Perfect on Paper

When writing about yourself, your story is just that . . . your story. You script your life to meet whatever end you need. You can neglect the bad, highlight the awesome, and accentuate the funny.

In other words, you can be perfect . . . at least on paper.

Or you attempt to do the above but fail . . . sometimes spectacularly so (and sometimes crash and burn amidst the bad grammar).

This is especially true in dating profiles.

Every couple years or so, I break down and do the online dating thing. I have used both eHarmony and Match with varying successes. I have not yet found true love, although I know people who have. (And I will say that despite not finding true love, I have met some great people.) So a couple weeks ago, I signed up (again) to see what might happen. (Although this time I blame my friend AM because she was talking about online dating and that got me thinking about it and how nice it might be to go on a date.)

Dating profiles widely vary from a sentence or two to multiple paragraphs. In an attempt to be as open and honest as possible, I went the latter route. And while I tried to steer away from the “perfect on paper,” in dating, like in job searches, you put your best foot forward.

I admit, I find it a bit sad, and the romantic in me finds it somewhat disappointing, that online dating is the norm for meeting potential partners. I get that we live in a tech-crazed world where most communication is via the internet, whether email, Facebook, instant messenger, or some other social media platform. I appreciate the convenience and and instantaneous connection as I have some friends I’d probably never hear from otherwise. I’ve lived in so many places now and have friends scattered across the world. So in that sense, tech-communication is brilliant.

And I admit that the introvert in me loves tech-communication (communication without the actual social interaction = introvert nirvana). But I still find it sad that meeting potential partners has also become an online, nose-stuck-in-a-phone, experience. (If you can’t tell, I’m not a big fan. I blame Hallmark movies.)

In the last couple weeks, I’ve perused a couple hundred profiles and found at least 2 that seemed perfect (at least on paper) for me. (Sadly, my message to them expressing my compatibility went nowhere.) And like many things, perfect on paper does not translate to perfect in real life. Because let’s be honest, there’s no such thing as perfect. It’s an unrealistic standard that Hollywood has convinced us we must have.

But I haven’t given up yet. I have once again met some people who seem absolutely great. Whether it turns into anything other than friendship remains to be seen. Then again, no one has ever complained about having too many friends. So I see it as a win-win.

And for those of you, like me, who have gone the online dating route, let me take a brief pause to give you my 4 tips on writing a profile.

(1) While your story is your story, consider why you’re writing it. Ostensibly, you’re writing to meet someone to eventually date and possibly begin a romantic relationship with. (Also keep that in mind when you post photos that have other people, especially if you have your arm around said other person. If it’s not evident that the woman standing beside you is your mom, maybe put a caption on the photo to say that the woman is your mom, or sister, or daughter.)

(2) Write more than two sentences. Yes, I get that no one wants to write a dissertation about themselves, but give a bit more than “I’m nice and have a great sense of humor. I enjoy outdoor activities and fitness.”

(3) Consider the reader’s point of view. Have someone else take a look at what you’ve written and ask them for honest feedback. Then actually consider whatever feedback they give you.

(4) Please make sure your witty stories or your must-haves comes across as you intended. Do you really need the anecdote about getting drunk at your brother’s wedding or a long-list of random qualities like ? (Refer to point 3.)

(5) Take some time to correct spelling and punctuation. It doesn’t have to be perfect, as we all make mistakes, but too many mistakes can distract a reader.

Have you tried online dating? Tell me about your experience(s) in the comments below.

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