Almost 2 years ago now I wrote a humorous (well, I thought it was funny…) blog post on taking a data-driven approach to dating. In that post I promised to write a follow-up if I had success. Since I got married in July, I guess it’s about time I keep that promise! So here’s a few things I learned along the way (big thanks to the okcupid data blog and the okc forums on reddit) that might prove useful to others.
For the sake of transparency, these are written for someone who’s looking for a life partner, if you’re just out there to get laid you can disregard most of them.
Do take down the 10 year old picture where you were skinnier and didn’t have wrinkles. That person does not exist any more
Don’t post that bathroom selfie or a blurry picture out of fear people will reject you if they see what you look like.
Do use pictures that are recent and show what you currently look like, include friends and activities, and show off your smile.
Don’t forget that humans are superficial creatures and there’s a reason my first three points are about your photos. People will judge you by your appearance the same way you judge them.
Do get clear ahead of time on exactly what you want in a partner and what you can and can’t compromise on. This is where my previous post on dating came in super handy for me.
Don’t throw all that out the window just because someone is cute. Unless you’re burned out on the search for love and just want to get laid. In which case, don’t be a jerk and lead someone on.
Do write a profile that is funny, engaging, and shows off a little bit of what makes you unique.
Don’t write a novel or tell your life story in your profile or first message. Nobody wants a stranger to bleed on them.
Do allow yourself to be vulnerable and acknowledge that you are an imperfect person.
Don’t forget that that anyone you might go on a date with is also an imperfect vulnerable human being with a whole history of experiences you know nothing about.
Do be honest about your past, everyone makes mistakes and acknowledging that shows humility
Don’t be too honest. I quickly realized that mentioning my divorce in my self-summary was a great way to get people to not respond. Not so much because I was divorced, but because mentioning it up front communicated that I wasn’t over it.
Do ask for what you want – really want – in a relationship.
Don’t assume you’re entitled to get it. The world doesn’t owe any of us anything and just because you find someone attractive doesn’t mean they have any obligation to return the sentiment.
Do work on yourself first. Women aren’t responding to your messages? Write better messages, and maybe hit the gym and skip the seconds at dinner.
Don’t deceive yourself about your own selection criteria. Most guys send messages to the most conventionally attractive women and ignore everything else, even while endlessly moaning that women should love them for their personality. OKCupid’s data science blog shows that the as a result the most attractive 2% of women are inundated with more messages than they could possibly respond to while everyone else is left out. Stop being so damn superficial, especially if you didn’t take my advice and skip seconds.
Do remember that dating sucks for everyone. We’re all fragile flawed horny confused sacks of hormones and meat “runnin’ circles blindfolded in the daytime with a flashlight” and trying to find someone who makes us feel special. Stop expecting it to be easy and have some compassion, dammit.
Don’t assume that just because someone else’s actions don’t make sense to you they’re crazy. OK, the lady who told me point blank that she was set on only dating assholes because she’d broken her ex’s heart and didn’t deserve to be loved probably needed therapy. And the lady who ended up puking all over my bathroom and crashing in my bed (I slept on the couch) after admitting that she had been trying to cheat on her husband in revenge for catching him cheating on her wasn’t exactly a catch. But it’s worth remembering that everyone has baggage, even me and you. Kindness is never wasted.
Do remember that the world is a big place and if you’re willing to put in the time, there’s probably someone out there whose particular brand of crazy is compatible with yours. You just have to be willing to do the work to find them.