Niche Personals

Niche Personals

With the advent of Summer, I’ve been lulled into a feeling of well-being and camaraderie, and I’m feeling so good that I’ve been feeling like going on a few dates. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that I’ve been feeling like updating my OKCupid Profile to see what happens. It would be nice to share what I’ve got going on, such as it is, with someone remarkable.

It took a while to figure out how to approach this, as this is not the kind of writing I usually do. How do you make a positive impression, through text, on a smart and beguiling woman? The odds are stacked against us; I’ve heard anecdotal reports that women are bombarded with SO MUCH SPAM from ham-handed guys, not to mention the horror stories about outright lies about one’s appearance and age that frankly, I don’t see why anyone would want to use these sites at all. As a marketing channel, it’s full of deception and noise. Still, for a lot of us the promise of real romance is a heady-enough draw that we keep going back to the well. A big online dating site has the appeal of playing the Lottery, with slightly better odds, if you’re willing to plunk down your $19.99 a month and spin the wheel.

draft 1

Here’s what I wrote:

I run my design business from home, so a big part of my day is sitting outside at Starbucks every morning. This is important because it makes damn sure that I’m in regular contact with real live people, which I’ve discovered I can’t live without. Over the course of the last two years I’ve gotten to know the names of the barristas and other regulars, chatting outside while savoring out minutes together over hideously-overpriced beverages, taking the scenic route to friendship a few minutes at a time. It’s amazing what stories you’ll hear from your fellow townies, if you just bother to show up at the same time and same place every day. Here on OKCupid, I don’t have the luxury of helping you to form an impression of me over months of casual observation. You won’t have seen, for example, that I’m an enthusiastic and warm person that says “thank you” after every transaction. You will not have seen the piles of books, toys, gadgets, fancy pens, and other ephemera I haul in every morning, so you will not have had the thought that I must be possessed of an eclectic and somewhat alarming range of creative interests. Your curiosity will not have been piqued at the sudden outburst of snickering erupting from my table, nor will you have been slightly shocked at the heartfelt-yet-kindly use of cusswords to properly convey the nature of a situation. Therefore, you will not have had your initial impression totally thrown off by the care and intensity with which I counsel my friends through tough times, measured tones punctuated by silent listening. I’m sorry that you weren’t part of our committee to roast an entire pig for our first luau; we’ve got the equipment and costs down, and we just need a place to do it with 40-50 hungry friends. And you missed last week’s symposium on how to take over the world, WITHOUT spending a lot of money. Because you’re not here in the room with me, I’m just some Asian guy with a couple of lousy photos. You don’t know me at all, not one tiny bit. You didn’t even get to see my new scooter…it’s really cute. Now, you could take a chance and message me back, but I don’t blame you for not wanting to try. There are TONS of guys, some of them pretty good-looking, that are vying for your attention. The preferred strategy, I’ve been told, is to carpet-bomb every eligible female with compliments and invitations to hook up. And some of you are buying into that, when the photo is hot enough, but I’m not writing to you anyway. Still, I know we all want to feel that tingle of sexual interest as we scan the photo galleries, and there’s a good chance that my photos didn’t do it for you. It’s my fault that you can’t imagine us together, and as a designer I should know better. If you’ve ever compared the photography in, say, “Vogue” with the ads in “Men’s Health” or “Maxim”, you’ll see that Vogue’s spreads tell stories about relationships. Men’s magazines tell stories about power and utility. My photos are more like the latter: I’m showing you that I’m a pretty average guy, so the best my photos can do is help you rank my desirability based on apparent fitness, fashion, and hair. Or you could look past that. I clean up pretty good, and I’m getting more toned every day at the gym. What matters is that you and I want the same thing: We want that breezy feeling of possibility, built on a foundation of trust and passion. We want to be free to pursue what we individually hold dear to us, and at the same time be strong “together”. We both have a unique blend of skills and experiences, and it’s going to take you more than just a bad photo to tell you the shape of our possible future. I could try to spell it all out, but I’m just going to be straight with ya: I don’t know what you’re looking for. What I can tell you is that I will not change myself to match what I think your expectations are. That’s something we will discover together, over a tasty ethnic dinner in a strange new city, pairing local wines with our favorite artisan blue cheese. We’ll find it in the forest, dwarfed by ancient trees, as we hunt for unexpected treasure. It’ll come out when you admit to liking something pretty amazingly crappy and embarrassing, and I’m sure you won’t be too impressed by what just came out of my mouth either. We might find it inside one of those mini rooms at IKEA, as we try to balance a tricky space constraint against our desire for ergonomic nirvana. And we’ll zoom by it on the road, the GPS ticking off the miles, as we search for the only North American distributor of that specialty product you suspect you can not live without. We’ll celebrate our experiences with our friends and peers, together dreaming and scheming our way to a shared prosperity. And when we fall asleep each other’s arms, groggily looking forward to synthesizing a better tomorrow, we’ll know that what we’re doing would have remained mere possibility in the hands of another couple, the shadow of a memory of a path not taken. So why not say hello? It’s a small word, easily said, that just may open the way to something grand.

The interesting sensation I had, after polishing up this essay, was that I could feel it because instead of writing what I thought women would respond to, I wrote what I would respond to. It’s a narrow filter, I suspect, but I am hopeful that anyone who is so moved will be more likely to be compatible, at least on the level of personality. That’s niche marketing, applied at the individual scale. Of course, I’m just a guy that doesn’t really understand women, so if any female readers want to set me straight, that would earn you big karma points from me and any other hapless males that stumble upon this page.

draft 2

After all the brutally excellent commentary in the comments, I shortened the essay and tightened it up. Hopefully, it is now truer to certain aspects of myself while still retaining a core of dreaminess that is important to me. Big lessons learned: anything that is not strong or is self-deprecating is automatically interpreted as weakness, aim to get the introduction, not the relationship, shorter shorter shorter, and have a call to action. I retained some of the verbosity because that is actually something that is part of my personality; perhaps the right woman for me would have the soul of an editor ;-)

Since you’re looking at my profile on a computer, you don’t have the luxury of forming an impression of me based on chance observation, as local people can when they see me every day at the nearby Starbucks. Therefore, you won’t have noted that I say “thank you” after every transaction, nor will you have intuited that I’m an enthusiastic and warm person from the way I smile at the barristas that know my name. Your eyebrow didn’t arch skywards when I hauled in that odd collection of books, gadgets, tools, and other surprising ephemera to share with my friends; the passing thought that I must be possessed of an eclectic and somewhat-alarming range of creative interests therefore didn’t flit across your mind. And sadly, you missed the opportunity to sit-in on last week’s informal symposium on how to take over the world–just enough of it, anyway–so we can fund our own ideas of purpose, fun, and adventure. If I’d caught you looking our way, I would have invited you to come sit with us. And that would have been the beginning of our friendship. I’m looking for a long-term relationship with a partner who can also be one of my best friends. I realized long ago that trying to define exactly WHO that would be is an absolutely futile exercise because THE SPARK is mysterious and unpredictable. It’s something we will discover together, perhaps over a tasty ethnic dinner in a strange new city, pairing local wines with our favorite artisan blue cheese. We’ll find bits of it in the forest, our presence dwarfed by the grandeur of ancient trees, as we search for unexpected treasure. It’ll start to come out after you admit to liking something pretty amazingly silly, both of us choking on our own laughter when I confess to something even worse. We may find it at 90 miles per hour, GPS ticking off the miles, as we seek out the only North American distributor of that specialty product you suspect you shouldn’t live without. And when we fall asleep each other’s arms, groggily looking forward to creating our better tomorrow, we’ll know that what we’re doing now would have remained mere possibility in the hands of another couple, the shadow of a memory of a path not taken. So why not say hello? It’s a small word, easily said, that just may open the way to something grand. I’m very personable. I’ll show you my favorite table at Starbucks, and we can take it from there.

The rest of the profile has also been tightened up and is less wishy-washy. I have a tendency to water down the strength of what I believe in certain situations because I worry about sounding pushy. This profile will likely now become the model for updates across other online personal profiles I’m maintaining.


  1. Andrew Duryea 16 years ago

    David, if my wife leaves me for you over this well written profile, we’ll have to have some words.

    That said, I do think that the first two paragraphs are a mild intro to an otherwise great piece.  Unless someone reads your site they’ll have no idea how important those two paragraphs are.

    Here’s hoping the fems out there are wise enough to inundate you with spam.

  2. warren 16 years ago

    well dave, if i wasn’t a guy, wasn’t happily married, and wasn’t on the other side of the world, I’d at least buy you your next hideously overpriced caffeintated beverage and say hello ;-)

    IMHO If you don’t get any takers, it won’t be your pitch, it’ll be down to the wrong audience.

  3. Karen 16 years ago

    I’m newly single (just over a month) and have gone on a date already with a guy I met on OK Cupid. However, I don’t really get much attention on that site. Maybe it’s because I don’t have any pictures of me smiling and looking flirty. Maybe it’s because I don’t think I’m putting in the effort to appear approachable. Maybe I’m just not someone that people want to date. Not sure and right now it doesn’t really matter to me.

    I do know that what attracts me to people, whether it’s online or in person, is usually one little quirk, that one thing that to me indicates a whole slew of personality traits. I’m a sucker for Star Trek geeks, but oddly, not WoW geeks. My ex, I was attracted to him because of his glasses, of all things. And I’m definitely more likely to respond to someone who *doesn’t* look like a model because I like real men who aren’t going to think the world revolves around them and their bodies.

    I think your essay is charming and, having met you a couple times, very much feels like you. I know it would make me respond to it, especially the phrase “measured tones punctuated by silent listening.” I can’t speak for other women, but that’s the hook that works for me. You can always think about it as even if you don’t find the right girl on the site, she might have friends!

  4. Wendy 16 years ago

    I think you’re selling yourself a little short on some aspects of looks – just because you don’t think you are a drop-dead hunk – the guy with the rocky abs and a jaw you could slice a lemon with, for example – doesn’t mean the way you look won’t drive someone else crazy (in a good way :-P) expecially when they see you crack a smile or pull that expression that is so utterly _you_.

    I find myself attracted to people who are not stereotypically good loooking – I don’t like tans, I’ve been attracted to tall, thin, lanky guys, short guys… not only the tall and buff. Admittedly, the more I know about a person, the more/less attractive they appear to me based on my overall perception of the kind of human being they are.

    Don’t make it sound like you’re not expecting them to find you attractive, because then they’ll look at your pics with that expectation in the back of their minds. You weren’t doing that exactly, I’m just saying be wary of doing so :-)

    I think aiming to write something you would find interesting is absolutely on the mark.

    I think it is a pretty good blurb, some cute, fun comments in there. You sounds confident and unapologetic about your interests, which is great (who wants to date a guy who is ashamed of what he likes?)

    I’m no expert though, these are just my thoughts as an individual woman – we are not a homogeneous group, after all ;-)

    Good luck! :-)

  5. Jessica 16 years ago

    No, no, no!  This is the worst writing on your blog.  You’re obscuring your lovely clarity and your prose suddenly lacks energy, commitment, and honesty.  Also, why are you making us slog through long paragraphs in which all you do is tell us you’re not good enough?  You could at least employ better writing technique.

    You’re lying to yourself by saying this is your niche; you’re afraid to get hurt.  Pick any random page from your blog and you’ll get a better description of yourself.  I found two much more compelling passages that you could use, without much tweaking to make applicable to the dating world:

    More powerful is making the commitment to myself, so that I am acting on my own behalf to become the kind of person I can believe in:

    I am certain that creating anything at all makes the world a better place.
    I am certain that putting myself as much as I can into the work I do helps the world connect with me.
    I am certain that by continuing to push myself to improve, I am putting myself in the position of making the world a better place for the people who are important to me.
    I am certain that I am the sum of my positive influences, not the sum of my failures
    I am certain that I am my own metric for what works for me.
    I am certain that I just have to pitch in where I can, and keep moving as I must.


    To answer the question, here’s what I look forward to:
    • Finding peoples’ stories. I like to know where people have been, what they are doing now, why they’re doing it, and what their dreams are. This is a lot more interesting than getting a dry technical spec that has somehow missed the point that people to relate to something.
    • Relating things. People to other people, ideas to ideas, people to ideas, solutions to people, etc. How do things relate to each other, how is that relevant to the task at hand, and will it all work. I love doing that.
    • Communicating what we’ve learned. Writing a clear and concise document. Drawing a great diagram. Teaching one-on-one. I like putting it out there so people can use what we’ve learned, and I am a bit obsessive about doing this right.
    • Distilling the essence of a thing. I love being buried by detail and finding the big themes that are so big they’re hard to see. I love finding the small details that are linchpins of an enterprise, knowing just how to apply them so everything holds together. That’s how I learn, and how I harness my intuition and insight.
    • Empowerment through Altered Perspective. I like it when I can show someone a new way of looking at things, both from the macro and micro perspective, and watch as they make that new connection for the first time. Yes…we CAN do it. Yes…I DO understand! That to me is the absolute best!

  6. Ryan 16 years ago


    Tho i ain’t a girl, and i hardly comment on blogs ever. This post is definitely something every female would swoon over, and every guy (including me) would want to be able to compose.

    Excellent stuff. Forwarded to a couple of my lady friends.

    And they absolutely loved it. A pity they’re over in Singapore, and you, over at the other end of the world.

  7. Jill 16 years ago

    That’s rather beautiful.

  8. Emmanuel 16 years ago

    Dave, it IS beautifully written.

    And I am the wrong person to be giving advice since I am (a) male and (b) hopeless with the opposite sex.

    One thing I would say is, well, it’s long. I hate to say it, but it could turn off busy women. And maybe that’s a good filter. But something for you to think about.

  9. Alex 16 years ago

    I think it’s fantastic.  Just two things.

    1) Less being down on yourself, even indirectly.
    2) You are setting a very tough filter.  This isn’t a problem, as long as you realize it and keep it in mind.

  10. Dave Seah 16 years ago

    Wow, a lot of feedback…thanks all! I was wondering if posting this was a really bad idea, but I figured it might open up a different kind of conversation. And it IS related, somewhat, to Design via Identity, which are topics I talk about frequently ;-)

    Andrew: Thanks for that perspective on the first two paragraphs…I’m way too close to that to see it by myself!

    Warren: I’ve wanted to visit Australia and New Zealand, so I will take you up on that offer of coffee some day :-)

    Karen: I know what you mean about attraction via quirks. While I’ll notice a physically beautiful woman now and again, I’m never ATTRACTED until I see that bizarre quirk that, as you said, indicates a boatload of awesome personality traits. Incidentally, I was recently at a event at a comic store and had a chance to talk to the founder, and she has an interesting site going on to get the quirkies together. I’m not sure how much traffic it gets, but it might be worth checking out.

    Wendy: Hm, that’s a good point. I do need to get more candid photos of myself. Which means I need to hang out with more photographers who LIKE taking candid shots. Maybe I need to hold a contest among my peers and give away an iPod Shuffle or something.

    Jessica: Awesome, I love that you are having such a negative reaction :-) I actually have tried that other approach, to be very strong and state my beliefs objectively. That’s my very public side. However, I would say that what I wrote is ALSO me…it’s a side that doesn’t come out much. I’m letting it show because I am NO LONGER AFRAID of being hurt. I had a recent insight that there is a very gooey part of me that I’ve built armor around…it’s my logical-analytical-objective-positive mindset. It’s actually pretty great! But I do have a very dreamy side as well, and actually I find it very weary to be thinking all the time. Part of what I want out of my relationships is to not have to be in my head all the time…that would be, I think, very tiring.

    There is another more practical aspect to the approach I took: people are not likely to believe objective statements like this on an online dating service. For one thing, everyone else is claiming the same thing. From talking with women who’ve used these sites, the default assumption is that everyone is stretching the truth, lying, or otherwise. So I tried an oblique approach, one relating more to the dream side than the practical side, an invitation to explore instead of commit. Most people find that pretty scary and desperate.  To see people fulfill their dreams is something that I really personally love…this is what underlies my drive to write about productivity, not a desire to just be “more efficient”. So I don’t think I am lying here…but I do see your point about energy and length. Also, I think I speak to many of these points in the “details” section of the OK Cupid profile. So the essay is the hook (admittedly very long), and the details about stories are elsewhere in the profile if the hook has done its job.

  11. Dave Seah 16 years ago

    Ryan: Thanks for the feedback, and for double-checking it with your lady friends :-) Maybe I should start a profile writing service, as it is not unlike the identity / brand writing I do on the side, trying to uncover the true essence behind a person :-) Oh, but the moral questions!

    Jill: Thank you :-)

    Emmanuel: Yup, I know I tend to run long, but left it intact to serve the filtering function. I got some other feedback today at Starbucks about shifting the last paragraph up further…I think combined with the other comments, I do need to introduce some more sizzle up front rather than spend so long setting up the baseline of counter-expectation.

    Alex: That’s an interesting point about being “down” on myself, because that’s not how I was thinking. In hindsight, what I was doing was writing BETWEEN the lines. So while on the surface I’m being down on myself, I’m actually saying that doesn’t matter. But I should review and see if it’s really effective…I’ve gotten some other comments from people locally on this, so it is worth checking into. How to be confident yet casual at the same time is easier in person than in text, I’m finding.

  12. KathyHowe 16 years ago

    I have three words for you:


    I read the first couple paragraphs and went to the next thing in my RSS feeder.  It was certainly an interesting and entertaining read.  Well written. Clever.  But too long for my taste.

    Sometimes less is more.

  13. Lien 16 years ago


    I must put a disclaimer first, so it doesn’t hurt you to read what comes after.  I am in a very similar situation – I have my own business and I run my husband’s business. So I am online for 10 hours a day. And I miss people.  I am lucky, I married before I went into this crazy Internet world/work.  I am very happily married.  I have been reading your blog for a year now.  I absolutely love your blog.  I am in awe how you see the world and present it to others.  Sometimes I wish I could be like you.

    Are you looking for a real woman? Cause that book you wrote can kill any joy in any woman. I barely got through the first two paragraphs. And I really like your blog.  I am probably very wrong, but this is not your writing.  It’s boring, it’s long, it’s self-centered. It just sounds like any other guy going on and on and on about himself.  It doesn’t get my attention. 

    If you are trying to compete with Tolstoy’s writing, well, you are getting there.  Russians are notorious for writing a sentence that goes for half a page.  You don’t have that much time online.  You will be dismissed so fast.  What I don’t get from this piece is what you really really want.  It sounds more like a puzzle to me – you want affection? You want a relationship?  You want sex? You want just to drive around with a GPS device?  You want to find what my expectations are?  I quit coffee a week ago, forgive me, I am very slow.  Maybe, there is a message somewhere in there.  But I think you sound more like you are in love with your writing.  The writing on a personal profile is TO GET to a date, not to dazzle anyone with your writing style.

    Stop talking about your appearance negatively.  I absolutely love your personality. If I weren’t married, I would probably chase you. What happened to your sincerity and sense of humor? Where are they?  Don’t you think you need them for dating?  A guy with a sense of humor is always a winner. 

    “I wrote what I would respond to. It’s a narrow filter, I suspect, but I am hopeful that anyone who is so moved will be more likely to be compatible, at least on the level of personality.”  – assumptions, assumptions, assumptions.  Do you really know what compatibility is?  Compatible personalities?  Does anyone know?  Why are you limiting yourself?  Dating is like finding a job.  It can be a game of numbers.  The more people you meet, the higher chances you will actually meet someone compatible. 

    If you are looking for a serious relationship with your current profile, you won’t get it. I don’t see from your personal that you are looking for a committed relationship (partnership or marriage).  On your profile you are saying “New friends, Long-term dating, Short-term dating, Activity partners”.  It usually means that you don’t know what you want.  Any girl that knows her worth won’t settle for non-committal something rather.  If you don’t want to get married, then say so.  If you secretly hope to have a life partner, then say so.  If you want to find just friends, damn, just say it.  You need to know what you want and how to ask for it.  I do hope you will stumble into a happy relationship.  Right now it will be just a pure accident, since you are not direct and open about yourself and your needs/wishes.  You only get what you put into it.

    Please don’t take it too personally.  I think Ringo Star is sexy.  I was on a fast track to a PhD and academic career and quit it all just to have a real life.  I married a guy who never even finished his Bachelor degree.  So I am a major disappointment in my family of award-winning ubber-achievers.  But I am happy.  So this is just my opinion/life experience.

  14. Dave Seah 16 years ago

    Kathy: I get that a lot :-) Thanks for the input!

    Lien: Awesome analysis, thanks! I’m not hurt at all by it. Something you said struck a chord: “less is more”. But more WHAT? That’s probably where I am lost. So maybe I need to state my assumptions:

    (1) I don’t know who I’ll be attracted to. I used to think I did, but like you I’ve found that I can’t predict it based on parameters. I think I am assuming that it will totally be a happy accident. Which might explain why I’m still single :-)

    (2) I’ve just realized that because I believe I can’t predict, I’m letting the door swing too broadly open. I’m looking for a long-term relationship, period. And you’re right…I should just say that.

    (3) There is a certain business-like mentality to dating that I’ve never been able to get my head into, re the numbers game. I’m kind of a silly-headed romantic at times. The question I ask myself is whether I beat that out of me, or do I let it fly to the best of my ability. This writeup is my attempt at expressing the romantic, and it was reaching for something important to me. There was some risk in posting this, because it’s not a side I normally show, and it breaks the continuity of what I think people assume I must be like.

    (4) I think there is a certain kind of person I’m attracted to, and that’s the one that can see magic in the strangest of places. This is something I can usually only see in person, and it’s exceedingly rare. I embedded the cues that I thought might attract those people. Perhaps this is too subtle an approach.

    What’s very cool is that there is such polarization of opinion, and I’m glad that people are comfortable expressing it.

  15. Corrie 16 years ago

    My favorite phrase: “heartfelt-yet-kindly use of cusswords.” Awesome!

    Yes, it’s long, but as you said, you’re writing to what you would respond to… and maybe there’s a(n available) kindred spirit out there who would read the whole thing and appreciate it. I liked it.

  16. Rose 16 years ago

    So why do all the guys think it is a great bio? Treat this as a client! I know Self is the hardest client but remember the basics.
    As Kathy Howe says.. way too long, I am busy!
    Catch my attention in the first paragraph, no, the first sentence, or I am moving on.
    Wendy is right you sell yourself short. Just be factual. You comfortably support yourself by.. blah blah blah. The first two paragraphs make you sound like a leech trolling the coffee shops. You don’t go there for crumbs of human contact! You love the coffee and the atmosphere.
    The third paragraph is great, shows your sense of humor, which I like.
    Back to the marketing, where is the call to action?? For a limited time offer…recieve an artisan blue cheese tasting extravaganza via vespa in the city of your choice.
    On a more practical note. You are going to meet real women in person, at parties, classes, events related to hobbies you enjoy, meet-ups.
    Try to be rejected at least 3 times a week. And respond cheerfully, don’t let it get cha down.
    All they can do is say no…big deal.
    Ask a gal to help you; pick out a shirt at the store, bake a birthday cake, what the best moiturizing sunscreen is. BTW, how are those crest white strips working?

    “the obligatory “I’m not totally fat” picture”
    ??? If you are not going to be nice to yourself, don’t say anything at all.
    My husband is Japanese, he is burly not fat. His thighs are bigger than mine. He looks like Buddha.
    “happy belly”. In other words, you don’t know what any given woman wants. Get some semi professional pics of yourself (pick the female photographer that responses to your craiglisting) Well now I have gone long. Chin up!

  17. Lien 16 years ago

    >>>>>>>Something you said struck a chord: “less is more”. But more WHAT?
    —You might want to consider some balance between romance and reality. 

    >>>>>>(1) I can’t predict it based on parameters. I think I am assuming that it will totally be a happy accident.
    —Currently, there are thousands and thousands of people who believe that somebody will discover them and make them into a big star.  Majority of them don’t even have a talent.  But they think a producer (aka Prince or Knight) will find and rescue them from this terrible real life they experience.  It is ridiculous.  But when it comes to love, majority of people think it will just happen!  Why is it not ridiculous?  Everything, that is worth anything, requires hard work and fighting. You can’t predict, I agree. But you can make it happen.  You need to be honest and open about who you are, and whom you want to attract.  I am not talking about parameters like tall, skinny, red-head, etc.  I am talking about smoker/non-smoker, drug user/non-user, wants kids (pets, plants, etc), honest, hard-working, knows how to handle money/gold-digger.  That you MUST know. And you have to be able to express it in a nice way (please don’t go into the other extreme where you demand what you want :-) and sound all mean and crazy).  So there should be no doubts or digging for that kind of information.  Look at the statistics why people get divorced – money, kids, etc.  some of these people just fell in love, got married, and got kids without communicating those things upfront.  You can’t just liquidate kids after that.  Why is it not ridiculous and backward?

    >>>>>>>>>2) I’ve just realized that because I believe I can’t predict, I’m letting the door swing too broadly open. I’m looking for a long-term relationship, period.
    —I found my husband online.  I was chained to my computer by my thesis.  In 1999 it was still kinda new and terrible.  We were lucky we even found each other.  However, what attracted us to each other, without any photos (I refused to post my picture online), was honest profiles.  And we are nothing alike, nothing!  In a real life setting, I would most likely overlook him. So you have to swing the door wide open.  The Internet offers you unlimited opportunities.  The good thing about telling things upfront – it eliminates all the jokers.  If you say, you want a committed relationship with two dogs/kids/bonsai plants, that cuts down on the number of garbage you get.  So I wish you as much happiness as I found online (a dream spouse and a dream job)!
    >>>>>>>>>(3) There is a certain business-like mentality to dating that I’ve never been able to get my head into, re the numbers game. it breaks the continuity of what I think people assume I must be like.
    —So you are expressing the romantic side, thinking they already know you from the blog, where you show your other side??  That comes back to balance.  If you just show your romantic side without the rest, that’s a very skewed view of you. You are selling yourself short.  When I read your blog, I know you run your own business.  You know how money works.  You come across as a great guy who is in search of self-awareness and meaning in life.  You come across as a well-balance guy. Not perfect!  But a person who tries to be great at many things and delivers.  So tell me I have a completely wrong impression of you.  Why none of it comes through in your personal? Why do I get to read one side of you, without getting the full picture?  I am not buying it. 
    When you tell me you don’t have your head in the numbers game, it means your business/money/debt run you, not that you run your business and are in charge of your financial situation.  There is no ying without yang.  Even your GPS and scooter cost money. There is always the business side to everything.  If you ignore, it will bite you back really hard.  Weddings cost money, relocations cost money, divorce lawyers cost money, merging businesses is a major financial commitment.  Did you ever see a company X and company Y just fall in love and merge without working through logistics of it?  There are too many cases where people randomly get together just because they fell in LUUUUUUV.  Tell me it always ends up good?!?!?!?!
    Why do you feel your romantic side is more important in dating than your real life skills?  Why do you think the numbers/business side is less important in a relationship (one of the most important surrender and merger in your life)?

    >>>>>>(4) I embedded the cues that I thought might attract those people. Perhaps this is too subtle an approach.
    —we all operate on different assumptions, mental connections, and associations.  we don’t read the same books, go to same schools. Till I came to the States, I didn’t even know you can cook food from a box.  I only knew cooking from scratch. I didn’t even know what GPS was. Does it make me less compatible with my friends, family, and husband?

  18. Lien 16 years ago

    >>>>>What’s very cool is that there is such polarization of opinion.

    —Hmmm, let me break it down for you.  The participants mostly self-identified themselves by gender.  I apologize if I misplaced anyone.
    11 responses, out of which 6 were females and 5 were males. 
    100% of males said they liked it. 
    2 females said they liked it, 3 were not thrilled at all, 1 sounded somewhat neutral, but supportive.
    What my highly scientific research shows is that
    1.  you are impressing guys 100% of the time,
    2.  it’s hard to please women.
    so you are not getting polarized responses from guys, mostly from ladies.  And that’s your target audience.  50% of the female responders said it’s long.  And even guys said that. 
    I am sorry to say it, but your profile sounds just like many others. It’s not really unique or exceptional. And that’s fine. Majority of us are just regular people. But it sounds like anyone could have written it, anyone.  I don’t know, I somehow have extremely high expectations of you :-)!  Again, sorry to be so hard on you.  I am upset you are talking negatively about yourself.  But I can’t just go to wherever you live and wack you on your head or write your profile for you.  I just want to challenge that.

  19. Dave Seah 16 years ago

    The internet is awesome :-) Thanks for all the tough criticism. I’m pulling the following from this:

    TOO LONG! I think it can be tightened up.

    INSERT THE PRACTICAL! I need to address some fundamentals.

    POSITIVITY ALWAYS! Why be down on myself at all? I thought that was being honest, but here’s a case where honesty != statistical assessment against the field.

    INSERT THE CALL TO ACTION! The idea is to get face time.

    FAIL OFTEN! Not going to appeal to everyone, so expect it and keep going.

    On the romance side: this is something I don’t show very much publicly, and I think I am correlating this with my singleness. This may be false. I’m now amending this to just be not having met enough women in a “let’s date” context. From what the women have said, I’m getting the sense that women are pretty practical about online dating, and the ideal profile should be more like a tapas bar than a 7-course meal.

  20. Katrina 16 years ago

    Actually … as a single woman … I thought the original was just fine.  It made me smile.  It sounded like it was written by a man with a brain, a life and a sense of perspective.  I take self awareness over bravado any day.

    But then … I am not on OKCupid.

  21. Mark 16 years ago

    As a blog post and Dave Seah overview, I thought it was great writing. After reading some of the comments, I might agree that this is a marketing endeavor, and could use a little shuffling and tweaking. There’s nothing wrong with leaving out the negative or cautionary bits. This is just the 1st step toward sitting across a table from one another. Let the screening happen then.

    I thought the last paragraph about what you might find yourself doing together was great. Maybe distill things down to that. Sell a possibility, an adventure, a what-may-come. Then take a test drive before the road trip.

  22. Lea 16 years ago

    Wow, Dave, thanks for opening up like this. I think this is awesome. I’m biased, though. Back when I was single, I was pretty active on the online dating scene (Lavalife and PlentyofFish) and I’ve met a few interesting guys through that.

    … one of which is my husband. :)

    I think your summary of people’s feedback is spot on, so no need to reiterate. I can only offer my anecdotal feedback:

    My hubby’s profile was pretty much only a couple of paragraphs. I don’t remember what he had written on that exactly, but a few things just intrigued me.

    For example, a lot of the things he wrote was If-then statements. Example: “If you like to talk about various topics, like history, economics, and current events, then we might have something in common. If you have a sense of humility, then we might get along. etc etc”

    And thinking back, for the other guys I dated online, a lot of them only had a maximum 3 paragraphs that stated the main things I think women look for:

    * sense of humor
    * level of education/career
    * list of interests explained in a natural way that doesn’t sound like you’re trying to just add activities to impress women
    * casual but open to serious? or purely serious? or purely casual?

    Also, don’t be afraid to try other dating sites. Not sure if OKCupid’s very casual atmosphere will find you the right type of lady you deserve. :)

  23. Lea 16 years ago

    Oh, and I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this yet… but in my experience, most women will wait for a guy to send them the first message or first “hello” or “smile” or “wink” or whatever the dating site calls their free first contact.

    Having a nice profile isn’t enough when you date online for a guy.

    Don’t immediately think some girl is “out of reach” for whatever destructive self-talk you give yourself. Just give her a ping. If she responds, cool. If not, then cool, too. But since a lot of women are used to waiting for men in “real life” and online to approach THEM, make sure you actually do. You never know what women think is cute or interesting. Everyone is different.

  24. Rose 16 years ago

    So I checked you out. I went to your Flicker page and saw this “When is something worth doing?” card. Way down at the bottom, with a value of 1, is “it’s making a new relationship”. Also valued at a 1 is “maintaining an old relationship”.

    You know where I’m going don’t cha!
    A re-evaluation of values.
    Use your own tools to find a gal.

    I’ll rewrite this card for you.
    Goal: To have an exclusive relationship with woman of my choice from available pool.

    VALUE     ITEM
    10       Activities or prep for activity with   single woman.

    8       Activities with potential for meeting single women

    6     Activites with women friends(who have single freinds or who may be single at sometime in future)
    4     Making contact with women on dating service that also like cheeze.

    2     Activities with male friends that women flock to in order to observe techniques and pick from left overs.

    2     Having fun with other humans of any age or relationship status.

    Love that social yard stick, might redesign that too!
    At far end…  you responded to my cupid ad.
    In middle….we met in person.
    At front…I love you!


  25. S. 16 years ago

    Dave, Rose, and Lien – I am very much enjoying your guys’ discussion.

    Dave, way to go to make this a priority.  Really a priority, rather than a priority somewhere down the line. Way to go to treat this like a study!

    Lien, I really liked your analysis of the 11 responses.

    Rose, I loved your suggested new “When is something worth doing?” relationship card!

    Dave, I think these five points can be advice for any guy or girl in writing a personal profile:
    * FAIL OFTEN! (Yes!)

    This post and these comments were such a delightful read.  Thank you for being so honest.

  26. Jessica 16 years ago

    Wow Dave, you have awesome readers!  I can see what you’re saying about wanting to formally assert your romantic side.  It’s funny that you don’t realize how romantic you sound in your regular blogging :) I developed a crush on you from reading about the generalities about what inspires you.  Maybe it’s your focus on specific activities in this ad that seem alarming to me.

  27. Dave Seah 16 years ago

    Katrina: Thanks for that perspective, regarding “self awareness over bravado”. I think one thing that came out of this is that I’m subconsciously equating bravado with dating/romance, which makes dating/romance a kind of HURDLE I feel like I need to engage and therefore change myself. I like changing myself for the better, but it suddenly strikes me that this is not the same as being myself. Or is it? If change is part of me, then it’s not false…it’s just a moving target.

    Mark: Thanks man! Yep, totally a marketing endeavor…I like how you framed this as “just the 1st step”.

    Lea: Thanks for the anecdotal feedback and real-world suggestions for how this online dating thing works. I hear ya on OKC’s demographic, and I figure I can move on to another service. That whole ‘it’s a numbers game’ used to creep me out because it seemed so cold and, well, like direct marketing :-) But when combined with ‘you never can predict’ I’m realizing that this is really about broadcasting positive qualities…I wonder if that’s how the DMA thinks of themselves? :-)

    Rose: You are a genius, turning my own processes back on me :-) Thanks!

    S: Hm, I *am* treating this like a study. On the surface that might seem weird to woman, but then again that’s a weirdness that is part of me. The right weird woman will just appreciate it :-D

    Jessica: Yes, awesome readers! That’s funny that I sound romantic in my regular blogging…now I am not sure what that means! With regards to specific activities: I do write about generalities that inspire me, but the process I go to get to those generalities is to extrapolate them from specific instances. I think just about every article I’ve written starts out with some kind of specific observation that gives me a glimmer of insight into an entire class of possibilities that I then investigate. So my thinking about listing the specifics: I thought an interesting woman would also be able to extrapolate certain things about ME from what I’m listing. Not everyone would follow it (especially when read literally), but I think certain women would. On the other hand, what Lien said about not being able to know who you’re going to be attracted to in person is very much on my mind now, so maybe I should stop thinking in terms of this kind of, er, filtering.

  28. Jessica 16 years ago

    I didn’t want to imply I don’t enjoy your specifics!  What I find appealing about you is your ability to articulate how you map out your process to find conclusions that I can relate to.

    On the personals front, basically, by creating this test/filter, you’re asking for this woman to think almost exactly like you. So you’re right, this is your niche… but do you want to be dating yourself?

    The fact that you’re romantic comes across obliquely, but it’s definitely a strong component in your general writing.

  29. Tiffany 16 years ago

    Hmm I read your reply, thinking how would I respond to this? First I think it is a little long. I stopped reading around paragraph 4. Second, I’d leave out the part about flirting with the baristas, girls don’t want to know that you keep your options open.

  30. Dave Seah 16 years ago

    Yes, that’s one of the conclusions I came from after reading through this thread: that I don’t want date myself. However, there are certain things ways of looking at the world that I know fascinate and delight me, and it’s not a bad idea to try to reflect that. The principle behind this is that to attract what I like, I need to broadcast that same vibe. It is sort of like the new age “law of attraction”, but I’m a little more pragmatic about it: “people don’t know it’s there if you don’t show it”. The unknown is whether you are accurately broadcasting the vibe you think you are to the target audience. Now, in much of my work and approach to life, I’ve focused very hard on trying to reduce that uncertainty as much as possible, to really “hit the essence” that others can feel but not express. This is a highly unqiue and individual target. What I’m realizing is that for an online profile, this is not necessary or desirable to do that, because it’s best done in person face-to-face. Again, I’m reminded that text is an awful medium for communicating any kind of nuanced personal relationship if you don’t already know each other pretty well. You need to hear the other person’s “voice” in your head so the text doesn’t get interpreted in some weird way. So I should really stop trying to do that, and aim for a more general approachability. I’m jumping the gun, in other words.

  31. Dave Seah 16 years ago

    Tiffany: Your comment about “flirting with the barristas” I find really interesting, because I don’t actually say that. I said that I get to know their names, but one could very well make the assumption that I’m flirting with them and keeping my options open. I actually just like to know who they are because they’re friendly to me and I like to be friendly back.

    But wow…I need to reread this and see all the possible negative interpretations can be seen in there. I hate approaching writing like this because it reminds me of spineless marketing copy that’s been approved by the legal department, but in this case I’d like to analyze this more closely. Or am I overthinking it again? :-)

    Thanks for posting your honest assessment! I really appreciate it.

  32. Mark 16 years ago

    I’ve been following along with the comment thread in email, and just want to say again, you have but one goal on these sites: to land a date.

    If you want to find a soulmate, use something like eHarmony. I found that casual dating sites just provided the pretext that made it easier to say “you seem interesting, let’s have a drink one evening.” Drinks or dinner or wherever are still where things happen.

    The dating process isn’t eliminated. You’re just mitigating the risk of wasting time on an evening out with someone you’re not remotely interested in. Most dates I went on weren’t subsequently pursued, but I never had a terrible evening either.

    So, when you refer to spineless marketing copy, or the ickiness of marketing spin, it is what it is. Your sole purpose here is to snag the attention of someone who might be interesting for an hour or two. If there are many fish in the sea, on the dating site you’re dropping your bait into a corralled school rather than the middle of the ocean. Bait is still bait, though.

  33. spirilla 16 years ago

    may be it IS beautifully written, as others have written. I have no idea because it is way too long and couldn’t read through all of it.
    Edit it, cut it, keep what is essential. The aim is to get girls hooked and get a date. THEN you can show how you are.

    Also, I don’t know how these things go, but to write so much about yourself would make me think that you must be very narcissistic. Don’t want to hurt you and I love your site and what you do. I believe you can do better than that.

  34. Dave Seah 16 years ago

    Mark: Pragmatically said! Thanks!

    spirilla: That’s a good observation. Length of text has always been a challenge for me. I tend to prefer to have a lot of data when I’m making a decision, and this tends to reflect in how I present information…usually it’s way too much. I think you may have uncovered an old tendency of mine too, which is to try to do more prep-work up front so the field work goes smoothly. While I’ve changed to emphasize the field work first now (for example, meeting people in person for design work), my first instinct for unfamiliar situations is to overprepare rather than wade in and handle the situation as it comes. I think this latter mentality is much more appropriate for dating. No worries about the narcissistic comment at all…if only I was more like that, I might not be so challenged in this department ;-)

  35. arnarey 16 years ago

    from my (female) perspective: a wonderful intro (one could almost see you sitting in the coffeehouse) – but the atmosphere you build up is destroyed in the paragraph where you put yourself down. it is not the vulnerability, insecurity or honesty that does that – the problem is that you suddenly start talking to a completely different woman that the one who has already got past a few paragraphs of your profile; a woman who associates attractivity with physical appearance of a certain kind; and you start addressing objections she most likely didn’t have.

    but attractivity is more complex than “good looks” – it seems to me that it has more to do with being charming than just stereotypically good looking. and the things that make someone charming are precisely those ones you can’t see on any picture.

    the part that i find most important (and it would hook me up) starts with “what matters is…”. honestly (and passionately) expressed dreams and desires (especially in a form of visual images, specific situations, details…) tell you a lot – and can spark a feeling that we two might share some hidden and not-yet-explored space. then i would feel quite tempted to write – and explore :)

  36. Dave Seah 16 years ago

    arnarey: That is incredibly insightful…thank you! Wow!

    all: I posted the revised profile essay at the end of the original post.

  37. Wendy 16 years ago

    *applauds* arnarey said what I was trying to say in a far more eloquent fashion :D

    David, your new version is fantastic! I thought it was nice before, with the reservations about the put-downs, but this is many, many times better.

    It’s lovely! If I were single that would have me contacting you as soon as I finished reading the last sentence! Good luck! *cheesy <3 <3 <3s*

  38. Lea 16 years ago

    Muuuuch better. Romantically written, coming across as very literary and clearer as to what you’re about, what you want and what you can offer. :) I hope you get more traction with this.

  39. spirilla 16 years ago

    I like the second draft. I like it a lot andit’s definitely much better in my opinion.

    Go for it and good luck!

  40. Cricket 16 years ago

    I’ve never looked at a dating site, but you should try the approach you used with your resume. Show how you fit into an existing slot (her preconceived notions of what she wants) and how you are unique (not like the last twenty guys she dated), along with extra things to spark conversation.

    As you said, the women there are overloaded with ads. The average resume is rejected within two minutes. The average book buyer takes four paragraphs before deciding not to buy a book—and that’s only if it passed the few seconds evaluating the cover.

    You need to get as much use out of those two minutes and four hundred words as you can.