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Dating past your sell-by date

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I’ve Tindered. I’ve OKCupided. I’ve Matched. I’ve blind-dated. Because even at my advanced age (I’m 63) and against all experience to the contrary, somehow dating hope springs eternal.

May you, dear ones, benefit from what wisdom I have achieved in my online dating life. As Sacajawea guided Lewis and Clark, let me lead you into these treacherous waters. For those about to date, I salute you. For those of you reading this while cuddled up to a partner who cherishes your every word and breath … bite me.

The most important first step into online dating is your profile picture. This is the chum you throw into the shark-infested internet dating waters to prime your dating pump. Yes, I know I’m mixing metaphors—anything to drive home a point.

HERE ARE SOME TIPS FOR THE BEGINNER:

Selecting the perfect shot
Choosing the perfect profile picture is a torturous exercise that will plague you until you get it right. And you will never get it right. You must select a compelling image, ideally one that is actually of yourself. (I tried using a picture of Christie Brinkley. I got busted.)  It should be at once coquettish and inviting, and yet is somehow still an accurate representation of the person who walks through the door on your first date.

Interpreting what you see
Most online daters know—or soon learn—the general rules of profile photo interpretation. If a woman’s profile photo features her face in softly lit three-quarter profile with a hint of décolletage, she may have weight issues. If a man’s profile photo is cropped slightly above his eyebrows or if he’s wearing a baseball cap, he is definitely bald.

Your potential date’s profile pictures are giving you valuable clues. If your idea of a perfect date is dinner and the symphony, the guy posting pics of his beloved Harley and from the most recent Aerosmith reunion concert may not be your cup of tea.

Reality checks and balances
Let me state categorically that I embrace my full-figured sisters in all their bounteous beauty. Where would the world be without gorgeous women like Melissa McCarthy, Adele, Oprah and Rebel Wilson? Moreover, I find bald men seriously attractive—shout out to Ed Harris, Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis. But online daters are brutal and specific in their assessments of potential partners. The best thing you can do to increase your success in this arena is to be yourself. Authenticity is your friend. Don’t be a poor imitation of a thoroughbred racehorse when what you really are is an adorable, vibrant pony. The truth will come out as soon as you meet in real life, so present the best version of exactly who you are.

Out of date, a dating don’t
Another profile pitfall is the out-of-date pic. That’s an online dating bait-and-switch that will become obvious the moment you walk into the coffee shop/bar/restaurant/dog park. If your date is shaking your hand with a look of confused horror on his/her face, consider updating your photo. A good rule of thumb: Use a picture taken within the last 18 months.

Ex the exes
Many online daters of a certain age have negligible computer skills, up to and including Photoshop. For this reason you will find endless examples of profile photos that include a disembodied hand or arm draped on your potential beloved’s shoulder. Obviously cutting your ex (wife, husband, date, escort, whoever) out of a profile pic is just tacky. If you find yourself wanting to use the perfect shot, if only your ex weren’t by you side, have a techno whiz—like your grandchild—remove the offending body part from the picture.  

A few final tips
Ladies, refrain from posting pictures of you with your cat (serious red flag), pictures of you with your grandchildren (save those for the third date), and poorly lit selfies taken from odd angles (they are not your friend). Men, hold off on that shot of you with the entire Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader Squad (really?), the one of you standing next to your red sports car (painful cliché) or any shot with you in a backward baseball cap (unless you’re under the age of 18).

Enlist the aid of a trusted friend, find a pretty background (preferably outside on an overcast day) and get a shot that’s close up—not count-your-nostril-hair close, just a clear shot of your fabulous face. And smile. The most common compliment I get on my profile pic is that I have a nice, friendly smile. That counts for a lot. And it makes you approachable, which is almost as alluring as a huge rack. In the world of online dating, the huge rack is probably going to edge out the nice smile, but hey, that’s life.

Candace Karu makes her living writing about food, fitness and travel. She lives near the ocean in an old farmhouse with two ill-behaved dogs and two hard-working barn cats. Her life is just about perfect…except for the dating thing.