An Early Adopter
I grew up in the 90’s (I’m 32 now) and was a bit of a shy nerd. Making friends didn’t come easily to me even though my parents gave me every opportunity to try. They made me play sports, sent me to summer camps, and encouraged me to make friends. Regardless, I just never felt like I fit in with most groups of people. Once we got the internet, I found my way into chat rooms and everything changed. I was anonymous and there was a screen in front of me, absorbing my anxiety.
I spent a lot of my time connecting with people through message boards, AOL Instant Messenger and Yahoo Chatrooms. Although Social Media wasn’t really a thing at the time, and meeting people from “the Internet” was an outlandish concept, I never shied away from the idea and ended up meeting some pretty good friends through the internet as a teenager in the early 2000's.
When I started college, online dating was becoming more mainstream so I decided to give it a try.
Granted, at this point in my life, I was trying almost anything to meet women. My problem was I never grew out of my shyness. I had some success meeting people at clubs, but it was really hard for me to approach people and open up. Since I was an experienced online-chatter, I figured I’d “crush it” online dating. I was wrong.
My First Attempts to Find a Match
I didn’t understand what I did wrong. I filled out my profile with thoughtful responses that tried to show that I was an intelligent and fun-loving young man. I posted as many pictures as the site allowed, giving women every angle so they knew I wasn’t lying about my appearance. When I sent a message to a woman, it always referenced stuff in her profile so she knew I read it and felt a connection… why wasn’t I getting any dates? Looking back it is easy to see I was kind of a chump even though my heart was in the right place. My profile wreaked of neediness and I probably came off as pretentious.
I canceled my account and found love the old fashioned way for a while.
Once I graduated from college and landed my first office job, online dating had taken over. Phone Apps made it so accessible, everyone was doing it. I was single and figured I’d give the online world another chance. I booted up OK Cupid and Match.com. I was in a completely different place in life, and figured everything would be different this time around. IT WASN’T! It was the same deal… few responses and few dates. More than the first time, but none of them ever went anywhere. If online dating was going to work for me, I needed a strategy.
A Profile Makeover
I trashed my profile and started over. Instead of waxing intellectual and sharing my life story, I wrote a simple joke. Over time, I tried several things, but a joke worked best. I restricted myself to three pictures: One selfie, one of me with friends, and one of me out in public. I am from Minnesota, so every other guy’s profile shows hunting, fishing, or boating. I wanted to stand out so I made sure not to use any pictures of me doing anything like that. Also, no pictures with weapons of any kind…
Flipping the Script
I also realized I was playing the wrong game. I was spending hours reading through profiles and crafting messages with care, thinking that women would jump at the opportunity to date a guy who pays such close attention to the details and spends so much time writing beautiful prose. Although it can work, it scales poorly. There are just too many people online and my time is too valuable.
Instead of spending hours reading through profiles and toiling over messages, I decided to play the numbers game.
Once or twice a week I would search the site and open anyone I found attractive in a new tab. I’d typically stop around 30 tabs. I’d click the tab, glance through the profile for anything I considered a red flag, and then used copy and paste to send a fairly generic and short message. This way, I wasn’t spending hours reading through profiles, I wasn’t spending hours writing messages, and I was reaching out to a lot more people in a lot less time. Plus, my ego wasn’t constantly crushed. I was less emotionally invested in the outcome since I spent less time and effort using the tool.
I took the strategy one step further and used an Auto Hotkey Macro recorder to record my mouse clicks and keyboard commands. I automated my messaging process making it so I only had to pick the people I wanted to message. Once I selected the profiles, I started the bot to go through the browser tabs and send out messages. I tried to write a message that didn’t seem like it was pasted in, but some women saw through the strategy. I was 100% honest with anyone that asked. I’d tell them I used a bot to send messages and some of them actually wanted to learn more! I tried not to message the same woman more than once a month, but sometimes I’d screw up and send people the same message twice! Just shrug it off, but sometimes it is a conversation starter.
By spending less time, I was also able to experiment more. I tried different jokes, different opening messages, and different pictures.
People respond to different things, so finding a way to do high-volume experimentation was likely an important part of my success.
More Messages got me More Responses
The strategy worked! My profile view count sky-rocketed and I started getting responses to my messages. Majority of the conversations didn’t turn into dates, but enough of them did to give me a huge boost of confidence. Over time, I refined the strategy a bit more and got pretty comfortable on dates. I was a regular at a few local places, I had stories I knew could get a laugh, and I had enough life experience to generate interesting banter.
Although online dating was frustrating at first, by changing my approach and the way I thought about it, I was able to overcome the frustration and rejection. The profile and messaging strategy is what attracted the woman I ended up marrying. If you aren’t having the online dating success you hoped for, and see yourself falling into the same traps I did, give my strategy a try and never stop experimenting. This strategy worked for me, but I haven’t used online dating in years so things might have changed.