So, you’ve created a punny username, secured your password, and uploaded some rad photos including your trip to Bali, karaoke night shenanigans, and scuba-diving underwater closeup; or, if you’re a guy, some shirtless hotpics and a shot of you in your striped button-down pounding a Rolling Rock. If you’re on OkCupid, you’re even answered some arbitrary questions about your personality, sex life, and moral judgment. Congratulations! You’re ready to be matched…Not so fast, you’re gonna need a profile. That’s right, that pesky little summary of your entire life encapsulated in a few sentences. This is where so many of you are totally stumped, as we can see from the very first lines of your profile. “Why am I being asked to fill this out?” “This is ridiculous.” “I can’t sum up my life in a few paragraphs.” “I don’t have time for this right now.” These are all reasonable reactions, but, like dishes, it has to be done.
This might be a nice time to take a deep breath, make a cup of tea, and take stock of your life. To me, what’s troubling is not that your life can’t be summed up in an online dating form, but that it can. Seriously, unless you’re thinking about the 75 academic publications you’ve got under your belt, or insist on listing every song in your iTunes library, it’s really not that hard to imagine a summary of your life to this point. For example: “Born, went to school, made friends, left for college, drank a lot, went to grad school, drank some more, graduated, had quarter life crisis, tried community theater, went to some live shows, left corporate law to be a midwife, enjoy yoga, read Murakami (more on this phenomenon in future posts), the end.” Your story may differ somewhat, with fascinating details like the model of your smartphone or your average running distance or your opinions on holistic living and dietary choices, but generally, with the exception of some TRULY quirky outliers, you’re going to occupy one of several social buckets that I will now attempt to “summarize.” (“But how can you summarize my social bucket in just a few sentences, pretentious blogger?” – It can be done.)
Leading off we have the Reluctant Online Dater (ROD). This is the girl (pardon my unisex references but I do speak from the other side of the fence) who will preface everything with a long, defensive explanation about why she’s here. “Long hours at the office,” “tired of the bar scene,” and “just moved here from ______, Not New York” are commonly spotted in these profiles. Unless they are an extreme ROD, they’ll move on to normal prose in the other questions. The extreme ones will vex you with more apologism until you quit on their profile altogether. Then we have the New-to-Towner (NT). Admittedly, this is one of my favorite groups because these folks tend to friendlier, more curious, and less jaded than more seasoned New Yorkers. Everything is still fresh and new; even a ride on the subway is fun! Central Park at night? 5/$1 dumplings? Free ferry to Staten Island? All of these will sound like great ideas to the NT. The downside of dating an NT is you can’t always be sure if they want to date you or use you as a city guide. But chances are if you’re down on your own city they might rekindle the fire in your belly that’s yearning for adventure and help you notice places and people again.
Unfortunately online dating gives rise to a subgroup of Cynical Daters (CCD). Here we have guys and dolls who, perhaps setting their expectations too high or not vetting their partners rigorously enough, end up meeting weirdoes, crazies, cheapskates, liars, and stalkers. I would love to solicit stories from guys on some of their strangest dating experiences, but I’ve heard enough from ladies to appreciate that they are very vulnerable to disaster dates. I’m always amazed with the wherewithal and poise of so many ladies when presented with awkward and unwanted situations (“Sorry I didn’t tell you about my paraplegia,” “I can’t wait to finally meet you. What’s your apartment number?” and “Suck me, beautiful” are not unheard of. OK, fine, that last one is from American Pie, but is it so farfetched?). All I can say is, more power to you, ladies. Stay strong. A non-stalking, bill-paying, mostly honest guy is lurking just around the corner. OK, not lurking…waiting in the open.
Check in soon for Part II of “The Profile: Who Am I?”