When filling out your profile on an online dating site, it’s often easy to get carried away and feel like you’re ordering your perfect date from an a la carte menu. With an image in your head of your ideal match, you start clicking check boxes and making selections. But these choices could prevent a potentially good match, even someone who fits your criteria exactly, from responding to your profile. Before you post your profile, think about what others might imply from your selections, and whether or not your choices are carved-in-stone requirements, or more negotiable preferences.
Sometimes, in order to appear in as many search results as possible, people will select wide ranges in their preferences for age, weight, height, or mileage willing to travel. To some, this might seem like they’re open-minded, but to others, it just screams “desperate.” Are you really willing to date someone aged 18-99, between 3’6″ and 7’11” who lives in outer East Mongolia? Unless, of course, you’re from outer East Mongolia. Putting some limits on your criteria could actually make you more attractive to a larger range of people. On the other hand, strict criteria can be too limiting. For instance, one of the greatest advantages of online dating is that you can meet people you wouldn’t ordinarily meet in your everyday life. So why would you want to limit the people you might meet to those living within ten miles of your home?
One aspect of dating profiles that ruffles a lot of feathers is physical requirements. Some people have very narrow windows of what is acceptable to them. While they are entitled to their preferences, they may be unaware that they’re ideal mate could find those preferences a turnoff, even if he or she fits the bill. For an extreme example, let’s say a 42 year old man is seeking a woman between the ages of 18-40. A 38 year old woman might be everything he’s looking for and more, but if she sees that he’s willing to date someone more than half his age, she might think he’s just looking for some arm candy. Even women within the age range specified may feel as though they’re viewed as disposible, as though they might be traded in for a newer model in a few years. Thalia, a member of Dating Advice Forums (DAF), explains, “This sort of thing concerns me because it is a little insulting. I mean, I’m not gonna be this age forever! Although I’d always be younger than him, but still… I guess I am sticking up for the woman I am going to be in a few years.”
Similarly, many men will state that they are looking for a fit woman. Some are vulgar about it, and say things like, “No fat chicks.” Not surprisingly, even thin women are disgusted by remarks like that. Other times, they will try to be more delicate, and say that they’d prefer someone who’s in shape, or under a certain weight or dress size. However, a lot of women, even skinny ones, don’t think they’re thin enough. They don’t want to take the chance of hooking up with a shallow guy who might reject them if their weight fluctuates. Another problem is that men often don’t know what certain weights or sizes look like on a woman. Someone who’s 5’9″ and a size 12 could look thinner than someone who’s 5’2″ and a size 8. Adding to the confusion, many women lie about their weights, and many men really think the 5’10” Playboy Centerfold, with the amazing 36-24-36 curves, actually weighs just 110 pounds. Hint: She doesn’t. Mermaid from DAF adds her opinion, “If someone lists specific physical attributes, even if he describes me in perfect detail, it is grounds for me deleting the email or moving on to the next profile. Someone that is so bent on certain physical features is not the man for me. Sure, physical attractiveness is important, but aren’t other things important besides a perfect ass?”
Men aren’t the only ones with strict criteria. Some women insist on dating a tall man, even if she is short. Other preferences that can backfire include high minimum standards for income and education level. Some think that these requirements will weed out the unemployed and the unintelligent, but it might just make one look like a shallow gold-digger. Lissa, a DAF moderator, says, “If you truly don’t care if someone’s a college grad, it might be a good idea to take that preference out of your ad. It’s possible that a wonderfully intelligent non-college grad would decide not to answer your ad because of that preference.”
The most bizarre criteria I’ve heard about was from a post on Dating Advice Forums. A woman saw an ad from a guy whose otherwise normal profile ended with a line about how he’d prefer if the woman’s name was Dawn.
You need to ask yourself if your criteria is really a preference, or a can’t-live-without-it requirement. If you’re deadly allergic to pets, then by all means state that you can’t date someone with pets. If you’re a reformed alcoholic, you don’t want to date someone who drinks, even casually. You are most certainly allowed to have unwavering standards, but you must be aware that those standards will limit your number of eligible people to date.