Monday, June 25, 2012

The Single Sister's Guide to Decoding the Online Profile

I recently gave in to curiosity and created a profile on a dating site for black singles.
My profile doesn’t feature my real name…or a picture. 

You may be booing me, but IDGA...  I’m a little too private for that, and too many people I meet out and about in D.C. already swear they know me when I’ve never seen them before in my life (no, I am not a member of your East African tribe…we did not attend the same high school…even one D.C. native initially mistook me for his daughter).  I don’t want to meet any guys from the site on the street if I haven’t contacted them.  I also just can’t give any former flames who may be skimming the site the satisfaction of seeing my profile.  I just can’t do it.  I’ll send a photo to likely compatibles if and when the need arises.

I only wanted to dip a toe in the water, to see “what was out there” locally online in comparison to the old dudes and losers who have been extremely bold about hitting on me recently.  I’m finding that there isn’t much, and that’s kind of depressing.

Is it so hard to find an intelligent brother online between the ages of 32 and 40 who hasn’t been married, has no kids, is a Christian, has similar interests, and is able to craft a decent sentence?  If you believe the Census, the D.C. area is supposed to be the mecca of young, single professional guys...

Honestly, my standards are much higher, but this would be the bare minimum for me to even “wink” at a man online. 

I’ve been on the site for a little over a month, and I haven’t even sent a wink, flirt, message, whatever.  There is absolutely nothing I’ve seen so far that would make me upgrade my free preview to a paid subscription to the site.

Also, I’m finding that when it comes to my online searches, my usual dating standards are on steroids when it comes to examining bachelors’ profiles.  This was a surprise.  I thought that I would be a little more open to different types of guys online, but I’ve actually become hyper-selective.  If I’m going to check out guys this way, I might as well get exactly what I want.  It’s too easy for me to shoot the site’s recommended bachelors of the day down, because I have an eye for detecting when something’s a little off in the profile.  Since I always find a little something that gives me a vibe of incompatibility, I’m souring on the whole online dating thing.  I can’t say that the whole process is easier than organically meeting guys while out and about, because I’ll at least let a relatively normal-looking guy strike up a conversation.

I’m not saying that online dating consists mostly of losers.  I am saying that most of the profiles I’ve seen of local guys glaringly indicate that their creators are incompatible with me in some way.  The profiles I see usually fall into one or more of three categories: wack/doormat, shallow/vain or just hilariously bad. 

When filled out properly, a man’s profile is a substitute for the initial conversation and half of the first date.  You can read between the lines and tell a lot about the prospect if you examine not just what’s being said, but how it’s being expressed.  I’m intuitive, used to conduct employee performance assessments for large organizations, and can read most people and zero in on their intentions pretty quickly.  I don’t claim to be an expert, but the photos and subtext in the “Describe Yourself” section scream volumes about a man, even if he’s only written one sentence.  Here is my translation of the some of the most common red flags in profiles.
  1. The Photo. 
    1. He’s cheek to cheek with another woman, or another woman has been poorly cropped out = He is obviously either clueless or the king of drama.  This means that his wife or baby mama will be keying your car shortly after the first date, OR he has an extremely close platonic female friend.  Either way, it’s a no-go.
    2. Sport caps = I will not be taking you to a decent restaurant, I may be balding, Jay-Z is my idol, and I really believe that 40 is the new 30 25.  If the cap is tilted or to the back = I will NEVER grow up, and my taste in music (well, everything) probably sucks.  Don’t try to change me.
    3. Hat + Sunglasses = I think a little too highly of myself, and I’m REALLY hiding something. 
    4. Looking down = I have low self-esteem. 
    5. Cocked head + Steely stare  + ripped physique + tank top = I have a few priors.
    6. Bathroom mirror reflection cell phone photos or photos of dude lying on a bed  = I am VAIN.  If abs are showing = Inappropriate photos of me are in the inboxes of several ladies in the DMV.
    7. Outdated or poorly-matched Easter suits/formal wear = I’m lying about my age, have gained a few pounds (thus, the old photo), and/or I have no fashion sense and you will not want to be seen with me at a decent restaurant.  This increases exponentially if they are wearing a tacky red or yellow pantsuit and vest combo that appears to have originated from the Steve Harvey Collection.
    8. Unnaturally good-looking = Suspected man-ho.  Call me hypercritical, but this type sets off my internal alarms.  If he looks like an alpha male that could approach any woman and get a number, has never married, and has no kids, his screen name might as well be Mopantiesplz.  Why is he on the site?  Adding to the harem?   Fluffing his ego?  A chocolate American Psycho?  Also, if this type’s profile mentions that his hectic work schedule allows him little time to go out, and he’s using this site for expediency in finding dates, doesn’t that mean that he’s unlikely to devote any real quality time to you?  Just saying.
    9. If he is actually SHOWING his gut:  Maybe some would applaud you for your honesty and self-confidence, big man, but I can’t.  I think it shows a lack of self-awareness, and that he’s waiting on a kindhearted woman to clean him up.  Or cook for him.  Hypertension isn’t sexy, and I don’t do renovations. NEXT!
  2. Wack screen names.  These are only examples, but really close to some nonsense I’ve been seeing.  I don’t even need to explain.
    1. Hunnertdollabillz (Lil’ Wayne acolyte or street pharmaceutical rep)
    2. Silkysheetz (man-ho)
    3. Chocostallion (egocentric man-ho)
    4. Just1niceguy (nobody loves him but his mama)
    5. Funtimz4u (wack wannabe man-ho)
  3. Self-Description.
    2. Poetic nonsense (e.g., “I am the man who holds your future happiness in his palms.”) = I am full of b.s. and will tell you only what I think you want to hear until you let your guard down.
    3. Focuses on physical attributes of his ideal woman = I am only on this site for a quick hook-up.  OR, short of Halle or Beyonce’, no one will be good enough for me.
    4. I’m a lawyer or I’m about to graduate from law school = I’m a lawyer.  The educated black man you’ve been pining for.  Feel the power of my earning potential through the screen.  Are you unbuttoning your shirt yet?
    5. Downer references to obstacles that they’ve overcome in life, or ANY mention of a previous relationship = Dude has MAJOR issues that are likely to become your issues as well.
    6. Focuses on certain (ahem) skills = I have one or more STDs.  See also 1f.
    7. If he cannt spel, we kno he’s unabel 2 creayte a deccent resumay and isnot a candidat to b a providere 4 our fewture familey. Sory.

Yeah, this is comedy, but this isn’t even half of my thoughts on online dating…there will likely be a part two of this topic as I spend more time on the site.  Even though my experience on a black site hasn’t been the best, the options on a Christian singles site were even worse.  Just soooo bad.  However, I remain optimistic, not because three friends are married to guys they met online (one couple is actually going through a nightmarish separation right now), but because you have to be to stay afloat in the rocky, sometimes dangerous and funky waters of D.C.-area dating. 

Please feel free to direct your single male friends to this post.  Hopefully, they’ll learn something.

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