great thing about getting older is that many of life's
mysteries become a little less baffling, especially
when it comes to men. Time and experience have rendered
me fluent in the language of Flirt. I know now that
if I give a man the right kind of half smile across
a crowded room, he'll scamper over like a lapdog looking
for a treat. And all those male mannerisms I could never
decipher before are so much clearer. Too many sly grins
and looks over his shoulder, and I know my date's got
something to hide, like a wife and two kids.
But just as I got this figured out, along came online
romance. It was bad enough trying to determine if a
keyboard generated wink or smiley face from a coworker
meant something. But after being urged by my girlfriend,
my hairdresser and the woman I met standing in line
at Blockbuster, I realized it was time to learn some
Just as flirting at a nightclub requires mastery of
a certain kind of communication, success online starts
with knowing how to read and write a profile--a few
hundred words of personal information that everyone
who joins an online dating service is asked to provide.
Most dating sites ask for basic facts, such as height,
race, occupation and what you're looking for in a relationship.
And there's usually a quirky question or two ("describe
your most humiliating moment") where you can show
a little personality.
Profiles are billed as a way to tell potential suitors
something about yourself. But if you ask me, the real
goal is to catch someone's eye. Writing an alluring
profile is the cyber equivalent of wearing high heels
and a push up bra. The more attractive you appear, the
greater the number of people who contact you, raising
your chances of getting whatever it is you were looking
for when you logged on in the first place. There's plenty
of time for honesty later. Initially, it's about the
law of averages.
As any advertiser can tell you, the best way to pique
a man's interest is sex. But be judicious. A male friend
told me he spied a woman online who called herself "Crazy4sex."
"Are you kidding?" he said. "I wouldn't
touch that with a ten-foot pole." A suggestion
is all you need. Case in point: I wrote a profile in
which I listed my profession as journalist. Then, as
an experiment, I changed my occupation to exotic dancer.
Suddenly every time I turned on my computer there'd
be another E-mail: Heal Read your profile, like your
style. Want to chat?
The same principle applies when disclosing your age.
Most men like the idea of dating a younger woman. However
misguided, that's what they like. So for maximum effect
when creating your profile, shave enough years off your
actual age until you're seven years younger than the
men you're interested in attracting. (Unless, of course,
you're looking for a man over 50, in which case you'd
do well to slice off a few decades.)
Keep in mind that men will read your profile looking
for secret messages. If you write "open-minded
girl," he's reading "Sex!" If you claim
to want an "honest relationship," he's thinking
you'll be okay with him messing around with you, his
ex-wife and a few of his neighbors. If you say you "want
to experience all life has to offer," he'll envision
you, your sorority sisters, your cousin and a set of
twins in a hot tub.
If men are quick to see the promise of sex where none
exists, they are also happily oblivious to their own
shortcomings. You need to read their profiles with a
discerning eye. If a man says he has an "athletic
build," it means he ran track in high school and
is now 40 pounds overweight. If he says he's looking
for his "soul mate," it means he won't like
you, you're not good enough. And, according to a good
friend, if a man writes enthusiastically about his sexual
prowess, he's staggeringly inexperienced. Men write
not what is, but what they wish to be.
Of course, this is the bad news. The good news is you
can meet a lot of interesting people online. There are
some very lively lawyers, engineers, writers and construction
workers out there just looking to connect. And once
you get through the initial computer meet and greet,
you'll find yourself on familiar terrain: face-to-face
with a man, dressed in your push-up bra and heels.