Bad online dates are like our generation’s war stories to be traded, cringed at, and one-upped. But before you forsake your wifi and swear you’ll never meet another fake architect again, there’s hope.
Enter Amy Webb, personal contender for Worst Online Date, and CEO of a digital strategy agency. She’s also your new fairy lovemother. Her profile was definitely worse than yours: she literally copied and pasted sections from her resume. She details the extent of her failure in her new book, Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating To Meet My Match.
Frustrated with a string of simply awful dates, she decided to approach online dating like she would for a client–with a clear data-driven strategy. Here;s how she did it:
First I created a giant list of 72 “ideal husband” characteristics. It included everything from “likes jazz, but only jazz from the 1920s to the late 1940s” to “must weigh 20 pounds more than me at all times” to “likes selected Broadway musicals: ‘Chess,’ ‘Evita.’ But not ‘Cats.’ Must not like ‘Cats’!” Then, in order to prioritize my list, I applied weighted scores to the list of 72 characteristics. I also built a system to evaluate each and every man who I met. Unless he scored a minimum of 700 points, I’d refuse to go out with him, even once.
Next, as any strategist would tell you, comes scoping out the competition. Here, Webb “created profiles of 10 male archetypes and spent a month as these men, interacting with 96 women, researching their methods and scraping data from their profiles.”
Her research yielded a veritable flood of data, which she dissected and analyzed into 7 mega-tips. So here they are (via CNN):
1. The best profiles read as “easygoing, youthful and spontaneous.”
Popular female daters were friendly and assertive, reaching out to my profiles with casual messages that would open with “Hey” or “Hi there” and follow with “I like that you [detail from profile]. I’m interested in [detail] too.”
2. Short really is sweet.
“Short profiles that express just enough information to pique someone’s interest performed best,” she writes, adding later “Aim for between 90 and 100 words, which works out to about three sentences. Choose your words carefully.”
3. Seriously, shorter is sweeter, even when listing your height.
What shocked me was how many women seemed to be lying about their height. All of the 96 women I interacted with listed their height as 5’1″ – 5’3″, even though the average height of an American woman is 5’4″. Though it’s not impossible that 100% of these women were below the average, it’s statistically improbable.
4. Don’t name-drop
It’s possible to be generic about what you like while still being specific enough to sound interesting. Just because you like Louis C.K. or Larry David doesn’t mean that a potential suitor does. Unless that comedian is one of your deal-breakers, leave him or her off your profile.
5. Leave the bragging for your boss.
Women: if you’ve won a Pulitzer or climbed Mount Everest or for some reason own a jet, this is wonderful news—just don’t share it online. These are the types of details to work into a conversation on your first or second date. If someone introduced himself to you at a party, would the next thing out of your mouth be items off your CV? Of course not, so don’t act that way online. Most people don’t want to see a list of what you’ve done unless they’re hiring you for a job.
6. Ask a lot of questions.
The best way to flirt is to care deeply about whatever your date is saying and to focus all of your attention on him or her. We’re flattered when people throw attention our way. So ask thoughtful questions. Take a keen interest in the conversation. Be enthusiastic. If you wouldn’t use your cheesy line in person, don’t use it digitally.
7. Wait a day to respond.
If someone instant messages you while you’re online, go ahead and IM back if you want. Otherwise, wait 20 to 23 hours between e-mail contacts for the first few messages. I found that successful daters waited that amount of time and as a result still seemed eager without coming off as desperate. […] Avoid sending any messages while most people are sleeping, even if you’re wide awake. Shoot for business hours or just after dinnertime.
Take, use, and reap the rewards–like Amy, you can meet your dream partner and get married and never have to fake an interest in skeet shooting over an awkward dinner ever again.
Yelena Shuster bets her online dates were way worse than yours.