Both questions below deal with people reaching out to my clients online who don’t fit into their search criteria. The answers are quite different but both useful.
Q: I am frustrated. It seems like no one is even reading the online dating profile I put out there. Men are sending me messages from all over the country even though I explicitly stated only looking within 50 miles, and they are just not of the caliber I want. I’m thinking about adding a list of things in my profile that I don’t want, like someone who makes less than I do, someone who’s not Christian, someone shorter than I am, someone missing his teeth. (I wish I didn’t have to say that one, but sadly, I do.) Do you think that’s a good idea? Please help. I want to just quit.
— Sharon, 52, Houston
A: The problem you state — men not reading your profile — is a problem that, unfortunately, many women (and men, for that matter) have, regardless of location, height, or anything else that may be a deal-breaker for you. There is really no way to avoid this.
To answer your question, though, I never recommend putting things you do not want in your profile because it sounds very negative and bitter. For example, saying something like, “I want someone who doesn’t make less than I do” reads to people, “She’s a gold-digger… or she had a bad experience with money in the past.” Most people will pass you by because of the negativity, not the actual content of what you’re saying. I do, however, recommend putting what you do want in your profile, such as someone intelligent and driven, both decent proxies for financial success.
I can’t deny that many men are more focused on the photos than the profile, so you’re not imagining that your profile is sometimes getting overlooked. That said, to ensure that men who fit your criteria are noticing you, you’ll have to do your own search and reach out to them. I encourage both men and women to both search and send messages to people of interest. I know some women question this, thinking that it makes them appear desperate or aggressive. It makes you appear neither of those things, but rather proactive and confident. What we cannot control is who is interested in you. There is no barrier to liking or sending a message to you, so why wouldn’t someone? Just considering it flattering — even if he has no teeth — and then you can delete the messages from those who are clearly not the right fit and focus on those who are.
It’s still online dating, so it’ll have its fair share of awkwardness, frustration, and fatigue (whether online or not, dating can get tiring), but it also has those moments of excitement, nervousness, and anticipation. As hard as it may be, try not to let the less-than-stellar men who write to you you guide your whole opinion of online dating. It’s only when you put forth the effort to use online dating to its full advantage — reaching out to people of interest and starting conversations — that you can fully reap the benefits. Just as I tell people not to let one bad date cloud their whole opinion of a dating site, I’ll say the same for a few less-than-stellar messages. Let it roll off, and then try again. In other words, don’t quit! You’ll be on some great dates in no time.
Q: Why am I getting interest from women all over the country … Ohio, Minnesota, California, etc., etc?
— James, 66, Orlando, Fla.
A: Who knows? But if any seem interesting, it can’t hurt to engage a bit.
Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating.