This is the third part in a series of posts. Keep an eye out for the following posts, which will be published later this week.
Once you have decided to join a dating website, you need to go through the rigmarole of setting up your profile. This is, of course, similar to any other kind of online service. But this time there is the added pressure of having to actually appeal to other people — people you don’t know.
Once again, the difference in cultures between the two sites I tested out, OkCupid and Match.com, were much in evidence.
Some of the questions on Match.com particularly annoyed me. Well, not the questions as such. But the multiple choice answers that you must choose from really jarred.
For instance, take the question about income. I am not too awkward about discussing income like some people are. But I probably wouldn’t answer this question anyway for the simple reason that anyone who takes income into account when choosing their partner is probably not worth pursuing in return.
What particularly irritated me about this question, though, was the fact that the lowest option you can select is ‘less than £25,000’. According to HMRC (PDF), the mean income in the UK is £24,440.
So if you earn an average — or even a slightly above average — income, Match.com forces you to select the lowest option. In the eyes of Match.com, people with a decent job and a decent income are in the same bracket as someone who works for four hours a week flipping burgers on a Saturday. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but the situations are not the same.
Pedants will also be dismayed to know that the next option in Match.com’s list is ‘£25,001 to £35,000’. This leaves those earning between £25,000 and £25,000.99 with no correct option to select.
The other thing that really annoys me about the Match.com profiles is the way it refers to rude body parts in a really twee way. For instance, you can select what your best feature (body part) is. The list is pretty standard — eyes, arms, smile, and so on. Then at the very bottom, this: “a sweet spot not on the list”.
Ugh. If you think your prick is your best feature, you should just have ‘prick’ written on your profile. This beating around the bush gives me the willies.
Then there is the option for your “strategically placed tattoo”. Is the tattoo some sort of obscure chess move or something?
Match.com also effectively prevents me from honestly describing how I think I look. The choices are: “I’d rather not say”, “very attractive”, “attractive”, and “average”. Now, speaking honestly, I think I am average looking. I am average in the proper meaning of the word, in that I think I look OK. Not attractive, not ugly — but OK.
But since “average” is the worst option of the list, am I actually saying that I look ugly by selecting this option? I understand that an “ugly” option would hardly be widely selected by the users of Match.com, but it doesn’t seem quite right to have to select the lowest option in order to answer the question honestly. In fact, it is quite demoralising.
Match.com is basically saying, “yeah, we know you’re going to lie on your dating profile, so go right ahead and lie.” But that means that you know that other users are lying. As soon as I filled in my profile, I had lost trust in other people’s profiles. If I was unable to fully answer the questions truthfully, there is no way that anyone else’s profile can be truthful.
Offensively inflated expectations
My feeling of Match.com now is that it is for users that are prissy, intimidatingly aspirational and overly demanding. On Match.com, poor people don’t exist. Ugly people don’t exist.
Inherently, Match.com users are on a delusional wild goose chase. Many users will construct a username containing the word ‘sexy’, ‘hot’, or a similar variant. Some ask for “someone to look after me”, as though they expect to be pampered like a newborn puppy. Many people’s profiles talk about how they are looking for “Mr Right” for their perfect Walt Disney wedding.
I have even seen some people that require their partners to be in the right income bracket, the right ethnicity, the right weight.
What goes through these users’ minds when they read other profiles? “Sorry, you might earn £50,000 but I’m afraid you’re too brown for me and I was really wanting two or three blond children.”
Arrogant, demanding, sometimes offensive and with inflated expectations. It is not exactly my recipe for romance. Of course, not all Match.com users are like that, but a scarily high proportion are.
Thankfully, OkCupid has less of this sort of thing. There is a bit of it, but in the main it seems to have more level-headed people who are looking for some fun, and haven’t already named all of their unborn children.
That is not to say it doesn’t have some weird questions. As I noted in a previous post, many of the match questions are pretty strange. But at least you can say if you think a question is irrelevant, which makes this less of a problem.
The profile questions are sometimes odd, but at least they are quirky rather than ridiculous. “The most private thing I’m willing to admit” is especially strange. If you are willing to admit it, it is hardly private (as many users note). But at least it gives you scope to show some creativity, and express your uniquness rather than just pretending that you are richer and more attractive than you actually are.
This has given me the opposite problem to Match.com. I think that many other users come across better than I do, which has intimidated me. I worry that I am coming across as a total loser with a dull life. It doesn’t help that I am a total loser with a dull life! Is it wise to reveal what I really do on a typical Friday night, as one of the other profile questions asks?
For what it’s worth, my answer once included the following sentence: “Watching vintage television idents and public information films on YouTube.” Probably not a good move. But as the OkTrends blog says, it is worth emphasising traits that many people don’t like, in order to attract the few people that do like it.
Television presentation geeks of the Dundee area, come and get me!