Rule #1 Creating an account that gains the interest you want
It is inevitable that the world of dating has moved, like so many other things, into the virtual world of e-communication, thus the advice here is based on the perception that we are using the internet to look for dates.
Often we can spend time carefully crafting the text that will describe who we are, what we want and the type of person we are looking for, unfortunately this is all wasted if the photo does not initially gain attention. After all, we can all be superficial and often make judgements on appearance that are either borne out or thwarted by the accompanying text. The question is: What photo do you opt for?
Probably the best advice is to select something that is current but that is flattering. Should you decide that you looked better, slimmer or buffer 10 years ago you might decide to get to the gym rather than sell a fantasy. In fact of you choose a photo that is seriously out-dated you are living in a fantasy world if you think it will come to any good. While you may gain interest from admirers the harsh reality will come to ruin all of your hard work if the person they meet does not offer suitable and relevant semblance to the person presented in the image you post. However, if you have a DeLorean and you are going to take them back to meet your former self, the photo of your youth could work; but be warned, they may decide to leave you in the 80’s and bring the younger you back with them.
Ideally the image you choose should target your audience; a headshot is better than a full body shot as it allows the audience to see you more clearly. But you must think about your target audience and how you want to be perceived; if you’re in a stained, sweaty jumper you’re likely to attract someone who finds that attractive, but may be unlikely to whisk you off to the type restaurant when you don’t have to stand in line to collect your own burger. Similarly if you are dressed for a red carpet event you may attract someone who lives that life, or a gold digger who wants to. The best option would be a photo that reflects you, something your friends would recognise you in. Hiding behind fancy techniques on a smart phone or phone editing, that allows you to blur your visage, is not something that will help. Be honest, but do think about if you want to be seen smiling, posing or being self-deprecating; having a sense of humour can be appealing, although, not everyone wants a joker.
Imagine that your photo and profile have secured some communication; you talk to the suitor for sometime and the inevitable request arises: more pictures. Should you decide to acquiesce you should opt for a selection of images that typify you, after all you are not seeking who you would like to be, you are selling who you are. Think about how you might be perceived via the images and remember that once you have sent those images they are no longer in your control. Of course, the more important question of images is the nude. In an artistic world it is easy to see the merits of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus but your own naked image (or appendage) might be far less aesthetic. Do you really want the image circulating in cyber space? The virtual world is exactly that, it is intangible and the ‘trust’ you may feel you have is merely smoke and mirrors. Don’t succumb to the serpent’s tongue and reveal more than you want; Eve was tempted and we know how that narrative ended.
When moving on to construct the prose of your profile again honesty is best; saying you actively attend a gym should be evident in your photos, unless you go there to chat and drink smoothies. Try to encapsulate who you are, your interests, your hobbies, things you do and do not like. People may read your profile and be put off but others will recognise a person they are interested in getting to know. Imagine you are fishing; you throw a vast net out and your catch everything and spend most of your time throwing things back. Do you really want quantity over quality? If you use the right bait and the right line you can catch the sort of fish you want.
Rule #2 The Pre-date
“Why not seize the pleasure at once? — How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!” Emma
These words were advocated by Jane Austen in Emma and one could easily agree, sometimes spontaneity is what is desired and the true blood of life. However, if you have been on one those dates where chemistry seems fraught with noble gases, inert and offering no real reaction, you might feel that the investment of a full date is too much.
Modern dating tends to be time limited, budget restricted and constrained by our own doubts. It is for this reason that the pre-date seems to have become so popular. It facilitates an initial meeting without all the other pressures of traditional dates. They can save you money and can allow you to determine your level of interest prior to anything more committal. You can ascertain if the photo on the profile is current and if they offer you what you want. But before you rush to agree to a 15 minute coffee date it might be worth considering the opposing argument.
The suggestion of a ‘pre-date’ or brief coffee engagement might make you seem like a player, someone who is having multiple dates; if you want speed dating perhaps you should have opted for that rather than dragging the hopeful individual out merely to share a skinny latte before you meet your friends. Moreover, many people can be shy to begin with, they are guarded and less relaxed than they might become with a longer date. Are you really going to see the best of them in 10 minutes? Of course if you are not interested you can simply leave but bear-in-mind you will have made an effort in your appearance and perhaps an effort to meet them at the destination selected. Is 10 minutes worth all of that?
Ask yourself: What would you do if you decide that you actually like them and don’t want the date to end? It becomes dinner, drinks, a movie or some other generic date type activity. What happened to the magic of a date, that moment you may draw on when telling your children of how you both met? Heck, the pre-date can be a real romance killer…’We met for a coffee and got on so well we went out for nachos and drinks.’ Yes, you are right, the magic of that date will stay with you for the entire relationship and may even become a point of contention when the relationship hits rocky ground.
Should you still decide to opt for the pre-date you will need to consider somewhere that offers a time restricted environment, a coffee shop might work because the amount of people coming and going can allow quick egress. My advice would be to select somewhere carefully. If you want to go through with the pre-date I would recommend the coffee shop of a museum or gallery, a location that offers the opportunity to extend the date beyond the mundane. Do your research, have a contingency plan so that you know where the date could be developed into something more substantial and meaningful.
Do your research, re-read their profile and use the pre-date to fill any gaps in the profile, so that you feel more able to make an informed decision about the person and the potential for this to develop into something more purposeful.
Even if you choose to follow the pre-date route I would advise heeding the advice of Benjamin Franklin, ‘By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.’ If you are making the effort to meet someone, make the effort to nurture the date. If it does end there then you will have learnt more about yourself, just don’t allow yourself to become jaded and cynical; baggage is baggage no matter where it is stowed.