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Hello! Welcome to CNET’s online dating advice column where we answer your questions on avoiding the pitfalls of online dating. I’m Erin Carson, staff reporter, resident young-enough-person, refrigerdating correspondent, curator of odd stuff on the internet, most likely to leave you on “read.”
I will be your guide.
Today: Women are ignoring you on dating apps. How do you make that stop? And how do you get started online when you’ve been out of the dating game for a minute? Glad you asked. Turns out I brought fruit snacks AND opinions to work today.
Let’s do this.
Q: I’m on both the Zoosk and Match dating sites. I noticed that women don’t respond to compliments such as “Wow! You’re gorgeous!” or “You’re pretty” or “You’re cute.” It’s quite annoying and, frankly, rude that they don’t even say “Thanks.” What is your advice for me?
A: Has a cat ever dropped a dead mouse at your feet? You’re standing there like, “Uh, buddy, I’m not sure what you want me to do with this.” The cat clearly thinks it’s great, but you’re kinda put off, wishing you could talk to them about boundaries and how the murder of small woodland creatures is an unsettling way to express affection.
This is sort of what it’s like getting a message from a stranger on a dating platform telling you they like your looks.
Not only is it creepy, it’s actually fairly common. You’ll find you’re far from the only person out there handing out compliments to women. And because it’s so common, it comes off as insincere.
Consider the perspective of the person you’re messaging. She’s potentially spent a bunch of time answering questions and crafting her bio — describing her love of knitting berets for hedgehogs and how she’s looking for someone to explore abandoned Chuck E. Cheeses with… and the thing you seem most interested in is her face.
Do you hear that on the wind? It’s the faint, melodic sound of a sad trombone.
Now playing: Watch this: How Facebook Dating works
Given that you’re on platforms that are theoretically more geared toward finding a relationship versus a hookup, comments on appearance can come off as shallow, potentially signaling that you’re looking for something more superficial.
That’s not all. “You’re cute” isn’t just superficial, it’s not a great way to start a conversation.
If I walked up to you and informed you your shirt was blue, you’d be like, “Yeah, OK” and probably walk away. If you want to start a conversation, ask a question about something specific on the person’s profile. A question can open up a conversation. A statement just sits there. She’s got a mirror. She knows what she looks like.
Something else — you mentioned that women don’t thank you for the compliments. I’m going to shoot real straight with you here: Women you message don’t owe you anything, particularly not gratitude for unsolicited comments on their looks.
All that said, it’s good that you noticed what you’re doing isn’t working. That’s a sign. If you’re not getting results, keep your head up and try something else.
Just leave the small woodland creatures out of it.
Q: I’m 33, I have a 12-year-old son, and I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to online dating. I just got out of a serious relationship about six months ago. This was my first relationship in a long time (truthfully, the first woman I’ve dated in the last six years), and I’m curious about trying an online dating app to get out there and meet someone. However, I have no idea what a “dating profile” should look like, sound like or entail. I’ve spent some downtime writing around 15 of these profile bios, and I’m utterly embarrassed by each one. I’m in need of some advice!
Before you download anything, I want to tell you something: Don’t be embarrassed. When it comes to online dating, it’s helpful to embrace the mindset that everyone’s there for more or less the same reason: They’re all humans beings looking for other human beings. They’re just trying to be efficient about it.
Since you mentioned bios, I’m going to focus on that. But first, allow me to shamelessly direct you toward two articles that might be more broadly helpful in this venture of yours: a roundup of popular dating apps to help you decide what to try (don’t feel like you’ve got to be on them all. No one has the time or emotional fortitude for that) and some general do’s and don’ts of creating a profile. OK, let’s talk bios.
You might be on a platform that gives you only a few hundred characters in which to express your charming self. Or you might have mostly all the space you need. Regardless, show don’t tell. You’d be surprised how many folks out there make statements like “I like to have fun.” Who doesn’t like to have fun? Your feelings on fun would be notable only if you hated fun — that would be a headline (also, you might be a psychopath).
Instead, be specific about your idea of fun. Board game nights? Hanging out with your running club? Chasing pigeons in the park? Don’t just say you like to travel, say you’re trying to visit every bottle cap factory in America.
Also, steer clear of negative statements (“ferret owners, swipe left!”), and even if you’re feeling self-conscious, avoid referencing the process (“sooooo this is weird but here it goes!”). We know — trying to find a date the way you shop for a car online has its odd moments. (Looking for low mileage either way, though, amma right? I’ll show myself out.)
Keep your bio upbeat, honest and concise. And always proofread your profile — FOR THE LOVE OF PETE PLEASE PROOFREAD YOUR PROFILE — and don’t feel like once you’ve written a bio you’re locked in forever.
Overall, one of your best selling points is that you’re an individual who does specific stuff and likes specific things. Whether you’re a Tulsa-native who never misses a spin class and is just so damn close to perfecting your pesto recipe or not, don’t forget you’re not Date Bot 3000 who likes doing people stuff, eating food and partaking in the occasional sports ball.
Good luck, and keep chasing those pigeons.
This is an advice column focusing on online dating. If you’ve got a question about finding love via app, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.