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Online dating: Your friends' comments on your love life can actually help your profile

matchmaker cover.jpg
Before I began working with Jaime Richards, one of the matchmakers in this week's cover story, I had to dig deep. Really deep. It's common practice for date coaches and matchmakers to ask their clients for letters of recommendation, but they're not the kind you're thinking of. In preparation for our first meeting, I was tasked with asking a minimum of six friends and family members to write Richards letters explaining why they think I'm single.

The phone calls behind this were awkward ("Hey, co-worker, can you e-mail this woman and comment on my love life?"), but I wanted to go through the entire process that Richards's regular clients do. The written responses were accompanied by my own answers to a survey in which I summed up my past relationship history. The result is a personal assessment accompanied by a generous amount of fodder to begin creating an online dating profile.

From here, Richards approaches each of her clients differently. With some, she personally compiles all of the information she has collected from friends and writes the dating bio herself. With others, she sits next to them and advises them as they do it on their own. Before we met, she created an outline of what she did and didn't want me to highlight about myself, and the two categories were fairly equal.

jaime richards.jpg
Jim J. Narcy
Jaime Richards.
"The goal is to create a marketing profile that targets the right person," Richards says. "Online, everyone's single greatest fear is rejection, so I work to make my clients seem friendly and approachable while still a little mysterious. The worst things online are negativity and dishonesty."

On the list of things to keep were outgoing activities and cultural interests, while anything that can be misconstrued as an overachievement should be saved for later, she says. This means that my interest in road trips made the cut, but my master's degree did not. And the amount of time I spent covering Occupy Denver was definitively off limits.

When creating an online dating profile, Richards advises her clients to begin their bios with a greeting of sorts and end it with a statement that the photos above it are recent. She is a staunch supporter of winking, the online equivalent of flirting, and she encourages a generous amount of outgoing messages and winks on a daily basis. (Match.com once temporarily blocked her IP address after she winked at too many people for a client.)

She devotes her entire focus to her clients, whom she spends a great deal of time getting to know. When I met with her to create my online image, she invited me into her home and created a Brit-pop-friendly Pandora station based on the knowledge my friends shared with her. Once her clients' profiles are finished, the idea is to narrow down quantity after first broadcasting to quantity. And while large numbers are a boon when it comes to the number of people you greet, they are bad when it comes to how long that greeting lasts.

"Don't let them just pen-pal you to death," Richards says. "If they e-mail you more than three times, they're scared to ask you out, and you have to get things going faster than that."

Richards emphasizes dropping your "type" when it comes to online dating. While the two separate men from Hoover, Alabama who were 28 years my senior might not be options, she says, clients should enter the process with the idea that anyone can be. This idea is echoed in the mildly creepy introductory e-mail with which Match.com greets new daters: "Your new love life awaits."

The next step -- which Richards and I walked through in preparation for Monday's blog post -- is the first date. According to Richards's strategy, the entire goal of the first date should be to guarantee a second one.

In the meantime, here are some tips from Richard on preparing for a first date:
1. Women, change out of your work clothes, even if you have to bring a change of clothes with you.

2. If possible, go home and do what you need to do to relax, unwind, and come out of work mode before heading out.

3. Whatever you do, do not go out with a negative attitude toward the opposite sex. It will come through no matter what!

4. Make sure you're on time! Do not cancel on someone last-minute unless it's absolutely unavoidable (like the stomach flu, or a car accident). Doing so says "I'm more important than you are." No one wants to feel that way.

5. Turn off your cell phone when you arrive and don't set it face up on the table!

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Online dating: What your intentionally candid profile photo says about you."



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5 comments
Cougar dating
Cougar dating

Online dating has started out the doorways to a lot of individuals. There are those who believed they will be committed and there are those who like to leap from one associate to another. Some might be too timid to associate in community or some are just too fussy. Whatever your individuality is, on the internet relationship gives you what you want. Look through through a large number of information and one of them will gradually fulfill your requirements. It is also an outstanding way to display unwanted information.

Sandra Owens
Sandra Owens

Everybody you meet in online dating are the same exact people you will meet in non-online dating. There is no such thing as waiting for "the natural" moment in the real world. If it existed it would have already happened for you decades ago. Online dating is the best chance to meet single people in any large city.

The single most important thing to realize is that "chemistry" is a series of bio-chemical and audio-visual reactions to the way a person looks and how they remind you of subconscious things in-person. It does not work-over the internet. Chemistry is not a metaphysical thing. You will not be able to decide about a person unless you meet them in person. Much of it has to do with the spacing of the eyes, nose and mouth and the shape of the eyes and nose; unfortunately. The internet is just a place to see that certain people are single. The way that media has programmed you, the type of people the media have told you are attractive and the look and feel of the people you have gathered around you will determine how the 42+ different psycho-visual, olfactory and other sensory reactions determine if you will allow yourself to be attracted to one person over another.

The next most important thing is to not cut people, who have shared their hearts with you and made themselves vulnerable by expressing emotional offering, off because of a few sentences on a computer (A machine showing you text). Most blind internet dates fail in the first email because people are judgmental and presumptuous about phrases or intent that could mean hundreds of different things or be taken in a volume of different ways. Give people the benefit of the doubt and meet them live, in-person. The out-of-context communication of a computer will ruin it every time. 1. Generally: People have made up their mind about whether or not they want to be with you 15 minutes after you have met them. Generally, men make up their minds more quickly than women because they are sensorial reactive. Decision processing is usually dramatically out-of-sync between genders based on genetic hunter/gatherer evolutionary programming. Both genders need to adjust to find the happy medium..2. Most internet dates end in the first few emails because of misinterpretation. Many people are typing on their cell phone or iphone or they are at work or they are joking and you can’t see it in email. Do not make prejudgments based on the first few emails, they are often wrong or unfair to the other person.3. A large number of people follow "the third date" rule. This means that if the two of you have not decided to be intimate by the third date you probably never will. 4. Almost a majority of first meetings are cancelled by one of the two people just prior to meeting because people feel no commitment to a stranger. Do not be surprised if people using the service are not too motivated re: the first meeting as many have been through these out-of-the-blue cancellations already. 5. Men are genetically ingrained to be territorial. Women’s men "friends" may suddenly nay-say the new guy, use psychological tricks to create stress and suddenly confess their "secret love" for you in order to cut the new guy off at the knees. As soon as your guy friends, ex-husband, old boyfriend, (even your children) etc, hear that you have a date, they will often try to jack-up your plans in order to protect their turf. If you are divorced then you usually already have a conflict relationship over child custody and schedules, watch for the ex-husband to constantly change child pick-up times, days to pick-up and other schedule shifts at the last minute if he suspects you have dating plans. Stand firm on your plans so you are not victimized by the ex-husband’s territorial strategies6. Many single people have an obsessive relationship with their pets if they are single. Consider how much you talk about or plan your life around your pet.7. Men have a hard time talking about feelings.8. Meet as soon as possible. A majority of people that spend time talking, first, on this online dating, seem to be disappointed. The majority have a wonderful set of emails and phone calls and think they have met the love of their life. .. but when they meet, the chemistry is not there and both parties are twice as hurt by the brick wall because they have already created expectations and wishful thinking via advance communication. Most people find each other adorable on hours of phone calls but only 1% of the people said they had chemistry in person and vice versa. That has been the story that most other users on online dating have posted in tens of thousands of blogs so this appears to be the consensus of a general trend. Just an FYI. One would be losing relationships if they try to force a computer system to act human by using it for the initial interaction. You have to meet in the real world to not get screwed up by the computer and its process. One has to get out of the digital/chat room world as fast as they can and into the tangible real world of touch, vision and the other senses. Another reason for meeting soon is that people blog that a large number of people they start emailing with, suddenly cancel future meetings because someone else they were emailing with met them sooner. In many cases, when they have to book the first meeting a week or more out, they will contact you the day before and cancel the meeting because they starting seeing others they dated within that week delay. Most connections never happen because someone else gets there first.9. Sexual politics have killed off a majority of first dates. While it may seem rude or inappropriate to discuss sex on the first few dates, it is a large part of "dating". If you get down the road and have actual sex only to find that you have two different styles, then the whole relationship is over in minutes after weeks or months of wasted "dating". Kissing and petting are key to testing the waters early. Also, if you have not gone into Walgreen’s and asked the pharmacist for the "Home Access Express HIV Test Kit" , gotten a Gardisil vaccination and acquired "Plan B" pills (Google these if you don’t know what they are) then you are not ready to even go there. 10. Brush your teeth and take Breath Assure tablets. Bad breath kills off many dates.11. Know what you really want. Most people are specifically looking for marriages, sex, babies, distractions, fun, social status, therapy or other certain things. Compare notes on your actual needs in the first date. There is nothing wrong with just looking for sex, the volume of people is higher with computer dating so the odds are better, just be clear up front. In fact few people can have "just sex" without falling in love afterwards.12. People with kids are able to date just as much as people without kids if they have a balanced life. Most single parents are able to get 3 full nights a week totally to themselves. If you can’t pull this off, talk to a parent who does to figure it out.13. Don’t discuss emotional topics in email with someone you have never met.14. On spending money: Women expect men to pay and men expect women to practice the "womens liberation" they fought for. Women want proof of stability and men want sexual reciprocation. Men get burned out buying a string of meals for strangers they will never see again. Men feel used and women feel diminished if the man doesn’t pay…This is the hardest subject in dating. Manage expectations on this from the beginning. Dating math = To find a great marital partner you will spend the rest of your life with you need to meet at least 1000 people. To find a great LTR dating partner you need to meet at least 150. 99% of these meetings will not work out. If a guy meets one person a day for a month and the cost of food, parking & misc. adds up to $95/night then he has to spend nearly $3000.00 a month just to see if there is a chance. If the lady says to the man that "Her mom taught her that the man must always pay", or "she was raised in the South", or 'She was brought up to let the man be the provider", in a recession. How do you think this makes the guys feel? Avoid dinners for the first few dates or agree to Dutch treat unless you both are looking for a trophy-partner or transactional-sexual relationship.15. We live in an age where advertising and media train us to be attracted to certain facial types: sorority girl looks like fraternity guy looks, biker guy looks like biker girl looks, hipster guy looks like hipster girl types. Realize that we are all being forced to be superficial by this. Try to get past this, or you will miss people who are, otherwise, perfect matches.16. Exchange cell phone numbers for the first meeting. Most people do not look like their pictures and many people never find each other the first time. Use a Google-voice number or get a $27.00 phone from Walgreens if you don’t want to give out your real number.17. Where to meet is a political consideration. People who have done a few weeks of internet dating know that 99% of the first meetings don’t click and they will never see that person again , so they are hesitant to go too far for a first meeting . Women think men should drive to their location. Men think that they are going to have to pay for everything so the women should come to them. A good fix is to meet half-way.18. In life you have gathered people that are very similar to you around you in order to create a controlled and comfortable insulation. In online dating you will meet the full breadth of people and they are of every type. Be prepared to broaden your horizons. 19. If you feel the need to tell people that "you need to go slow" (A concept foreign to most men) or "are still hurt from your last relationship".. you may not be ready to date. Not only are most people on a dating site eager and willing to be in a relationship, but things move much faster online than not online. Don’t hurt yourself, and others, by using a dating site for therapy. People on dating sites go fast, generally. 20. If you are wanting to blow somebody off and you are online dating, do not say you have "met someone" and then leave your profile up. If they see your profile still up or get a notice (such as match.com sends out to everybody each time you go into your profile) they may feel lied to. 21. IT bears repeating: If you just got out of a relationship, do not use a dating service to either A: See if you are over it or B: try to get your ex to become jealous and come back to you. It is cruel to the other people that are meeting you that area "ready-to-go".

22. If you are sitting in front of someone you just met but are not attracted to, don’t say: "I just don’t think this online dating is for me", or "…date.com just isn’t working out for me.." because the person in front of you is going to assume you are including them in the failures and feel pretty bad.

23. Most people do not give out their correct age on dating site postings. Everyone has a +/- 10 year appearance/stamina variance compared to someone else of the same age. Expect huge non-compliance on your age-range request. It is ageist to use numerical ages as decision factors. Most people do date outside their age range once they meet in person without knowing ages beforehand.

24. A certain number of people on dating sites are "shills" or fake daters hired by the dating site to make it look like you are having more success than you actually are in order to keep your membership fees going. The clue is that as soon as your email them, they suddenly have to take off on a 2 week trip or other excuse which keeps them from meeting you for 2 weeks in the assumption that someone else will have caught your attention.

Alex Mercer
Alex Mercer

"Richard says" sounds like "Simon says..." ;)

Kate Houston/trysweettalk
Kate Houston/trysweettalk

There are many good tips in this article and Jaime sounds amazingly thorough! I hope you don't mind that I make one correction: it's not necessarily ideal to stop at three emails. A few more could help you catch inconsistencies and red flags. I suggest emailing for about a week because it's still a short enough investment.

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