Did I get your attention?

Actually the purpose behind posing this question is much more than the yearning for the ultimate in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) victories by using the S-word as a verbal pheromone to stimulate the Google algorithms to draw even more eyeballs to my Almost DailyBrett blog.

Instead, my intentions are noble (yes, I know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions). As a result of being a widower for more than five years, I have been cast into an unenviable position as a mature, single follicly challenged male after more than two decades of blissful marriage. The padre really meant it, when he stated: “To death do you part.” And I thought the vows were just an administrative act that stood between us, the champagne reception, the delicious wedding night and the honeymoon in Hawaii.

And when you actually do part because of death (my spouse succumbed to dreaded stomach cancer), you are suddenly single wondering if you will ever recover from this ultimate curve ball of life and whether you will ever find another very special someone. So far my search has not born ultimate fruit, but it has been instructive and I have learned a lot about me and the opposite gender.

dating

As a communications choreographer, I have come to appreciate love, sex and romance as a core marketing and public relations skill. Today, we do not have to rely on the company dock, the Safeway produce aisle or the local tavern to scout out would-be partners. We can now use 21st Century digital tools to identify our target audiences, develop our strategic messages, execute our communications program and market our product (that would be me…in my case or you in your case).

Certainly I am not an expert in the affairs of the heart, but I have learned from my own experiences and mistakes and the errors of others on what works and doesn’t work when it comes to online dating. So what are some techniques that you should consider regardless of your membership in terms of the great gender divide and your orientation? Here are a few to weigh.

● First do not expect perfection when it comes to online dating websites. Some are better than others. Personally, I prefer Match.com and have been an on-and-off member for about three years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Match.com For some reason I cannot get past Neil Clark Warren the Ph.D founder of eHarmony and his embarrassing ads. Match.com gives you the tools that you need, but just be mindful that when you are done, cancel the service…otherwise they will gladly renew your subscription and renew it again and again. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Clark_Warren

● Go into this process with the clear understanding that everybody is not for you, and you are not for everybody. Even though there are more than 3 billion card-carrying members of the opposite gender on this planet (or your own gender, if you are so inclined), your target audience in reality is relatively small. Plan on investing some time into this process, including responding to e-mails, participating in screening calls, and then meeting at a busy public, neutral site, such as a Starbucks or a wine bar. You can usually identify an ongoing awkward Match.com first-time meeting at Starbucks or any other upscale coffee joint. It really is a joint job interview where two people are alternating between interviewer and interviewee.

● Trust your instincts when it comes to safeguarding personal information. Don’t share your cell phone number (never give out landlines, assuming you still have one) or your personal e-mail address (never a work e-mail address) to someone until you have developed a rapport. If necessary, do a Google search on the lovely Mizz X or the mysterious Mr. Y. They are probably doing the same with you.

● Sweat the details when it comes to your profile. Use your spell checker, but then read your profile out loud (or ask someone to proof it for you). Keep in mind that spell checkers will miss the wrong word spelled right (e.g. “pubic” instead of “public”). Also avoid the dreaded “I” disease as in “I do this…” and “I do that.” Avoid coming across as self-absorbed, particularly if you are a guy, or needy, if you are a female.

● An early 20th Century advertising executive once said that “A good picture is worth a 1,000 words.” In online dating, good, recent pictures that accurately portray you are absolutely vital to success or failure. If necessary, have some professionally produced digital photos taken. They should not be corporate, but not cheesy either. Sydney Biddle Barrows, the infamous Mayflower Madam, said that “a man falls in love with his eyes; a woman with her ears.” http://www.sydneybarrows.com/  Despite the wisdom behind this turn of phrase, women are also very attracted to a portrait of a confident, handsome man. Oh and be sure to smile. Forget the linebacker stare.  Most important of all, be sure to post photos of yourself, if you want to have any hope at being successful in Internet dating. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_picture_is_worth_a_thousand_words

● Many lie like rugs on online dating sites, particularly when it comes to age, height and weight. And once you are caught in a lie, your would-be partner is wondering what other facets of your “background” are not the truth. Keep in mind, she or he is going to meet you and decide for herself or himself. Be honest. Don’t be deceitful about your age in order to beat the search engine (e.g. under 50…when you are clearly over that mark). You are what you are.

● If you are not happy with your appearance, don’t expect miracles. We cannot all be perfectly enhanced and airbrushed Pam Andersons. Having said that, spending a few weeks to really get yourself in the best shape possible will improve not only your physical appearance but your personal confidence as well.

● Be reasonable when it comes to that first meeting over coffee or wine (safer than a long lunch or dinner with someone who is immediately incompatible). If it is not clicking or if you are not attracted, then just have a nice cup of coffee or a good glass of wine with a friendly acquaintance. The most important point of all: If you set up the encounter as your first meeting with Mrs. X or Mr. Y, you will most likely be disappointed, and besides is that really fair? This is an awkward time for her or him as well.

● Be realistic about your expectations. If you are a 55-year-old guy (and you are not Hugh Hefner), do you really think that a self-respecting 22-year-old female is going to be interested in you? Let’s face it; you are old enough to be her father. The same applies to Cougars on the prowl, albeit some young bucks may be interested in a meaningful overnight romance. My humble advice: Pick on people who are in your own age group.

hefner

● Don’t subordinate what is really important to you, but at the same time don’t impose standards that are virtually impossible for anyone to live up to. Everyone has some baggage (and so do you). Look for someone with a carry-on bag and be willing to be flexible. If a college education, not smoking, working out, having parental experience, loving animals, harboring reasonable ambition, are important to you then don’t settle. Compromise is good; settling for someone who is not a match is a recipe for a very expensive divorce, particularly in a Community Property State.

● Stay away from tailor-made arguments. Opposites do attract to a point. Personally, I am very wary about “currently separated” (ongoing combat?), “never married” (north of 50), Bible beaters or the opposite, atheists and/or agnostics…these are just fights going somewhere to happen. Personally I relish a good political discussion, but I know when it is best to fold my tent in the face of a militant extremist (Redundant? Maybe) regardless of ideology. Avoid extremism, drama queens (or kings) if you can and seek out people who are even-keeled.

● Don’t send or respond to Internet dating websites on Friday or Saturday nights. Perception is everything, and you don’t want to unintentionally send an unwanted signal. Your pithy messages and responses can wait until the morning.

● If you have eccentric hobbies, habits or fetishes, you might want to hold off on revealing these until you have established a clear relationship. I am not advocating withholding the ultimate truth. I am suggesting like any good PR practitioner to manage the flow of your information.

Finally if you are contemplating taking the plunge into online dating, my advice is to go for it, but do it with your eyes wide open. Is having that very special someone in your life the key to ultimate happiness? Maybe. There is only one way to find out. Digital tools are now at your disposal. Use them. Besides how is she or he going to find out that you are available and all the wonderful things that you have to offer?

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