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Filling out a dating profile
Filling out a dating profile
In my vast experience with online dating (two- and-a-half weeks now), a number of issues have arisen.
I encountered my first problem when filling out my profile. Right off the bat, in the drop-down box labeled “Seeking,” it demands that I make a decision on what type of relationship I’m looking for.” Hmmm…one would think this would be easy to answer. This is an online DATING site, after all, so the automatic assumption is I’m looking for a date. However, I find I must pick only one from a number of appealing choices.
I see “FRIENDS” on the list. Well, silly menu, I wouldn't want a relationship with an enemy! I’d want to be friends first, of course. But if I select this option: 1) my soul mate may pass me by because he is looking for forever (or, as it’s known on the dating network, “LONG-TERM”) and is tired of casual friendships that never go anywhere; 2) the chance I’m going to go from 0 to Long-Term in 60 seconds is pretty slim, but it would be the ultimate option so do I bear my soul in the first drop-down or leave that for the “Description” area?; 3) I love friends. My favorite friends are all men (no romance involved). If I don't select this option, I could miss out on some great friendships.
Ok, I decide to give my brain a rest on that one and consider some of the other options. “HANG OUT.” I’m bored. I love friends. I like to “hang out.” But will I sound like I'm 16 and haven't gotten a new PS game in months? Moving on, we come to "TALK AND EMAIL". I personally like talk and email, but some of the men I would be interested in might not like wasting time emailing like a texting teenager.
I love really smart guys, I always have. This is true with my friends, email pals, hang out buddies, and romances. Smart is so sexy! Ooops, sorry. I sidetrack easily. Anyway, really smart guys are usually very busy and don't always have time to mess with such things. Not unappealing and not a problem.
Next I see “OTHER RELATIONSHIP.” This choice seems to encourage my imagination to run wild trying to figure out what it means. I’m going to ignore it, as I am sure it’s not for me. Then, at last, an easy one! “INTIMATE ENCOUNTER.” Definitely not for me, so I muddle through to the final option, “ACTIVITIES PARTNER.” Crap, here we go again. I'm active. I like to have other people around when I'm doing active things. Of course I'd like an activities partner.
I keep thinking there’s a reason this is separate from the rest. Does this mean ONLY activities? Like, don't even think "friendship," "email pal," or "long term"? Best not to choose it, just in case.
Now that I have wasted an hour-and-a-half unsuccessfully trying to select the right choice for the first drop-down, I steel myself for another dozen drop-down menus. I wonder if my long weekend is going to give me enough time to finish. I grab a snack and an iced tea and settle back into my place in front of the computer.
My next consideration is “Town.” If you live in New York, Denver or LA, filling in this box doesn't require too much thought. If you live in Smallville, Kansas, this becomes a different challenge entirely.
1. Let’s say I give the real name of my town, population 42 (including my dogs). How long will it take for Crazy Stalker to find me?
2. In Smallville, folks are a bit backwoods, but they do have computers - and nothing to do. Reading the dating profiles of the locals is one of their best sources for entertainment and gossip.
3. If anyone else in the area has signed up on the dating site, we’ll see each other online. Then the next time we bump into each other in the store, we’ll both be embarrassed.
4. I already know these folks. If there was a local love connection, wouldn't I have run into him by now, making “shopping” in my area seem like a silly thing to do?
So I opt for the nearest big city, 47 miles away, population 4922 (barely minimizes the issues but it’s the only choice for 70 miles).
Next, I’m asked to choose my “Fish Personality.” I glance through the list but get sidetracked again, wondering what would possess a person to check some of the choices offered. Or if they did, how anyone else could find such qualities endearing. I'm sure I wouldn't want people to associate me with a Big Mouth Bass, Crab, Piranha or Blowfish (Good lord! Is that as in blowhard - or some sort of hidden sexual innuendo?) I try to refocus and check “no fish personality” before moving on.
Now it asks if I'm married. Is it kidding? What is the world coming to? Doesn't anyone have any morals? Are folks really stupid enough to advertise on the World Wide Web that they cheat on their spouse? OK, settle down. In my enlightened state, I know not to react to my emotions, I know not to judge. So I think, “Well, this can be a valid question without serious moral implications.” I firmly believe people can have friends of the opposite sex with no hanky-panky involved. And friends, after all, are a wonderful thing to have. Still, this doesn't apply to my situation, so I ponder my other selections.
At this point, I feel damned if I do and damned if I don't. If I mark “DIVORCED,” I’m immediately branded. They will all think I'm too hard to get along with or cheated on my husband or have no common sense and was stupid enough to marry a drug-dealing, wife-beating, fornicating drunk. By marking this choice, I have also eliminated all Catholic male prospects. At least it’ll speed up the “shopping” considerably.
If I mark “SINGLE” (it's true, divorced people are single until they remarry or enter into a "LONG-TERM" relationship, right?), someone will undoubtedly think of this as a lie somewhere down the road.
Damn, this is getting harder than being confirmed by the Senate!
I see at the bottom a choice for “NOT SINGLE, NOT LOOKING.” Why in hell would I be filling out this profile if that were the case? One more dating site mystery to unravel. Frustrated and confused, I decide honesty is always the best policy, select “Divorced,” and ask myself again if I really am this bored. I am. I live in Smallville, remember.
Next it asks if I'm looking for a male or female. Well, I want a male for a romantic relationship but either sex would be nice to have as "friends,""email pals," or "activities partner." If I met a girl, maybe we could cruise the bar together, looking for men to pick up. I am relieved to see they have solved this problem for me by not providing selections titled “either” or “both.” My God! Can you imagine the can of worms that would open up?
I always get along better with men no matter what type of relationship we’re talking about so I pick “MALE” and start feeling a little cocky now that I'm picking up speed. The last two questions went pretty fast and, to my delight, the next choice is easy, too. “ALL MY KIDS ARE OVER 18.” Of course, there’s a slight worry that they’ll see the word ALL and assume there’s an entire herd of them but I can’t let this distract me because I’ve still got hours of decision-making ahead.
Just when I thought the hard part was over, I’m asked if “I Want Children.” This is a loaded question. I automatically go for the “DOES NOT WANT CHILDREN” choice. But wait. It's not that simple, is it? I see no choice that says “DOESN'T WANT TO BEAR CHILDREN, BUT DOESN'T MIND IF YOU HAVE THEM,” or “KIDS OK IF THEY LIVE WITH YOUR X” or “KIDS OK IF LESS THAN A YEAR TILL THEY LEAVE HOME” ( I would assume a year’s the minimum before we’d be thinking about living together anyway, right?)
I've already checked “DOES NOT WANT CHILDREN” and I'm sticking to it.
The next thing it wants to know is my “HEIGHT.” I haven't measured lately but the last time I did I was 5' 10''. Sounds like a straightforward question, but as I get older I’m shrinking. In my twenties, I was 5'11.'' What if I’ve shrunk even more? Will they think I lied when we meet in person? Should I get out the yardstick? No, just keep going, I tell myself. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can....
I read the next question. “BODY TYPE.” OH, SURE!! As if I'm not traumatized enough already. I head for the kitchen, grab a snack, dump the ice tea and switch to Sprite. It’s going to be a long, stressful night and I better cut back on the caffeine so I can stay calmer. I look again at the task ahead and decide instead to watch the newest episode of “Psych.” He’s very smart AND funny, and I could really use a laugh about now.
Feeling refreshed and a little silly (Psych is good clean goofy fun), I get back to work. Where were we? Oh, right. Body type. How could I forget that? I’m trying to decide if I can get away with “ATHLETIC.” I’m in good shape for my age. I’ve told them my age. How much can they expect from someone my age? I'm in better shape than some, but worse shape than others. Good grief!
I better pick “AVERAGE.” What is average? Compared to who? Or is it whom? Crap, do I have to look that up to keep from appearing ignorant or do I pick different words and write it over? But wait, I digress. I think I can, I think I can....
Next is hair color. Are they really going to force me to put “SALT AND PEPPER” because I have a few gray hairs? How many gray hairs can you have before it’s “salt and pepper” instead of just “Black”? I look for but can't find a place that allows me to explain my hair color in detail. The gray thing, as well as how it turns a lighter shade when it bleaches out in the summer so that it’s different, different times of the year. I could dye it. Now, hold it - this is getting out of hand. It’s black, damn it. Black!
Am I really this insecure? Is this really worth it?
Once again I boldly push on. I am woman, hear me roar! I can do this. I'm a decent catch. I'm witty, easy going, fun, smart... wait a minute, compared to who? Whom?
It is becoming clear that I'm going to need therapy before this is over. The last question in that column is do I have a car. Yes, but does it have to be running? What if I have a truck? Or a van? Live in New York? I pick yes because I actually have a car, a truck, and a van! Again, it doesn't give me a place to explain or, in this case, brag. I feel better now and go to the next column.
Do I smoke? Smoke what? What are you implying? I have allergies. Ooops. Flashback to the 70's. This is a tough one for the folks who do smoke. We all want to quit. We’re all thinking, “Maybe this will be the incentive I need to quit.” If I put “NO,” I'll have to be accountable. That would help me quit. What if I put “OCCASIONALLY”? Will it sound like I only smoke one cigarette a day after dinner (not completely disgusting), or will they think I'm still talking about the 70's?
Next question seems easy. “Do you do drugs?” I pick NO but can't help letting my mind wander. “Nobody can really be stoned enough to admit to every person in the world with an email address and a desire to get on a dating site that they do drugs, can they? Can you really trust the answers you’re getting here?”
My brain continues to spiral as I accept that you can't be positive about anything a person tells you on one of these things. I’m getting discouraged but I’ve come so far, through so much, to get this thing filled out. Is there a way to save it and finish it another time? I try, I fail, it wants answers and won't let me quit until I have put something in each box! Realizing I’m off track again, I begin to worry that I have ADHD and read the next question.
GOOD GOD, WILL IT NEVER END! “Do you drink?” I hover over the drop-down, dreading the choices, prepared to bolt. I click it. I see “SOCIALLY.” I think, “Yes, that would be me if I didn’t live in a town of 42 where I socialize once or twice a year. Does that still count?” If I put “socially” and some guy hates drinking, he won't know that if I never had another drink it wouldn't bother me for a second.
If I put “NO,” will it scare away any guys who just drink a little bit once in a while because they think I'll be hateful about it? I don't get along well with drunks. I could easily eliminate the “3 X OR MORE A WEEK” but what about the guy who drinks one glass of wine a night following his doctor’s instructions?
Is it me or is filling out this profile REALLY HARD?
I think I'll take a break, look up the phone number of the local mental health clinic and program it on speed dial. After all, I'm only part way through and you can't be too careful when your sanity is at stake.
With my priorities taken care of, I throw all caution to the wind, choose “Socially,” and click the “Income Level” drop-down menu as if it’s no biggie. I fight to stop the wave of "What abouts…”. I decide it isn't the business of strangers how much money I make, so I click “PREFER NOT TO SAY.” I try to push back the mental turmoil involved in this selection because I’m inherently honest and “Prefer Not to Say” seems either deceptive, which I’m not comfortable with, or a dead giveaway to the actual answer and therefore pointless. Like, for example, “Do you do drugs?” However, in this instance, I’m passionate about my belief that this question is too personal for strangers, so I check their version of “None of your damn business” without reservation.
The next section is easier as it lets me pick the words in the answer! I like this much better! I am a lot more in my element now!
Do you suppose I have control issues? Maybe I should start a list of questions for the mental health guy. I wonder if they prescribe Ritalin.
I'm excited about this part so I focus more easily and begin to list “MY INTERESTS.” Dancing, outdoors stuff, water, warm weather, all the old standby key words like romantic walks on the beach, etc. I realize how cookie cutter these things are and spend a few minutes pondering the similarities in people. This thought branches off to include differences in people and the subject of “honest” answers versus “what you think the other person wants to hear” answers.
Maybe I’m avoiding the next question. It wants to know what my “PROFESSION” is. Okay, again, if you’re one of a thousand employees at a huge company in a big city it’s no big deal to answer that question. But if you live, and work, in Smallville, Crazy Stalker could easily cause you problems at your job. I’m tired and, frankly, a little cranky by now so I decide to inject some humor into the mix instead of beating the question to death.
I type “Star Ship Captain.” I may later reconsider this choice (I don't want them to think I have a pocket full of small change, waiting for a comet to fly by). But for now, if they don't have a sense of humor, we won't get along anyway.
The next question should be super easy. It wants to know what “STATE” I'm in. Cool, one I can answer! Thank God for small favors. I think I'll celebrate with a snack. Perhaps some chocolate. I've earned it, I deserve it, I read somewhere it's a mood booster.... Damn good thing it didn't ask for my weight because by the time I finish this, I’ll weigh five pounds more. Now I am very glad I picked “AVERAGE” for Body Type.
After finishing my snack of chocolate cake, cookies and a bowl of ice cream, It dawns on me the “STATE” question was designed to lull me into a false sense of security. I’m now face-to-face with “RACE,” “EDUCATION LEVEL,” and “RELIGION.” Why me, dear God? Why me? I’m a good woman; I try hard to do the right thing! WHY ME?!
Maybe I'm having a sugar rush; I knew I shouldn't have had that ice cream. I stop to remind myself, “I can do anything!” I survived 19 years of single parenthood with only an 8th grade education and fierce determination. I have overcome economic hardship. I have survived serious illnesses and injuries.
I’ve lived through the Bush administration, for GOD’S SAKE. I can do this!
First I tackle “RACE.” I choose Caucasian but with great misgivings, as I am a firm believer that even if one has traced her lineage all the way back to caveman days, you just cannot be sure who was sneaking around with whom, debunking all documentation to the contrary. In addition, I want to scream my protest that this question is here at all. I realize how far we still have to go to rid the world of prejudice. I know that at this rate I will never finish this profile so I try to put that thought on hold and keep going.
Forced to take on “EDUCATION” next, I see that my only honest choice (if we stretch the truth from GED to mean High School) will register on this stupid program as “EDUCATION: N/A”. What the ****? Are these things designed to make you feel bad about yourself? What are they thinking? They should have offered me a humorous option, like “school of hard knocks” to minimize my humiliation.
So be it. The first time we IM and guys try to read something I’ve written without the benefit of spell check, they’re going to figure out I don't have much education anyway.
One more to go. One more! Naturally, they save the worst for last. Religion. Cripes, the only thing they aren't going to ask is my political affiliation. It's a good thing, too; I think the mental health clinic is closed till Monday morning.
My heart is racing now, knowing that I’ve survived all the way to the last drop-down menu! (Still running on sugar, I expect.) I click the tiny arrow and survey the options. I can't believe my eyes. It’s the easiest question yet, shame on me of little faith! I select “OTHER” without hesitation, thinking, “I couldn't have said it better myself!”
I MADE IT!! I’m finished with the drop-downs! I feel like celebrating! I look around for someone to share my excitement! Nobody there. I experience somewhat of an anticlimax. I realize in a flash that I still have a huge section to fill out and, worse than that, I never made a choice from the first drop-down! All this and I haven't picked the first one.
Oddly, instead of the nervous breakdown I assume is coming, a strange calm sets in. I scroll up to the top, look at the drop-down for “Seeking,” click it and, in one quick motion, click again on “FRIENDS”. It’s liberating!
After all this concern over presenting myself in a way that would attract my kind of guy, I realize I can look for my kind of guy without any of the pressure of finding “my soul mate.” All it takes is this simple decision to click on “FRIENDS”!
I love it! I would never get serious with any one I wasn't great friends with. If it doesn't develop into anything romantic, so what? I have a new friend and I no longer feel the need to impress anyone. All of a sudden I can be me, like it or leave it, whatever works!
I know the challenges of online dating have just begun, but I'm confident I have made the right choices in my profile. If only I’d picked "Friends" first!
PLEASE, ALWAYS ADOPT FROM A SHELTER AND SPAY AND NUTER YOUR PETS!