Original cover art by the talented Jenn Guo
This is part 5 of a 6 part series about my personal experience with online dating. Click here to see other parts to this series. Stay tuned for more!
So despairing at my success rate (or rather failure rate) with online dating, I decided to get some help. Now, I didn’t really expect a CD to reveal the “Tao” of online dating to me. I mean, how could it? Would I suddenly transcend the laws of attraction and have girls messaging me lustily, telling me that they want and need me, more than Michael Jackson needs a good nose job… even more than Lindsay Lohan wants crack cocaine? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.
But you know, the claims of these dating guides are always like “Read this guide, and you’ll be able to pick up girls faster than you can find the normalized eigen-vectors of a 2×2 matrix!”… or something to that effect. Anyway, I tried to keep an open mind as I opened up this CD guide to online dating.
Well, I must admit, there’s one aspect of the CD that was very impressive: it was really comprehensive. It covered everything from making an online profile, to how to send messages, to making a phone call, to setting up a date… with not just audio instructions, but videos as well! Wow, with this, I bet even my 5 year old cousin could have tried to pick up girls online. But the thing is, none of the content was really extraordinary. From the sample profile to the sample messages, I didn’t think any of it was that great. If anything, the profile, messages, and advice all came off as a little contrived and uninspired.
There was one suggestion, however, that caught my attention. It suggested I create a fake female profile. This way, I would able to find out exactly what it feels like to be a girl on online dating.
The curiosity was overwhelming. Yes, M answered a few questions for me, but I wanted more details. Now, what about my moral qualms? I decided that I would only put up a profile and not take any action on behalf of my sexy female self. I wouldn’t be leading anyone on. For the guys, my female profile would just be another 1 of the 50 or 100 girls that they message but never hear back from. No harm done.
So with that, I made my female profile. As for the photo, I got my friend to pull it from some Chinese message board where people post pictures of random pretty girls. I got a photo that was attractive, but not ridiculously good looking. The profile description, I wrote up in 20 minutes. I tried to paint a picture of a smart girl with a fun side and a dash of attitude. The result? Take a look for yourself. (Now, if by any freak coincidence a reader here actually hit on my fake female profile, I’m sorry to say she’s not real. Yeah, I’d date her too if she were.)
From a male perspective, I’d say this profile is fairly attractive without being too over-the-top attention grabbing. Apparently, other people found it attractive as well… quite a few people. Within 3 minutes of signing up on Plenty of Fish, I’d already received 5 messages! And they kept on flowing in pretty consistently. After a few days, I had gotten around 30 or more messages. I also put up the profile on Lavalife. It seems that people on there are more given to smiling than messaging (smiling is free after all, and saves the effort of typing, or constructing a sentence for that matter). I received around 20 smiles and a few messages within a few days on Lavalife.
What did these messages consist of?
Most of them included some sort of compliment, a comment on my profile description, or some other expression of interest, plus a “message me back if interested” or “tell me more about yourself.”
A few messages really stood out though. Oh no, not because they were well written or witty… they stood out because they were COPIED LINE BY LINE from that guide to online dating CD!! And I didn’t get just one message like this. I got quite a few! Most of them had changed some of the wording around, but it was still pretty obvious the messages were from the same template. This one guy, though, had copied it word for word. I had half a mind to reply to this poor sap and tell him to smarten up… but I had already decided I wouldn’t take any action on behalf of my female online identity. We can only hope that since then, he has learned the error of his ways. Or who knows, maybe those lines worked really well for him, and he’s getting more dates than I get spam emails offering to enlarge my manhood.
Anyway, it soon became obvious that getting an attractive girl’s attention in online dating is no easy feat. My sexy female self was one of them, after all, and I soon found myself to be rather dismissive when reading the pile of messages I get. An attractive girl simply gets too much traffic to be able to process it all. Unless the message is very nice and the guy looks very attractive, chances of a reply are low. Honestly, if girl-me had received a message from boy-me, chances are I’d probably blow myself off due to the availability of better looking prospects. (Which would have been a mistake, because I would have missed out on an awesome date with myself.)
So, what causes this unfortunate situation? Why is it so hard for guys to get some attention online? After some deep thinking, I came up with a reasonable explanation.
In online dating, it’s very easy for guys to approach girls. Unlike in real life, the fear of rejection and embarrassment is simply not there. All guys have to do is send messages and smiles. Everyone can do this, even if they have the social charms of a cactus and are too shy to talk to their own little sister. The usual bit of courage it takes to approach a stranger and strike up a conversation in real life is no longer required. This may seen like a good thing, since it gives the shy guys a chance.
What ends up happening, however, is that every guy in online dating does indeed message unreservedly. Now imagine if every guy sends out 50 messages. Assuming there is an equal number of guys and girls on a dating site (which is untrue… there are usually more guys than girls), the girls would get a lot of incoming messages. Of course, the attractive girls are going to get a higher percentage of incoming messages. The end result: attractive girls are flooded by messages from a rag tag army of willing men. She has no choice but to mercilessly cut them down to a handful of knights in shining armour.
I imagine it goes something like this:
Too short… CUT!
Misspelled something… CUT!
Seems too full of himself… CUT!
Eww, ugly haircut… CUT!
Just plain ugly… CUT!
His head is too tilted in that photo… CUT!
I think his left eye is slightly bigger than his right eye… CUT!
His knees look too sharp to me… CUT!
He looks like he wants to be cut… CUT!
The rest of them look okay… except for him, him and him… they’re CUT!
After creating a female profile online, I was really wishing I could switch over and play for the other team. Everytime I log into my female profile, there’d be messages and smiles. When I log into my guy profile, there’s nothing but an empty inbox.
But readers, hold your warms tears of kindness and commiseration for a second. If you recall, I did receive 3 “smile-backs” on Lavalife. Well, I went on to message those girls. Two of them didn’t respond, and the one who did seemed genuinely nice, smart, adventurous, and fun. We exchanged a few messages, added each other on Facebook, chatted on MSN, exchanged phone numbers and … wait for it… arranged for a real-life date! Excited? So was I!
(to be continued…) Go to Part 6 >>