Almost every time I meet a girl through the wonderful world of online dating, I’m hit with a deluge of “thank God you’re normal” stories within a couple of hours of our first date that covers all the terrible ways straight dudes behave on the Internet. Given that I’m more eccentric and annoying than Woody Allen would be on an episode of Cash Cab, there’s no way this can possibly be true: I know lots of awesome dudes who know how to treat a lady right.
But every time I hear these tales of woe, I become increasingly gobsmacked by the way some men act online. Here are some of repeat offenders in terms of stupid things guys do on the Internet. Wonder why you aren’t scoring any dates online? Consider the list below. Guys: We’re better than this. Right? Right.
The two-inch lie
Malcolm Gladwell observed in his book “Blink” that only 14.5% of men in the United States are six feet tall or greater. While you can deceive people on the Internet in any number of ways, from biographically written white lies about a rom-com you directed starring Judah Friedlander (conveniently leaving out that this took place in an Ambien-induced dream) to posting pictures of yourself when you looked your “best” seven years ago before you got man-pregnant with a 30-pack of Keystone Light, the height lie is the most common. Fudging numbers is so easy! It’s like money laundering, but with your body.
At 5’8, I’m not particularly tall. But to me, physical white lies are bewildering: if you lie about the way you look, the jig is instantaneously up when you meet someone in person for the first time. For instance: I’d never claim to be a body builder when I’ve got less muscle mass than the thirteen-year-olds who play handball in my neighborhood
In short: if you need to lie about your height on the Internet to get girls to agree to go out with you, know you’ll probably get a lot of first dates, but not a lot of second ones.
If you aren’t tall, who cares? Own your physical being, exude a little bit of confidence, and you’ll attract the right people. If your height is a dealbreaker for a girl, she’s the one missing out – not you. Don’t sweat it.
The playground insult
In fourth grade, we often flirted by making fun of a girl on the playground because we didn’t know any better. But somewhere between the ages of 13 and 20, I’d imagine most guys learned how to flirt for real.
Well, some of us never learned this life skill, and we continue to flirt on the Internet by making fun of girls we think are cute. This is a behavior akin to farting loudly on a subway platform: it might feel good to get it all out there, but in the end, you’re left with something that smells real bad, and then nobody wants to stand around you.
You know what girls probably don’t want to hear? They don’t want to hear about what a “hipster” they are because they wear Warby Parker glasses and list The Rapture as one of their favorite bands. They don’t want to be called “cynical” because of how they’ve answered match questions on how much they trust their government, and they don’t want to be called a “femi-Nazi” for their views on workplace equality.
In short: stop being an asshole, and try being kind. Kindness is sexy and endearing. Message about the things you have in common, or the thing that made you giggle the most when you read her profile, or even better: the things she loves that you might know absolutely nothing about. Each new person that you meet is an opportunity for you to learn new things, and if you never forget that, you’ll have a much better time dating online.
The spontaneous nude photo
Picture this situation: you see a cute girl at the bar. You haven’t said a word to her yet, but she’s made eye contact with you from across the room and has acknowledged your presence. Immediately, you run up to her, rip off your pants while covering everybody within a six-foot radius of you with violently flung PBR, and ask her to call you, maybe.
I’d like to believe most straight guys wouldn’t flash a stranger in real life. But the number I’ve stories I’ve heard from girls who have received unsolicited photos of Captain Doodad is staggering.
There are real-world punishments for actions like this, such as being arrested for indecent exposure or being tagged on YouTube as “bro at Union Pool in Williamsburg rips off pants, WTF” thus SEOing yourself out of a reasonable job for the rest of your life.
On the Internet, there’s a punishment for this kind of behavior too. It’s called “not getting a date.” Keep your pants on.
The copy and paste
When you’re sending someone a message on the Internet, it’s always helpful to do so with purpose and reason. But some guys don’t see the difference between quality and quantity: instead, they copy and paste the same message to any girl they deem attractive at a rate that pharmaceutical spammers would envy. God forbid we read someone’s profile, and actually find something noteworthy to send over a message about.
(As an aside: if you’re sending out messages solely based on how attractive someone is, that’s a different problem all together.)
The definition of spam is this: a copy-and-pasted blast message with minimal targeting applied to it. So the next time you send one of these messages, ask yourself: when was the last time you opened and responded to a piece of spam?
The stupid profile picture
In the best-case scenario, your pictures should be mostly recent and show you doing the things you like to do. And, well, you know, it helps if you have some cute pictures of yourself.
Some classic examples of offending profile pictures:
– The Actor’s Head Shot. This is not what you actually look like. It isn’t even close. Yet somehow, especially if you live in Astoria (also known as Actoria), it’s pretty much a requirement that at least one of your pictures is from the reel that got you your big break on J.J. Abram’s Alcatraz as “Prisoner #31.”
– The Gunslinger. Wow, you’re so complex, identifying as liberal and carrying a semi-automatic.
– The Gaggle of Girls. Surrounding yourself in your picture with eight girls with fake tans and bikinis doesn’t make you look impressive. It makes you look like a misogynist.
– The Hulk Hogan. This is usually a shirtless photo in front of a bathroom mirror with incredibly poor / deceptive lighting. Keep your clothes on. Leave a little bit to the imagination.
– The Beer Chugging Contest. We’re talking online dating here, not the Sigma Chi admissions exam.
– The Laptop Selfie. Usually an iPhoto Booth picture with any number of filters: the quad-block, the dark & emo brooding shot, the rainbow filter. Take your pick. They’re all dumb. See also: gratuitous use of Instagram photos.
– Your work ID or passport. Seriously? You’re going to share government documents with Internet strangers? Not only is this boring, but it’s a big ol’ privacy misstep.