Im an online dater. I admit it. There have been times when I felt sheepish saying that, but Im comfortable with it now. Of course,if you ask me how it is to try online dating Im going to give you the pat answer: its a bit challenging but can offer the potential for a wonderful long term relationship. And its true. But it can also feel like sheer hell at times and have you questioning the whole process.Just last week I renewed my subscription to a popular online dating site in response to the notification that someone special had emailed me. My profile was visible, but without paying I couldnt send or receive emails. I was hoping it was the attractive looking man about 45 miles away who I had been checking out--sensitive, well-read, professional. So I paid up and eagerly went to my email to find a long email, probably the same one he sends to everyone, from someone totally different, telling me all about himself. I had already checked out his profile, looked at the photos, two of himself, and one of his dog, a pug, before reading the email. It was with little surprise that I read the line, about halfway through the first paragraph, where he told me he was starting to look like his two pugs.Im sure he is a very nice man, and I wrote a careful no thanks. He just isnt my type, for a variety of reasons. Mr. HardBody, BenHur, Running with Scissors (this one I made up), and the myriad other slightly off-beat men who appear to be drawn to my profile arent my type either.
This time around Im taking a more assertive approach, but it isnt really working. Im writing the men I find attractive or appealing, instead of waiting for them to make the first move. Im getting very little response, not even a courteous rejection letter. Online dating is incredibly challenging; Im no longer a novice so I take the slights and rejections in stride. But it is frustrating to get so few responses.Ive come to view online dating as a marketing game. It really is all about how you present yourself. The goal is find a mate and how one approaches the search is a personal matter. My profile is very honest, listing traits that show me as highly educated, a little strong-willed and self-assured. I realize that can be a turn-off to some men, particularly in the South. Its not unusual to see a mans profile indicating an interest in women with a high school degree or women who makes less than $35,000 a year, and who are considerably younger than themselves. I have no doubt that a softer, gentler, less educated version of me, with the words playful, sensuous or romantic would yield a higher response rate. Like many women, I am all of those things, but to list those as primary traits would be to skew the responses I got.The side we present should be the side we want to sell, or rather the product we want someone to want enough to buy; I dont believe in false advertising. And when Ive met a man who markets himself as 60 but is really 70 or is passing off an ancient photo of himself, Im not pleased about those deceptions. Why start off with a falsehood youll end up having to explain on date one or two?
Lets all indulge in a little truth in advertising. It begins with being honest about our purpose, and telling the truth, or at least not lying, about the important facts. Lets be proud of our age, tout our assets, and talk about what we want in a relationship. Using the right words to convey those things in a softer manner is fine and acceptable. But, valuing ourselves first and foremost means were bringing that honesty to a relationship. For me that will translate into keeping my profile as it is and being comfortable with the very low rate of response I get. I know myself and the type of man I would like to date. Until that time Ill just have to be content with the situation; maybe a little wordsmithing, but no airbrushing.
Walker Thornton is a Virginia-based writer and blogger.