It’s no secret that I have been an online dater a few times in the past twelve years of my singledom. A few years ago, I had a regular feature on the radio where I shared my experiences of looking for a fella in Ireland as an intelligent, divorced, mother of two in her thirties.
In the interests of research and radio, I flirted (see what I did there?!) with a variety of different ways to meet men on the island of Ireland. I went to a few matchmakers; I asked friends to look through their husbands’ address books for eligible unattacheds; I went speed-dating; on blind dates; dinner events for singles; wine-tastings and other ‘events’. I even went to the pub on my own to see if I’d meet anyone there (I didn’t). And, of course, I tried online dating.
I tried a few sites – from those that promised to be a cut above the rest (and charged accordingly), to those that made no claims at all (and were free), and everything in between.
Along the way, I have read the online profiles of thousands of men. So my New Year’s gift to every man over the age of 35 who is looking for more than just a shag (though there’s nothing wrong with that) I offer you my observations in a handy list.
When creating your online profile, I respectfully suggest that you:
- Wait at least a year between leaving one serious relationship and looking for another. Trust me on this one. You are just not ready. By all means go out, date, meet your friends, go to gigs, accept invitations, do whatever it is you fancy – but don’t start looking for another serious relationship. Spend time getting to know yourself again – who you are as a single person – before looking for someone else to get to know you.
- Put some thought into what you write about yourself. If you want a woman to engage with you, show her you are worth engaging with. ‘I’ll come back to this later’ or ‘I don’t know what to say here’ or ‘Jaysus this is hard. I’ll have a pint while I think about it’ isn’t endearing. If you want a woman to think you’re worth her time, show her you think you’re worth your time.
- Don’t slag off your ex. This shouldn’t even need to be said, but it’s not funny (even if you mean it to be funny rather than offensive). Women need to see that you can treat women with respect – how you treat/speak about your ex tells us a lot about you. Also, it can make a woman who is interested in you worry about what you’ll slag her off over if things don’t work out between you.
- Don’t tell us what your friends say about you. If we wanted to know, we’d ask them. Show us you have some degree of reflexivity and self-knowledge by telling us what you think about yourself. Tell us what you like about yourself, one or two of your endearing habits and the things you love to do in your spare time.
- Don’t lie. If we like you, we will take notice of what you say, and if you’ve lied in your profile, we will catch you out in that lie and – because we have self-respect and don’t like being lied to – never see you again.
- Be open. Even if you think you have a type, be open to dating women who are different to the kind of women you’d usually go for. Maybe you thought you’d never date a woman who wasn’t blonde, or hated football, or had kids; but if you suspend your expectations and convictions, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
- Post your second-best photo of yourself. This might seem counter-intuitive, but the reason is simple: If a woman sees a photo of you that isn’t you at your best, and still wants to meet you, chances are she’s interested in more than your looks. When she sees you in the flesh, she will be pleasantly surprised. Which is a whole lot nicer than the other kind of surprised.
- Post pictures of yourself and yourself alone. We don’t want to see pictures of you with other women (that includes your mum), with children, or with all your buddies. We don’t want to date any of those people – we want to date you. By all means, show us photographs of your kids/siblings’ kids when we’re on our second or third date, but not in your profile picture.
- Post pictures of you without your car/helicopter/jet in the background/foreground. Do you really want to go out with a woman who is only interested in what you drive? Wouldn’t you rather go out with a woman who is more interested in what drives you?
- Write your profile stone cold sober and have a straight female friend read over it before you put it online. Like most people, you’re not as funny drunk as you think you are. A straight female friend will read your profile from a straight woman’s perspective (naturally) and give you honest feedback. If you’re really lucky, she’ll catch your typographical errors as well.
Wishing you the best of luck in your online search for Ms Right in 2016!