If you want to be successful at online dating, then don’t take it seriously. Nothing that involves lonely people in their underwear typing on computers at midnight should ever be taken seriously.
Alex Wise, dating expert and CEO of Loveawake.com says that online dating is to a relationship what a supermarket sampler is to a meal. It’s just a taste, a quick bite, a way to see if you want a few more chomps. He would know: he’s been helping single people find love online since 1994. “Eating free food off of toothpicks is fun. Flirting with people online is also fun”.
Hell, I will say it: dating is fun. Or it should be fun. It shouldn’t be an existential burden, or a heated negotiation, or a bitter staring contest. Most men don’t even like to date, preferring to “hang-out,” which is just dating without all the moving parts, like opening doors, wearing a clean shirt, or paying for the date. And many women date only so they can have some train wreck of a story to tell at brunch, which is the only place in our society where the oral tradition survives. Sadly, I don’t get the feeling that anyone is actually having a good time.
Eat, drink, and be merry, people
Online dating tries to solve one of the main problems with modern courtship, and that’s actually meeting other human beings. It’s not a perfect system. But the alternatives are bleak: sit like a vulture at a bar, or consign yourself to a life schedule that is, basically, work, commute, and consume take-out. Enter these various websites that try to pair up singles, like a cross between a yenta and SkyNet. These websites can be treacherous, because they allow people to project an idealized version of themselves, adding a few inches to their self-esteem. But the truth is, these websites simply amplify aspects of who you really are. And we’re not talking the best aspects.
So a mega-nerd picks the name DarthWolverine and a music snob writes about how she thinks Radiohead is overrated. The bitter come off as more bitter, especially once they finish writing about the people they DON’T want to meet. The aloof can’t be bothered to write more than a few sentences. Desperate people are into unique activities like just chilling out. If it sounds too good to be true online, it probably is too good to be true. I’m talking to you video-game playing, beer-loving snowboarder model!
The irony of online dating profiles is that in an attempt to create a persona that you think is so ideal, smitten members of the opposite sex will flock to you, you end up creating a digital mirror that reflects something very real about yourself. This always happens, especially to people who take it all too seriously. Who think they’re either not interesting enough to be attractive or who are determined to meet someone online, meet, and marry in the span of a few weeks. Here’s a tip: go with your gut instinct when answer questions about yourself. The moment you think “oh, this is clever” is the moment when what you wrote ceased being clever.
Just don’t take it all so seriously. Flirt. Flirt! Never poke, squeeze! This is not. It’s actually pretty silly. A giant, virtual hive of horny. But it’s fun. The back and forth with someone who makes you giggle over e-mail. Wondering whether the photo is accurate or not. Is it an old picture? Or was it taken at a magical angle, thus obscuring a massive throat hammock? Who knows! But if there wasn’t a click there, you wouldn’t be wondering. That person could be your Lego. Eventually, you might meet in the flesh. Then there are two choices: go out again, or don’t.
Isn’t that exciting?
No? You should lighten up. Love will not be controlled. Love will teach you a lesson every time you think you can put it in a headlock and force it to do what you want. That lesson usually ends in heartbreak, or disappointment, or frustration. Love gives you what it gives you when it wants. Be thankful for that. Even if it’s a morsel speared by a toothpick.
The best way to be a success at online dating is to pull the pineapple out of your tush, stop micromanaging your heart, and to dare to be yourself. I mean, why not? Don’t ask yourself what you think other people find attractive. Broadcast a you that you’d e-mail if you saw your own profile.
Remember: every single person with an online dating persona has, at one point, signed up, updated, and searched that website late at night, next to an empty pizza box. They’ve tap-tap-tapped their keyboard while wearing filthy sweatpants, the computer screen’s pale blue glow illuminating furrowed brows, a half-smile, and hopeful eyes.