, science and philosophy, and ended up writing stories about relationships, action-adventure and space detectives. I’d like to be famous, but only because of doing well at the things I love doing most.

Every time I make a phone call, I rehearse it in my head first! I overthink everything, so I want to make sure I have some idea what to expect, and what order I want to say things in. Then I usually end up forgetting something anyway and having to call back.

I sing to myself every day, though not always songs that I’m any good at. The last time I sang to someone else was probably Christmas carols at a family gathering.

I’d love my tombstone to read, “Jesus, at least I tried!” Those will probably be my famous dying words as well, and well worth it too!

Of course, the profile is only Set I. The next question is, what Set does a first message come from? With OKCupid you can see who’s viewed your profile, but PoF pretty much demands money for that service. That means my messages are going to be cold approaches. It might be different for a woman (who is more likely to be bombarded with too many messages anyway) but for me to send my first message means breaking the ice.

The best information I have is that women read the profile before they read the message sent, and my instincts go along with that idea. That means one or two questions from Set I and one of the early ones from Set II.

Various “don’t be a male jerk” dating advice suggests mentioning two things you have in common with the person you’re contacting, which is close enough to, “Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common” (Q.8 in Set I) to qualify. (The advice usually puts this in terms of commenting specifically on their profile). From Set II, the best options are probably:

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

In a first contact message I wouldn’t ask “why?” in Q.14 though.

The format would probably be something like this:

I like that you sound [adjective I like]. I see we share [two points of commonality]. [Ask question about one of them].

[ask Set I question]. [ask Set II question].

Hope to hear from you soon

Choice of the questions from the study would probably be related to whatever is on her profile. Format likely to receive liberal interpretation and extensive modification for each recipient.

For the sake of the experiment, I may decide to contact women with blank profiles, and use her photo to draw the necessary inferences for “things in common” and “I like that”. In theory, as long as she’s ticked “looking for a relationship”, then the “open to falling in love” element is probably valid.

Will this lead to responses, and a gradually developing intimacy level by escalating the questions? I doubt it, but the possibility is intriguing.

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About ValeryNorth

I overthink everything.
This entry was posted in Dating, Philosophy, Science, SCW, Social so-called life and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Deriving web dating from 36 Questions

  1. Pingback: Early indications from “36 Questions” online dating experiment | Valery North - Writer

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