Comment: Hello Moxie,
I have a question about online profiles, specifically how do you outline the kind of person you would like to hear from without coming across as overly picky, entitled or insensitive? I recently reactivated my OKCupid account and I keep reading profiles from men (the types I would like to contact) that outline pretty specific requirements about fitness, ethnicity, education ect. While there is nothing wrong with having a preference, I admit to being a bit put off when I read “Looking for skinny, Catholic, white…” at the very top of a profile. As a result I go out of my way NOT to include specific preferences in my profile so I don’t come across as rigid. However, I think that not having some specs might decrease the chances of hearing from the guys I want. I just want to know what is your opinion regarding stating preferences in a profile. Is there a tactful way to do this? If so, will it make a difference in who writes me?
PS: What I find funny is a lot of guys who writing about only wanting to hear from a specific ‘type’ will still contact me despite my not living up to some of their preferences. I will write them back if they are cute and the rest of the profile seems okay.
First of all, anybody who states outright in their profile that they “only” date someone of a specific ethnicity or race should be avoided. You should be put off by that. It’s rude and dismissive. I’m ashamed to admit this, but I used to do this when I would post ads on Craigslist. “White guys only.” The ads would repeatedly get flagged and I was all, “Huh?” Of course, being white, I didn’t understand why reading something like that might make a person of color feel marginalized. Why would I understand that? I’m white. White Catholic people don’t exactly have much experience with feeling oppressed.
The other day I received an email from a woman inquiring about the racial diversity of our speeddating events. She mentioned the photo that accompanied the event page and asked if guests were open to dating people of various races. When choosing the photo, I gave little thought to what picture to use. I just chose the photo that, to me, seemed appropriate. The photo only contained white people. I didn’t give any thought to the message that that photo (or the photos I’ve used here) sent. But again, why would I because I’m a white girl. As progressive as I know I am, it was clear that I still had some blindspots and needed to widen my narrow world view.
If someone says in their profile they only wish to hear from someone of a specific race, the underlying message to that statement is that hearing from anybody who does not fit into that category is considered an offense. Doesn’t matter if if you’re referencing height, income, body type, etc. The message being conveyed is one of intolerance. So, if you are someone who makes such explicit declaration in your profile, you might wish to do a little introspection and ask yourself why you do that. You might learn something about yourself, something that ultimately is keeping you single. Insisting on only dating a specific type of someone absolutely hints at possibly problematic opinions and ideas that you have about people who don’t fit into one of your neat little boxes.
Now, does that mean that your preferences are problematic? Not necessarily. It’s how you express those preferences and a refusal to explore other avenues that really speaks to your intentions and beliefs. I would avoid stating in your profile text that you only prefer to hear from certain types of people. Like you, I avoid anybody who does that. Like, boo hoo, a woman who isn’t a size 4 or a guy who isn’t 6 feet tall or a person who doesn’t have the same skin color as you might message you. Oh noes! Oh, you showed up on your date and they were heavier than their photos? How harrowing!
I think any user of a dating site needs to accept that they’re going to hear from a slew of people that they would never in a million years date. Disclaimers and stating explicit preferences really doesn’t enhance your profile, nor do they actually serve to prevent those people from contacting you. In fact, I have no doubt some people intentionally ignore those disclaimers because either they like a challenge or because they want to piss that person off. I also believe that it’s up to each individual user of these sites to know their audience and know what they can reasonably pull. I would bet the majority of frustration that stems from online dating comes from people refusing to accept their various stations. And, yes, we all have one.
There really is no tactful way to try and ensure that your responses are more targeted to your interests. I think the only thing you can do is talk about you and what’s important to you. If you prefer someone with a certain education level, then mention your education level. If you’re more attracted to athletic or active people, describe or discuss how active you are. Populate all of the details fields with your various descriptors. Post photos that give people a clear idea of your personality and lifestyle. Someone reasonably self-aware will be able to read between the lines. And, yes, some people lacking self-awareness will contact you. Just employ any of the message filtering options that certain sites offer. If they don’t offer that service, then get really, really comfortable with the delete and block buttons.