Dear Mr Wrong,
I’ve been divorced for 5 years now, baggage sorted and ready to move on, hopefully with a grown-up, kind, normal, genuine man. But WHERE IS HE?? I’m not expecting Colin Firth or Daniel Craig (OK, maybe Daniel Craig would be nice – a girl can dream, can’t she?) My friends tell me I’m fun and attractive, but after several years of internet dating and a couple of short to medium length relationships I’m getting a bit jaded about the prospect of meeting Mr Right. I don’t think it’s me (at least I hope not!). What can I do? Why are all these men such commitment-phobes? Why do they ALL lie about their age on the internet (and even their height, for goodness sake!)? Advice please, Mr Wrong!
The Love Couch with Mr Wrong – Where is Daniel Craig?
I’ve been on the other side of the internet fence, Alice – and I have to say that it can sometimes seem a pretty grim prospect from over here as well! I must tell you that in my experience, women too have been known to lie about their age…
Alice, forgive me, but I’m about to launch into a bit of a rant. What follows may well have nothing to do with how you personally present yourself on the internet, but I hope at least it may offer some perspective on how one particular man reacts to the female profiles he sees. I’m not convinced that internet dating has to be as frustrating as many men and women seem to find it.
Internet Dating Doesn’t Have to Be Frustrating
I have been in touch with (but never dated) many women who regard internet dating as ‘a Numbers Game’. They reason that if they give ‘chemistry’ a chance to happen on dates with enough qualifying men, sooner or later they’ll find Mr Right sitting across the table. It makes a sort of intuitive sense. We all know that the magical personal and pheromonal attraction between two people on a first date is not something that can be predicted by our answers to tick-box questionnaires about Education, Diet, Smoking, Drinking, Occupation, Religion, Ideal Partner etc. ‘Numbers Game’ women prefer to do their filtering in person on a date, rather than in earlier messaging, so their profiles tend to be as inoffensive as possible to minimise the number of men they put off. Their ‘Ideal Match’ is so generic as to apply to almost anyone in trousers. When asked to describe themselves in their own words, they go for a list of the same dozen or so adjectives. Here they are: Positive, Upbeat, Honest, Kind, Glass Half-Full, Equally happy in wellies for a country walk or in a LBD for an evening in town, Sorted, Warm, Relaxed, GSOH (sometimes a bit quirky!), Enjoys the occasional evening snuggled up on the sofa with a glass of wine and a DVD. It is a rare female profile that doesn’t use at least three or four of those descriptions, and quite often, the whole lot.
What Makes You Different?
The trouble is that EVERYONE uses exactly the same adjectives, so it doesn’t help us poor schmucks in trousers to tell you apart! We don’t want to know what makes you the same as every other woman on the internet! We want to know what makes you different! You are not trying to end up with 500 different men: you are trying to find one guy that’s perfect for you! Don’t be afraid to put men off. Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to show what makes you unique. You may get fewer responses like that (though not necessarily…) but the responses you get will be FAR more likely to click with you. The ONLY part of a woman’s internet profile that really interests me is what she writes in her own words about herself and what she wants. If she feels that a string of cliches is the best way of summing herself up, that’s all I need to know. If she is trying to appeal to everybody, she won’t appeal to me.
A Happy, Engaging Smile is Worth More than a Dull Helen of Troy
Unless she’s a complete babe, of course. I can’t pretend that I’m immune to the effect of a beautiful photograph. Mr Wrong is, like most men, the product of a million years of primate evolution which has programmed him to respond to visual stimuli in seeking a mate. But you’d be wrong if you think that that means only conventionally ‘attractive’ women need apply. Far (really – far, far, far!) more important than a ‘conventionally beautiful’ picture is a positive, open, happy, engaging face: I’m drawn far more to that than to any number of obviously beautiful, obviously dull faces. So I would strongly recommend uploading a really good, positive picture of yourself – not a blurry, startled selfie that looks as though it was taken under duress.
Alice – I’ve only addressed one aspect of the question you asked me, and I beg your pardon for that. Why middle aged men are commitment-phobic, where they disappear to en masse post-divorce, why women both entice and terrify them – all these will be topics for future columns. So do keep reading!
One thing about Mr Right though, Alice: the bastard’s out there. Don’t give up! When he shows up, make sure you give him a good roasting for keeping you waiting!