I admit, I’ve been rage-reading.
While it’s perhaps the height of my own ass-backwards-ness, nothing gets me angrier than negativity. And there has been no shortage of that when it comes to adventures in online dating.
I can sympathize with the venting, having spent years making and remaking profiles and living the token horror stories. That being said, I hold tight to this seemingly unpopular opinion:
Online dating sites are full of winners.
I say this as someone with wonderful guy friends who are looking for love on the Internet. And yes, predictably, I say this as someone who found her partner online.
This list isn’t intended to preach absolute truth or a “right way.” I’m not sitting here, manically twirling my wedding ring atop my throne of marriage privilege built from the anxiety sweat and tears of single ladies. Think of this list as signs I wish I picked up on back in 2006 when I was username “RasberryLatte,” misspelling and all:
1.) He passes the proper noun test.
I’ve mentioned this in a previous article and as clinical as it sounds, it bears repeating.
When you come across the profile of a guy that “seems nice!” take a step away from his cute photos and scan the writing. Are there specifics (“I used to be into Cattle Decapitation but now I’m into Pig Destroyer.”) or is it loaded with friendly, search engine optimized keywords (“I love ”)?
The latter guy probably isn’t a malicious creep. He just loves music. But this sort of sentence is about as useful as listing “air” on the 6 Things You Can’t Live Without.
While the first guy’s favorite bands may sound horrifying, at least he’s being specific. He knows what he’s bringing to the table (beef & pork) and isn’t afraid to have a clear identity at the sacrifice of a larger dating pool.
This first sign is less about having the same proper nouns in common (“YOU LOVED STEPHEN KING’S THE STAND STARRING ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE GARY SINISE TOO?!?!) as it is about finding a guy with a firm grasp on his own opinions. In short, self-awareness. Winners have it.
2.) He’s seen enough pics.
Imagine you’re in the real world for a minute. Let’s say Trader Joe’s. An attractive young man starts making flirtatious small talk with you at the free samples. But even in the world of hypothetical scenarios, TJ’s is crowded as fuck and it’s hard for either of you to get a good look at each other. Mid-conversation, he politely asks if you could step over to the Seaweed Snacks so he can get a better angle on your ass.
That is the real-world equivalent to "Can I see more pics?”
A great guy with social smarts won’t ask to see more pictures of you. In my experience, he’ll act like the photos aren’t even there. Hell, I’d go as far to say—
3.) He doesn’t lead with a compliment on your looks.
I can hear the comments now. “My hubby first sent me a message saying my tits were Ren-Faire material and now we live happily ever after!”
I won’t even lead with a “but” here. And. AND, in my experience, every long-term relationship I had thanks to online dating began without any mention of my looks.
Here’s an uncomfortable truth. 19-year-old “RaspberryLatte” (nailed it this time), got back into OKCupid because she didn’t think she was getting any male attention in the “real world.” When I got messages saying that I had pretty eyes and a beautiful smile, I was flattered and immediately started drafting messages back regardless of how truly compatible we seemed.
Similar to guy mentioned in Sign #1, I don’t think all these men were shallow or “just wanting sex.” I mean, after hours of blending too many colors from my Urban Decay Ammo Palette, of course my eyes were looking pretty.
What I found, however, is that many of the guys that led with compliments on my appearance tended to lack confidence in their own swag. They saw praising my looks as a shortcut to attraction rather than doing the harder, heavier task of presenting their own inherent, independent value. “Winners” are the ones willing to put in that work of selling themselves…and they’ve actually read your profile.
4.) He wants to meet you. Yesterday. (AND YOU WANT TO MEET HIM TOO.)
I like Dunkin Donuts coffee. It makes me happy. Tomorrow morning, I’m going to get some before work. I will go out of my way to set an early alarm so I can walk to the "nice" one with the bigger lobby. I’m not going to lurk outside the doors avoiding eye contact with employees, thinking, “I don’t want to come off too eager.”
I want that coffee and I’m gonna get it. If you hate coffee, pretend that whole paragraph was about running.
The point is, online dating is no different.
Call me a follower of “The Rules,” but if a great guy was interested in me, he did everything in his power to meet in person as soon as possible. None of this winking or poking or chatting shit. An exchange of basic contact information. A location. A time. Done.
Likewise, when I was interested in my now husband, I did everything in my power to keep open time in my schedule. When my aunt stole my phone, telling me to “let his call go to voicemail. PLAY THE GAME,” I took the phone back, and promptly called him.
There doesn’t have to be black-and-white, cat-and-mouse situation. But humans, regardless of gender, strive to get what they want. If he wants you, it should be clear.
5.) He speaks your language.
First, take this literally. OK.
The figurative point I’m trying to make is that a winner will message you the way that you would write a message. Think Golden Rule shit.
One of the best emails I ever got happened a few months ago. After getting married, I turned my OKCupid profile into a crazy ad for wresting fan fiction. My username was TheJohnKimble, a reference to the classic film Kindergarten Cop.
This guy got me in one sentence:
“Who is the Miz and what does he do?”
I’m going to assume that question will land with only a small handful of people on the Internet, but it was so clearly “my language” that I wrote the guy back giving him props and explaining that I was off the market.
So when a guy on OKCupid sends you a message that’s just “sup how r u?”, he isn’t necessarily a loser. He just doesn’t speak your language. He could send that same message to another girl the next day, she’ll reply “nm u?” and that could be the start of their beautiful relationship. For that girl, this guy could be the super-chill winner she’s been looking for.
I get that spaces like XOJane can be great for venting, but rather than get riled up about sucky messages or so-called dating rules, I’d love if people could share stories of something a guy or gal DID RIGHT.
How about some “5 Reasons Why I Totally Wrote Them Back!”