Sunday, May 5, 2013

Top 5 Tips for Your Online Dating Profile . . . or Please Help My Dad!

I can't believe I'm actually doing this, but my parents divorced last year - after 51 years of marriage - and now my dad has decided that he is ready to start dating. He joined one of those online dating services for older adults and the ladies have started "liking" his profile and wanting to "chat" with him.

Unfortunately (for me) he's not much of a typist, so when he finds someone he wants to contact or communicate with, guess who gets to be his secretary? Yep, you got it! I find myself at his computer almost every evening, going through the inbox and helping him come up with responses to the requests he's getting.

I'm starting to see a common theme with a lot of the women's profiles that are on this particular site and if I could give them some advice, here's what I would let them know.

1. Choose your screen name carefully. You may think it's cute to have "Meow Miss Kitty Kat" or "Mom 2 Five Kitties" as your screen name, but all that tells a prospective date is that you are hoarding 50+ cats at your house and are probably one phone call away from the SPCA staging an intervention. Screen names like "Lonely Grl" and "Ready 4 Love" just says that you are desperate and an easy mark for someone to take advantage of you. Go with something innocuous like "Jane12345" or "YankeesFanJane" and let the rest of your profile do the talking.

2. A picture can speak a thousand words. What is your photo - your very first impression to potential dates - saying about you? If you're spending the time and money to participate in an online dating service, why wouldn't you spend a few dollars to have a professional photo taken that will show you looking your very best? I'm not talking about some sort of glam photo here - but a well-lit, well-angled shot of you with your hair washed and combed, make-up on and fresh, wearing flattering clothes and a confident smile. With all the discounts and online specials you can find out there, it's not expensive to get a professional photo taken - and well worth the time and effort.

Dad and I have seen more blurry, outdated and just incredibly bad photographs in the last few weeks! I can't believe the women who will sit in the blue light of their computer screen and use their webcam to take a photo and call it a day. Really? Do you think that blue glow makes you look more attractive? Or those who have those glasses that darken in bright lights and use a photo where you can barely see their eyes. You're not a movie star - you're trying to get dates. You WANT people to be able to see your eyes! And why, oh why, would you have a picture of yourself standing with a man on a dating web site? Unless that man is the President, no man who is thinking about asking you out wants to see a photo of you with someone else.

3. Men are a fool for the chase. They love it. They just can't help it. If you've reached out to a man and "liked" his pictures or sent him a message and made a comment about something he said in his profile and you haven't heard anything back . . . someone wrote a book and even made a movie about this situation. "He's just not that into you." Let it go. Move on. If you keep sending him messages and "likes," you don't become more interesting . . . you become annoying. And (again) desperate. My dad's a nice guy and he isn't looking to take advantage of anyone. But not everyone out there is like that. If you're chasing after my 70-something dad like this, you're probably doing it to other men too, and sooner or later, you might run into one of the bad ones. Why set yourself up for heartache like that? Getting out there to date is hard enough. Don't set yourself up to become a possible crime victim, too.

4. Take a long, hard look at your profile. Is everything spelled correctly? Are you sure? Nothing will rule you out as a potential date faster than a bunch of misspelled words. Some sites have spell check, but some don't. Paste your profile information into a Word document and double-check it. Better yet, have a trusted friend edit it for you. You may think that things like spelling and grammar don't matter. Maybe to some people, they don't. But to others, they mean the difference between a connection and a "no way."

5. While you're looking at your profile, look at the answers you gave to the questions that were asked . In one profile Dad and I looked at, the woman said that she had been a widow for over a year but felt she was ready to get out and meet someone. Then, in the next two paragraphs, she referenced her deceased husband three more times. Red flags, anyone? She may think she's ready to get out and date, but her answers are telling a different story - her date will be treated to a dissertation of how wonderful her husband was and how much she misses him. Valid and wonderful feelings for her to have, but not something a potential date wants to hear about.

Another woman listed in her profile that her only child had died of ovarian cancer. Wow - how incredibly tragic and sad. And another red flag to make someone say "that's an emotionally charged situation I don't want to get into." Sure, it's a big part of your life and something you would tell someone you're dating. AFTER you start dating them. Not before you've even met them.

I don't know if single, 50+ women will find these tips helpful - I can't tell you how much I want to reach through the computer screen and offer assistance to every bad profile Dad and I come across. He's still looking for someone to go to dinner with and to talk to . . . he's lonely! I'll just be glad when my typist duties will be done!

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