Milwaukee, Wis. – Last Sunday morning, in the free-wheeling environment of Milwaukee’s BarCamp, Wisconsin author Lynnanne Huber shared secrets and strategies from her forthcoming book, titled Shopping for Men on the Internet, which she expects to publish next year.
In her seminar at this self-described “non-conference” for Wisconsin technology professionals, Huber provided advice about maximizing efficiency and minimizing hurt feelings in the sometimes gawky and insensitive world of online romance., which includes popular dating sites like eHarmony.com and Match.com.
At BarCamp, there was little conversation about these two sites – even though one boasts 12 million registered users, and another claims to have 15 million members worldwide – or even Yahoo! Personals, a third option that aims to rule the world of dating “search.”
Beware cyber Romeos
The conversation, which focused on the experience resulting from Internet and other contacts, went something like this:
Session participants shared their experiences and received tips along the lines of “it’s a good idea to talk on the phone at least once before a first date.” One man complained that he didn’t like having to exchange six or more e-mails before he could get to the phone-call stage. Huber explained that many women are afraid of going on dates with men they have never seen.
Participants debated whether it was better to spend three or four hours in a bar, looking at and possibly having conversations with up to 30 women, or spending the same three or four hours online looking at a much larger number of profiles. Huber contended that dating itself is a numbers game. Out of 1,000 online profiles, you might find 10 that are interesting.
A participant disagreed. “If you meet someone online, then once you get them in person, they are like a turtle,” he said. “They retreat into their shell and don’t say anything.”
In Huber’s opinion, the sometimes raw and uncouth world of Internet dating is preferable to waiting for friends to meet someone who is not married, or to looking for love among the three other singles who work at your office.
There was some discussion about whether spelling mistakes in one’s profile were a problem or a feature. One man said that if a woman spent too much time making a profile that looked perfect, he wouldn’t be able to stand going out with her.
Before going on a date:
• Read a newspaper or a popular magazine so you can have things to talk about.
• Choose an inexpensive restaurant or cafe, and suggest this location to the other party. Don’t waste time saying, “I don’t know, where do you want to meet?”
• Augment your profile with a recent photograph of yourself, no more than a couple years old, taken in a room with good lighting.
• You should be the only person in the photo.
• Try to look open and engaging.
• Try to convey that you are an upbeat and considerate person.
• Wherever possible, indicate that you do have friends.
• Don’t have sex on the first date.
• If you do have sex on the first date, the second date is likely to consist of you cooking dinner at your house and then spending the rest of the night sitting on the couch, watching television.
• Look for someone who is similar to yourself. Opposites attract all the way to divorce court.
• Every man you meet online is married, unless he proves to you that he is not.
• If a man won’t send you his picture, it means that he is definitely married.
• All supermodels, both male and female, are already taken.
Beyond that, if a woman asks you to leave the site you are on and join another dating site that requires you to pay money, then she is a professional and you are not going to wind up in a genuine love relationship.
Don’t mention the fact that you are lonely and depressed, even if you are. If you are truly lonely and depressed you should not attempt Internet dating. People who are truly lonely and depressed represent a huge psychic risk, since they are unlikely to be able to recover from the rejection that occurs when dates don’t work out.
If a relationship isn’t working out, find some way to say so. If you can’t break up in person or over the telephone, at least have the courtesy to deliver your message via e-mail.
Although breaking up is hard to do, the easiest way to break up is to say “I don’t think this is working out between us,” and to avoid giving out any more details.
“There is no way that it is not going to hurt or be insulting,” Huber said. “But even though it’s hard, you are doing the person a favor.”
In other words, if it isn’t right for both of you, it isn’t right for either of you.
Breaking up with someone who is not Mr. or Ms. Right allows the other person to spend their energy dating other people who appreciate them more. “Unless you feel really great about a person, let them go,” she said. “It’s part of responsible dating.”
Including responsible Internet dating.