Online dating presents a rather complex problem: how do you sell yourself?
In life, we sell ourselves everyday, whether it be with job applications or any number of daily activities where we have to sell our ideas to someone, selling yourself is a pervasive part of normal human interaction. Like me, you will like my ideas/product/widget/etc. Having a persuasive personality that exudes self confidence, with a little self deprecating humor combined with an appropriate amount of modesty, honesty and pepper with a lot of energy usually equals a winning formula. Whether it wins the day is entirely up to your own individual persistence and perseverence. I come to this definition through 14 years of working in car sales where making someone like you is about 80% of the job. So, I have the formula but how do you translate something you do in practice into a convincing introductory paragraph on a dating site? It’s like working a scientific problem in reverse: here is your result, proven time and again through empirical evidence. Now, work it backwards to the written page and see if you can reproduce those same results in theory.
First, I had to come up with a handle for the website. I always use glassowater for everything I log in to. It’s been my nickname online for everything I do since 1997. If you see glassowater listed on a website, there is a very good chance it’s my goofy ass. But when I went to log in, that was taken. Glassowater, my handle, was not available. So I started trying all sorts of names, hoping to score with something. And I just kept striking out over and over again. After several minutes of frustrating rejections (oooh, I smell foreshadowing there) I finally typed in “ireallydontcare2”, which seemed appropriate at the time because all I wanted to do was write my profile and get this ball rolling. This name would come back to haunt me.
Having finally settled on a handle, I got to work building my profile.
To be honest, I had no idea what to write about myself. I didn’t even have a clear set of goals or objectives when I made my profile. I just started writing. And writing. And writing some more. And soon, my worst fear about writing my profile came true: I accidentally wrote a short novel about myself that was sure to help some poor soul with their insomnia problem. The central problem I have with writing a profile is the inherent narcissism of it all. “Here I am! I love myself, I’m wonderful and you should love me too!” Yuck, so not me. Or even worse “Oh look at me! Please? Look at me! I’m loveable right? I’ll do anything if you just adore me.” Yeah, not me either.
So I sat down again and edited. And edited. And edited some more. Here is what ended up as my introductory paragraph for my OKCupid profile:
” Hmm, not sure where to begin… So, yeah, HI! Thanks for stopping by! I will probably amend this as time goes by, but I’m pretty simple to figure out. I’m a big goof who is looking for more friends to spend my time with. Very laid back and a little silly.
I’m happy to add here that I have started on a path to better health. I now run/walk almost every day and I’m at the gym at least 5 times a week. I have a goal of total wellness for this year. For me that means coming to terms with my life, my mind, my body and my relationships and finding peace and satisfaction in all I do. I will never have a six pack, I will be happy with the mini-keg. I’m not exactly where I want to be in life, but I’m working on getting there. I find happiness in the small things, the little moments: that first moment of pure joy when my friends hit the stage and start playing, sitting in awe at the MFA in front of my favorite Gauguin, dinner with friends where the conversation becomes a long note of neverending laughter. I would love to meet someone who laughs easily, smiles readily and challenges me daily… I’m seeking my best friend, someone who shares my outlook on life, is comfortable with themselves and their life and most of all, someone who truly wants to make a connection, make a friend or something more…”
Not bad right? Not too pretentious, not too overbearing. A dash of humor, a smidgeon of silliness and just a pinch of nervous babbling. Not a bad introduction to the sale of me, right?
The rest of the profile offers you some creative questions to write about as a way to further expound upon what you are seeking and what you expect.
What I’m Doing with my life:
“At 39, still trying to work this one out. I have learned that the best laid plans may not be what life intends for you. I’m going with the flow for now and enjoying where life takes me.
I’m also working on my art, trying to paint again and doing photography wherever I can. I write a little blog which is more for me than anyone else, but it’s a new form of expression that I have been struggling with for awhile now.” ~Oh, of course I had to plug the blog a little.
I’m really good at:
“Cooking, making people laugh, being a wealth of useless knowledge, tickling porcupines, taming jackalopes and swimming with great whites.” ~ Ok, so some of the info isn’t all that useless….
The first things people usually notice about me:
“Like everyone else, I really have no idea how to answer this question…. could be my laugh, my smile, my green eyes or my sweet ass…” ~ My friends can totally attest to the sweetness of my backside.
This next one, I have to admit, I got a little long winded in my answer…..
Favorite books, movies, shows, music and food:
“I know that this is usualyl a long list of “Things That Define Me” But, to be honest, I don’t see these things as defining characteristics, these are things I enjoy and love to share with others.
Books: David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, history, fiction
I really don’t want to bore you with a long list of authors here. At one time, I was reading a book a week and have a huge collection of books… come over sometime, feel free to browse…
Movies: I have a wide variety of interests when it comes to movies but my all time favorite is Harold and Maude…. I will say that lately, been gravitating more towards arthouse flicks with limited releases but I do have a soft spot for comic book movies and the comedies of Judd Apatow… And everything in between…
Music: Holy crap, where to begin? Music is a huge part of my life! Love going out and supporting bands, especially local music. I grew up with punk and new wave and in the 90’s I was a college radio dj which really broadened my musical horizons. Since then, been a fanatic of all types of music, even a little country and bluegrass now and then. Music is huge part of my day to day life and I absolutely love going to great lengths to experience new music and new bands.
Food: I’m a big man with a big love of good food. Nothing I love more than getting in the kitchen and putting together a huge meal for friends or family. The way to my heart is a spicy mix of latin, tex-mex, mexican, thai, indian, carribean and italian food. But I love experimenting and going outside my comfort zone and finding new and exciting restauranats and flavors. I ran restaurants for years, so dining out is something I truly enjoy for the experience and the sheer love of good food.” ~ Only now do I realize that I never talked about my favorite shows.
Six things I could never do without:
my art supplies” ~ I don’t know how I forgot to list chocolate, but I digress.
I spend a lot of time thinking about:
“this very statement….” ~ So sue me, I’m a smart ass.
On a typical Friday night I am:
“Friday is my day off, so I usually spend the day cleaning house, on the beach, doing some photography, driving aimlessly and friday nights, I’m hopefully out with friends, seeing a band, lounging at someone’s house, playing poker, maybe cooking for friends…” ~ Kind of a pointless question really, but I guess it helps define what you find fun.
One final essay remained in my profile…..
You should message me if:
“– You are looking for a friend first and foremost 🙂
– If you love the notion of hopping in the car, picking a destination and just roadtripping for the day.
– You would love to hang out with someone who will happily cook you dinner and hopefully keep you laughing.
– You can laugh at yourself and the world around you
– You have red hair…yeah, I’ll admit it, that is a weakness of mine… 🙂 (EDIT: No, this is not a prerequisite.)
Please DON’T message me if you are a serial dater… I am all set with that nonsense….”
Little did I know that despite the disclaimer about serial daters, that’s all I attracted for some reason. “One and done” as a friend of mine put it.
So there you have it, my first attempt at selling myself and all I have to offer. And if I’m honest, I don’t think I did a bad job. Little rough around the edges, but that’s me. The coming months after posting this profile would be an endurance test of patience and my ability to handle the incredibly absurd. Craziness was soon to follow…..
To be continued…..