Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How Querying has Ruined me for Online Dating

First off, let me qualify--I'm not actually online dating. More dabbling. Browsing. I keep signing up for free memberships and creating profiles, but haven't seen anyone--much less been messaged by anyone--who has tempted me enough to shell out cold hard digital cash for the privilege of communicating with them.

Also, I haven't even been divorced a full two months yet, so I'm not exactly ready to start a new relationship. As a friend made me admit, I'm mostly interested in validation at this point... and my friends can give me that. So they tell me. (Still--why has NO ONE tried to set me up on a blind date? When does that start? *thinks blind dates are mysterious and exciting* *knows the reality will kill that illusion fast*)

Anyway, part of the reason that my desire for validation (of my perfectly valid desirability) hasn't driven me to whip out my credit card is the truly sad state of the profiles on these sites.
None of the examples below were taken from
the profiles of these handsome men.
In case you were wondering.
By which I don't mean there aren't great guys out there. Or that the guys are sad. Please don't think I'm down on men, 'cause, really, I'm not. (Most days.) I know enough good husbands--and was happy enough in my own marriage, while it lasted--to know that there are lots of good men in the world.

No, I mean these poor, sad, men are useless at selling themselves. (Probably the girls aren't much better, but for some reason, these sites don't show me a lot of female profiles.) :)

Maybe it's the years of query training I've been giving myself, but, seriously, why would anyone put this in a profile and think it's going to help attract your soulmate:

A little about me...
Well that is a tough one due to that I really don't talk about myself much. 

Honey, if you're not going to talk about yourself, you need to find some other way to meet girls. Can you imagine if I used that line in a query letter?

Oh, wow, I guess I should tell you about my book now, right? I'm just so bad at talking about my book!

I'm sure that would have the agents just lining up at my door.

Or maybe this:

I am fairly entertaining, but I know when seriousness is required.

Do you wonder what he means by "fairly" entertaining? Me, too. Here's a tip: if you make your profile and/or query entertaining when it's called for, and serious when it's called for, this sentence is unnecessary. If you don't... I won't really believe this sentence, anyway.

That's like saying this in a query:

You will enjoy the subtle humor and edge-of-your-seats suspense of my book.

Show, don't tell, people.

This one drives me bat-crazy:

What I do for fun...
We will have to talk to find out.

Really? I can think of a few reasons for this response: 1) he was too lazy to complete his profile, so he's probably not actually serious about finding someone; 2) he thinks this hint of mystery will entice women to message him, even though it's vastly easier to click through to the next guy who bothered to actually complete his profile; 3) what he likes to do is illegal, kinky, or embarrassing. Either way, it's like me putting this in a query letter:

Agents are going to be lining up for this amazing, future bestselling book! If you want to have a chance to represent it, email me and I'll tell you all about it. If I don't hear from you, I'll assume you're too uptight to be my agent, anyway.


My Self-Summary
Well, who would have though we would meet like this. Me posting an online profile, and you here reading it. I guess I better make this good since you will probably only spend a few seconds here. They ...

You see what he did, here? He KNEW he only had a few seconds to attract the woman he'd someday marry, and he wasted it on fluff. Just to be fair, I clicked past the first two lines to the full profile--and the whole first paragraph is fluff! Nothing actually about him! Now, he does seem like a very nice man and has some fun information on his profile, but, guys, really--lead with the good stuff! What is unique about you? What will make me want to get to know you better? Can you encapsulate yourself in a sentence?

Just for fun, this is what it would look like in a query:

I'm so excited to be able to meet you, my future agent. I just know we're going to have so much fun with this book of mine and that you're going to love it and I'm going to love you. I don't want to waste your time, so let me get to telling you about my wonderful book, which has truly been a work of love--blood, sweat, and tears for the last few years of my life.... [which is where the agent stops reading]

First impressions matter. Always. They can be overcome, but it's SOOO much better to just get it right the first time.

I'll stop there, lest I come across as a bitter divorcee. 'Cause it would never do to let THAT cat out of the bag, now would it?

Have you noticed any unforeseen negative effects from your own querying? Ever tried online dating? Blind dating? It's fun, right? And exciting and mysterious? I knew it!


  1. Oh, Robin. You just make me smile. I have confidence when you're ready to do more than dabble, that you'll do fine. I'm glad you're having some fun in the meantime.

    1. I'm sort of addicted. Registered for another one today. Filling out profiles is, apparently, fun. :)

  2. Robin, this had me cracking up. Love the comparison of querying and online dating profiles. So great. I do have a few friends who have met online and are super happy, but I'm rather doubtful of the whole process.

    1. I'm choosing to be hopeful. Heaven knows I'm unlikely to meet anyone IRL. ('Cause that would require going where other singles are, and that's scary.) :D

  3. My kids made me create a dating profile to see what would happen (we mostly laughed at some of the profiles), but I deleted it after a week because all the fake flirting and propositions to meet up were really freaking me out. Plus, I'm still not officially divorced (had to wait 6 months to establish our residency in our new state, and I'm scared of the battle that may ensue), so I technically shouldn't even be thinking about dating. Not like I really am anyway. Single life is pretty good, aside from the poverty and friendlessness. I'll keep my options open in case Heavenly Father decides to do a little matchmaking, but I'm not really hopeful right now. My mom's of the mind that I CAN NOT date until all my kids leave the nest, which I wholeheartedly disagree with (I'd be 52!). But since it's not something I'm really ready for yet, and maybe won't be for a long time, who knows, I'm humoring her.

    I'm totally with you on most of those profiles. They don't really put much effort into selling themselves, do they?

    1. I think we can agree that waiting for the kids to be out of the nest before showing them how to have a healthy relationship is just irresponsible. ;)

  4. It's a case of being Jack of all Trades and Master on None. Most men want to have a wide appeal and they're looking to impress any and every girl that lands on their profile. Telling somebody you're ambitious and laid back or that you're casual and professional is an attempt to catch-all, but it does the opposite! I had a buddy who joined me on Lovestruck when we lived in London and his profile read like he'd swallowed a dictionary of opposites and combined them into sentences.

    1. And even if you DO attract someone by claiming to be everything all at once, the chances that they'll actually suit you are really low. Better to be accurate and thus weed out the ones who KNOW they'll never match what you want.