A friend and I were discussing online dating and how, even though everyone has that one example of how two soul mates met online and have three beautiful children and all is right in the world, that for the vast majority of singles seeking that someone special, the internet is LESS useful or informative than your random bar on a Friday night.
Take the following trends for example: copying elements of other's profiles, cutting and pasting messages from others back to people who email you, and photoshopping your online photo to enhance your looks. I'm not kidding! It's like the entire concept of trying to meet someone who matches with you is taking a back seat to getting X number of dates, messages, "smiles", "winks" or whatever other cheesy flirty things you can do via the internet to enhance your flagging sense of self esteem.
We're not saying that people who use online dating systems are exclusively lacking self-esteem or that it's not a valid and wonderful way to meet someone. Because we all DO know those totally normal and cool people who are trying to meet other people online. It's nothing to feel weird about. But could we at least agree on a couple of basics?
1) Don't lie. This means YOU, Mr. "Athletic Build." Being Not Fat is not the same as being athletic.
2) Don't be lame. One friend says she automatically excludes any profiles that say "I am attractive, generous and kind." Who would admit it if they weren't?! SHE will be the judge of your looks and personality and whether they fit with her definition of generous and kind.
3) Don't tell me about other dates. Mr. I Love Moonlit Walks on the Beach. First of all, please see Rule #1, because you know you don't come home from work, eat dinner, then head down to the beach for a moonlit walk. Secondly, what that tells me, if it IS true, is that you take your chicks to the beach when you go on a date, which is not exactly the way to attract another woman, is it? I am THRILLED to know that our date will be a rehash of your previous ones. And thanks for bringing up the fact that I will be one of many.
4) Don't get personal. Mr. I Love To Skinny Dip and See Your Tattoos On The First Date. That sets off "WEIRDO!" alarm bells for a woman. And if it doesn't, you can't bring her home to your mom.
5) Don't say, "My friends say I'm funny and cool to be around." DUH! My online friend will also immediately exclude you too, because "who has friends who think you are lacking a sense of humor and are excruciating to spend time with?" She makes a good point. Don't bother with that old online chestnut.
6) This one is for the ladies: Don't photoshop your photo. Seriously. We know you are trying to appeal to men who are ludicrously visual creatures, especially when given an online ticket to just click-click-click and look for attractive women. But what are you going to do when you meet? Have some reason why your nose got wider and your weight jumped about 10 pounds? Trust us: if a 30-something guy selects you on the basis of your photo alone, he's still emotionally at the level of the guy searching the Freshman Face Book during orientation week. Move along. Swiftly.
6a) Do not post a Glamor Shot/suggestive photo. Again, for the ladies. Seriously. First of all, nothing says, "false advertising" like a soft-focus or over-sexualized pose in your profile. And, (see Rule 7), remember that many guys have their female friends vet their online choices. The second I see your glamor/hoochie mama photo, I am vetoing you forever, because you are telling me that you are the kind of girl that other girls don't like. And you are telegraphing that you are the "kind" of girl that guys DO like (if the kind of guy you're looking for is someone who likes a proclivity toward suggestive poses in his girlfriend). Rule of thumb: just look like yourself. You're prettier than you think you are.
7) Don't Forget That This Is a Human Interaction. Observe all rules you would observe if you were meeting this date in person. Do NOT gush or otherwise write 3 page emails detailing your love for a particular book or TV show or activity. Do NOT tell dirty jokes. Do NOT forget that even though it's on email, it's still an impression you're making. Oh--and most importantly of all in this day and age--remember that friends let friends read their incoming emails from prospective guys. Assume, until you have an actual relationship with this person, that your emails are not confidential.
There's more, but those should keep you on the straight and narrow for now.
Short Story Long: If you wouldn't say it to her face, don't write it. If you wouldn't reveal it on a first date, don't put it in your profile. And if you are just surfing looking for photos of just the pretty girls, remember that Photoshop is not a supersecret government restricted program...