Let’s just all make sure there’s nothing stuck in our teeth
As I read your letter, one thing didn’t quite feel right. “I’ve met a nice, pretty girl online who I can relax and talk nonsense with, but I still want to be your friend” sounds suspiciously fake. Like the kind of thing you say to let someone down easy. (I have told a guy, “You’re nice, but you’re just not my future husband,” when I wanted to say, “You kiss like a slimy but unusually muscular eel.”)
Do you make aggressively intense first impressions? Do you bring up stopping female genital mutilation a bit too soon after the appetizers? Do your online pictures look substantially different from how you look in real life?
The OKCupid blog (which I quoted in Bullish Life: Online Dating Tips from Professionals and Happy People) recommends deliberately playing up (rather than minimizing) what’s different about you. If you have a big nose, post a profile photo that shows that that is some serious NOSE. While lots of guys are into big boobs, it may be true that more guys are into thin, flat-chested ballerina types than are specifically into medium-sized boobs. Exaggerate.
So, please do ask your most blunt female friend, dude-like guy friend, and/or the aunt who says uncomfortable stuff at family holidays if there’s something that everyone always notices first about you that you don’t even think about, or something that maybe you don’t even care about that others find off-putting. An artist might not think anything of having paint under her fingernails (kind of unavoidable), but among non-art people, this could seriously gross out a germophobe at dinner. Et cetera.
Your OKCupid ad should do this work for you.
So, assuming we’ve got the obvious stuff out of the way, it’s time to edit your OKCupid ad. I will write the first line for you!
“If you just want a nice, pretty girl to relax and talk nonsense with, I’m probably not her.”
I also am not sure what this line is truly about, but if you’re really hearing it that often, go with it. Own it.
Your ad should say a lot of what you’re saying to me, but in a positive way. Your work is really important to you and you’re not interested in pretending to be dumb. You are very concerned about stopping things like child brides and genital mutilation. Maybe you should mention the mint-green dress with walruses on it. I think it sounds awesome, and so will some dudes (or they won’t care about what you’re wearing at all). But this will make it clear that you are “not a porn star” and not dressing solely to impress them.
I think you’re intense. I’m intense. I have been told this by men before, thought it over, and decided not to do anything differently. I like people who are also intense. As an introvert, you are probably looking for much more intensity from a romantic relationship than is a more extroverted person – after all, they can get what they need from a rotating cast of hundreds of friends and acquaintances.
I once told a guy on a first date – in an attempt to weed out anyone looking only for sex – that “I’m an introvert. I have a best friend and a Mom already. All I need is a life partner. I don’t have room for anybody else.” It was a bit of an exaggeration (I actually have two close friends, and I also like my dad and brother, and I check in to Facebook a lot), but an effective one. And it didn’t scare him off at all.
As I wrote in Bullish Life: How I Met My Soon-to-Be Husband on OKCupid, online dating technology can allow you to pre-qualify and save an awful lot of time. My ad specifically said:
- I am in a “Get those kids off my lawn!” phase of life.
- I am a serious introvert.
- I think a lot about class in America.
- I enjoy enforcing justice on wrongdoers.
It also said “I am not amused by any activity that involves wearing a costume in Brooklyn” and “Please act as though you are content with the fact that your youth is over!” This worked very well for me. I even got a couple of messages from guys who were like, “I just wanted to compliment your Monty Python reference in paragraph 9. I know you’re way too together for me. I am youthful and sloppy.” (I politely wrote back, complimented their own clever references, agreed that we were not a match, and wished them luck. It was nice. Good citizenship all around!)
If you’re getting enough messages that you’ve been on thirty OKCupid dates, then you’re clearly attractive enough that you can afford to frighten away some of these dudes upfront.