Sunday 22 October 2017

I was brutally honest in my dating profile - and it worked

Dee Finnerty was pleasantly surprised by the reaction she got when she decided to be brutally honest in her online dating profile. Photo: Dave Conachy
Dee Finnerty was pleasantly surprised by the reaction she got when she decided to be brutally honest in her online dating profile. Photo: Dave Conachy

I can hear the air rushing past my ears as I inhale deeply. What am I doing? Cringing, with one eye glancing at the screen, I press ‘submit’ and that’s it. Everything I’ve ever been ashamed about, too afraid to confront or have plainly ignored is now visible to the single men of Ireland — and the rest of the internet.

How did I get to this point? Well, no one wants to be alone on Valentine’s Day, but as a 25 year old woman devoid of another half who completes my very being, and with a mounting pile of friends who’ve fought in the love wars and lost miserably to the enemy — coupledom —  I felt it was it only right that I venture forth onto the battlefield of online dating, without a single weapon.

On a night out, I often have major self-doubts ringing in my ears if someone tries to chat me up. I’m often incredibly dismissive of men who appear interested because there is an automatic presumption on my part that the person has no idea what I’m really like and that the second they do, they’ll be running in fear.

And then I thought, what if I told everyone what I was really like? Surely, then, only the people who don’t mind those flaws will talk to you.

So I broke the golden rule of online dating and decided to tell it like it really is. It’s no secret that most dating profiles are created in a strategic way, but being  liberal with the truth can lead to misleading and disappointing dates, and who has time for that anymore?

With this in mind, I decided to sign up to one of Ireland’s leading dating sites with the premise of being as bluntly honest about myself as possible.

I gave a list of my pros and my cons, my interests, all of the basics such as age, height, body type. Then I gritted my teeth and posted some photos without make-up, with make-up and one of the only full- length pictures I keep.

For my pros, I mentioned things like ‘friendly’, ‘creative’, ‘analytical’, ‘loyal’, ‘compromising’, and of course, I mentioned that I enjoy long walks on the beach. For my cons, I wrote things like ‘cynical’, ‘introverted’, ‘overweight’, ‘unfit’, ‘argumentative’, ‘forgetful and messy’, ‘smoker’, but tried to cheer it up a bit with ‘easily angered’.

One of the most difficult aspects of all of this was getting over myself enough to work out what my problems actually are. Having to sit and think about why I do certain things both opened my eyes and made me feel even more hopeless than I’d originally thought.

But the minute my profile went public, I felt a wave of liberation and nonchalance about it all.

A few hours in, and I was wondering why my phone kept bleating away on the other side of the room with emails. I picked it up to see quite a few emails from my chosen dating site reading ‘this person has favourited you’, ‘such and such has sent you a message’ etc.

I logged in, only to be further shocked by some lovely messages. There were plenty of ‘heys’ and ‘his’ and the odd Joey-from-Friends-esque ‘how you doin’?’ (I may be wrong but I can only assume these men clicked on picture and sent a message rather than reading my entire profile).

One aspect I found particularly odd was the several messages I received just with one word. One particular man made me question whether he thought I was a puppy when he sent me a message which read ‘cuteness’, when I ignored this he followed up with another attempt ‘shy???’

I couldn’t help but feel that he wasn’t addressing the cynical, argumentative, smoker that I am.

However, interspersed through these were messages from men who had certainly read my profile. One man posed the question ‘since when is being argumentative a bad thing?’ and continued to ask about one of my hobbies.

Another claimed I read like a female version of him. Some were just polite, telling me that I had an ‘interesting profile, even with faults’ or that it was ‘awesome’ that I’m ‘so open’. This became a reassuring trend over the weeks.

Anyone who messaged me was kind, although there were also men who expressed disbelief upon reading my full profile, telling me it was ‘an interesting read’ or ‘exhaustive but worth the read’ and some who joked about this.

As I whittled my way through profiles, I did see some that I quite liked the look of too.

There was one man in particular who appeared to have a lot in common with me, and I took the first step and messaged him. As partially expected, I didn’t get a response.

But rather than feeling the usual embarrassment of rejection, I was softly cushioned by the knowledge that he just didn’t like what he saw and therefore, it never would have worked. It could have been worse discovering this at an awkward first date or, even few weeks down the line.

So I continued to message a select few who had sparked my interest and received responses from all. I chatted to a few, some who made me laugh, some who clearly wanted different things to what I did, and some with whom I had intelligent conversation.

But eventually, I had to bite the bullet and go on a date. So having received a message from someone with whom I had ‘mutually matched’, I went straight in. I asked if he was free later that evening for a drink. I was shocked when he said ‘yes’ straight away.

I got to the pub convinced I wouldn’t find him inside. Sure enough, however, he did turn up!

Not only that, but he seemed even more attractive in real life. He was extremely polite and gent-like, funny and frankly not at all what I was expecting, if I did have any expectations.

We talked non-stop about our interests to the point where we later realised we knew very little of the basic details about each other. I was surprised at how much we had in common and that I genuinely felt very comfortable with him.

I asked what attracted him to my profile and to my amazement, his response proves that sometimes it does pay to be honest.

He said he had been attracted to my pictures originally and read my profile, which he thought was fine, until he got to the bad…which he apparently found really impressive.

He described how he considered the things I had listed as ‘cons’ to actually be good things. I had a really lovely time and apparently so did he. Only time will tell if it will lead anywhere, but right now I’m feeling quite renewed about the future.

But were the men being honest in their profiles? Well that’s for another day, but some profiles which I viewed, had a similar vein of pros and cons. Could this become a new trend?

I would certainly recommend it. The experience overall was a positive one and I was very shocked to have been flattered by strangers after revealing my flaws. Noticeably, I have had a surge in confidence when it comes to my personal life, not necessarily in dating, but in my sense of understanding and accepting myself.

In the words of Dylan Moran: “You can’t please everyone, nor should you seek to, because then you won’t please anyone, least of all yourself.”

Irish Independent

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