Online Consulting

Metro Magazine is the latest publication to point to online dating “consultants” as a burgeoning trend.  There are now services out there that will help you write or re-write your online dating profile for a nominal fee.  I don’t think I’ve met (or dated for that matter) anyone who has used a service like this and, if I did, I imagine the first date might not go so well.

I’ve seen a good amount of bad online dating profiles.  Sometimes these are just unflattering pictures, sometimes the profile is just so typical that I get bored after reading the self summary, sometimes a girl comes across as desperate.  But it’s unusual that I’ve come across a profile where I reached the conclusion that it’s the writing and formatting of a profile itself that is turning me off.  It’s usually that the girl just isn’t my type.

Granted, most of these online consultants are probably oriented towards men.  Generally, women have very little difficulty in getting guys to message them, especially when they live in a major city.  For girls, online dating is more of a process of sorting through all the “hey there” one-liner messages they get, messages asking if a girl would be interested in some kinky sex act, and the very small subset of messages from guys who are actually competent at writing a girl a message.

For guys, we live in a very different reality.  I tend to get 1-2 unsolicited messages from girls per week.  I got more messages when I lived in New York, but I assume that’s due to population differences.  I get the feeling that, unless you’re particularly good looking, no guy is going to be approached nearly as much as a girl is online.  It’s very traditional for a culture that has leaned increasingly towards gender equality in the dating world over the past decade.

So, for a guy, your profile is really there to bolster your credentials after you have sent a girl a presumably grammatically correct note that highlights or quips about something you found interesting/funny/provocative about their profile.  If your message is weak, it’s highly unlikely that (unless you’re extraordinary good looking), your profile is going to redeem you.  Having a standout profile helps, but it’s really a secondary measure.

I will concede a few things, though.  First, your picture is always important.  If your face is 90% acne or you have a goatee, it’s very unlikely that she’s going to message you back.  Second, it is possible to have a profile that’s so good that a girl is going to be intrigued enough to message you.

Focusing on that second point, I still think an online consultant is useless.  And that’s really just because an intriguing profile is usually a very accurate reflection of your personality.  If you don’t have the charm or wit to write a good profile yourself, someone writing one on your behalf is going to be easily contradicted by your writing style in messages and will certainly be belied when she meets you in person.

The key to a good online profile, I think, is to try to come across as fun and honest as possible.  Don’t show off, highlight what makes you you and try to make it clear what you think makes you a “catch.”  By being “a catch,” I don’t necessarily mean you should list off the items on your resume (your great education and well paying job), those are important and you should mention them.  But you should definitely highlight the activities that you like to do that you think would be something you could do when you meet Ms. Right.  For example, let’s say you’re an avid golfer.  That’s great, and you should mention it, but mention it with an inviting opportunity: “I love golfing on Saturday mornings.  But my short game is in need of some serious practice.  Want to challenge me to a game of mini-golf?  Bring it on.”  Or let’s say you’re a huge movie fan: “I love film, whether it’s mainstream or it’s something you can only find in an independent art house.  Right now, I’m trying to watch every film in the AFI Top 100.  I’m only at number 14, but I could use company as I try to get through the top 30 by the end of the year.”  Or you like to cook, “I’m always experimenting in the kitchen.  I’ve been meaning to take a cooking class in the next few months so I can actually cook with creme fraiche rather than just have a talent for spelling it.”

The point is that your okcupid profile needs to be honest and reflect your personal voice.  But it should also be inviting, that you are probably a person that could be fun to hang out with.  Having someone else write these elements is just going to make you look like a liar when you meet someone in person.  Also, paying $1500 for professional photos and hair/makeup will probably make you look a bit too posed and plastic.  Basically you’ll be the only guy among tens of thousands who is obviously using pro-shot images, that might actually make you stand out in a bad way.

In summary, if you’re considering paying for an online dating consultant, don’t.

[via Metro]

Stating the Obvious: “Why Chicks Dig Funny Guys”

Gotta’ love a post that has a title that makes me sound sexist!  Let’s dive in!

I’d be lying if I said I don’t skim the latest articles from men’s magazines online: GQ, Esquire, Men’s Health, Askmen.com, etc.  Every now and then you get a good piece of style advice (like the benefits of waiting to shave until after a hot shower — why didn’t my dad ever tell me that!?).  But more often then not, you get mediocre advice that’s often recycled from past articles.  Often articles are written by some guy with a cheesy pen name “Doc Love” or a girl who gets expert status because she’s “The Girl Next Door.”  Then, you’ll get their scientific reporting: articles based on one or two less than scientific studies that get no more than a blurb in a respected academic journal.  Here’s a nice one from Men’s Health:

http://news.menshealth.com/why-chicks-dig-funny-guys/2013/03/01/

Big news, gents: Chicks dig funny guys!  And there’s a scientific reason for it too!

Okay, let’s take a step back.  First of all, there’s something bigger going on here and it’s really just this: people like funny people.  Have you ever met someone who said, “I don’t like funny people.  They turn me off.”  It’s probably a rare preference.  Granted, there are probably plenty of people who say, “that person is funny, but they never taking anything seriously.” But, that’s really two qualities: funny and unsympathetic.  People like funny people.  Girls like a funny guy.  Most guys like a funny girl.  Neither this article or the study it references says that women will only date men who are funny, it simply says that being funny makes you an attractive man.  But it’s the same for me — as a man, I like being friends with men who are funny because I’m likely to have a good time with them.  This goes the same for girls: I like being friends with girls who are funny (or have a good sense of humor) because I’m likely to have a good time with them too.  The person I date, therefore, also gets a leg up by being funny: I’m likely going to have a good time with them.

Now let’s take a look at this article’s actual content: a study took forty people (not statistically significant of the general population) and had them answer a question, of which roughly twenty people answered humorously.  They then showed these answers to eleven people (not statistically significant of any population) who rated the responses based on expected attractiveness.  Scientifically, this study proves absolutely nothing as these numbers are too small to be representative of any large group of women.  Of course, the scientists behind this probably aren’t boasting this as a conclusive study, rather it indicates a more substantial study might be worth doing in the future.  But as I said before, being attracted to funny people really isn’t a game changing conclusion — people are attracted to humor, regardless if it’s platonic, romantic or gender.

Scientists do this all the time — they take a notion that’s generally considered well known and run a study on it.  It’s basically a way for scientists to say, “most people seem to think this is a fact, but we should run a study on it to make sure it’s scientifically proven.”  Generally, however, scientists don’t run these studies with the intention of getting recognition for its results.  They share the results, as their duty as scientists dictates, but they rarely will raise any flags saying that they’ve stumbled on something huge.

That’s where Men’s Health comes in.  Their Google Alert for “Chicks digging stuff” chimed in as “CHICKS DIG FUNNY!” and stopped the presses.  They then point to other vague studies that don’t really say anything new and then go to a bunch of B and C level comedians for tips on how to be funny.  Most the comedians respond with what comedians should respond with: a half assed joke of a response.  Men’s Health aggregates the responses, throws in some numbers to make the article seem like it’s well researched and then adds in a title that objectifies women as “chicks.”  Way to go, Men’s Health, I think we’ve all learned something today.