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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Got Me Under Pressure

Recently, I was having drinks with some friends when the topic of Online Dating came up. This, by itself, is hardly blog-worthy; the business of online/mobile matchmaking is a 1.55 BILLION Dollar Business. That, according to a recent Mashable article? Makes it bigger than porn. (1) The truth is, with over 40% of Americans over the age of 18 being single & the US bringing up the rear in available time-off?? Dating sites have a definite place in our over-worked, under-loved world. :)

"It's daunting." (2)

"What is? Online dating?" I asked, because honestly? I was paying attention to this weird little guy that looked like he was about to die in the corner of the bar...

"Well yes, but I meant filling out my profile. It's just a lot of pressure to figure out what people want to see."

I laughed out loud... I mean, how hard could it REALLY be?? I created my profile years ago and it sort of followed me around from social networking site to networking site... including the dating sites I had joined when I was dating, and then used for writing fodder. I've thought about redoing it; because as everything else I write? It's probably 500 characters too long. (3) Whatever. It works for me - when I logged back in after months to start writing again? I had nearly 50 emails and average about 1 incoming message every 30 minutes or so. Since there are 100 women for every 88 men online? I'm guessing it's not because there's just not much to choose from. :p

But, back to my friend? She's gorgeous, accomplished, and just all kinds of fun. So... what does she have to feel pressure about? How hard could this be?? I decided to consult my trusted friend Google. There's like 1.4 MILLION results. Jiminy Cricket. There's books, videos, and even ONLINE DATING CONSULTANTS to help you pen the profile that will pull in your future guy/gal. Wow... now, I know it's been a few years since I went through those motions of signing up on a site... but again, how hard could it be??

I decided? This called for some field research. As I'm COMPLETELY turned off by Plenty of Fish; (4) I decided to go to Match and eHarmony. What? I like reading the personality profile on eHarmony! Which, by the way? Was a WHIP to fill out. It's effectiveness is also predicated on the assumption that the people taking it? Actually possess self-awareness; which many of us do not... but, anyway. An hour later? I get a personality report that's pretty much spot on. Then I have to choose "must haves" and "can't stands" in a relationship,answer a bunch of questions, and figure out which pictures I want to post. WHIP! Fortunately, eHarmony has this nifty little Facebook integration so you can actually pull pics from there. It wants you to pick your favorite bands, books, activities, foods, and pretty much run down everything short of your blood type on there. I had to agree with my friend.. the process? WAS a little daunting.

Ok, MATCH would be better - surely. There's just something about it that screams that it's right for those of us slightly affected by A.D.D. And they have an iPad app; which makes them instantaneously cooler in my book. It WAS easier to go through - took me about 45 minutes to do, but again, I already knew what my profile contents would be. Outside of that, it was just deciding what I wanted in a match & taking their picture/voice quiz. Oh, and selecting my photos - which were NOT FB integrated; so, I actually had to go through the process of saving & uploading.

Once all THAT is done? That's when the REAL pressure starts pumping, in my opinion. That's when you have to DO something with it; like look at matches and talk to people to figure out who you want to go out on a date with... or many dates with, for that matter. Which, I guess that's something you should want to do if you're a member of a dating site. Match offers a few different searching options: they'll find the people YOU WANT to date, they'll find the people you're WANTED BY, and they'll find the set where you WANT EACH OTHER. That's kind of cool, I guess. Once matched? You can "wink" at each other if you're too timid to write (5) or you can take a chance and actually write a message that's sent to your desired date. For 3.99/month? Match will also tell you when they've read it. Oh, and let's not forget the entertainment value of the screen names people choose. Mine? Should be no surprise - it's the same online handle I have everywhere (TheOneCrystal). There's no shame in my game, fo' sho.' But, 'HappyHunter,' 'IfItAintBroke,' 'IfIAintReal,' the 50 iterations of [insertyourcitynamehere]guy, [name]looking4love, and [name]69 that completely lack originality? Maybe yours should... your first chance to be witty & creative? Didn't quiiiite make it. Oh well, maybe their profiles are better... I don't know, because I honestly? Couldn't bring myself to look.

If you HAVEN'T written your profile yet, here's a few things to keep in mind:

1) Screen Name: This is your first chance to either impress or turn off the opposite sex - take advantage or at least be neutral!

2) Keep it Clean: Guys, this is so not the time to verbally demonstrate your sexual prowess or show pictures of happy trails. Seriously. Don't. Do. It. Women? Keep it clothed & remember there is a definite allure & mystique to subtlety!

3) Be Yourself: The big gripe I have with eHarmony is that it's too easy to end up in a bad match because the person filling out that compatibility profile might be sharing who they WANT to be or THINK they are more than WHO THEY ACTUALLY ARE. But, at least that's delusion as opposed to flat out deception. If you know you don't want to have kids? Don't pretend you like the little ankle-biters and want a houseful. If you know you want to get married one day - or know you don't ... do yourself and the people viewing you a favor: Don't waste time by writing the opposite. Relationships? Are not for everyone & that's ok - turns out that it not only takes all kinds; but there ARE plenty of each kind out there. You've got a better chance of finding the right person for you if you function on a 'what you see is what you get' kind of a plane.

4) Be Positive - Even if you ARE Eeyore; maybe your dating profile isn't the place to get into all the things you DON'T want and DON'T like and CAN'T STAND about your Ex. In fact your ex? Shouldn't come up on your profile. Focus on sharing:
a) Your positive attributes
b) What you enjoy in life
c) What good things/traits you're looking for in a partner or enjoy doing on a date

5) Most of all? HAVE FUN - My litmus test for if I'm ready to date? Is when I can enjoy the experience. When I log on and it makes my stomach turn? Not ready. If I can't bring myself to respond to emails? I log off. If it's exhausting? Time to take a break.

Dating is supposed to be fun - ESPECIALLY at first - even if the first 5% of a relationship is where the most effort seems to happen? You're kinda supposed to be enjoying it. If you're not? Then maybe you should ask yourself if it's the right thing to be doing for yourself right now; or reassess how you're meeting people. For me, I think when I DO rejoin the ranks of the dating legions; it's likely to be done 'off-line.' But, it's good to know if I ever DO want to get back 'online' that there's an app for that. ;)

(1) Something to be proud of, I'm sure.
(2) One of the reasons I love my friends?? They have fabulous vocabularies, too!
(3) It's like 1500 characters, I think...
(4) There's just some things you never should see & once seen? You can't 'unsee' and their screening process pretty much is non-existent.
(5) Or are too cheap/cynical/not committed enough to sign up so are testing the waters. I'll TOTALLY concede I've not subscribed to either site. Just have the profile and watch the activity with muted interest.

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