How NOT to internet date

Photo by Don Hankins

Candice Walsh checks out the world of online dating, and comes back with advice on what NOT to do if you want it to be a success.

I’ve tried Internet dating a few times. The experience is always amusing. I’m often ashamed to admit this; most people just don’t understand. Even I can’t help but judge myself. But when I’m already spending 30+ hours working at a computer per week, it just seems logical. Kinda like inter-office dating, but on the web.

Unfortunately, the local prospects are less than promising in my city, where girls outnumber boys 4:1. The men rarely set up accounts. Last year I met a great guy from PlentyofFish named Gerard. We went out for a beer and had a fine evening, but there was just no physical attraction. I gave him a second chance and we went out for more drinks, whereby he became so intoxicated on rum, he puked all over me. After that, I shut down my account.

But to research this article I created a new profile on PlentyOfFish and on several other sites, including OKCupid, and yes, (For the record, was the only site where the majority of men had brains.)

The verdict? Some people just don’t have good online dating sense. Here’s how NOT to do it.

Don’t Be a Dull Danny

Photo by scragz

Have some freaking personality, both while chatting and sending private messages. If your profile says something like, “Hey, I’m a dude who likes to watch football,” and nothing more, how am I supposed to know if you’re worth my time?

Admittedly, sometimes the mega-weird personalities have the best profile. This one was a real treat:

I’m a 23 year old male that is in pretty good shape. I’m not much for conversation and I’ll probably never want to go out with or marry you. I have no diseases, I’m not a drug user, smoker, or drinker. I’m a rationalist and therefore an atheist. I’m horrible at most things.

The same goes when you strike up a chat with someone. Introduce some color into my dreary world, please. Don’t tell me what you had for supper, tell me about the time you traveled throughout Russia and were hijacked by an angry mob. If your life isn’t that interesting, tell me what you’d like to do.

Don’t Talk to Someone Without Actually Reading Their Profile

My tag line is “I judge people with poor grammar.” It’s a tongue-in-cheek thing, not really meant to be taken seriously, but men still message me to say, “hi howru lol.” I’m always impressed when someone pays attention, like this dude who IMed me:

Photo by Mattastic!

“I judge people based on their music. Listening to pop, for instance, is a sign that you value popularity over all else, and you believe this ultimate goal has to be obtained through money. It also means you probably employ the use of poor grammar.

So from that scientifically accurate gross generalization, I presume you do not like the rap music. This is good.”

This guy will always have a special place in my heart.

Don’t Be Cheesy

Some people like cheese. I am not one of those people.

I’m not a huge romantic, and I don’t really like sap. So when you’re talking to me and we’re having a pretty good conversation but I keep steering the topic away from romantic gestures, take the hint. I don’t feel like cyber cuddling.

Compliments and flattery are always welcome, just don’t go over the top. Your object of affection may grow wary when you tell them a dozen times they’re the most beautiful person you’ve ever seen. What I’m really hearing is, “I wanna get in your pants.”

Don’t Assume Someone Wants to See Your Genitals, Unless They Ask

It’s surprising how often people don’t take this rule seriously. I mean sure, if that’s what you’re using the site for, then go for it. But if someone has a profile saying he/she is looking for dating and not random hook-ups, they probably won’t want a picture of your wang.

Photo by tapper22

This happened to me. I started chatting with a great dude, added him to my instant messenger, and we talked one day on my lunch break. Then he said, “I have a picture to send you.” But the preview showed a giant penis, despite the dude knowing I was at work, and despite my having said earlier, “Ha-ha, no nudes!” Block and delete.

Don’t Ask Where I Live

I will not tell you which area of the city I live in, lest I find myself answering the front door one evening to come face to face with a serial killer. Also, do not ask for my instant messaging info, but wait for it to be offered.

Choose Your Screen Name and Display Picture Wisely

If you’re actually looking to date someone, a username like SuperPerv with a display picture showing only a shirtless torso might not cut it. Admittedly, it drew me to his profile, where he described his profession as “Spaceman” and his idea of a first date as, “Talk a bit. Have sex. Talk a bit more. Go home.” OK I admit it, I’m intrigued.

But thankfully, there is a bright side to all this: if your online dating experience tanks horribly, at least you’ll have had your share of laughs.


Have you tried online dating? How did it go? Share your successes, failures, and tips in the comments below.

Related Articles

Why you should never date a girl who travels 4

You’ve traveled so much you can’t even date anymore 39

Buenos Aires through eight online dates 18

  • Mary

    I actually met my boyfriend through I was only on there a week as was he. We chatted through Facebook and then through text for the first week until we had our first date. When I jumped into his jeep I felt instantly comfortable. We are going on a little over 2 months now and don’t see any end in sight (knock on wood). Although this one turned out really well, I have had my fair share of entertainment on dating sites from a few years back…

  • EvaSandoval

    All horribly true. I worked long hours in my 20s so every once in a while, I tried internet dating – o, the horrors that surfaced. I’d say my biggest mistake was thinking I could find a man who was actually interested in dating (as opposed to no-strings-attached-sex). Maybe I shouldn’t have posted a picture of myself in a Princess Leia costume? I kid, I kid.

    Some of my fun internet dating finds:

    1) A man who paid for dinner with a gift certificate
    2) A man who showed up hungover and spent the entire night in the bathroom
    3) A man who slammed a door in my face when I refused to go home with him
    4) A man who – ready for this? – a man who made racist jokes all night and when I said I didn’t want to see him again, got so pissed off that he faked his death to humiliate me. It worked. Aaaaaand goodnight Evie. Thanks for sharing your story!

    P.S. Don’t Put “A Prince/Leprechaun/Brad Pitt ISO his Princess/Pot o’ Gold/Angelina” as your headline. LAME.

  • Sarah Irving

    Excellent roundup of some of the pitfalls :-) I’d add – the fact that unless you’re in a really huge city, or willing to travel, it’s only a matter of time before people start… errr… overlapping. I live in a city of 3 million, and admittedly this was 7 or 8 years ago when fewer people were online and internet dating was less ‘done’, but once my friends and I whittled it down to the guys who were actually of interest (vaguely leftie/arty/veggie, or at least into women who were) and then worked our way through a few of them, it got a bit weird. I went out with one guy for a couple of months. We split up (no, actually, he chucked me THE NIGHT BEFORE A UNIVERSITY INTERVIEW! How sleazy is that?), and then a couple of months later one of my mates got a message from him. She replied suggesting that he hadn’t recognised her (he’d met her several times in my company) and he got a bit uncomfortable and said something about small worlds… she replied with the killer line that ‘I’m a friend of Sarah, but not Sarah the mother of your child…’ A couple of years later he tried asking another of my friends out. He got short shrift from her too – poor guy must have thought the web was populated by my vengeful mates who knew FAR too much about him to want to date him! In the end I was very surprised to get together with a guy I’d known for 3 years. We’ve just celebrated 7 years together, and are coming up to our second wedding anniversary. But if he vanished tomorrow I’d probably go back online eventually… it can be fun, if you don’t expect too much.

  • Alouise

    @Eva – someone actually faked their own death over a date? That’s beyond lame. I can see why you didn’t want a second date with that guy.

  • Maggie

    haha, I likes it! Nice summary of the definite fails of internet dating ;) I’m definitely not ready to give it another shot.. but it was fun to reexperience it with you ;)

  • Mary R

    I actually met my husband on eharmony in 2005.

    Even if I hadn’t met him, overall it was a good experience. I approached the whole thing from the point of view of just trying to make friends with no pressure or expectations for more, and I ended up meeting some really nice and interesting people.

    There was one weird one too, but honestly, you learn pretty fast how to filter out the wackos… my advice is not to meet anyone in person until you talk to them on the phone, which can be very revealing… and if there’s any part of you that feels hesitant about someone, trust your instinct.

  • Anne

    I laughed all the way through this article! Funny as always, Candice, though I can’t believe a man puked rum on you.

  • Nick Rowlands

    “But if someone has a profile saying he/she is looking for dating and not random hook-ups, they probably won’t want a picture of your wang.” Priceless!

  • EvaSandoval

    To be fair, internet dating is like non-internet dating in that both parties have to be in it for the same reasons. One of my good friends recently married an amazing woman he met on eharmony – there are wonderful success stories from all ends of the dating spectrum. I had some decent dates, too – it’s just always the negative ones that stick out, isn’t it? And quite honestly, in my early 20s, my “weeding out” capabilities were not what they could have been.

    @alouise Yeah, the death faker was pure insanity. I will forever be wary of e-mails saying that some guy I dated once has died in a helicopter crash while doing charitable works in South East Asia.

    But let’s get back to Candice. How did the date with the spaceman go? ;)

  • Candice Walsh

    Hah, thanks everyone! Amazing stuff. Glad to see there are some success stories out there too. Eva, I should have gotten you to write this piece, those experiences are absolutely hysterical.

    Still no luck on the dating front, but I’m proud to admit I’ve been “Hotlisted” by several Sugar Daddies. Yessss.

    The problem with my small city is, like I said, the girl population drastically outnumbers the dudes, so the pickings are slim. In fact, the whole point of this article is to convince men to move to St. John’s.

    • Turner

      Now that I know there are women looking over there, I shall consider it.

  • Gray

    OMG, I can totally relate to this article. Like you, I live in an area that has more women than men and that’s way too rural to pull in a decent pool of candidates for dating. It’s pretty depressing, really. I started online dating a few years ago, and every six months or so, I get desperate enough to give it another try….until I see that it’s the same guys who are still there that were there 4 years ago. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but I do think you need to live in an area with a large population in order to make this successful (or be willing to travel to another city or state to go on a date, which I’m really not).

  • Julie

    You know- I think a man should set up an Internet dating site for Newfoundland. Those are all really dumb names for websites; no wonder men don’t set up accounts!

  • http://yesthereissuchathingasastupidquestion Kate

    You are so right, Candice. Man. I’ve had some disasters.

    Worst 1st date: the guys tells me that he had an incestuous relationship with his sister, who, it turns out, was 3 years younger at the time, making it statutory rape. His emails had been really nice. :(

    • Pastore Riel

      Wow…This one just beat Puking Gerard.

  • Philippe

    I hadn’t have any success at all with internet dating. I can’t make connections. Awesome !

  • Arie Love

    Stop attracting the wrong people, PERIOD! Life is way to short. Follow these few rules and you will attract the right people all the time.

  • Jayney

    The article describes my recent ex boyfriend : “all I do is watch football” Listens to pop music and is way too bothered about being “popular” (Are we at school?) & last bu by all means not least Super Perv!

  • research papers

    I have always been sceptical about Internet dating, but more than half year and a half I met like this my boyfriend. And I`m very thankful to the Internet!

  • Karen L

    I’ve never gone on a dating website but did meet an ex, a perfectly normal and sane guy, through a chatting site. The pressure that comes from online dating is not there and you are more apt to find someone who shares your interest if you are chatting on a topic-specific chat room.

  • Matrix Health

    I’ll have to say, that profile of the guy who doesn’t want to marry, it’s funny, but it might be a good thing…I’d say be cautious.

    I’ll be honest, I do like saying cheese when I can, but even I have to put it on hold…or at least, I use cheese when the person I’m dating is feeling a bit down, if that makes sense. ^^;

    And personally, in my experience, the majority of online dating is prety much guys wanting to sleep with other people, guys or girls. So I stopped. XD

  • Jean

    I can’t help but notice all the guys online are “laid back.” What does that MEAN? If profiles are too be believed, 99% of the guys in my city are “laid back.” And they want an equally “laid back” woman. One guy actually wrote, “I want a girl who is laid back and full of energy.” Seriously? What does one do with that?

  • Paul Stirling

    Yes, people are funny, desperate and weird when it comes to the dating or mating or ___ing. The worst one would be Where most male profile pics are full on penis pics – some not theirs?! Some of the women have pics of their breasts, make over pics or ‘trying hard to be erotic’ pics. Very funny and pathetic indeed.

    The inbox becomes full of men and women sending scant info about themselves, but their profile intro and stats reveal a mismatch to you and more interesting, they always ask you to tell them about yourself. Strange. They dont say much about themselves, but want you to reveal everything, Swiss account numbers, AIDS test results and how many assets you have.

    The funniest one I came across was the woman who told me she wanted to meet up for one-on-one, no strings attached fun and after messaging each other for a while… we met at a cafe for a coffee. Soon after, I left.
    Why? She didnt look anything like her profile mugshot, had another friend there at the initial meeting for a threesome and didnt care about safe sex. She also wanted money for her ‘trouble and effort’ to meet me.
    I told her that I had money and could easily find the personal column listings for local brothels and sex workers. I also told her that on a cheaper, more cost effective basis there was always adult mags, online pics and masturbation. Good Bye!

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Awesome. You gotta admit- it was worth a shot for the founders.

  • DerviousDackson

    Why the hell would you be on a dating site at work? 

    Use some common sense.  All your footsteps can be tracked while online, whether you’re aware of this or not.  If you’re not using your own computer/electronic device, chances are high you’re at risk. 
    I’m not surprised though, the younger generation appears to be quite naive and ignorant when it comes to online security.

  • Isaac Barber

    Dating online is hard for men. You have to know how to avoid scams and such. Plus, they usually don’t know how to write a profile correctly.