I Let My Friend Take Over my Dating Profile. Here’s What Happenedby Diana Kelly on May 16, 2013
After a serious dating drought, I wake up one morning feeling renewed and adventurous, and decide to pitch the story of “having a friend take complete control of my online dating profile.”
Aaaand as soon as my editor says she loves the idea, my stomach drops into my shoes.
Ok, so the pros of agreeing to do this story: I’ll meet people I never would have messaged. Because I have to go on the dates my friend chooses for me, I’ll go into them more open-minded than if I’d found the guys myself. Plus even if all the dates are really, really bad, it’ll only serve to make the story more interesting.
The cons: I have to give ANOTHER PERSON complete control over my online dating profile. Which is just nuts.
The key, of course, is choosing the right friend. No way would I entrust just anyone with this task. I choose Christine [not her real name] without hesitation. She’s one of my closest friends, she’s married with two kids, and she hasn’t been anywhere remotely resembling the dating scene in years. A fresh perspective! Plus she’s an amazing person I trust completely. The downside: she loves a good prank, so she very well may set me up with multiple weirdos just for the fun of it.
We discuss the parameters: she’s given full access to my profile, and I have to go on any dates she arranges. I’m able to scope out who she’s messaging, but I have no say in what’s happening, other than telling her my availability for dates.
And there we go: for the next two weeks, I’m a puppet playing on my own life’s dating stage. Oy.
The first night, Christine goes to town. She completely changes my profile, adds new pics from my Facebook page, and posts a new date on the HowAboutWe app. Almost immediately, my phone starts blowing up. The first shock is the photos she chooses – there’s one post-race medal-holding photo I would never have put on a dating site (no-makeup, sweaty, and smiling awkwardly), but I know she’s proud of me for that moment. She also changes my profile photo to a shot of me at a Knicks game. (It’s definitely not my hottest, but I figure she’s trying to attract the sporty types she knows I like.)
After I freak out for a good hour or so, I remember why I pitched this article idea in the first place — our friends and family see us differently than we see ourselves, and they’re less shy about bragging and showcasing our good qualities (most of which we forget we possess).
Within two days of Christine’s posting a new date, I have 15 messages. Whoa! That’s one helluva response rate, Christine! A few more days go by and I get the first message from a guy I think is seriously cute. I immediately want to tell Christine to set me up with him, but I have to cool my jets and see if she goes for it. The whole experience feels like an odd carnival game where prizes are going by on a conveyer belt, and I can’t do anything to win them.
Within a few days, I have 20 new messages. Then Christine gives me a near-coronary by going away for a long weekend, then she comes home to take care of a sick kid. Almost a week goes by where she hasn’t responded to dates or messages — and in the online dating world, that’s a looong time (it’s also probably odd to the guys, because they could see that I had been online during that week.)
Three funny things happen as I sit there with my hands tied:
1) I notice a HUGE renewal in my interest in both online dating, and the guys I’m meeting. NOT being able to reach out to men I’m interested in has, of course, made me want to reach out to them even more so.
2) Giving up control in THIS area of my dating life has made me want to smile at more men in my everyday “offline” life. It’s weird, but because I’ve completely given up control in online dating, I want to take it back somewhere else. I’m more open to talking to new guys face-to-face, and I feel more confident. Is this revelation unexpected? Definitely. Is it also welcome? Yes.
3) Almost every time I tell a girlfriend about this assignment, she has a story about someone else who “took over” their friend or sister’s dating profile, or set up a profile for a friend/family member without telling the person about it, etc,. And nearly every one of these stories involves the unsuspecting date-victim marrying one of the people he/she was unwittingly set up with.
4) Through it all, one of my favorite parts of the assignment has been the chance to reconnect and talk so much with Christine. Even her husband gets into it as she types messages to men with her infant in her lap. Granted, we hit a snag when her 7-year-old son overhears her joking on the phone with me and decides that mommy is actually dating other men. That required some quick reassurance that no, mommy and daddy are indeed happily married. To me, she says, “Great now he’s going to tell the entire first grade class I’m trolling for men on the Internet.” (He hasn’t told them yet. Give it time.)
Also, 80% of the girls I’ve mentioned my assignment to liken it to the movie How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. (It’s actually not like that in the slightest, but I kinda get it.)
Finally, the date-planning process begins. I still get nervous every time Christine sends a message and I learn I’m meeting up with a new suitor. We give all chosen dates my cell number, and then I take over the conversation and planning.
As I get ready for my first round of dates, I have to keep re-reading all the messages Christine sent each guy, so I remember what “we” previously corresponded about. I see she messaged one guy about getting “hot and steamy” or something – uh, ok, thanks Christine. One 53-year-old man (who looks 65) messages me, and I think, “Oh boy, let’s see if she bites on THAT one.” She passes. Whew!
Since my deadline for the story is approaching, Christine sets up four dates in the next six days. She decides we’ll give each man a “Sex and the City” nickname in this article, to maintain privacy. I’m nervous as hell about remembering what Christine said in all those messages, and to whom, and whether I’m going to screw up and make a total fool of myself. (Just like any first date — but with even more pressure than usual.)
Granted, I do get some peace: I can go into all of the dates knowing I won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t work out, because it’s not like I chose these men. The responsibility, and therefore the weight of expectations, has been taken off my shoulders.
Since this stressful element of dating has been taken off my plate, when the dates arrive I’m actually more relaxed, so I have more fun, and am more able to be myself (after all, this was the first time they were talking to me, and not someone pretending to be me.)
The Date Breakdown:
First I meet “Harry,” 38, from N.J. (Christine named him Harry because he seemed like a solid, dependable guy). We get together for drinks, it’s all very casual. He’s tall, good-looking (looks like his photos), has an interesting job in the city, and seems nice. We wind up talking for hours. I’m intrigued by where our conversations go—travel, life, what would you do if you could do anything in the world – actual topics beyond “so where do you work?” We also come up with some silly, creative story-telling ideas and have a blast.
VERDICT: He’s smart, charming, and fun, and after the first date I already think there’s more I want to know about him. [Update: We’ve gone out two more times.]
Two days later I meet up with “Smith,” 29, from Long Island (so named because he’s hot and younger) for a Saturday dinner date, which I normally never do. But I’m on a deadline and have to maximize my time. We’ve been texting quite a bit, and he seems very excited to hang out. (Yes, he actually admitted this before seeing me.) I note immediately that he looks even hotter than his photos, which so far has never happened in my online dating experiences. He’s upfront and honest in a sweet and earnest way that I haven’t dealt with in a while. I’m used to guys playing it so cool you’re not really sure whether they ever want to see you again.
We wind up heading to two more bars after dinner (even randomly running into his friends, and it wasn’t awkward in the slightest) and I am surprised by how much fun I’m having and how comfortable I am with him.
VERDICT: Smith and I have definite chemistry, which is something I hadn’t experienced in a while. [Update: We’ve hung out 3 more times and he even met a friend, who validated what I already knew: that he’s cool and hot.]
The Sunday after that, despite the fact that I’m more than a bit hungover, I go on a picnic date with “Mr. Big” (so named because on paper, he seems to have the all the qualities you’d want in the guy you end up with.). It’s a gorgeous day, and I’m excited about my first picnic date in NYC. Mr. Big shows up quite a bit late and apologetic – his excuse is that he was chopping up the veggies for our picnic (ok, forgivable). He’s tall, built like a football player (he played in the Ivy League), Jamaican but grew up near where I’m from, smart, has a good job, and volunteers. Oh, and he’s 26. This guy has got his sh*t together more than most thirtysomethings – hell, even FORTYsomethings – I know. He’s fun, easy to talk to, and likes my sarcastic sense of humor. Oh, and he loves to cook. (I’m thinking, Wow, Christine you really did your research, girl.) We have a lovely time, I feel comfortable with him, and I leave knowing I want to get to know him better.
VERDICT: I’m surprised I had such a good time with a guy the day after a great date with someone else the night before. I think this laid-back attitude I’m approaching the dates with is truly working for me and the guys. [Update: We’ve hung out one more time but have plans to hang out again.]
Two days later I have another date. By now, I’m a little exhausted by so many first dates in one week — I can barely remember who said what. But I tell myself that this guy deserves just as much energy as the last three. “Steve the Bartender” (because he seemed like a sweet, funny, low-key guy) suggests a dive bar in Lower Manhattan. He shows up in a “hanging with my guy friends” outfit — a T-shirt, zip-up hoodie and jeans. He’s a nice-looking guy, but I’m not feeling the effort here. We chat over beers and greasy bar food, play pool, and get into debates about the best music from our college days.
VERDICT: He’s easy to talk to and laugh with and I have a good time, but I feel like I’m hanging out with a college buddy and not someone I have a romantic connection with. [Update: We say we should “do it again” sometime but I don’t follow up and neither does he.]
For the first time in MONTHS, I am genuinely excited about dating again. For perhaps the first time in my adult life, I was totally open to meeting different kinds of people because I didn’t have any initial emotional attachment. Rather than stress-inducing nightmares, the first dates were fun because I was so laid-back and didn’t really care how it went.
As for long-term potential with the guys, three out of four is a pretty amazing record. Christine should do this for a living!