When I think back to when I was dating online, I spent a good amount of time thinking about what to write on my profile description. I wanted to give just enough details for someone to be interested and message me. I also didn’t want to give up too much information right off the bat because I wanted it to feel similar to meeting someone the old-fashioned way. Imagine, walking up to someone at a coffee shop and giving them your whole life story, the details of your physical description, and a description of what you’re looking for. Things don’t happen that way and they don’t have to happen that way online either. Of course, the physical appearance matters and you have to be attracted to the other person but that’s only one part of it.
When my now husband emailed me through a dating site, he asked me specific questions about what he had read online. We exchanged three (rather long) emails in three days then met a week later and married two years later 🙂
I remember thinking how different our interaction was compared to all the other guys I had communicated with in the past. I had been single for six years and typically would sign up for Match during the summer. Most of the emails I’d receive would say something like, “Hey beautiful,” “Hi,” “You’re cute.” I mean, these guys were working really hard, ha! The majority of the time I wouldn’t respond unless they were cute and I liked their profile. BUT I learned from that mistake and the last time I signed up for an online dating site, I didn’t respond to those type of messages at all, I didn’t care how cute they were! They had to put in some thought and effort into their emails this time around. I was determined to meet my person and I was not going to waste any time.
I’m telling you this story because I recently stumbled upon a Tedx Talk called “The Beautiful Truth About Online Dating.” I watched that video numerous times because I loved what these researchers were saying. I thought about my own experience dating online and so much of what they are suggesting worked for me when I met my husband. Since my passion is to help you become someone’s someone, I had to share this research with my readers.
Arum and Dawoon Kang used data from their online dating company to fact check some of the most common complaints from men and women about online dating. Complaints that I’ve heard from my own single friends. In their research they found these complaints were actually true. Complaints like:
- Men usually go after younger women
- Women tend to go after rich men
- Men only go for looks
They claim that this data, however, represents desirability and popularity versus connection. This is what struck me the most. They said that what we should be looking for online is “not what makes us more desirable but what makes us connect more with others?” I love this statement so much.
While it’s true that men usually only go for looks, it’s also true that average looking women are happily coupled up with someone BECAUSE they were able to connect. When I hear people say that they haven’t met someone because they’re overweight, or not pretty enough, they’re losing their hair, or whatever the reason, I always think that there are people who match those descriptions but have a partner anyway. What’s the difference between you and them?
I’ll come back to this research at the end of the article but I want to dive into how we connect with others and how vulnerability is a big part of that.
How do you connect with someone?
Think about times or people who you have connected with in the past and what you did or said in those relationships. I bet you had to be vulnerable and share a side of you that maybe most people don’t see. It might feel scary to do that. Sadly, most people are glued to their phones and miss out on opportunities to connect that I think they’re forgetting how to do it.
Listening and asking questions is key to connecting with someone. Taking a real interest in getting to know someone and not just talking about yourself. Of course, you have to talk about yourself but it’s that balance of each person having the chance to share and learn about each other.
How can you demonstrate vulnerability?
Vulnerability may feel scary. You may think, “I can’t believe I just shared that” or you might feel a little embarrassed but that’s exactly what you need to do to connect with another person.
Asking questions that you may not like the answer to and answering honestly when you’re being asked difficult questions…I think this demonstrates vulnerability. I’ll give an example. My friend went on a first date with someone she met online. After the date, she texted him and asked, “What did you think of the date? It’s hard to know what to think about someone the first time anyway…” I thought that was a great question. She was asking for feedback and that takes courage because it could be good or bad feedback but, at least, she’ll know what the other person is thinking.
In her book, “Daring Greatly,” Brene Brown defines vulnerability as, “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” As it relates to love, she writes, “Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love you back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moments notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow – that’s vulnerability. Love is uncertain. It’s incredibly risky. And loving someone leaves us emotionally exposed. Yes, it’s scary and yes, we’re open to being hurt, but can you imagine your life without loving or being loved?”
It’s being all in, at the risk of being hurt. You realize that you will make it through even though things don’t go as planned. You realize that because you made it through, you can do it again. Vulnerability makes you stronger and braver. In the latest season of the Bachelorette, Blake Horstmann, who made it to the finale was turned down by the bachelorette. He was heartbroken. But he went on Instagram and wrote, “I put every ounce of me into this experience and got more out of it than I could have imagined.” He also wrote “I learned most of all, that being honest means being vulnerable and open…I never expected to truly fall in love…but I’m so glad I did…I will never apologize for how hard I love and I will love again just as hard.” If only more people thought this way. He could’ve just given up on love but he didn’t.
I had two different guys turn me down when I told them how I was feeling about them and what I was expecting. I was scared to tell them because I knew that there was a possibility that they didn’t reciprocate or weren’t ready for the relationship that I wanted but, I did it anyway. I had to…I didn’t want to waste my time on people who weren’t looking for the same thing as me.
Going back to the research, Kang and Kang looked at what differentiated those people who were in relationships versus those who were still single. They found a significant difference in the length of the profiles and the number of characters in the chat/email communications. Those with longer and slightly more detailed profiles were in relationships. Those with more characters in their chat/email communication were in relationships. These people shared more about themselves than those who were still single.
I’ll share an example of what I would write in my profile today based on this research. I LOVE to read. Instead of just writing, “I love to read,” which is very general and doesn’t really say much about me, I would write, “I love to read. You can usually find me at a bookstore skimming through the Dating/Relationships section.” Or, “If you saw me sitting at a coffee shop, you’d probably see me holding a copy of “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.”
In the video, at 8:20, you can see more examples of the differences in the amount of information shared between those who ended up in relationships and those who are still single.
This is something that you can take action on TODAY. Rewrite your profile, change the way you respond to people. You might just have to make a couple of tweaks on how you use online dating to find your someone.
Click here to watch the full video I discussed.