Dating should be less about matching outward circumstances than meeting your inner necessity. ~ Mark Amend
by Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.
Some of my long-ago blog readers might remember this gem of an idea.
When I was writing Getting Back Out There I interviewed a lot of people and developed surveys that many of my GPYB readers answered. I was newly widowed and didn’t really want to write a dating book, but that was the deal I struck with my publisher. Despite the experience of my clients, the interviews and surveys, I still wanted to get into some dating sites and see what in the world was going on in there. To join the sites and be able to read and write in the forums (which I wanted to do so I could pose questions), I needed to put up profiles. Of course, I wanted it to be as generic and unappealing as possible. I just wanted to ask questions;I didn’t want to entertain male suitors.
So, this is my actual photo that I put up on all the sites. I took it from a graphics site where it was downloaded for signs to identify the door to the Ladies Room.
One of my profiles had very general likes and dislikes and on another, the goofiest stuff that anyone would ever say. For example, I wrote: My idea of a romantic evening is you holding the yarn while I crochet some nice earmuffs for you. I also like Campbells Cream of Mushroom soup, singing Christmas carols all year long, and shopping for odd socks at the Salvation Army. I made up a whole lot of other things, assuming that men would “get” that I wasn’t serious and pass me by. Boy, was I mistaken.
While I was on these sites, these profiles – yes bathroom wall lady who wanted to crochet earmuffs and sing Christmas carols all year long – received approximately 10-20 emails a day. BUT the bathroom wall lady with no preferences or interests zoomed to about 50 a day. So if you’re looking for love, putting up this photo will dramatically increase your odds of getting an email that says, “Hey good looking!” This experiment proved to me that there are people out there who just troll for the noobs and then go in for the kill. There are people out there who just blast every new profile that comes along. They have no preferences except for a pulse (at least I hope they prefer a pulse – we never got that far).
There are weirdos out there. Beware.
GBOT prepares you for every possible scenario. It discusses background searches and finding out things beforehand. Follow the Observation recommendations and don’t shy away from the “Early Relationship” chapters as they contain very important information about communication styles. Read Chapter 10 in GBOT “Real Love is As Real Love Does” for honest examples of real love working in real life.
If you want someone who is actually decent and human, I spent months researching how to post profiles and what works and what doesn’t for NORMAL PEOPLE LOOKING FOR A LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP. These are my tips for your on-line profile:
- Do a first draft that has everything but the kitchen sink in it. Start off with the kind of people you like to be around. “I like smart, interesting people who like to travel and enjoy classical music.” “I like witty people who think a perfect evening at home is sitting by the fire watching documentaries.” “I like intelligent people with a flair for sarcasm that is not biting or mean. Your idea of a great afternoon is walking the dogs in the woods or playing some outdoor sports. You like rock and dislike people with no political opinions.” If anything is an absolutely MUST HAVE that you have discovered from doing the Standards and Compatibility Inventory in GBOT, put it in this lead sentence. “I like people who go to church on Sunday morning and come home and read the paper. Your idea of a great date is a movie or a play.” Play around with these phrases and see how close you can get to a capsulized version of what you really want.
- You can also put in another sentence of what is absolutely unacceptable (again from your Standards and Compatibility Inventory) “People who have DUIs, are not yet officially divorced, owe back child support or are only here to satisfy weird sexual proclivities need not apply.” You might want to word it a tad more gentle as you might get hate mail from the weirdos (“you judgmental b word, no one would take a second look at you – I’m sorry I took a first”) but then you know, hey, this one’s not interested in me! But, if you can shrug off the slings and arrows of judgment, put in what you really want and don’t want.
- You can always write, “I believe in to each his or her own and I try not to be judgmental but I don’t fit well with…(hunters, liberals, early risers, late risers, irresponsible spend thrifts, news junkies…)” Be sure to put it in terms they understand…Oh hey that’s me so I best be moving along. If you can go with the flow, do it…but be specific about what traits someone should have and what traits they should not have.
- Review your Standards and Compatibility Inventory and think about some things you can include that are incredibly important to you. These are NOT things you put in your profile, but you need to remain true to yourself and the standards you set when there was NOT a cute smile and a warm body sitting across from you on a coffee date. Put those absolutes on a list somewhere so that if someone violates your standards, you can move along. Some examples from former clients and reader: “I don’t want to date anyone who mentions sex right away (or before the 3rd date or sends a you know what photo etc.)” “I don’t want anyone who just trashes all his/her exes and nothing was ever his/her fault.” “I don’t want anyone who is behind on child support or doesn’t have a relationship with his or her kids.” “I don’t want someone who is not gainfully employed.” Make sure that you re-commit to your Standards and make sure you stay true to them no matter what.
- You can also be straight up about fidelity and honesty, “I don’t cheat, don’t play games, don’t lie either straight out or by omission and am not interested in anyone who does.”
- Be honest about how you really live. Some people want an active lifestyle and some want to be home and left alone. You can write, “After a long week at the office, I like to chill at home watching mindless TV such as [name some favorite shows]” or “I like to go for a hike on Sunday morning and would like to have someone who likes to do the same.” Don’t put “pie in the sky” nonsense like long walks on the beach on a moonlit night. Seriously, that is just stupid. Don’t clog your profile with things that might sound nice. You don’t want a fan, you want a true partner and partners don’t start out in fantasy land; they start in reality.
- As it states in GBOT you can have your “nice to have” but not necessary down. You can list them here and have them at the ready.
- Write your idea of an ideal first date. Brainstorm as many ideas as you can. I always did lunch or coffee as a first date. Even with Michael. I spent two hours talking to him on Saturday night. We spent at least 3 hours on the phone on Sunday and a couple of hours on Monday and Tuesday but our first date was supposed to be lunch on Saturday. He made up some excuse (bringing his boat in for maintenance) to see me for lunch on Wednesday. He picked me up at my job and I told him I had to be back within 2 hours. I had my rules and even though I pretty much knew we were both emotionally going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, I stuck to them. I still needed to observe. As it says in GBOT, you can write, “My idea of a good first date is to meet for lunch or coffee. If all goes well we can collaborate on a second date.” Don’t let anyone pressure you into something more serious.
Prepare the Profile
Okay, so you write this all out but you don’t put all this in a profile. After a few years of research, I wrote GBOT and found that these profiles are most successful: be honest about who you are..c.
Opening paragraph: “I like …. types of people” Don’t go into absolutely everything but look at your list and figure out what is absolutely important and imperative and must exist in someone you would consider dating.
Second paragraph: All about you. I’m a bit shy but once you get to know me, I open up. I have a good sense of humor but don’t like biting or mean sarcasm (regular sarcasm is cool, though). My dream is to (go to Tahiti one day, open up my own store, sail the ocean blue..) I’m loyal to my friends and family and like people who not only find that appealing, but important.
Third paragraph: Idea of a cool first date.
The best profiles are concise but explain something about who you are, what kind of people you like and don’t like and what you like to do. Show it to a few friends and ask if it portrays who you really are.
Similarly, ask friends to go through photos and pick out ones that seem to show you in real life doing real things. Don’t post the best photos. Use photos that are not necessarily you in the best light. Let them be pleasantly surprised when they meet you. Many on dating sites have NO IDEA what they are looking for but they’ll stop and pay attention to a pretty or handsome face. You don’t want someone who is woo’d by a Glamour Shot. You want someone who thinks the photo of you changing a tire with grease on your nose is adorable. It’s also nice to be told you look better in real life.
Include a sentence such as “There is more, but if this piques your interest, let’s have a conversation and I’ll tell you more.” That is when you have the rest of your list in reserve and you talk it out in the next few conversations.
Remember, this is a not a car someone is buying or a job interview. You don’t want to do a hard sell on you. You want to present an honest picture so that you get an honest picture back. You can’t be all things to all people and you don’t want to be. You want to be you and to be with someone who is attracted to that.
And remember: the question is not to make them want you but for you to sit back and observe and figure out if YOU want THEM. You have to change your mindset about this. GBOT goes into using observation in dating and picking up clues and signs.
If you’re so busy trying to sell yourself, you haven’t yet observed this person well enough to figure out if you’re sold on him or her. THAT is what is most important.
- Review the 5 R’s in GBOT (the 5 R’s video is HERE) and know that “rejection” is simply someone’s way of letting you go to find the person who values you and all that you are. There has to be a lot of mindset changing before you’re ready to be out there for an extended period. Remember the GPYB admonishment: the NUMBER ONE REQUIREMENT is “Wants to be with me.” If you haven’t seen the video about this, it’s HERE.
- If you are honest about who you are and what you want and you commit to that, you just might find the person who fits you perfectly. I tell people all the time…when Michael first said he loved me I asked him why and he said, “Because you are who you say you are…” He had been hoodwinked in the past (including by a bipolar woman who never told him she was bipolar with psychotic symptoms and then stopped taking her meds and went into full blown psychosis, hiding behind doors with knives saying the devil worshippers were after her. She had to be institutionalized for weeks. Despite that, she lied to him about having had a history of this. Now THAT’s deception.)
- On our 10th wedding anniversary he said, “We’ve been married longer than all my other relationships combined!” and I said, “Why do you think that is?” and he said, “Because you are who you say you are.” We knew who we were and what we wanted and neither one of us wanted to settle or compromise. We each had full, happy lives when we met and that showed us that we did not need each other – but we wanted each other. In 10 years of marriage I could count the number of serious arguments we had on one hand. We were supportive of each other and didn’t sweat the small stuff.
If you read our story at the end of GBOT you know that loyalty and “having each other’s backs” was very important to each of us and we figured that out about each other in those first few conversations. We talked for approximately 10 hours before our first date. One of the things I asked him the first night was, “What do you want out of life?” and he said, “I just want to be happy.” And he walked that talk. He didn’t sweat the small stuff and had gratitude and empathy for everyone. He truly was a happy guy with minimum needs and a terrific outlook that balanced me out.
I often tell the story of driving my car into his brand new truck. Michael was a “car guy” and loved his trucks, motorcycles and boats. And I rammed the truck and took off the boat tow. He got out of the truck (yes he was sitting in it) came to the back of it…I was sitting there waiting for him to EXPLODE…he looked at the damage and shook his head and got back in the truck and took off for the restaurant where we were meeting (we had all the kids and neither vehicle held all of them so we were going in 2 cars). He didn’t mention the collision at dinner, wasn’t in a bad mood and NEVER MENTIONED IT AGAIN. Not once, not ever.
All of the kids were witnesses to this and one of the kids asked him about it years later, and he said, “My wife is more important than my truck and I just want to be happy. I don’t want to make my wife cry. Seeing her cry would make me unhappy.” And that was the end of that. In our entire marriage, he never made me cry. The first time I cried was the day a doctor told me he had 3 to 6 months to live. But Michael himself never made me cry. It was a priority of his…my crying would make him unhappy and he wanted to be happy.
In GBOT I write about having the partner in LIFE that you want. Someone who can go with the flow when bad things happen and can celebrate good things. I write about the 3 a.m. person. It’s 3 a.m. and it’s a rainstorm. The roof is leaking, the baby is crying and the dog wants to go out but is afraid of the thunder. You want someone who will say, “Let’s put a pan under that leak. You get the baby, I’ll get the dog.” Someone who figures it out and doesn’t freak out and say, “Oh this is too much for me!” THIS being real life – which happens all the time.
- You also don’t want someone who says, “I told you to call someone about the roof and I never wanted that dog…” and blows up at YOU because life is happening. Think about what your 3 a.m. person looks like. Is it a whiner? a blamer? No, of course not. And you CAN find out which one if you observe and are very clear and COMMITTED to what you want and what you don’t want. Read GBOT LONG BEFORE you are ready to date again and commit to your future 3 a.m. person and what he or she looks like. Otherwise you’ll fall for a cute smile and a warm hug and months later you will be miserable. Again.
- Remember, don’t put your standards up to a vote. Your friends may think you are being “too picky.” Mine certainly did. They were content to look the other way even though there were deal breakers galore. They believed in “nobody’s perfect” which is certainly true but you don’t have to settle for less than you want or to accept the unacceptable with that dumb rationale. Know what you think, know what you feel and act on what you think and feel. Know your standards and STICK TO THEM no matter what anyone says!
Copyright © Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.
All Rights Reserved No Duplication is Allowed Without Explicit Permission of the Author
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