I have mixed feelings about online dating. Sure, it has its benefits (convenience, a large and varied selection of men, and a sense of control over my destiny), but I am uneasy with the realization that I am very literally shopping for a man in about the same way I shop for wine - I stroll the aisle hoping the right bottle will catch my eye. I make my drink selections based on first impressions: do I like the color and shape of the bottle? Is the packaging attractive and inviting? Do I like the name?
I scroll through my lists of potential matches the same way, scanning profile pics and usernames awaiting an attraction, an instant connection. I think most online daters do the same. Potential dates have only a few seconds with which to get our attention. It is amazing, then, that people do not take the time to make a good first impression.
I suggest the following Don'ts, which I've found after my year of online dating aren't so obvious. (They're also inspired by true events.)
1. Don't choose a creepy name. By "creepy" I mean anything including horny, cum, naked, or 69 - even if that is your birth year. Also, avoid using your username to advertise your sexual prowess (i.e. BigPeterMan, hotnhard, GoesAllNite). It's tacky.
2. Don't lie about your demographics. If you're uncomfortable revealing a particular detail, decline to answer. Fudging the truth might get you more responses, but in the long run it will only make you look like a fool.
3. Don't use a fake profile pic. Seriously, I know who Chris Pine is, and I know you are not him.
4. Don't wear sunglasses in all your photos. You know that saying about eyes being the window to the soul? I want to see your eyes.
5. Don't show too much skin. I admit it, I'm guilty of gazing longingly upon the pecs and v-lines in profile pics. It gets my attention. But if every picture is of your admirable abs, I start to think that your body might be the only thing interesting about you.
6. Don't show me all your sexy lady friends. Maybe all the hotties in your pictures are cousins or co-workers, but I suspect they may be your exes, and I don't want to see them.
7. Don't get lazy. Bad spelling and lack of punctuation are an instant turn-off. I'm not saying you have to be a poet, but show me you can string a few sentences together.
8. Don't opt out of telling me about yourself. Yes, filling out an online profile can be tedious, but "I will tell you later when I talk to you OK?" is not adequate. There will be no "later" unless I get a sense of who you are and what you're looking for.
9. Don't advertise for sex. This is not the place.
10. Don't email me and say only "Hi." If you want to get a conversation going, show me that you read my profile by asking me a relevant question.