Dear Men Who Internet Date,
Congratulations on taking the step to broaden your social horizons by electing to meet women on-line. Bravo. Whereas in the past (like, 10 years ago), people who dated on-line where maligned as geeks or social misfits, now just about everyone and their mothers is hip to cyber hookups. So much so that certain sites have found niche audiences and subtly brand themselves to attract consumers of each one. Many pixels have been spilled on the internet highlighting what site is for who, so I won't be too elaborate about it. From what I can tell, the breakdown is as follows*:
Match----> Rather mainstream, nice boys and girls. You're probably well adjusted & not too kooky. You're most likely upwardly mobile.
EHarmomy----> For one, you have an inordinate amount of faith in computer software, which either makes you desperate or just a little hokey.
MySpace---> You're either my ex-boyfriend, a 14 year old girl, or a pedophile.
Friendster---->My guess is that you're a former hipster whose been in a coma for 3 years and hasn't heard that nobody uses Friendster anymore.
Springstreet Network (Accessed through Nerve/Salon/the Onion/other random "indie" pubs)----> You're self consciously intellectual, you've probably been called a hipster on more than one occasion, you read Pitchfork.com, you think that your ideal mate will love the same (New York Times Notable) books as you and the same (Black Cat/DC 9 approved) bands.
Yahoo Personals---> Actually, I have no idea what you're like.
So once you have found the site that best suits your personality, it's time to create a profile. They make this semi easy by requiring you to answer a bunch of questions. With EHarmony for instance, you will spend close to an hour filling out an electronic questionnaire about your "values." Believe me, it is tedious. A word of advice-- when filling out such profiles, be honest. Sure, glib answers are amusing but they really don't tell me anything about you other than the fact that you desperately want to seem cool and that you'd rather spout semi-witty one liners that actually say something of substance.
Okay, so your profile is up. Now it's time to meet some ladies. There are a couple of ways you could go about it. You can be all passive, like and make them come to you. Or you can go to them. If you do decide to go to them, might I make a few suggestions. For starters, remember that old tired cliche, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression"? (I think it was in fact, a Head and Shoulders tagline for a while). Well as dumb as it sounds, it's true. And even truer when e-dating. Do not attempt to engage a woman in conversation with a stupid one liner or sarcastic remark. You'll just sound like a smartass, and you'll probably even remind her of the dumb men who stumble up to her drunk at bars while slurring nonsensically and leering down her blouse, the whole reason why she's e-dating in the first place. Having said that however, it's probably not a great idea to write anything too earnest and detailed. HP has been on the receiving end of far too many messages that resemble novellas in their length and detail. I suppose it's possible to do this ironically, in which case I would give you major props, but it's definitely a difficult feat. Tread lightly. Your best bet for an introductory note is something brief, sincere, funny and perhaps moderately self deprecating. Please do not make any comments about her appearance in your opening remarks. That's just cheesy and even a bit icky.
After you've written the message hang tight and await her response. If she responds, awesome. There's potential for her to be into you. Run with it. Entertain her with your wit, be charming. After you've settled into a comfortable exchange ask her out for coffee or a drink. Don't be too eager like and ask her right away. Let her feel like she's getting to know you a little before she commits to spending time with you. A woman wouldn't go out with a random who just walked up to her on the street and asked her out without at least conversing for a moment. The same thing goes online.
Now of course there's the possible scenario that she doesn't write back. Do not take this as sign that she's playing hard to get or in some way wants to be badgered with a million more messages. It's kind of like when somebody doesn't return your phone calls. They're not interested, get it? I don't care how great you think you are, or how interesting, or how well you think you'll get along with her, or how adorable your babies will look with your eyes and her nose. She's not feeling it, dude. This happened to me recently. A dude sent me a rather glib message through a dating site. It was semi-obnoxious but warranted a perusal of his profile. I didn't like what I saw. He just wasn't somebody who I thought I'd have fun with, and (sorry to be shallow) judging from his photo, I didn't think I'd find him attractive. So I didn't respond. A couple days later he wrote AGAIN to tell me that he wanted to add that his favorite book was blah, blah, blah.
OH! Why didn't you mention that in the first place! That changes everything. Not.
Dude. I still don't care. Now please stop harassing me.
All this is to lead up to the awesome news that I have an internet date tonight. And I can almost assure you there will be fun tales to regale you with tomorrow.
More on dating etiquette in a bit. Unfortch, I have a deadline looming that I must attend to here at my "real job."
*Yes, I am stereotyping. This entry is also satirical. Suck it.