Okay, so it’s that time of the year when dating websites see the biggest increase in activity – inspired by a mix of Christmas as a singleton and the impending Valentine’s day, more people embark on online dating in January than at any other time. So, inspired by a heady mixture of my best friend’s search for Mr Right via online dating, and a slew of Daily Mail (I know, I know) articles about dating and finding ‘the one’ I feel I need to talk a little about how we deceive through words.
We, in this instance is in the general.
As a woman in her (barely) early thirties, with a successful career, her own business, children and, of course, the dreaded not-quite-ex husband lurking around, the dating scene in general is not going to be sympathetic to me. I remember back when I met my ex, and the father of my daughter, online. I was in my early 20’s. It was a fun way to meet people.
Now that I;ve turned 30 it all seems a little sad and pathetic.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not the method of meeting people that makes me squicky. It’s the MO.
Statistics show that around 60% of adults over 25 have some form of dating profile existing somewhere on the net. Many of those profiles are, of course, years out of date and the creators haven’t given them a second thought for years.
And the rest?
Well, I’ve become, over the years, quite a dab hand at online profiles and the creative writing techniques they involve.
Things to note for the singleton seeking love:
Many sites don’t allow ‘separated’ people to join, knowing, full rightly, that baring a legal separation or a decree Nisi that they could be encouraging and enabling infidelity.
For those trying to cheat, of course.
The issue with dating profiles is that they are so far detached from real life that they serve no purpose at all.
According to Woman’s Day magazine the most common lies people tell in profiles regards height, employment, income and hobbies. Many people, it seems, are creative about these things. For instance, a guy who strings together the articles for a school / college / community / fan newsletter can call himself an ‘editor’ or a ‘writer’ while the woman who hands out the sandwiches at Random House can say that she works ‘in publishing.’ It’s so vague as to mean nothing. And that’s before people start to lie about their careers, which, if you believe the stats, 80% of online daters do – either ‘bigging’ it up or lying outright.
And it doesn’t end there. Men, studies have shown, are more likely to lie about income than women. This, it’s believed, is part of the hunter-gatherer need to provide. It would also explain why men tend to be intimated by women who earn more than they do. In my own experience I’ve found that men, including pretty much all of my exes – have been massively intimidated by the fact that I earn much more than they do. As a result I no longer tell partners how much I earn, or, if I can help it, exactly what it is that I do for a living. I find myself self-auditing.
As a note from this, I have one friend, a wonderfully charming blond, who lies both on her profiles and to new dates. She tells them she works in Boots. She’s a junior accountant. But she’s found that having a ‘career’ tends to put off dates, so she omits it from her profile. Her career seems to be at odds with her appearance – slim, very attractive, tanned bottle blond. The sort of men who approach her tend to think she’s some vacuous bimbo, when in fact she’s far from it. It’s a case of the appearance vs the reality, and a case in point of how you can never judge a book by it’s cover.
While I can see the reasoning wit this, I can also see how that creative bullshit can land someone in trouble later on. Honesty is the key.
That said, how much do people actually read on your profile? Physical attraction is the key, it seems. Which explains why over half of all online profiles have a photo that is at least 3 years old.
To test this theory a journalist recently created the ‘worst dating profile ever’ in which she openly said she liked to ‘pretend she was pregnant’ when she broke up with people and enjoyed knocking coffee out of homeless people’s hands because it was ‘sooo funny.’ She also stated that she was jobless, but loved money and drugs.
She got over 150 replies in 24 hours.
Why? Well, it seems that the picture attached to her profile was the attraction – showing that people don’t really seem to read profiles, and if they do, they aren’t looking for the relationship you think they are. Read the full story here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2534457/Columnist-creates-worst-dating-profile-men-come-flocking-posted-picture-model.html
And why is the photo so important? Well, the photo you chose to upload is the first thing people see, and your choice of photo also says a lot about you. A photo clearly taken at a party, with you, half pissed and drink in hand might not portray the serious side of you and will ensure that the responses you receive will tend to be from folks looking for a quick fling or a booty call. Apparently full body shots attract 200% more attention – people like to see what they are getting. While photos taken with pets, friends or kids attract less attention.
Likewise, images including cigarettes, pints or sweaty friends/background people, are seen as unsavoury and put people off. As do picture taken across a dinner table showing glasses of wine and/or food – it sets you up as being concerned with image.
The best pictures, according to studies, are simple pictures, not staged, showing the lighter side of you.
And what of the actual words? Well, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that those who state they have kids or are divorced / separated receive fewer responses. Other things that put people off, according to MyLifeScoop and eharmony, include:
1. Bringing up sex in your profile. It’s just tacky and while you might think it makes you seem ‘adventurous’ and ‘free spirited’ in reality it just makes you look cheap and not long-term partner material.
2. Poor spelling / grammar – itz jus nt Kool and marks u out an illiterate
3. Lying about yourself or your job – according to an article by the Huffington #10 on the most common lies told in dating profiles for both men and women is working in the film industry. Other lies involve lying about their position at work and pretending to have staff / assistants.
4. AskMen warns against ‘telling her what she wants to hear’ – which probably explains why so many dating profiles are full of desires for commitment, love and long term relationships full of walks on the beach, talking through the night, and travelling. When in realty he lives with his mother, spends most nights getting shit faced with his friends playing GTA and the furthest he has ever ‘travelled’ is Milton Keynes.
5. Lying about your relationship status / history. Many people say in their profiles that they are ‘single’ or ‘divorced’ when in reality they are only separated, often pending divorce. In all honesty, I can understand why people lie about this. After all, who wants to start a relationship with someone who in the middle of all that drama and stress? iVillage suggests using the phrase: “I’m separated, divorce pending.” This shows you didn’t just get in a big fight and are sleeping in separate rooms while you explore your options online and decide if your marriage is worth ditching.
6. Kids. I’ve been stung by this one. I love kids, I have one and I desperately want more. It’s a big issue for me. I’ve been hurt in the past and have seen the most important relationship I’ve ever been in disintegrate when it transpired that he’d been lying about wanting kids. Don’t lie. If you don’t want kids then say so. If you do then say so. Don’t waste people’s time.
Professional dating agencies state that you should view your dating profile with the same seriousness that you view your CV. Put as much effort into it. After all, on a base level, you are essentially applying for a partner, so why wouldn’t you put as much effort into it?
That said, and despite having met some wonderful people and had relationships with lovely men I’ve met online, I’ll be honest and say that I always approach online dating with a degree of wariness, especially now that I’m no longer in my 20’s. I’ll admit that I do tend to look at profiles of eligible men and wonder why they are single at 33 when they are clearly handsome and seem to have a decent job. I always, much to my shame, find myself wondering ‘what’s wrong with them?’
I dare say they wonder the same about me.
If, at the end of the day, my children or my not-quite-divorced status. or my self employment, or my sporting pursuits are something that will put someone off then they clearly aren’t for me.
So, at this time of the year, if you are one of those who are embarking on what might well turn out to be the most important thing you ever write, chose your words wisely chaps, for they may be all you have.
Good luck, God speed,