There is no state that is healthier than love and there is no state that is more unhealthy than hate. There are many theories about love/hate, but one that for me stands out more than anything else I’ve ever read (and I’ve been told often that I read too much) comes from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s brilliant novel, The Brother’s Karamazov.
What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.
Sure, this article is about online dating, but it’s also about love. Dating might have changed over the years, but love hasn’t. It’s what makes us get up in the morning and it’s what makes our days worth living. It is the healthiest state in which any body can thrive.
I once taught a class in how to write a personals ad. This was back in the day when newspapers published them or printed a dedicated Personals Section.
Your ad had to be short, to the point, and grab the reader’s attention.
Today, with the advent of online dating sites, people have a lot more space to write out their profiles and interests, but many of the old rules still apply.
I have read far too many profiles that are just plain dull and boring. I’m sure the persons writing these are not as dull or as boring as their profiles. Many simply follow the advice at the site and list out their likes and dislikes hoping to find someone with something in common. You are not going to grab the attention of anyone by laying out a laundry list of likes and dislikes.
This paper is aimed at women, mainly because only women attended my classes, but also because women have to be more careful than men in Internet dating; though a lot here, about being creative, has no gender base.
Write out your profile using a word processor or something similar. Use the spell check; use the grammar check. Clean it up. Put a space between sentences.
Now, as an ex-teacher I know there is no connection between proper spelling and intelligence. JFK was a brilliant man who could read upwards of 20,000 words per minute, but his library of papers is fraught with spelling errors.
The thing is, people get turned off by sloppy writing. If you’re not a good writer, and let’s face it, not everyone is a good singer, find someone to help you.
Additionally, a woman must always keep in mind that there are abusers out there. If someone thinks you’re not too bright, he’s going to think he can take advantage of you. Don’t send up red flags that say you can be had.
Additionally, take care with certain terms. Know the difference between they’re, there, and their; too, to, and two, it’s and its; and who and that. When you refer to a person, use who.
“I want a person who will be my best friend.”
“I want a person that will be my best friend.”
This might seem trivial, but always keep in mind that what you put out determines what you get back.
Show, don’t tell. This is a universal rule of good writing.
You can’t make a person laugh just by telling him you’re funny. You have to BE funny.
Tell the reader something funny. Think back to a recent date, especially one that went terribly wrong. If it makes you laugh, then retell it in a way that will make the reader laugh.
How many times have you been out with the girls when you said something that cracked them all up? Then share it. But don’t tell an inside joke that the reader won’t get.
Relate a funny story. Even if you are not funny, you can always tell the reader something someone else said that was funny.
For instance: “I was recently out on a POF [Plenty of Fish ─ dating site] date with this guy whose hands were all over me. I had to step back and tell him flatly that we’re not going to have sex on the first date. He looked at me, held my hand, and said, ‘Of course not. Even if you did want it, you’d have to give me a pill and a half hour head start.’”
If you really like to laugh, then you must remember something that made you laugh.
If you like to camp, simply telling someone you like to camp, fish, sit around a fire just doesn’t cut it.
If you like sports, simply listing out the sports you like won’t build interest.
To show you like camping: “I like the sound of the water lapping up against the side of the canoe while resting in the middle of a cool, clear lake.”
If you want to list out your likes, use a bit of imagination: “I love sunrises, sunsets, the feel of the fur behind the ears of my dog, a bed of daisies, and train whistles.”
Do you like pets? Then show it with: “I love puppy breath.”
Or, “Why is it whenever I pet my cat he puts his butt in my face?”
You are not interesting if you just list out your interests. You are a unique person and not just a laundry list of likes and dislikes.
If you like a particular type of music, tell the reader about your best concerts you’ve attended. If you’ve been to We Fest, tell the reader about the fun you had. This way you are telling them that you like Country music without having to just list it out.
If you like plays or musicals, you can get this across with: “I went to see Cats. The songs were wonderful, but the sound system was horrible. We couldn’t make out a single word.”
If you like sporting events, pass that experience onto the reader. Tell him how you hate paying $6 for a beer and $4 for peanuts. Tell him how you caught a foul ball. Tell him how you felt when your favorite player scored.
You can also list out things you want to do this summer (or winter, though personally, my favorite winter sport is running down to Florida and playing tennis).
Again, you want to paint a picture. You’re looking for a partner. By painting a picture, you draw the reader into your profile.
This summer, good lord willing, I want to …
… build a fire in the middle of nowhere and make smores…
… stand with my feet in the water feeling the minnows nibbling at me…
… watch a sunset, nude, swimming in a body of water I’ve never visited before …
… ride a bike farther than I’ve ever ridden…
… square dance like the fiddler’s daughter…
Common profile advice tells you to write out your likes so that you can meet someone with similar likes (or dislikes) but this shouldn’t stop you from being creative.
Here’s an example that says a lot more than any laundry list of likes: “I turned on Fox News the other night and after about five minutes my eyes started to bleed. So I flipped the channel to Dancing With the Stars, and after just a few seconds of Ms Palin strutting about, I decided to go on TV: Drinking With the Stars. I’ll take Mel Gibson. Who will you take?”
If you like certain movies, write a short critique of one you’ve recently seen, compare it to others.
If you like old movies, ask: “Is there a theater that shows old movies anymore?” Or you could even compare modern actors to dead actors. Again, you are telling the reader what you like, and by showing the reader what you’ve seen.
Everyone talks about the best gift they’ve ever received. In Italian, you cannot receive a “gift”; the word (and the gift) can only be given, not received. So you tell about the best gift you’ve ever given.
The obvious is not interesting. I don’t know how many times I’ve read: “Family is important to me.” If you’re a healthy person in body and mind, then family should be important to you, but it’s not very interesting.
“I love my family, but sometimes I want to trade them all for a pack of wolves.”
Now that’s an attention getter.
This is much easier than it looks and gives you a chance not only to express your uniqueness, it allows you to list out what kind of person you are looking for without making a list.
I’ll give you a few ideas, but you have to continue the narrative on your own.
“Leading actress seeks leading actor.” (See where this is going? You get to design the role and define your leading actor’s qualities.)
“Minnie Mouse seeks Mickey Mouse for a Goofy time.”
“Seeking fellow astronaut to explore the heavens.”
“Jane seeks her Tarzan to monkey around.” (This one’s playful.)
“First Lady looking for her president.” (This one can define your politics, as well as the depth of humanity in the person you’re looking for.)
“Eager student seeks experienced teacher.” (This could be fun.)
Do you get the picture? You just have to sit back and create the narrative.
If you are into “what’s happening” you probably don’t want a partner who isn’t. If you have a strong political affiliation, you won’t get along with someone with opposing views. However, you don’t have to say, “I’m conservative, so if you’re a liberal, go away.”
You can say it much more creatively and the reader will get the point.
“So, how about that last election? We’re screwed!
“The economy sucks, and not in a good way. So, should the government spend more or tax less? (This will tell you who you’re dealing with.)
“The economy is sucking wind right now, so I’m open to doing something cheap (or free). Heck, the best things in life are free…right?”
“So, does giving tax breaks to the wealthy really create jobs?”
Why not start a dialogue (in chat or messages) right off the bat? Bring up something in the news and ask for an opinion. If you read a newspaper or watch the news, you’ll never run out of material.
Nothing draws a person in better than a well-placed, interesting question.
“If you could do exactly what you want to do, what would that be?”
“What’s the last great time you had that didn’t involve alcohol (or whatever)?”
“If you ran for office, any political office, and you had a 50/50 chance at the start, which office would it be?”
“If I asked you to go skinny dipping, could you keep your hands off me?”
If you want someone with smarts, ask a difficult question. Ask the reader to solve your favorite brain teaser. You’ll at least find someone who can Google.
Do you want to find someone logical? Here’s one of my favorites syllogisms (written by Lewis Carol who was quite the logician):
If the following, then what is (d)?
(a) All babies are illogical.
(b) Nobody is despised who can manage a crocodile.
(c) Illogical persons are despised
If he answers something to the effect of: Babies can’t manage a crocodile, you’ve found your man.
Some dating sites have a First Date section in which you write what you think would be a god first date. Do you know how many have the same darn thing spelled out? Most go with the obvious about how you’re getting together (over coffee, wine, drink) to see if there are any sparks.
Obviously the first meeting is to figure out if there’ll be a second. Have you ever noticed that on game shows there’s never a category called “The Bloody Obvious?”
Be creative. Be silly. Have fun.
“I have a girlfriend who does High Colonics. Let’s meet there!”
“Sushi! Feed me sushi!”
“We’ll meet for coffee, but you have to bring something to make it the best cup of coffee we’ve ever had.” (This leaves it really open.)
“Let’s meet at a restaurant where we have to use chopsticks.”
“There’s a shooting range in Blaine. Let’s go shoot skeet!”
“Acupuncture! I’ve never had acupuncture!”
“Buy me something!” (Funny story, but I met someone who had put this in her profile, so I brought her a thousand piece puzzle, explaining to her that if the date didn’t work out, she’d at least have something to do. I hope she enjoyed the puzzle.)
Go ahead and have fun. Let’s face it, you’ll chat, and email, and talk on the phone, and plan your first meeting no matter what you write in that section. So have some fun.
Ever wonder why some women are always in lousy or abusive relationships?
There are two universal laws that some just never comprehend.
You won’t believe the number of profiles that are just asking for a user, a manipulator, an abuser.
Sadly, the person writing the profile doesn’t even have a clue. Women think they are asking for one thing, while an abuser sees something completely different.
The first rule that should never be violated is:
Never ask for something that is a “given” in a healthy relationship.
What you are doing is telling the reader about your lousy past. And if you’ve been had in the past, you can be had again.
These kinds of profiles send up big red flags to abusers that you can be, with a little manipulation, used, abused, and tossed away.
Never ask for honesty. Isn’t this a given in a happy, healthy relationship? If you have to ask for it, it means you’ve been taken for a ride, and someone out there is ready to take you for another one.
Besides, consider this: If you ask the biggest liar on the planet if he is honest, how will he answer?
Now here is a bit of info you might not know. People lie. You lie. We all lie.
We lie to ourselves, we lie to our children, we lie to our friends, and we lie to the cop who just pulled us over for speeding. Any psychologist worth her/his salt will tell you that lying is a part of the human experience, albeit there are degrees. When a friend asks, “Does this dress make me look fat?” very few will tell the truth, while most will fib so as not to hurt any feelings.
I was told on a first date that she never EVER lied, and then five minutes later I caught her in a harmless lie. Then another. Then I quit counting.
Integrity is more important than honesty; a person of integrity will admit that she/he’s been less than honest.
One more time: never ask for something that is a given in a happy, healthy relationship. It will only bring you everything you’ve had in the past in those unhealthy relationships.
Second Rule: Be careful telling the readers about what you don’t want because again it tells the reader what you’ve had in the past. If you’ve had it in the past, you can get it again. Humans are funny creatures. We live in cycles. The past repeats itself way too often, and if you look back, you’ll realize the cycles you’ve personally been struggling with.
To make a complete break from the past, focus on your present: where you are now and where you are heading. If you don’t want to go back, you have to break with that past, and the best way to make the break is to forget it.
In writing a profile, you want to create yourself anew.
Sure, once you’re familiar with your new flame (and they’re out there; believe me ), and you are sure he’s the right one (or at least on the right track), then you can tell him all about your past mistakes and you’ll both have a good laugh. Some of the best fun I’ve ever had on dates was talking about and hearing about lousy dates in the past. We are an incredibly funny creature.
So, be creative, show, don’t tell, and let the world know who you are. Your past is past; pack lightly. There’s a world of adventure at your fingertips. Remember, you’re never too old to fall in love.