When I first joined the online dating circle, I wanted to do it right.
I spoke to mentors, my parents and others who have more experience and are wiser than me. I wanted to be prepared mentally and emotionally in addition to getting all the practical tips. I asked all kinds of questions, and got many valuable perspectives from them. I also listened to a lot of venting and frustrations. Comes with the territory, I guess.
I easily spent over six hours when I began just answering questions, and most of that time was writing, editing and rewriting the open-ended sections ("About me" section, anyone?), taking the idea of "show-not-tell" to heart while trying to put who I am up on a computer screen. I kept going over and over my profile, reading and scrutinizing.
Okay, call me a perfectionist, but in this case I'm hardcore. My profile should express me, it should exude my personality. People who respond well to that will respond well to me. Those who don't find it interesting... well, at least they found out before I spend hours of my time planning, preparing, traveling to pick her up, soothing my nerves and opening my wallet for a date.
(Consequently, I get slightly peeved when I see an "About me" section that has only a sentence or two, or a bunch of "I am 'X' and I like 'Y' and 'Z' is very important to me" sentences, particularly when it repeats information already on the profile. Repeating information doesn't make me like a woman more, and telling me that she is a certain way -instead of showing me more about her by communicating thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and perceptions as they relate to who she is and how she sees the world -really doesn't grab much interest either.)
Then I recruited my trusted help -a male and two females -to take a look and give me feedback on my pictures and writing (grammar and punctuation included) as well as the overall feel and look of my profile. Does it convey who I am? Does it grab interest? Is it my style? Does anything misrepresent me? Anything I can do/edit to improve? Are my pictures authentic? Do they look like me and represent different aspects and angles of me well?
By that time, I already had a "suggested match" (despite my not quite being "open for business" just yet). My buddy, who happened to take a look, immediately gave me of the greatest and wisest advice he could think of: "Dude, just 'accept' her!"
Since he'd barely had a glance, I retorted with curiosity: "Why do you say that?"
My jaw dropped at his reply: "Because, man, she's hott!"
Oddly enough, like some post-hypnotic suggestion, I complied. It was a strange feeling, as though some mystical archaic force guided actions I wouldn't have otherwise yet taken. I wanted to think, to deliberate. I wanted to consider all kinds of factors, to dig deeper, to find something to connect to rather than just hitting a button impulsively based on a glance, a slice of what a person looks like on some random (or not so random) day.
Since then, I've thought a lot about those words, and yet I find them echoing in my head after every time I hit the "accept" or "decline" button.
If I find a woman attractive, I want to get to know her. I really want to get to know her. If I don't find her attractive, even seeing things I'd like to see in her profile will very likely do little to sway me. I acknowledge that attraction isn't based on a picture (though that may be the best we have "at a glance," unless people suddenly get very comfortable making 30 second HD video clips of themselves walking, talking and doing other things -as if that will work!), but without some physical connection, it can be much harder for me to find a point of attraction.
While we can sit around debating whether or not attraction is necessary for a guy in order to go out on a first date ("it's just a first date, for goodness' sake!"), most people want/need a point of interest or connection (and for many men physical attraction is a point of connection), and want a reason to make an investment (time, money, travel, etc.), though perhaps this is just a mentality that men have regardless of how serious a first date is. Maybe it's just a matter of having enough interest to be motivated and do something about it.
I used to say that feeling attraction towards a woman will get her a couple minutes of conversation from me -it piques my interest to see who she is, and my further interest is on the merit of her character. As I accrue experience, I'm finding how powerful that single factor is, and so the words keep echoing in my head... to "accept" or "decline" simply "because she is hott!"
Some days, I'm seriously annoyed (read: confused and angry) that I don't have much control over that. Thinking about it makes me wonder if I should just get over it, and hit the "accept" button even when I don't feel the attraction. Then again, part of me feels fake and inauthentic when my actions are not in line with my feelings.
And yet, on the other side of the coin, it's not a picture that makes-or-breaks a profile; it's not just about attraction, it's about having a point of connection. It's about grabbing my interest. That can be through physique or intriguing profile information/writing. Playing one's strengths, putting oneself out there, even if that's quirky or unconventional. Quirky/unconventional is intriguing, at least to me.
But with sections and bits missing, a bland "About me" section and/or any combination of tiny factors (spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization of "I" and whatever else), a lack of picture or unflattering pictures... how does a person expect to create interest? Often enough it isn't even a full or real representation. Or if it is, then that's precisely why I'm NOT interested!
I mean, clearly a profile, resume or what a person looks like "on paper" doesn't tell all about them by far, but even accepting it as a slice of them, it's the Swiss cheese of profiles/resumes! I don't want a Swiss cheese woman.
Sigh... the things I stress out over. It's just a button. Maybe even a first date.