The Guide to Dating Profiles (INFOGRAPH!)

There’s an infograph for everything these days. And there’s an infograph for how men and women should design their dating profiles for better response. Courtesy of Zoosk, fourth largest dating website on the ‘net and avid Facebook advertiser.

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Now I Get It

One dull evening, my flatmates and I decided to sign up for ZivugZone. Separately, we sat at our laptops uploading photos and writing descriptive paragraphs. Then we microwaved some popcorn and waited.

It didn’t take too long. The messages started arriving. For one of my flatmates, about three a night. For me — every couple of days. Not that it mattered. The guys who messaged us had depressingly boring profiles. Not one bothered to upload a photo. Their messages were invariably “Hi. Wanna talk?” And their description went “I’m a nice guy looking for a pretty girl.”

This was pretty standard for the site, we discovered, scrolling through the options.  I wondered: are the women this bad too?

So I created a male profile. I wanted to see if the female profiles were as bad as the male. And yeah: I wanted to scope the competition.

And boy was there competition. Everyone had a photo. And some of those photos were gorgeous. I despaired as I scrolled through a smorgasbord of pictures clearly taken at weddings, their subjects posing in perfectly ironed hair and impeccable makeup. I didn’t even bother to read their names or descriptive paragraphs.  I just went “Pretty — really pretty — gorgeous — whoa! — Shnasty — Ooh, look at her I should give up now…” I felt like such a guy.

Then a photo caught my eye. It was different. The clothes and hair weren’t elaborate – -she was wearing a zip-up sweatshirt and denim skirt. She was standing in the midground, facing a log cabin, peering flirtatiously over her shoulder at the camera. She wasn’t just pretty — she was cute.   I stopped and read her description. She said she was a fun girl who enjoyed traveling and playing in the sunshine. Okay, it wasn’t quite like that, but that’s the impression it gave. She sounded like every man’s dream. I practically asked her out. Then I remembered that I’m not really a man — just posing as one.

Then I realized something even more embarrassing:  the girl in the picture was my flatmate.

I double-checked the name. “Goldy S.” Yep. That was my flatmate.

Amy Webb says your descriptive paragraph should be less than 99 words and include “sunshine,” “smile,” and “girl” in it. And Goldy’s sure as heck did. So I decided to do an experiment. I copy-pasted her paragraph wholesale into my profile and waited for the messages to roll in.

They didn’t.

“Can I use a photo of you too?” I asked next. I thought a good next step would be to pair her photo with a humdrum, non-sunshiny paragraph and see what happened.

No,” she replied, possibly not wanting to go into competition with herself.

So I left it at that. I never completed the experiment.

Well, someone went and took the experiment all the way!

“[Comedian Alli Reed] created the fake OKCupid profile, ‘aaroncarterfan,’ using a picture of her best friend who is a model, ‘hoping to prove that there exists an online dating profile so loathsome that no man would message it,’ despite how attractive the picture is.”

Full Article Here

She wrote that she’s very good at convincing people that she’s pregnant, and that she enjoys knocking the coffee cups out of the hands of homeless people because “it is sooooooo funny.”

She got 150 messages in 24 hours.

So there you go, ladies. It’s all about the picture.

Well, maybe not all. You should probably still have a 99-word sunshiny paragraph, rather than a list of your vices. But if you want anyone to even glance at that paragraph, you’re going to need a pretty darn good photo.

So get snapping.

Letters From a Young Dater

Every now and then I get asked a question like I’m some kind of dating expert. I don’t think I am, but some of the questions only require a little bit of experience to answer.

Here’s one I received recently:

What’s with guys who don’t bother with spelling, grammar, and punctuation on their profiles? To me that’s like showing up on a date with his shirt untucked and hair unbrushed. Am I wrong?

Here’s my response:

Dear Young Dater,

Spellcheck is a wonderful thing that everyone ought to use on their profile. That being said, since our profiles tend to have loads of squiggly red lines on them under words like “yeshiva” and “hashkafa,” it’s easy to overlook one or two. I’d go easy on those guys.

But if it’s more than just a word here and there, if they persistently refer to themselves as “i,” then I feel your pain.

For example, right now I’m corresponding with a fellow who thinks that punctuation and capitalization are optional online. When I read his emails, the image that pops into my head is of someone with slanty eyes trying to talk around an oversized tongue that doesn’t seem to fit in his mouth. I keep telling myself that he’s probably fairly intelligent, but I struggle to see this beyond his slurred online accent.

The fact is, many guys are under the misguided conception that the internet is still some wild and woolly frontier where the old rules don’t apply. Between you and me, that’s kind of like assuming the gun is still the law in Texas. It’s quaint idea that will get you in trouble.

bec maybe writing like this is fine for teenagers who arent known 4 gr8 self represntation @ the best of times but not 4 grown ups who want 2b taken seriously

So, should you dispense with a guy for clearly being clueless? Or should you try to move on to verbal communication as soon as possible, so you aren’t tempted to type small words in big letters when you write to him? (I AM BAD4, BAD4 I AM. DO YOU LIKE WALKS ON THE SAND?)

Personally, I try to give everyone a fair chance. Moreover, I have not found excellent online communication skills to correlate with excellent life skills. (Although a professional guy will rarely type pidgin at you.) So I’m going to recommend you take the latter tack. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and if everything else sounds okay, say “yes.”

Sincerely,

B4S

 

About Profile Pictures

I’m finally really getting the problem with showing photos to someone before they go out. I reach this conclusion via SYAS, where the photo is the first thing to slam me in the eyes when I get a new suggestion. And yeah, I can’t seem to help mentally sketching the guy in my head based on superficial impressions.

“Whoa, look at that Adam’s apple… I bet he’s the tall, gawky, nerdy type. Ooh look, he’s a programmer. Who’s surprised, raise your hand. Probably a little socially awkward with a ‘hyuk hyuk’ laugh… okay, shut up, Bad4. You’re really being obnoxious. Who, me? I wasn’t being negative. Nerds are cute. I’ll be able to buy one of those “I love my geek” shirts from ThinkGeek.com. Look! He likes museums… and political events. What does it mean when someone says they ‘like going out to political events’? What’s a political event? Oh gosh, he didn’t use capital ‘i’ in his little personal paragraph. Or commas or apostrophes. Forget it. There are a lot of things I can take. Not txtspk in a dating profile.”

There’s a certain guilty pleasure in being the one doing the judging, but it’s mostly guilt, very little pleasure.  I don’t want to be shallow. And my father, who disapproves of anyone seeing pictures of anyone else before dating, is quick to point out that photos are often a poor representation of a person.

“Remember the guy you said looked like a middle-aged burgomaster in his photo? Well, he was a lot better in person, wasn’t he?”

Yeah, totally true. Good thing I hadn’t judged him by his photo.

“So don’t look at the photos,” my father insists. “At all. And take yours down too.”

“I can’t take mine down!” I protest. That would look like I had something to hide. Who would go out with someone who doesn’t have a profile picture?

“My friend’s neighbor’s daughter didn’t have a picture on her SYAS profile,” my mother informs me. “And she got married through it.”

Okay, score one for the anti-photo crowd. I’m still not convinced. Yes, I might be more willing to go out with someone if I had no photo instead of an awful one, but…

Are my pictures awful? I have no idea. This is not because I didn’t scrape up the best photos available. It’s because, I’ve noticed, people tend to be poor judges of their own photos. You know like those photos people put up on LinkedIn, where they are solemnly gazing off into the distance? The subject means to look visionary, but generally they just look like they have a stomach ache.

In my opinion, nobody should put up a profile picture until they’ve taken an extensive poll of all their acquaintances and a few random strangers to ascertain that the snapshot both resembles them and is also flattering (if possible).  I have not done this. Making such a fuss over a profile picture would be distinctly uncool. Also, I’d need to take more photos.

So, pictures up – or pictures down? I don’t know. But til then, I will try to squinch my eyes shut and not look too hard at the pictures. Cuz judging by the pictures would be shallow. But those lowercase “i”s? Sorry, they’re still a dealbreaker.

Top Six (Male) Profile Picture Genres

When I saw the “upload your photo” option in SYAS it never occurred to me to upload anything beside a standard smiling headshot. But after picking through a number of male profiles, I can see that I’m missing quite a lot of the wisdom that goes into picking a profile picture. For the men out there who are wondering what to put up, here’s a rundown of what your fellows are presenting to us. And if anyone can do a rundown of what female photos look like, I’d appreciate that too.

There are about six major categories of profile pictures.

The Thinker:

This subject is gazing solemnly into the distance. If he’s turned a moody quarter profile to the camera, he is trying to look like a visionary. In reality, he usually looks like he needs an antacid. If he’s turned away from the camera, then you can hardly see his face at all. In this case, chances are he just wants you to notice that he’s looking over the Old City walls into the sunset, which is his way of showing that he’s a sensitive, inspired man, with a love of the Land of Israel.  Or else he thinks his profile is his strongest side. Women: beware of that.

The Natty Dresser:

This photo was taken five minutes before his family left for a cousin’s wedding. His father straightened his tie, his mother brushed a speck of lint from his lapel, and his sister took the photo against the wall in the front hall. Alternatively, it was taken at the simcha itself. In this case, the background is cluttered with tables and bottles, his face is flushed from dancing, and there might even be a disembodied arm around his shoulder. Point is: he cleans up nicely. Women: this is probably what he’ll look like on your first date and never again for the rest of your mutual lives (excepting the occasional wedding).

The Family Man:

Every woman wants a man who is good with kids, right? So, it follows that if he puts up a photo of himself cooing at his niece or throwing his nephew in the air, it can only score points. (Er, they are his nieces and nephews, right? Not his? What was that marriage status again?)

Alternatively, he’ll put up a photo of him with his entire family. The sheer quantity of siblings should assure you that he’s not spoiled. Or the quantity of sisters will assure you that he knows a ceramic hair iron from a diffuser, among other essential items. Men: avoid this one if you have a brother around the same age as you.

The Sportsman:

These photos are almost invariably taken at the top of a mountain. The subject is wearing a backpack or skis. Sometimes he’s even wearing goggles. The point isn’t for you to be able to see him. It’s so you can see that he’s healthy, fit, adventurous, and good at something. (Hey, he made it to the top, right? So what if it was via ski lift…)

A subset of this genre is the Traveler photo. In this case, again, the subject is dwarfed by his surroundings, which can range from huge sand dunes in the Gobi Desert to a coral reef underwater. Point being, he’s been around, you know? Seen the world a bit. Not one 0f those boring types who have never been out of NYC in their lives. You can be he won’t take you to a lounge either. Probably.

The Cool Dude:

The cool dude photo is often posted along with the Natty Dresser photo, lest you get the wrong impression. In the cool dude photo, the subject is wearing shades, a snug black t-shirt, and a self-satisfied smirk. Yeah man, he’s cool. Fingers crossed that coolness is as important to you as it is to him.

The Homeboy:

Don’t think this guy has no friends. He does. And he’s fun to be around. Just to make sure you know, he’s posting a photo of himself playing his guitar at a kumzitz with his friends. The friends are mostly cut out so you don’t confuse the subject, and the subject himself is looking down at the frets, so you can’t really see his face. But you see the guitar. What girl doesn’t like a guitar? And those disembodied arms on the side. See – other people like him. Why wouldn’t you?

With all this apparent thought going into male profile pictures, I can see that I’m playing at a disadvantage. Time to dig up a photo of me climbing some sand dunes. I think I might have been wearing sunglasses that morning, which is a 2-in-1 score. Or are the points categories different for women?

With thanks to Relarella.

And a hat tip to the Curious Jew for pointing out that, coincidentally, SoG posted about profile pictures just a day and a half ago.

Double Standards

BoSD wants to know if she – er, a young woman with an active online life – has a double standard if she wants a guy who does not.

On the one hand, internet usage is considered more acceptable for the average yeshivish woman than for the average yeshivish man. On the other hand: well, why is that so?

Weigh in here or there.