Your Ultimate Guide to Online Dating

Is it finally time to answer that plaintive cry from the online forest of love – machete in hand?

Photo: Generic photo of singer and would-be dater Jim Morrison

Your Ultimate Guide to Online Dating

Hello, honey. My name is NJ. I am searching for love. True love. Real love. With a real man. Oh, my. Are you happy to see me or is that a rocket in your pocket?

14 May 2024 | James Porteous | Clipper Media

We have all found ourselves hunched over our laptops for hours on end, trying to write the perfect CV, the single piece of data that could make or break our careers. 

Letter-perfect CVs don’t really matter now. No matter how detailed and flowery your CV might be, it don’t mean a thing it if ain’t got the correct ‘formatting’ to be machine-read or fails to ‘incorporate the best keywords throughout your resume 2-3 times.’ 

But there is good news. If you know how to write even a crap resume, you have all the skills you need to create a perfect Online Dating Profile! 

Sample Profile Entry (Male)

Hi, my name is Jim. My friends call me Jimmy. I love quiet walks on the beach, while sipping on a slightly chilled rosé. My body is my temple. If you think of hell as a church. I chase rainbows in my sleep and I will never call you baby. Unless you want me to. But trust me, baby, you can call me anytime you want.

Naturally, we’ll begin with the main photo. This photo does not need to be taken today, but it should bear at least a reasonable resemblance to your current appearance. 

Some people ignore this rule, even though they know full-well that if the Love God shines on them at some point, their prospective partner might… well, discover first-hand how they really look. 

The other photos can depict other ‘phases’ of your life, but at least one additional photo should be fairly recent. 

Your age should also be accurate. Perhaps it is just me, but if I see a profile and discover the photos are not recent and the person has lied about their age, I might conclude this is a bit of a… pattern. 

Next, you will be asked to supply a shorthand list of what you are looking for: your age range, sex, and any or all of Penpal, Friendship, Romance / Dating, Long Term Relationship. 

These largely rely on your imagination, but if you put LTR, you may be asked to affirm that. If you do not put LTR you may be asked to take a hike off a tall cliff.

Next, you will see a long series of questions about smoking, drinking, education, children, where you live and your religion. Or lack thereof. Again, you can choose to answer any or none of these questions.

Now you will move on to the meat and potatoes of online dating, so to speak, starting with the member overview. This is akin to a list of qualifications you would list to explain why you deserve to be considered for the job or, in this case, a suitable candidate for part time or full-time position of lover, partner, confidant, father of their children and/or the main roll in the hay candidate. 

You will spend a good deal of time composing this section, but the good news is that you can change it or update it at your leisure. The aim is to sound casual, but not-too-casual, and also appear hip, mature, kind and caring, and to share your interests while taking care not to reveal too much. 

More troublesome is the part where you reveal what you are ‘looking for.’ You have already indicated that you are looking for Penpal, Friendship, Romance / Dating, Long Term Relationship, but this part should probably read like an executive summary that is just shy of delivering cutting edge sincerity, but still sounds genuine. Still, avoid sounding too enthusiastic and resist the urge to list your faults. There will be plenty of time for that later. Such is life. 

Be advised that your marital status might be a bone of contention. In most countries, ‘legally separated’ is just that, but in others, anything short of a full-fledged divorce might be considered a loophole that could offer an opportunity to leave the door open to reconciliation with your ex.

And in the Philippines, they do not have divorce, but an ‘annulment;’ in the West, annulment is usually a last-minute-provision that allows the new partners in marriage to almost immediately end it, just so long as the couple have not consummated their misbegotten union. 

Sampe Profile Entry (Female)

My name is Norma. I live alone in a trailer park in Scranton, Ohio. My husband left me for the bank teller with the perky you know whats. I need a man. Not like that. I mean a real man. A man who knows how to treat a woman. A man who knows his left from his right hand. A man who can take a punch to the kisser and still refill my wine glass. Are you that man?

Your profile is now live, exposing you to the world (please: not literally) and allowing you to throw caution and your hopes and dreams to the wind. Be patient. At first you might visit your site(s) a dozen times a day, or immediately login to read the latest missives from Mr or Ms Right. 

Eventually, the numbers will matter, but for now, they’re unpredictable. Some sites tend to ‘reward’ members who actively visit the site or check out profiles and it never hurts to show an ‘online now’ status.

Some users may choose to use filters to remove messages from members below a specific age from their main mailbox. If not, you could end up getting many love letters from 20-year-olds promising eternal devotion. 

This might also help weed out the scammers. If these missives are in a separate mailbox, you do not even have to open the mailbox. They will probably disappear in a month or two. 

You’ll soon realize that everyone is a potential suspect. Including you. The first thing some users will demand when they communicate with someone new is to provide what I call ‘proof of life.’ That might include a photo taken a la Lee Harvey Oswald or a video chat. The first should not be seen as a slight and the second should not be considered a sign of interest. 

And the scams? They are too numerous to mention, but they might include heartfelt (and constant) requests for money, love, airline tickets, airtime data, telephone numbers, banking info, full names, email addresses, naked photos, etc. 

One of the current popular scams falls into the category of “Foreign Exchange, Butchering the Pig” or “Sha Zhu Pan.”

This scam is extremely popular in China and is usually easy to spot: you will receive a message from a beautiful woman, half your age, who has a full subscription, and will immediately affirm everlasting-love and suggest you send them your WhatsApp number to allow unhindered conversation.

For more information, please see the authors’ What is the Foreign Exchange Scam?

And basically speaking, anyone who starts referring to you honey, dear or darling after (barely) ‘knowing’ you for 10 seconds is not actually in love with you. I know that is a given, but it bears mention. 

So, you have your photos and profile and perhaps even a growing list of fans.

After receiving or submitting a love job application and made initial contact, what typically happens next will follow certain patterns. 

For both men and women, your newfound love interest might display remarkable candour and excitement about you, love, fate and your ‘shared future.’ This phase might last for a few days. Or dozens of messages. Whichever comes first. 

Sample Profile Entry (Male)

My name is Montague. Short for Montague. I like petting my pet. I have two dogs, a cat and a lion. Okay the last one is gone. Not my fault. I was in the army. Okay, that is not true. I work in a bank. Not a teller. A cleaner. I treat my work the same way I treat my lady friends. I like them squeaky clean. Don’t put words in my mouth. If you want me you can have me but don’t go thinkin’ you own me just because I forked out for a full breakfast at Denny’s.

In time, they (or you) might show the first signs of losing interest if you or your future employer concludes that other applicants are better qualified for the job.

‘Hello darling’ might morph into ‘hello,’ then ‘hi’ and finally ‘hey.’ There is no way to predict how long this eventual fall from grace might last. Nor is it likely that a formal ‘end of employment‘ notice will be issued. Nor will you be invited to apply for the position later.

So, the final stages will go something like this: 

  1. In the beginning, there might be a steady flow of heady and hardy messages, intended to learn everything possible about the possible new hire. A not-too-distant notion might be expressed that this is the real deal and it could last a lifetime. Marriage might also be suggested. Or promised. Or finally demanded.
  1. Next, you might receive passing suggestions about travel and meeting up and keeping each other warm on cold winter nights. 
  1. Up next, an almost imperceptible change in frequency or tone. The dreams of the future are still alive, as is the passion, but something has changed. Perhaps Love is running out of steam? 
  1. The quest for love might now shift from the prospect of a ‘full time’ relationship (job) to a part time… something. You might spend more time waiting for communication than actually communicating. Is it you? Or them? 
  1. Assuming it is them, a big shift might now take place. Instead of exciting missives throughout the day, you might soon notice that the timing has been calculated in such a way that long discussions are now impossible. Perhaps they contact you on their way to work or on their way to bed. You might think of this as the five or 10 minute relationship. 
  1. The odds are that you will soon begin a 30 second relationship. This phase will include pleasantries, some news updates, talk about the weather and the fact that you are looking forward to talking to them when they have more time. 

Sample Profile Entry (Female)

Hi baby. My name is Jean. I know what you are thinking. I look familiar, yeah? Everyone tells me that. If I had a nickel. If I had two, I’d have a dime. And the time. You got the time for me, baby? My datebook is open. The pages are filling up, baby. If you want a chance to rush home plate you better get cracking. And I don’t mean eggs baby. I want the real deal. No orange peel. Love is what I want. Love is what I need. Are you up to it baby?

  1. The 15-second relationship is a brutal come-down. This phase might include something like this: 

You: Hi. How are you? 

Them: I’m good dear. How are you? 

You: Good. Had a busy day, but it was not horrible. 

Them: That is good dear. 

You: How is your cold? Is the cough any better? 

Them: (no reply). 

  1. Next, the 15-second relationship might shift to an ‘after hours’ timetable. You might wake up of the morning and find a friendly note from your would-be-lover, asking how you are doing, and how you slept and wishing you a good day and, of course, suggesting they will talk to you later. The ‘after hours’ option is often used in order to avoid any questions about the ‘state’ of affairs. 
  1. The Final Stage. You have now moved on to the five-second relationship. This will also likely be delivered after hours. It will look like this: 

Hi darling. How are you? Miss you! Have a great day. 

Just for the record, be advised that the Final Five Second Stage may last a few days, but there will not be an actual ending. You will not receive a final notice indicating the end of employment. Instead, you might notice one day that you have not receieved a Final Five Second Relationship note. The same thing will likely happen the next day. And the next. Should you remain on board the Love Boat.

In other words: It is done. Toast. Time to freshen up the Love For Hire Profile. 

As you can see, nothing is written in stone. And that is a good thing. Any mistakes you might make one time will not show up in your public Love Resume. A Five Second Kissoff does not mean you are a hopeless loser. It just means this thing was not to be. 

And that might be the overriding theme of online-dating. It is, above all else, a business. And I don’t mean the members. It is a world of algorithms, all designed to keep the hapless would-be lovers coming back for more. The trick, from their end, is to keep the hope of love in the air.  

So as your interest wanes, you might receive messages from a bevy of comely opposites fairly begging you to pay for a membership so that they can discover just how enchanting you really are.

As you may have already surmised, once you pay your monthly fee, you will probably discover that most, if not all, of the missives were bogus.  

And true love? Of course it is possible! Think about online dating as a lottery ticket to love. Or a love-lorn stock exchange. Or a shark-infested cesspool.

Take your pick! But never, ever give up. Love could be waiting around the very next corner.

James Porteous | Clipper Media


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