May 21, 2007

Everyone's using the on-line dating services these days...

... and everyone is so repulsive and presumptuous and idiotic.

This is the woman's list of mistakes men make. (It's Rachel Lucas, who's back to blogging.) I'm sure you men can come up with plenty of things (you think) women do wrong... many of which are the same things she says men go wrong.

I mean, here's a comment on an old Ask MetaFilter question:
[T]he best advice I can give for women on [is:] Don't be vague in your profile! Keep away from that crap of "I like to work hard and play hard! I am equally comfortable in hiking clothes and a fabulous evening gown! Family and friends are very important to me." I mean, my god. It's as if there is a generic woman mad lib template out there.
And here's what Rachel is telling men:
When composing a headline for your profile, never use the phrase "Work Hard, Play Hard!". There are no exceptions to this rule, unless you find a clever way of being sarcastic about it. Such as "Work Hard, Play Hard! my pants." Otherwise, you sound like a tool.
The verdict is in: No one should ever say "work hard, play hard." For some reason, it seems to really get on people's nerves. Maybe because it makes everything sound like way too much trouble.

ADDED: I found Rachel's blog via The Other Shoe, who noticed that I called Bill Quick "kind of a dick" and who said that now that I'm saying things like that and Rachel's back, it's time to rename the blogosphere. And here's a good place to note that Bill Quick calling me "pathetic" for calling him "kind of a dick," because of the "kind of" and the way he hates moderation. So, fine, he's a dick. Happy now?

MORE: Dave Copeland says there's really only one item of online dating advice men have for women.


Simon said...

This seems to be dating theme day, doesn't it. ;)

Ann Althouse said...

Podcast recorded last night. Today was mostly Sopranos & McCain from my perspective.

halojones-fan said...

It's funny to see how guilty women get about turning you down on these services. On many occasions, I've had a woman send me a message, and after reading my reply, break off the conversation with "sorry I'm already in a relationship". Er, yeah, what are you doing here, then?

Ann Althouse said...

Halo: Well, one thing she's clearly doing is lying. The question is was she lying before or now. I'd guess now.

peter hoh said...

According to the comments thread on his blog, Bill Quick thinks moderates are somehow responsible for the "if it saves the life of just one child" justification. So yeah, he's a stupid dick.

MadisonMan said...

One of the things I will find fascinating as my kids start to date (in about 10 years, when they're out of the house) is how they go about it. Things seem to have changed in the 20 years since I was in the dating pool.

Adam Becker Sr said...

Oh good,

Adam Becker Sr said...

Oh good, a law professor blogging about dating services. Just what I needed. Because I just read about IMBRA (the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act.)

MND, Marc Rudov claims that IMBRA lays criminal penalties on international online dating services – unless they subject men to a criminal background check. Sounds wild. But then, they get excitable over there at MND. Is the law really as screwy as they make it sound?

Adam Becker

blake said...

So, fine, he's a dick. Happy now?

Don't appease him! Next he'll demand you call him an @sshole!

Synova said...

One of my great uncles married a mail order bride. Apparently she was a nut case who tried to kill him. I don't take that entirely at face value though. I also heard she was a Russian spy... or German... or something.

That side of the family isn't much into details, unless they are boring details.

Ann Althouse said...

Ever see the movie "Mississippi Mermaid." That's got to be the best mail-order bride movie.

Eli Blake said...

I will go the other way and say I think that on-line dating services are a great development (and I say this as a person who has never used one, and who met my wife in church-- but not everybody is religious and if you're going to church to meet chicks, it's the wrong reason to go there and it probably won't work out anyway.)

The reason why datomg services are good is that contrary to what some people seem to be worried about, I think it promotes safety. I've known women who've been 'date-raped' by someone they met directly at a bar, a dance or some similar event. When the first meeting between people is face to face sometimes people are more at risk if one of them is actually wanting to do harm.

What an online service does is it would allow a woman (not to say a man couldn't be 'date-raped,' but if it happens I've never heard of it) a chance to get to know a man before meeting him-- if he claims he's a CEO but he misspells every other word then that would be one example of an obvious lie. Some other tricks like being slick or smooth-talking, or having 'Russian hands and Roman fingers' just don't work in the context of a black-and white line of text.

Obviously just like anything else, there is some risk here, and certainly we all know about disturbing people who may be lurking on the internet. But at least this way before there is ever a face-to-face meeting, people have a chance to meet in a framework where they have a lot more control over that risk.

pig said...

It's been a few years since I read the personals, but what used to make me gag were the ads from the women who wanted to be spoiled. "Spoil me". That's got to be the kiss of death.

dix said...

- if he claims he's a CEO but he misspells every other word then that would be one example of an obvious lie

My wife and I met on I'm not a CEO but she did say what impressed her most (before, you know, actually meeting me) was my impeccable spelling.

Pogo said...

You've got to read this book:

They Call Me Naughty Lola: Personal Ads from the London Review of Books

-- "Writing this ad has given the biggest sense of accomplishment I've felt since successfully ironing my pants for the first time (on June 14th, 1998.)"
-- "Blah, blah, whatever. Indifferent woman. Go ahead and write. See if I care."
-- "I used to have the sharpest mind in the land; now I can't even find my pen. Wait-- here it is!"
-- "Some chances are once in a lifetime. Not this one; I've been in the last 12 issues."
-- "I am not an accountant."
-- "Ppfffttttt, ssshhhhhhhhwwwwt, peeffwt, pffpt. Man, 36. Bad at whistling."

Ann Althouse said...

"Spoil me" might be just the thing a rich, ugly guy is looking for. Or maybe it's code for "prostitute."

Balfegor said...

Or maybe it's code for "prostitute."

I'm sure it's code for "golddigger."

Re: Pogo -- does that tack work in the US? I'd be interested to know, because that kind of ad would be, perhaps counterintuitively, loads less embarassing to write than the kind of ad one usually sees.

Zach said...

"We work hard but we play hard, too!" featured prominently in the junk mail for every science college I looked at.

Common problems with women's profiles:

1)"WHERE are all the MEN?!!??"

Too close to whining. Draws attention to your flaws.

2) "Looking for a NICE guy"

Knows 10 of them, won't give them the time of day.

3)"Like to be pampered"

What does the guy get out of this?

Not looking for a guy so much as auditioning for a role.

4)"Looking for Prince Charming"

Let's do some math here. In the story, there is one Cinderella and three evil stepsisters. And a couple thousand random women who need to be weeded through. If anything, that's an optimistic ratio.

Zach said...

(finishing last thought)

... so please be sure which category you are in.

Pogo said...

Re: "does that tack work in the US? "

I doubt it works anywhere.

I'm so glad I am married; now 23 years. I was painfully shy in my teens and 20s, and now a premature curmudgeon. I just couldn't do this.

But I would post a funny one, just for laughs. Some from that book are real snort-makers.

From the few women I know who do use online dating, there seems to be just as much lying about marital status as there was offline.

P.S. Does mentioning a preference for long walks on the beach actually mean something to people? If so, what?
Perhaps "Where the hell is my beach hotel?"

jimbino said...

In the dating game, men need to play to their strengths, one of which is the ease of travel to Brazil or Thailand where there a loads of women of all types who have an excuse for not being able to spell in English and who will positively adore you.

Just like those who need medical care, men should get the hell out of Amerika and go someplace where they and their dollars are appreciated. I would love to have the right to trade my LEAVING for some young Brazilian worker's ARRIVING.

El Presidente said...

Wealthy and powerful Latin man seeks soul mate.

I enjoy the finer things in life: a good cigar, tailored camouflage and bespoke jackboots.

Zach said...

Almost forgot:

5) "What could possibly be better than a hot girl who loves sports?"

A hot girl who isn't lying about it!

Balfegor said...

I doubt it works anywhere.

I dunno -- just reading them makes the writers seem like the kind of neurotic people whom I would be interested to meet, at least, if not date. As opposed to most personals, which are at once deadly dull and hugely embarassing to read.

Pogo said...


Hell, I want to meet them, but my experience prior to getting married was that women wanted to date all sorts of men, just not funny nice guys who will treat them well. And who could blame them? How dull are non-partyer non-alpha guys? But who can blame women for avoiding Mr. Safe Unsexyback? We're clearly made of other desires.

Nice guys do finish last. I'll stay nice, but I don't excpect much from it.

Dan Collins said...

All right, but you have to admit that the Buckinghams' version of "Kind of a Dick" is a fun pop ditty.

plano_dancer said...

I meet my girlfriend through online dating, so it's worked for me :-)

I think the most important things to keep in mind about internet dating are:

1. numbers are key -- you want to date a lot of different people. After all, if you and your dates weren't both picky and/or hard to match, you wouldn't have signed up. Before I went exclusive with my girlfriend, I dated about 40 women over a period of about 4 months (with a six week almost relationship in the middle), which means that I probably corresponded with about, umm... 400? women.

2. Be yourself -- personally, I don't care to waste time or money on a person who is attracted not to me, but to an imaginary person I made up.

3. I think the pictures are pretty worthless myself -- I don't think they much resemble the women behind them. I've met women with awful or no pictures that turned out to be incredible goddesses, and women with nice pictures that turned out to be awful...

4. Don't worry about whether the date will go ok or not. It will probably be a good dating disaster story at best. (like my experience with the zombie queen...) But, if you date enough people, you can find somebody wonderful for you.

halojones-fan: Sometimes there is a small lag between the time you meet someone and the time you decide that they're someone you should date exclusively -- So when she first wrote, she may NOT have been in a relationship, and then made up her mind before she replied to your message...

And sometimes what people write about themselves in the first message or so can seem so similiar that you can get mixed up about who wrote what and when...

Chris said...

Best personal ad of all time appeared in the Budapest English-language newspaper in 1998:

"Minimalist seeks woman."

Drew W said...

I read this Rachel Lucas piece last night and -- since I've started online dating a few months ago -- loved it. I can't wait for her recommendations for women.

At least one of her maxims isn't particular to online dating: Don't be a nutburger stalker. Presumably, that advice would carry through even if you met somebody at work, at a bar, anywhere really. (Remember folks: Stalking is just plain wrong, even if you get a NY Times Sunday Styles section piece out of it.)

The Texas-based Lucas unsurprisingly hates seeing men wearing cowboy hats in their photos. I have a friend in New Jersey who complains that she sees too many online photos of guys standing shirtless next to their cars. She thinks it might just be a Jersey thing.

Lucas also distains men who claim in their profiles to love outdoor activities. Maybe the woman's analogue to that is dancing. I don't know how many women's profiles I've read where they profess to love nothing more than a night out on the dance floor. (But I'm looking for women around my age, in their 40s and 50s, so maybe that demographic is more dance-inclined -- although "Dancing With The Stars" is probably skewing the stats on that across the board.)

Maybe the "love to dance" description ties in a bit with Lucas' final tip: Don't list 500 different activities that you "love to do in your spare time." It's true. After reading endless lists of sports, hobbies and pastimes that these women claim to do, I start to wonder how long I've been the troglodyte I've obviously become.

Lucas says: Don't waste your time initiating contacts with women whose clearly-listed preferences do not in any way resemble YOU. Sad but also true. Since I -- honestly -- list my height as 5'7", I seem only to encounter women whose ideal man starts at 5'8" and upwards. I can handle the rejection fine, but why do so many women who list their height as 5'1" seem to want a guy who's a whole foot taller than they are?

Lucas admonishes, Do not say, "I love to have a good time." For me, the phrase that keeps coming up, and increasingly jarringly, is "fun-loving." I considered starting off my profile with "I am NOT fun-loving," but figured the negative reactions would probably outweigh the positive ones if I did.

I agree entirely with Lucas' revulsion at finding spelling errors in personal profiles. Less of a crime, I suppose, but just as annoying are profiles WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS. It reads like the woman is standing on a chair, screaming at me at the top of her lungs about how she's looking for a fun-loving person who can't wait to go out and cut a rug.

Writing a profile that hits all the right notes, and gives an honest self-portrait, is hard. Harder still is coming up with a pithy little phrase as a headline. (I've tried to make mine irreverent but not overmuch.)

After cruising the Yahoo! personals that came up in my own "search," I found some typical ones:

Love And Laughter
Let's Explore, Grow And Laugh Together
Looking For Someone To Laugh With
Life is Adventure In Itself . . . Why Wait? (yes, there's an article missing in there)

There also seems to be a tendency for song titles or lyrics:

Get Up And Jump
Fly Me To The Moon
What A Long Strange Trip . . .
Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
The Dream Weaver
Pale Blue Eyes (Okay, I'll admit it, that Velvet Underground reference was kind of intriguing . . .)

GPE said...

The naivety of my youth carries forward to adulthood. I thought this was an on-line dating site. I just wish it didn't take 8 or 9 picks to figure this out. Although, frankly, the orange jump suit one of the candidates wore to the first date made me a little suspicious.

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