“Let’s tell the truth to people. When people ask, ‘How are you?’ have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully.” –Maya Angelou
“Do you want to know what your problem is, Jen?” She says to me over Gchat.
I don’t even know her – she doesn’t even know me. She’s just a friend of a friend of a friend who occasionally reads the writing that’s posted with my byline on the Internet.
It’s 11:20 am on a Tuesday. I’m at work drawing snails on a tiny notepad trying to decide whether I want to eat a cinnamon bun the size of my kneecap or a slice of cheap pizza for lunch.
“Your online dating profile must look like a disaster,” she types back to me within seconds of my question mark response. “That’s why you’re not meeting anyone. That’s why you are still single!”
I’ve decided to make t-shirts that say “Team Jen: helping her find a boyfriend since 1988,” since it seems that everyone, everywhere, has taken on my relationship status as their personal philanthropy. It’s as if something about me screams single and unable to properly mingle on her own. I have more people pitching in to help out with my single girl status than I do fingers on my right hand. There’s my mom, my rabbi, and my best friend who recently got engaged. Even my cleaning lady asked to take a picture of me around with her to query the residents of other apartments she goes to.
Now this girl?
There’s nothing wrong with my online dating profile. If anything it shines this Instagram-like filter over my life making it look flawless, exciting, everything but the mundane way I really spend most of my free time: stuffing down $1 slices of pizza and lounging around in my fleece pajamas watching season after season of Mad Men on Netflix. What does this girl want me to do? Use a picture of Heidi Klum in a bikini as my main photo and write an extremely vague description of my hobbies like everyone else does: I love to go out – but I also love to stay in (ugh, boring).
I’ve never been very good at listening to other people’s advice—especially when it’s unwarranted. If someone tells me to turn left instead of right, I’ll turn right just to see what I’m missing out on. Just to see what it was they didn’t want me to see, to feel, to experience.
So minutes after she tells me what she believes is my ultimate problem, I eat a giant cinnamon bun the size of my kneecap and decide to give my online dating profile a makeover. I decided that I’d write up a profile of what I would actually say about my interests and myself if I was being 100% completely honest. Here’s what it looks like:
User Name: MyMomMadeMeDoThis1234
Age: 25 – but when I have a cold I can easily revert back to being 4-years-old or if I’m out at a bar and I hear “Don’t Stop Believing”, I can easily transform back to acting like a college freshman.
Location: Sitting behind my Mac Book Pro trying to scratch off the dried up smear of peanut butter that’s made itself at home in between the G and H key.
My hair is: Blonde. Okay, fine – it’s really more a Jack and Coke color but every three months I march my butt to the salon and give some nice hairstylist a chunk of my paycheck to make it look more like champagne.
Body type: Fits very nicely on an L-shaped couch.
Weight: umm, before or after I just finish a medium pizza all to myself?
In My Own Words
My Favorite Physical Activities: I signed up for a gym about a year ago and pay them $40 of my hard earned money every single month – so technically part of me (my wallet) goes to the gym.
I’m Really Good At:
Knowing all the lyrics to Jay-Z’s Hard Knock Life album.
Writing what I want to eat in Haiku format on napkins at fancy restaurants.
Fumbling around in my purse trying to find my wallet when the bill comes on a first date.
My Perfect First Date: One that doesn’t start with you name dropping your ex-girlfriend and end with your guacamole stained chapped lips suction cupping my ears because I turned my head when you went in for an unwarranted kiss.
My Ideal Match
Drinking Habits: Doesn’t smell like stale tequila. Doesn’t spend the majority of his Friday night hugging a toilet seat. Doesn’t drink like a sorority girl on a “Neon or Nothing” social.
Relationship Status: umm 100% single. What kind of question is this?
Job: Has one.
Hobbies: Also has one (or a few).
Must love: Me – a girl who spends too much time on Twitter, owes an extraordinary amount of money in late fines to the library, only wants to ever eat pizza. And yourself. Please love yourself first.
But before I pounced on the delete button and erased my old profile, I decided to do a weeklong experiment. I’d put up two profiles, on two different—yet comparable and similar—dating sites, and see what happens. One that was my real profile – with information about myself that doesn’t make me sound like a lazy, pizza obsessed girl and one that has the same details from above and see what happens.
Here’s the breakdown of the 7-day experiment.One-Week ExperimentReal Profile100% Honest ProfileGeneric Messages1715Profile References621Strange Messages (*pick up lines)710Total Messages3046
My real profile fielded the same old bland messages. If someone did break away from the “Hi, how are you?” or “You look cute” mold, they only mentioned something brief and nonchalant about something I wrote in my profile like how I’m from Florida or love pizza (that’s the only fact about me heavily stressed in both profiles).
With the 100% honest profile, the majority of the 21 people who mentioned something that I wrote, added a notable comment like:
“Gotta give it to you, you have by far the most entertaining profile I’ve seen on here. A good sense of humor is one of the sexiest things I find about a girl. I’d love to get to know more about you. Hope to hear from you soon.” –JB-ROD
“I love how casually you talk about yourself. Truly shows how confident and free spirited you are. Best profile I have seen this far and you seem like a ball of fun to be around.” –PJ71P
I still received my fair share of generic messages with the 100% honest profile –proving that some people don’t make it past your photos before shooting you a message. And of course I got my fair share of strange messages. I even had a few from people who recognized me from the other dating site, and one person who even recognized me from the gym.
After a week of dissecting these messages and accepting the fact that a chunk of people in this great big world now know the real me before actually having met me, I realized it’s better to be more honest. Or at least a bit more fun when writing about who you are.
When you meet someone in person, it’s messy. You won’t look like the five pictures you chose for your profile and your answers to their spur of the moment questions won’t be rehearsed. You won’t have the time to write out what you’d like to say and read it before rereading it before finally getting the guts to press the send button.
In person, interactions are raw. They are genuine and often they are a bit intimidating. That’s how your profile should look, should sound, should feel.
Fine, go ahead; roll your eyes at me. Have your best friend proof read your “About Me” section to make sure you don’t sound like a total freak and have your other best friend Photoshop the beauty marks off your photos. But then, ask yourself, what’s the point?
I’ve been on several dates with people I’ve met online and within seconds of saying hello and giving them a hug, I could feel that they were disappointed. That they were hoping for the polished girl in the mini dress with a fresh face of makeup and a carefully edited personally. You know what happens on dates like this? They become so terribly awkward and uncomfortable that you go home and threaten to quit dating for the rest of your life. In the end, they are a gigantic waste of time.
At least this way, with a profile that’s as honest as my 93-year-old Great Aunt, the guy on the other side of his computer knows what he is getting himself into. Knows that the girl he’ll meet in person will be candid. Will be a bit unrevised.
The other thing I learned from this experiment was that there really is someone out there for everyone. That even with a brutally honest profile, there were still guys who were excited about asking me out and getting to know me better. That regardless of how I looked in my carefully chosen photos, that they found me to be something other than extraordinarily bizarre. They found me memorable and to some degree, a breath of fresh air. And this time, I really truly knew they were talking about me.
Jen originally wrote this post for the lovely site xojane.com
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