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Online Dating: Past and Present-GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 95)

online-datingOnline dating has been around for quite a while now.  In fact, JDate first opened its proverbial doors back in 1997, when I was in high school!  As you may know, I was actually a very early adopter of online dating, using JDate back in 2000 or 2001, before people really had any idea what it was all about.  My parents, naturally, flipped out, thinking I was going to meet some psycho-killer, or worse, someone who wasn’t worthy of their daughter!  The worst that happened, of course, was a few bad dates with some socially awkward men… er… boys who were clueless as to what dating actually involved.  But why not try it out?  I was technologically savvy.  I mean, I did have a cell phone in college before anyone else did, even if it was this ridiculously large blue thing that I didn’t want anyone to know I had.  (It was very uncool to have a cell phone back then.)

I thought we’d take a stroll down memory lane and compare online dating in the early 2000s to online dating today.

Then

Person 1: Um… I’m going on a date with this guy Sean.

Person 2: That’s great!  Where did you meet him?

Person 1: Well, we haven’t actually “met” yet.  I found him on JDate.

Person 2: What?!?!  You’re not that desperate, are you?  Geez—protect yourself!  Tell me all the details.  Let me know where you’ll be.  I just hope you’ll be safe.  You never know what psychos are hiding on those sites.  Wow—I didn’t know anyone I knew would actually try online dating!

Now

Person 1: Um… I’m going on a date with this guy Sean.

Person 2: That’s great!  Where did you meet him?

Person 1: On OkCupid.

Person 2: Cool!  My sister met her husband on Match.com.  Have fun!

——

Then

OMG—I think that guy across the room at the dessert table looked at my profile on (whisper) JDate.  I can’t even look at him.  How embarrassing!

Now  

I think that guy and I matched on Hinge the other day.  I think I’ll go say hi!  Maybe it’ll speed up the process of him asking me out. 😉

——

Then

Which four pictures should I use for my JDate profile?  I guess I’ll have to upload the pictures from my new digital camera to my computer to post them on the site.  Or, I guess I can scan some of the other ones I have.  I hope it works.

Now

Which 12 pictures should I use for my JDate profile and six for my Tinder?  Let me check out some pics on Facebook and my phone to see which ones I want to use.  Actually, I think there’s a really good one on Instagram that someone tagged me in!

Side note: I still only recommend posting three to five photos

——

Then

Person: How did you two meet?

Couple: Um… well… haha… it’s a long story.  (Look at each other embarrassingly.)

Now

Person: How did you two meet?

Couple (in unison): On JDate!  I hear that if you have a JBaby and you let them know, they actually send you a onesie!

The stigma is gone, and online dating is here to stay.  Daily Mail UK predicts that in 20 years, half of all couples will meet online, and this number may rise to 70% by 2040.  If you’re not already playing the online dating game, now’s the time to give it a whirl.  Why not?

——

erika e-1405-4Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people navigate the world of online dating, and author of Love at First SiteWant to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

 

 

 

 

 

(S)he Likes Me For Me – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 94)

followIt’s kind of scary to stare at a blank profile box, whether it’s on JDate, OkCupid, or J-Swipe, and imagine that in a minute, an hour, a day, or a week, your online dating profile will be “live,” isn’t it?  Even if you write for a living, when it comes to putting pen to paper about yourself (or fingers to keyboard or screen), that’s where things get a bit hairier.

Many people, when they sit down to write their profile, immediately think one thing: “I want to write what I think everyone will want to hear.  That way, I’m not limiting the pool at all.”  While at first glance, this may seem like a good strategy, I want to share why it’s not.

It’s, of course, nice to be liked, but you don’t want to lose yourself in the process of trying to fit into some arbitrary mold that you think others want to see.  Take for example the lines, “I’m just as comfortable in a little black dress and heels as I am in a t-shirt and flip flops,” or “I’m just as happy out on the town as I am at home with a movie and a glass of wine.”  Besides being really boring, do these lines actually tell us anything about the person writing them?  Nope.  They simply cover all the bases.  To me, they read, “I am trying to show you that I’m versatile so you don’t pass me by.”

While it may seem counterintuitive, I’ll come right out and say it: It’s okay to turn people off in your profile!  It’s more important to be the real you… not the version of yourself you think people want to see, and certainly not the version of yourself who attempts to appeal to everyone.  Just be yourself, quirks and all.  That way, you know when someone shows interest, it’s because he or she likes the actual things you said, not just that fact that you were being inclusive.

A sample profile for me on a dating app, where you want to keep things on the short side, might read something like this:

Things I love: Dogs (especially mine), Scotch and bourbon, “That’s what she said” jokes, puns, karaoke, grammar, silliness, board games, and push-ups (I’m a weirdo ;)).

It’s more than okay that I don’t run marathons, read War & Peace for giggles, or go from sweatpants to a ball gown in t-minus two minutes.  Instead, people will get a sense of the real me.  As another example, a client of mine recently wrote about her odd obsession with Post-its and Sharpies.  And you know what?  Men loved her uniqueness and confidence to share it!

I have a challenge for you: If you’re currently on an online dating site, and your profile contains one of the “all-inclusive” lines, change it into something that better represents who you really are.  And if you’re thinking about joining an online dating site, remember that it’s okay to share your interests in bird-watching, chess-playing, wine-making, and whatever else you do for fun.  Yes, you will probably turn some people off.  But you may also turn just exactly the right people on.

erika e-1405-4Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people navigate the world of online dating, and author of Love at First SiteWant to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

 

 

 

How Deal Breakers Hinder Dating Success – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 93)

How many deal breakers is it appropriate to have when searching online for a partner?  One, five, fifteen?  There is no magic number, of course, and Patti Stanger of The Millionaire Matchmaker says that five is a good choice… I tend to agree.  If there’s one thing I know from both my own dating experience and from being a dating coach, though, it’s that 125 is too many!  Where did I get that crazy number, you ask?

A woman recently posted on Tumblr a section of a guy’s profile on OkCupid that I’ll just say was pretty limiting.  And when I say “pretty limiting,” I actually mean ridiculously and obsessively rude and off-putting.  Below is just a small sample of his “do not message me if…” section.  (For the record, OkCupid actually has a section called “You should message me if…”  This means that he actually added this new section to his profile.  Classy.)

tumblr_inline_mrnocicB0M1qz4rgp

After reading the entire list, I counted, and I have 20 of his 125 “don’t message me if” qualities.  Most notable were:

  • You consider yourself a happy person.  (Umm… guilty as charged.)
  • You wear uncomfortable clothing and/or shoes for the sake of feminine style.  (We all know that women dress for other women!)
  • You use the term “foodie.”  (I’m a foodie, all right, and I’m not sorry about it.  I’m just well fed.)

Even if I did fit everything (which I’m pretty sure no one possibly could), I would be so turned off by the negativity that I wouldn’t want to date him anyway!  A question I would pose to him is, “Why do some of these things even matter?”

In talking with Sarah Gooding, the resident Dating Coach at PlentyOfFish, she and I agreed that one should create and live by a few key dating deal breakers.  Most singles have established certain rules when it comes to dating, but they don’t know that they may have too many unnecessary deal breakers that are preventing them from finding a great relationship.  To ensure the right person isn’t being overlooked, let’s look at these five dating deal breaker rules, courtesy of Sarah and elaborated on by yours truly:

1. Deal breakers should be qualities, values, or beliefs that won’t change.

A lot of clients have said things to me like, “I can’t date him.  He’s between jobs.”  Does this mean he can’t get a job in the future?  Of course not!  Income can change; employment status can change; ambition probably can’t.

2. Create no more than five deal breakers/must haves.

Sit down and really think about what’s important to you.  Maybe it’s religious beliefs or level of education.  Stick to your guns on those things, but beyond that, explore.  As an exercise, picture that perfect person with or without each “deal breaker” and see if it matters.  If not, then it’s time to reevaluate your list.

3. Do not mention your deal breakers in the text of your online dating profile.

Most online dating sites have many check-box questions, such as age, religion, children, etc.  This is where the deal breakers will come out.  If you want kids, then check that box accurately.  No need to then state, “Don’t write to me if you don’t want to have children.”

4. Don’t use your previous relationship to create future deal breakers.

It’s easy after a relationship ends to want to find the exact opposite type of person, isn’t it?  We go through all of the things we loathed about our ex and list those as our new deal breakers.  I encourage everyone not to do this because 1) it comes off as fairly bitter and 2) there must have been some good quality in that person if you dated in the first place.  Using what you learned from your last relationship, make your list, but don’t make it solely based on what didn’t work the last time.

Also, as a side note, everything that may be a trait that you don’t want in a partner can likely be turned into a trait that you do want.  For example:

Negative: I’m not looking for players or serial daters.
Positive: I’m looking for someone who is ready for a committed relationship.

5. Be open-minded if someone meets all of your criteria.  However, if he or she doesn’t, decide if it’s worth giving it a shot.

If someone meets all of the criteria you’ve set for yourself, then it can’t hurt to give it a try.  On the one hand, perfect on paper doesn’t equal perfect in real life, so you’ll still have to assess chemistry, but at least you’ll know that you’re off to a good start.  On the other hand, if you know that someone has one of your deal breakers (let’s say religion), then perhaps it’s best not to “try that person on” if you know in the long run it’s not something you can live with.

Remember that in the end, what’s often the most important is how someone treats you.  Is he or she kind, generous, and giving?  How about trustworthy and honest?  That’s what matters in life.

A final note to the guy on OkCupid: I wear yoga pants when I’m not engaging in yoga, and I have participated in a flash mob. We are obviously not meant to be.

In other exciting news, our very own resident GTJ dating columnist has written a book!  Turns out we’re not the only ones she writes for!  Here is the info for the release party if you’d like to join: https://www.facebook.com/events/795227383861189

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

Is it Kosher to Date on Rosh Hashanah? – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 73)

apples and honeyAs the weather turns from sweltering hot to a little cooler, and with the High Holidays upon us, it’s time to deal with a question that might arise: Is it kosher to date on Rosh Hashanah?

Now, I don’t mean that you should analyze whether it’s unkosher (perhaps literally) to grab some moo goo gai pan at the Chinese restaurant next door after Rosh Hashanah services if your stomach is growling during the shofar blowing.  What I mean is: What if you see a good-looking gal (or guy) at services?  Would it be sacrilegious to start a conversation and potentially ask for her contact information?  I’d venture to say no… but use plenty of caution and respect.

Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of a new year after all, and we’re supposed to fill it with sweet things, like apples and honey.  While common wisdom would have us believe that said honey should be viscous and come from a bee, what if there’s another form of something sweet at services, and instead she’s about 5’3 with honey brown hair, freckles on her face, and cherry red lipstick.  Should we deprive ourselves of one type of sweet new year to maintain respect for the other?

I used to have a friend (we’ll call her Diana) who moved to Baltimore and didn’t know anyone there.  Rather than driving down to DC to join me at services, she decided to attend services there by herself.  She was on the seat second from the end.  Just as the service started, a guy (we’ll call him Joey) sat down next to her, also by himself.  They exchanged pleasantries – name, job, the usual – and that was that.  Joey wanted to ask Diana out, but he was afraid that it went against all social and religious norms to do it in the synagogue, and on the holiest of holy days (this time Yom Kippur) at that.  So he waited a week, got creative, looked her up (these were pre-Facebook days!), and asked her out.  They are now married with a baby boy.

Now, I’m no religious guru, but my thought is: Would G-d want us to stop ourselves from “going for it” on the holiday?  While no one could ever know the answer to this question, what I recommend is that if you think someone might be worth talking to after services, it doesn’t hurt to strike up a conversation and end with some form of, “I really enjoyed talking to you.  Let’s definitely be in touch after the holidays.  May I get your number?”  A lighter alternative would be to ask for the other person’s business card… an easy peasy way to exchange information without using the line, “What’s your number?”

As we internalize the spirit of the High Holidays and try to enjoy the year 5774, remember that it’s ok to start off on a bold and exciting foot.  L’Shanah Tova!  I’ll be at the 6th in the City New Year’s Eve Party  tonight.  Hope to see you there!

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

Obstacles to the First Date – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 66)

We all know what an obstacle is.  According to good ol’ Merriam-Webster, an obstacle is, “something that impedes progress or achievement.”  Now, what if that “something” is you?

In dating, there are so many potential obstacles to that first date:

  1. Emailing someone online
  2. Talking on the phone (I actually never recommend this… article coming on the topic soon.)
  3. Text messaging before the date

Each of the obstacles listed above is a potential rejection point for your date to decide not to go out with you (and vice versa).  Now, I know I’m a former economist and all, but you don’t need to be a math whiz to know that by removing one of these potential rejection points, your chances of getting to the date are greater.

Let’s look at a few scenarios below:

Obstacles to the first date

 

At each point, the date is presumed to have messed up in some way, but there may be an explanation for all of it.  For Endless Emailer Eddie, perhaps he just doesn’t know how online dating works.  Give him the benefit of the doubt and (gasp!) even suggest meeting him.  For Chatty Cathy on the phone, perhaps she just gets nervous and talks too much, but as she gets to know you, she’ll calm down a bit and actually breathe between talking about her precious cockatoo and her trip to Iceland last year.  And for Texting Tommy, maybe he’s just excited to go out with a great catch like you.  It’s better than the alternative – not contacting you at all.  Simply saying, “I’m not really a huge texter,” should do the trick.

Do Eddie, Cathy, and Tommy hit a bit close to home?  Or maybe you’ve dismissed one of them in your dating days.  My advice?  Remove the obstacles to the first date.  You never know if you’ll have chemistry until you meet in person, so don’t get in your own way by setting up all of these rejection points.  A couple of emails back and forth should do the trick, and then get right to the date.  As a client just emailed me this morning, “What came across in emails was not there in person.  I guess that happens quite a bit and the more experience I get at this, the sooner I will try to get to a meeting so I don’t have to [spend] my time emailing.”  Obviously, this can go either way – better in person or worse – but you have to actually meet to find out.

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

The Dog Days of Dating – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 65)

puppyThis past weekend, I planned to adopt a dog.  This was a huge step for me since, as a young girl, I was bitten by my neighbor’s dog (and still have a scar to prove it).  So, after reading and taking notes on “Dogs for Dummies” and spending several months petting dogs to get comfortable, I was ready to bite the bullet and invite a pet into my life.  I searched the list and fell in love with little Bashful’s pictures.  She was just so darn cute!  I read her bio, and she seemed to have everything I was looking for – the right age, the right size, and a nice coat of brown fur.

On Sunday morning, I went to the adoption event, pages of notes in hand so I would know what to buy at the puppy store once little Bashful was mine.  When I got there, she was just as cute as her photos… maybe even more so.  And she was sweet, walking right up to me and sitting in my lap.  What more could I want?

So, I was told to buy a collar while they got the paperwork ready.  I opted to sit with her for another few minutes instead, saying things like, “I’m going to be your puppy mommy.”  (Yes – I’m a total sap.)  As the forms were coming my way, and I was really starting to bond with my new friend, a supervisor came over to me and said (while Bashful was still in my lap, mind you), “So, we decided that we’re not going to let you adopt this dog.  She can only go to a home with other dogs.  And by the way, she can’t live in the city, either.”  Had any of that that been in her bio?  No.  Had they told me that before I started to get excited and bond with her?  No.  Would I have even chosen her had I known this was the case?  Of course not.  So I left, feeling sad that I was not getting the new best friend I wanted and deceived that something so important (a deal breaker, if you will) had not been stated upfront.

As I walked away, I thought to myself that the situation sounded oddly similar to online dating.  I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where a profile says exactly what we want it to say.  We meet our date and everything seems to be going fine until…

BAM! – Your date tells you he doesn’t want children.

BAM! – She’s really just separated and not divorced… and still living with her ex!

BAM! – She has five kids but she only listed two.

BAM! – He said he’s not very religious and has no dietary restrictions, but when I ordered a pepperoni pizza, he almost disowned me.

In online dating, it’s so important that your deal breakers are out there front and center.  If you don’t want children, that’s fine!  Just make sure you check that box off in your profile.  If you’re extremely religious (or not at all), that’s ok, too!  Don’t underplay that simply to get more dates.  The last thing you want is for someone to go out with you only to be disappointed because you didn’t disclose something really important in your profile.  So don’t be bashful.  Be true to yourself.  You may go on fewer dates, but your dates will want you for the real you rather than for the person who is trying to appeal to everyone simply by not sharing the truth.

And this goes for searching, too.  As hard as it may be, try not to fall in love with someone’s pictures and profile (merely words on a page) before meeting in person.  I know I’ll keep that in mind when it comes to any future pets, too.  I want a dog who loves me for me – living in an apartment in downtown DC, having no other pets (besides Sir Quackers, my childhood stuffed duck), and just wanting to show him/her love and affection.

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.