While browsing around Facebook last night, I came across this little gem a friend had linked to: "Online dating? Why no one wants you" from CNN. It's actually quite snarky and funny, which I love; I just hate the premise.
And who the hell am I to pick on an article by an MTV senior writer and a news editor at Psychology Today? I'm just some random chick who has used dating sites, and never with any success, since 90% of the people I've met on those sites are lying liars. You just get tired, after a while, of people putting on airs, pretending to be someone online they're not in real life.
Sadly, the seven offenders they point to do exist. But do we need to teach them how to play nice and clean up their act so they can trick someone into thinking they might have even a few redeeming qualities?
Online daters can already use a fake profile picture, lie about their education or career, or claim they are interested in all the things a normal, sane person is interested in. We've made it so simple for every cheater, dog, psychotic chick, and douchebag to simply fill out an online form, usually with handy radio buttons so they never have to actually form a sentence, and present themselves to the rest of the world in whatever way they choose.
Do we need to coach them to hide their flaws in that first, telling private message so the person on the other end hasn't a chance to run screaming before they've wasted even another five minutes on another hopeless mismatch? How's this: we should encourage people to get it all out there as quickly as possible so they're not wasting anyone's time or sanity pretending to be someone they're obviously not.
For example, they give us The Creeper, who opens with, "I want to ****** ***** with your **** ******. And then ***** **** all night long. Oh, here's a picture of my junk." Please, don't tell them not to do that! I really want to know. Do you know how much easier that is to deal with than getting through enough timid, tame emails to decide to meet in person and THEN having that spewed on you? Not to mention, The Creeper could be missing out on the love of his life if he's trying to be all proper while the kinky town throwaround thinks he's boring. They could have been perfect for each other, and you ruined it, CNN.
Then there's The Eccentric, whom they describe as a motorized-bowtie sporting, overzealous dude who starts his message with, "Holy cheezburgers!" Their rationale for discouraging this (quirky, but not really all that strange) behavior is that he's trying too hard. You know, maybe that's just him. It takes all kinds, and there is a great big world of singles outside of Manhattan. Do you really want him to play to your conformist tastes until you get a bit attached, and then spring the bowtie fetish on you? I didn't think so.
I have a crazy idea. Be whoever you are and then some when you're trying to meet people online. Say what you mean. Amplify your personality to scare away the ones who clearly aren't worth it, if that's what it takes. For example, I like to tell men who seem interested within five minutes of meeting them that I'm 30, divorced, have two kids who will always be more important than him, smoke cigarettes, am missing the filter between my brain and my mouth, and might write about them online some day if they act like a jerk. If they're still there, we can talk.
Many people are flexible in their "wants" and will make some sacrifices for the right person. A lot of us also have our absolute dealbreakers. Wouldn't it be great to get those upfront instead of doing the dance over, and over, and over ad nauseum with the same inevitable result: you are not who I thought you were?
Don't sell yourself or the people you encounter online short by trying to pretend you're perfect. You can only hide inside that screen for so long and when you start chatting or meet, they will figure you out. You could even miss out on something really good while you're busy trying to be on someone else's best behavior. Marilyn Monroe had it right: "... if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best."
Picture courtesy of sxc.hu/ZoofyTheJi