My friend Andrew tried online dating and failed miserably. In 6 weeks, he got a total of ZERO dates. I think he failed because his main goal wasn’t to meet girls but to appear smart/funny. He wrote weird long messages to women and resorted to cold reading and manipulative techniques to get their attention. With no success. Even though the experience made him write funny stuff on his blog, he still needed to meet at least one girl to form a coherent opinion about online dating. He also wished to find true love. He called his project Mastering Online Dating. He should have called it Failing at Online Dating. The only masterful thing he did was to pass the project over to me.
In a desperate hope to get a date on the internet, he cried for my help. Why me? Well, as a French woman, I am quite the expert when it comes to romance. We, the French, were just born that way. Natural lovers. Is the ending always happy? No, but there is always a journey. Out of friendship and a hope for fun, I agreed to help him. We decided that I would set up a profile and pretend to be Andrew for the trial period on the dating site Swissfriends. I already knew the site because it’s where I met Nick, my fiancé, after only two days of use. A month later, we were together. 10 months later, we were moving in together. A year after that, he proposed to me.
The trial period on Swissfriends is 5 days, then you have to pay 59 francs a month. Andrew didn’t want to pay because he prefers to send his money to pig farmers in Bangladesh. So I had only 5 days to meet Andrew’s expectation- in his own words:
The first and most important step was to find a decent photo. No, decent was not enough. The photo needed to be exceptional.
When Andrew showed me the photos he was using on the other dating sites, I thought he was joking. Surely, he had selected the weirdest, creepiest photos of himself he could find to make me laugh. Sadly, the creepy photos were really on his profile. And they were really the best photos he had.
So I decided to take care of the photo myself. I found an interesting article analysing successful profiles on dating sites. It said that the most attractive photos have a very shallow depth of field: the subject is in crisp focus while the rest of the picture is blurry. I bossed Andrew around on a photoshoot in Zurich. It took us the whole afternoon to obtain ONE good photo. Sigh.
Then we had to find a username. Unlike Andrew, I didn’t think it was so important. It had to be non offensive and simple. Get the girIs confident enough in his sanity to agree to meet. No one would look at a profile only because of the username. But one could be repelled by an obnoxious one. Like Better Than Perfect for example. We settled on Lord Flashheart. It’s from a British TV series called Blackadder. I liked that it sounded British and mysterious with the word heart inside.
After signing up, I had to answer a series of questions on Andrew’s behalf. Some of them were easy; I knew the answers. “Are you able to go out without shaving?” and “Can you go to bed leaving the dishes in the sink?” I knew it was YES for both. Fortunately they didn’t ask “Can you go to bed leaving the dishes in the sink several nights in a row?”.
Or “Do you believe in love at first sight?” and “Do you believe in the soul mate?” He’d probably answer NO if anyone asked him. but I had read enough of his stories to believe that the real answer was YES to both questions.
For other questions, I had to ask him. For example “Do you sleep with a fluffy animal?” His answer: “I used to. It was a Captain Scarlet t-shirt with a teddy bear in it. I stopped when I was 23 though.”
Or “Is there a pot of gold at the foot of the rainbow?”. ‘Of course’, he said.
Then I had to give a series of personal details: height, weight, hair color, hobbies, religion, etc. I decided to write that he was an ovo lacto vegetarian. I thought it would be more sophisticated. Mainly, I was already chuckling at the thought of a girl asking him on a date: “Sooo, I read on your profile that you’re an ovo lacto vegetarian. What the hell does that mean?” For your information, an ovo lacto vegetarian is someone who doesn’t eat fish or meat but eats eggs and milk. Like me.
The final step was to write the profile description. I wanted to keep it simple and inoffensive- no woman wants to meet a freak. You can show how funny and clever you are on the date. But keep it sober on the internet:
I came from England 4 years ago to teach English. I enjoy living in Zürich so far and meeting new people. Every person I meet is a potential inspiration.
If you like British humour, going to the zoo and pizza, send me a message. We could get a cupcake!
Next: Fishing for Chicks