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.

Amy Webb on TED

I posted about Amy’s book about how to date before. Here’s her TED talk below. (Thanks, Doc.) It’s fun.

Amy believes that you should make a list and stick to it. It worked for her: she found a guy who checked her list and married him.
I made a list like hers once. I used it once to eliminate a guy who really was a bad idea (in retrospect). I forget where I put that list, though. And obviously, it hasn’t done more than eliminate men yet.

Conversely, we have Goldy Krantz saying that you should chuck your list, because the guy she married didn’t check hers at all, and the only reason she went out with him was because he sort of drifted into her life slowly, via the “friend” route.  This one sounds easy: Just date everyone. Well, I do that too. Still single. This method doesn’t eliminate men, which is to say it sure does waste a lot of Sundays. Hasn’t panned out for me either.

I suspect the real truth is actually both of them, which is to say, whatever works for you. Or maybe a third way, which I don’t know about yet, because I’m still single.

Anyway, I’m a big fan of Amy’s, so watch her TED talk. It’s only 20 minutes.

I Scrubbed My Brain, But the Stain is Still There

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that a guy called a friend to ask about me, but insisted on remaining anonymous.

He wasn’t completely anonymous, though. Based on his questions, I pegged him as dead-on yeshivish. And based on his area code, he was apparently from Monsey.

And I have a problem with yeshivish guys from Monsey.

Someone who self-described as “yeshivish” solicited a friend on a (admittedly skeezy) Jewish dating website.

Now, whenever I hear about a possible match with a yeshivish guy from Monsey, I wonder: could that be him?

I know this soliciting sleazebag is about 31 years old. I know he still lives with his parents. While that’s not enough to identify a secret skank beyond a shadow of a doubt, it’s enough to cast a shadow on a very small population subset.

Is that good enough reason to refuse to go out with 31-year-old yeshivish men from Monsey who live with their parents?

On the Subject of Being Interesting

I hate to be the hobby police here, because I don’t really have much by way of “hobbies” in the traditional sense, but gentlemen:

“Talking to friends” is not a hobby. That’s how normal people socialize. “Going to the gym” is not actually a hobby either, unless you’re training for something special or bodybuilding.

This is the section where you can sound mildly more interesting than all the other nice, smart, professional boys out there. Please make some kind of effort!

Shidduch Reading List Additions

I started on a shidduch reading list many years ago:

Reading List 1

Shidduch lit

And now I’m going to add another two books to the list.

This past Shabbos I finished Seven Blessings by Ruchama King. This one is an astonisher. Written by a frum woman about frum women, the characters are actually real people you could potentially meet on the street. This may be why it was not published by Artscroll or Feldheim. Pick it up at your local library.  Or support a good religious writer and buy it instead.

The second book I literally couldn’t put down. I read it in one straight sitting, finishing in the wee hours and tottering off to bed. Data: A Love Story presents a paradigm shift for the serial dater. Sick of bad dates with lousy guys, Amy Webb sits down to crunch the numbers and find her husband the 21st-century way: via algorithm.

She then proceeds to prove that you don’t have to date everyone every suggested to you “just in case.” Oh, and that wisdom about how you shouldn’t make a list? Throw it out. You need a list.

Naturally, her parents freak out. She’s being too picky. She’s being too hard. She may be letting someone great pass her by. But she perseveres and, wouldn’t you believe: finds a guy who matches her list! Who likes her! Who proposes!

So you see, it can be done if you do it the right way. So excuse me now. I’m off to compile my List.

 

Link on Links: Your Online Dating Profile

In my experience, guys tend to err on the side of too little and too vague. But as a woman, what can you do to make your profile attract decent guys? (Excluding Matt Damon.)

The WSJ has a data-proven approach for you.

Popular profiles used aspirational language (like “I want to travel” or “a big ambition of mine is…”), kept descriptions short and generic and lied about various physical characteristics (though not the ones you think). Their style was easygoing, youthful and spontaneous. I’d never once referred to myself in writing as “fun” or as a “girl.” But it was easy to see that I had been far too stuffy and professional in my presenting myself (I’d gotten lazy and cribbed from my résumé).

I learned that short profiles that express just enough information to pique someone’s interest are the ones that do best. A good cutoff point is the 500-word mark.

She also says that curly-haired women are at a distinct disadvantage. For all you other curly-heads out there: put a sheitel on it.

In the above article, we have a woman pretending to be a man to find out what men like. But what makes me curious is this: when a man pretends to be a woman to seduce a man (okay, to get his iPhone back), what  does he write? Really, really curious here…

HT to Kansasian, HT to O

Web Dating

At my ancient age, and with all the new dating websites cropping up and changing their names and all that, I decided to give one of them a try. So I logged on, wrote myself up an elaborate profile, and went to trawl the potentials.

It got depressing almost immediately.

Most of the guys didn’t bother uploading a photograph. Most did not put much effort into writing themselves a decent introduction.  “Hi, I’m a nice sweet guy with lots of friends. I like to hang out, grow, and have a good time.” If that’s not an exact quote of anyone, it’s certainly an acceptable paraphrase of almost anyone.

And those were the better ones. Some of the writing made me wonder if marriage is just a form of long-term charity. “i have an amazing carer,” read one. “Do you think me means career?” I wondered. But with that spelling, I decided it was more likely he had a case manager, or someone paid to care about him.

“looking for a slim nice pretty girl to fulfill my spiritual needs”

– [sic] – enough said.

“I am a reasonably intelligent half-decent guy… That’s it, that’s all I got.”

I choked up when I finished that one.

“Doesn’t this make you want to cry?” I asked, passing my laptop to a friend.

“Ohmigosh, that’s sooo sad,” she agreed.

“I kind of want to message him that I’m sure he’s worth more than that, and try to help him make a better presentation,” I said. “But I wouldn’t want to give him the wrong idea.”

Apparently this motherly sentiment is fairly common among women skimming profiles. Another friend, and long-time user of online Jewish dating websites, says that she is often tempted to embark on a career as a Profile Mommy—wiping off the smudges and dabbing at runny noses, so to speak. But she also hesitates to get involved with anyone lame enough to require her solicitude.

Then there are the pickup emails. I opted for the “direct mail, no shadchan” option because I thought I could handle it, but… I understand that messaging someone you’ve never met is awkward. But honestly!

The first email I got went like this:

Hi there.

That’s it. That’s all he got. Not a whole lot for a girl to work with. The next few were not an improvement. Not one bothered to capitalize a single letter. Some thought punctuation was optional too.

Then came the kicker. I got an email from a guy who had not only filled out his profile, but he’d also included a picture! Whoa! Overwhelmed here. Except for one problem: his picture. No offense, Jewish guys, but he didn’t look Jewish.

So I dragged his photo into a Google Image Search and lo! Turns out Matt Damon has converted and moved to Lakewood, where he’s learning under the name of Tzviki.

I replied:

Dear Matt,

While I’m flattered by your attention, I’m really more of a Ryan Gosling girl. If you meet him in morning seder, can you tell him that I’m waiting for his email? Thank you.

Sincerely,

Bad4

Then, feeling a bit self-conscious, I added:

PS: My other profile picture is Heidi Klum.

Not sure this online dating thing is working for me.

See No Sinai

I didn’t renew.

After nine months of trial, I let my SYAS membership lapse. In those nine months there was a grand total of one guy who I yessed who yessed me back, and he never called.

I asked some other people what their stats were for the site.  Most of the conversations went something like this:

Me: How many dates have you gotten out of it?

She: You mean like, actual dates? Um… two.

Me: So you’ve had phone calls?

She: Yeah.

Me: How many?

She: Oh, maybe ten.

Me: Over the course of how many years?

She: Um… [starts counting, stops] I don’t want to think about it.

Right. So, I’m batting a better average than that just sitting in my armchair waiting for people to call. And for this I have to pay? Not happening. See ya, Sinai.

Hide Your Shidduch Profiles in Shame

What is the purpose of a shidduch profile?

I would say to

1 – Convey the most germane information about its subject for matchmaking purposes and

2 – Intrigue potential matches enough that they want to date the subject.

Chas McFeely is a 40-year-old single guy who has reinvented the shidduch system in an effort to marry himself off.  To that end, he’s created an online profile and recruited his entire network of family and friends in trying to set him up. He’s even offering shadchanus!

The impressive thing about McFeely’s shidduch profile is that, unlike most of the utilitarian word documents that float around the shidduch system, his actually does that. With ten photos, eight of them lightly captioned, he conveys a pretty well-rounded image of his personality, lifestyle, sense of humor, and general appearance. Moreover, it leaves you wondering, “Do I know any music-loving, Scrabble-playing women on the west coast?”  Unlike most of the profiles I read, which leave me wondering, “If he sounds the same as the last six guys I’ve gone out with, is that good or bad?”

I think I’m going to become a proponent of interesting shidduch profiles. Hey, a cartoon profile got Stupid Inventor matched up.

I reformatted my own profile a few months ago and have been noting responses with a sociologist’s eye. Out of the dozen or so people I know it’s been sent to
– Three looked askance.

Of those three,

– One refused to use it.

– Two said, “Well I guess it weeds them out early on.”

In addition,

– Nine spontaneously and without prompting sent their compliments and said it gave them a better idea of who I am.

Of these nine,

– Four said it made them more certain than before that I’d hit it off with their nephew/brother/cousin/son/friend.

– Another four didn’t have anyone specific in mind (they had just vaguely offered to set me up), but actually called me back to discuss “what I’m looking for.”

So, thus far, I’d say jazzing up a profile is mostly a good idea.

Moreover, if a particular shadchan thinks it’ll freak out the Suggestion, (s)he won’t pass it on. A friend of mine, when asked to attach a photograph of herself to her profile, sent the best and most recent photo she had. It was at the zoo, and she had a giant python around her neck. It was only after their engagement that she and her fiancée found out that his mother had suppressed the photo.

So, do you need to spend a thousand dollars filling a website with professional photos of yourself wearing everything from a suit to tennis whites?  Probably not. But the McFeely comparison test is, when people finish reading your dossier, do they care about you at all?

Hat Tip to Cubic Zirconium for sending me the link.

Related posts:

Shidduch DVDs?

Me Magazine

Reasons to Marry Me

Several years ago a college graduate, Jamie Varon, wanted very much to work for Twitter. Unable to get a job, she started a website Twitter Should Hire Me, listing the reasons that the site should add her to the payroll.

I was reminded of this when Cheeky sent me a link to an article about a guy with a blog about why to marry him. The blog is actually kinda cute, in a super-self-deprecating sort of way. Also sad, because he obviously has such a low sense of self-worth, and you wonder why, and if anything can be done about it.

But his site got me thinking. Why should anyone marry me? Naturally I believe I’m a wonderful person with lots to offer. But getting down to it, could I list 38 reasons? (Okay, he can’t either. Most of those sound like reasons to stay away. But the basic idea…) What about, oh, eighteen reasons? And would my friends agree with that list, or would they cough, glance sideways at each other, and say something polite but noncommittal?

And then of course there’s the supply and demand thing: what you’ve got has to be what people are interested in marrying, and those people have to also be people you’re interested in marrying… has anyone ever tried doing an economic theory on committed relationships?

It could become a big deal. We could have dating actuaries to tell us how much we can demand for our package of traits and how to raise our market value by developing new talents, hobbies, or characteristics. There would be quadratic and differential equations for dating! [eyes go shiny and excited] C’mon, how cool would that be?

Okay, maybe not. But still.

Then we could have business cycles for daters, with the “Shidduch Crisis” relabeled as the “Great Dating Depression” of the 21st century. We’d be historic figures, and all our attempts at finding The One using speed dating, online dating, Shidduch Vision, singles events, End the Madness, and goodness knows what else, will go into history books in bold letters like the PWA and the New Deal and all the related programs. Instead of being jaded singles, we’d become historic characters. How cool would that be?

Okay, I’d rather just get married. But still.

Fine. Time to stop theorizing and come up with my 38 reasons. I think I’m going to have to call in the reserves on this one.

Ding-aling-aling… “Hello? Grandma? I have a question…”