A long time ago when I was single, I went to a dating workshop held by a local ‘guru’. He was advising me on my online profile heading, that title next to your picture. Mine read: Warmth & Backbone.
“Drop the backbone,” he said, ”it skews…Masculine.” I considered whether he’d made a valid point, enlightening me on “the” male perspective, or if he was just peddling stereotypes. After mentioning how appealing it is for a woman to have a clean, orderly home (and car), and suggesting the best times for getting the dishes done, it became a smidge clearer.
This “expert” had no idea who I was, what kind of man would be right for me, and who I want to weed out. Any seal of approval from him would be stuck fast to the kind of relationship I’d run from, screaming. (hmm…where ever did I stash my Windex and stilettos…..)
Having backbone, I kept that line and proceeded to date a number of interesting, accomplished men – including the one I’ve been with now, all these years since.
Curious, I asked my guy what he felt when he saw “backbone” in my profile’s title. “Relief” he told me. “ My ex and I avoided conflict, wouldn’t fight out loud. If there was a problem we got passive-aggressive, and over time, really distant. I was ready for somebody direct, who could take honesty and wanted it. Maybe even somebody who was better at it than I was – I had some things to learn. More than anything, I wanted to finally get to be myself – with somebody. That’s what I hoped “backbone” meant.”
The point here isn’t that I’m perfect, or that my profile was. Only that we’re all unique. The main point about profiles is this: the best matches for us will be drawn in – not because we’re inoffensive, but because something essential in us calls to them. Your singular note reverberates through them, through all of their particularity.
We all want to be loved for who we are. But first we have to risk being who we are, from the very start. If you’re dating online, that first encounter is your profile. And if it’s authentic, it’ll be both honey and vinegar.
But take a look online (I’m guessing you have), and you’ll be stricken by the epidemic of blandness. Hordes swarm the beaches for a walk, untold thousands of jeans-wearers change into something black and eat by candlelight. Full lives in every direction. No one needs a partner (g-d forbid) – and if there ever were any problems in the life portrayed, they’ve been handily solved.
But the problem now is that your potential mate is both catatonically bored and even more fixated on photos. (Over-reliance on pictures is worthy of its own post, but for now suffice it to say….) Pictures can’t create enough of a GATE to do the job of profile: to dissuade the wrong and invite the right matches in.
No one wants to be the human equivalent of Muzak, right?
So what’s up with all these profiles? Are we afraid to be unique, or do we just not know who we are?
We stay partially hidden for lots of reasons, and it’s worth knowing yours, so you can choose consciously what, when and how to reveal. Timing and context matter.
But still, if it’s connection we’re after, there’s an initial challenge to face: how to be authentic, vulnerable but not needy, and telegraph the essence of who you are.
Tall order? Maybe not. I think there are a few easy steps you can take now, toward more authentic, connected, and joyful relationships. It all starts with your profile.
If you’re in the Bay Area, get personal attention to make your profile shine on Saturday, 12/9, at the workshop: Light the Spark