Online Dating: Men, Listen Up


As someone who used online dating Web sites off and on since their scandalous origins more than 20 years ago (remember Excite.com?), I have seen first-hand the fatal errors men make, errors that earn them swift dispatch to the trash bin. If you are a heterosexual male hoping to improve your online dating life, listen up. There's a few things you can do to clean up your online act and get past DELETE.

#1 - Do not create an online dating profile without posting photos of yourself

I know, seems obvious, right? Except in the age of omnipresent social media, there are still men who refuse to post a photo. When I ask these would-be prospects why they haven't posted photos, they reply: "I'm a very private person." Or: "I have a high profile job, but am happy to send you pictures by email."

Listen. If you are so private or high-profile that you can't "risk" posting a photo of yourself on a dating website, then why are you dating (or attempting to date) online? Dude. We all know men are visual animals. Which means you hungrily combed through my photos to tick through my haves and have-nots so you could decide whether to go through the trouble of pinging me. Without giving me the same courtesy. DELETE.

Posting an online dating profile without a photo is like saying "call me" without giving a telephone number. It's the modern-day equivalent of an oxymoron. And by the way? Nobody buys the "I'm private" or "high-profile" line. Instead, you lead prospects to assume that you consider yourself so remarkably unattractive that you don't dare post a photograph of yourself. Your grayed-out silhouette is a warning to stay away rather than to engage. It invites the speculative mental narrative that envisions you attempting to ensnare me in a protracted, nineteenth century romance of letters, from which I would emerge so charmed by your wit and intelligence that, if we were to actually meet, I would overlook your homely appearance and love you for the man that you are. DELETE.

Furthermore, I'm not interested in forming an email relationship with someone I do not know. Much less someone who remains visually anonymous. I need to learn a few basic facts about you, including how you look, before I commit to the time-consuming step of getting to know you. Which is why I've gone through the effort of creating an informative profile: it saves us both time in the assessment and vetting process. If, on the other hand, you expect me to add you to my long list of personal emails that I laboriously plow through every day, then you are asking me to do too much work. For someone I have not met. For someone who lacks the integrity and transparency to show me who he is. DELETE.

#2 - Post several photos of yourself, not just one

Like men, women want to see their dating prospects in various contexts -- recreational, professional, chill time at home, solo portraits, hanging out with buddies (sans the bottle of beer or boozy drink in hand, thank you). Posting only one photo tells me that you either aren't interested in doing the fundamental work of online dating, or are unsophisticated in the ways of modern dating. Translation: You are a luddite and a boor. DELETE.

One photo cannot not tell a complete visual story. Or at least a story that is more richly informed. By posting only one photo of yourself, you imply, however inadvertently, that said photo is the very best of you, perhaps your only flattering photo, taken at just the right angle, in just the right light, at just the right stage in life when you were at your dashing physical peak -- many years ago. My internal anecdotal algorithm, honed from too many jarring let-downs, deduces that this lonesome photo is likely not representative of what you look like now. At the very least, you are forcing me to guess at the real you, which, again, is making me do too much work. DELETE.

#3 - Post clear, close-up, unobstructed photos

Skip the endless photos of you in shades. Eyes will always say a lot about a person: it's amazing how these two relatively small organs carry the appearance of a human face and reveal aspects of a person's interior. Eyes are the conduits of chemistry, oh, that delicious chemistry. So why would you shield them? People wear sunglasses for three reasons: (1) To avoid the glare of the sun; (2) To be hip and fashionable; (3) To hide something about themselves. If every photo of you is you behind dark shades, I default to #3. DELETE.

Forget distance shots. Photos of diminutive you against a ginormous pyramid or other impressive foreign landmark are unhelpful. Same with underwater dive shots of you in full scuba gear. I've traveled. I know how breathtaking other places are. And, sure, if your intention is to show me that you are a man of vigor and adventure, fine. Just don't overdo it with scads of exotic photos showcasing everything but you. Otherwise, I'm left wondering, again, whether you are hiding something -- your face, your physique, your character. Which means I am back to guessing. And what is guessing, fellas? You got it: too much work. DELETE.

#4 - Avoid posting mirror selfies of your abs, pecs, and trail to glory

Come on, guys -- really? Okay, okay, if all you're looking for is casual sex and lots of it, and you've got six-packs and pecs for days with two percent body fat, it's yo' thang and you can shake it if ya wanna. Studly body notwithstanding, you need to know that these bathroom-mirror-with-camera-phone semi-nude shots are so ubiquitous as to be commonplace. Emphasis on common. As in drab, uncouth, unimaginative. Jive. More to the point: they portray you as a lug nut. A dim-witted narcissist. An Atlas body with a reptilian brain. A juvenile dullard. DELETE.

Yes, there are plenty of women out there looking for fly-by-night hookups. Have fun with that. But don't send me "Wha's up?" or "You're hot!" or "Let's F***" messages. Please. I have had hard, ripped bodies and know what they look and feel like. The sidewalks are replete with them; I don't need to go online for eye candy. Certainly not for vacuous company seeking same. <EOM>

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