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  • One of the women at my gym wants a nonsmoker with a sense of humor and a love of adventure. Fair enough. But she also wants a man who "is punctual, considerate, and into theater." All righty then. She insists he be "blond, highly successful, and able to play an instrument." Hmmmm. She feels strongly that he not "ride a motorcycle, be divorced, or own goldfish." I was a braless 22-year-old when I first began reading her profile. I am now 49; my gums are receding and it sounds like there's a dice game taking place in my left knee. Here's a good rule of thumb: If I have to check my watch twice as I study your never-ending list of needs, then the thing you need most is an editor.

  • There's stuff we know we don't want—and that's certainly legitimate. But here's how my neighbor presents her requirements: "If you're a closet freak, if you think choking me during intimacy is hot, if you live with your parents, if you're a flat-out jerk, don't waste my time. I've got three kids and I don't need another. That said, I am not a bitch."

    Well, you could've fooled me. Since when did autoerotic asphyxiation and jerky behavior get lumped in with living at your parents' place? Sometimes parents get old and need a bit of help and sometimes unemployment reaches an all-time high—the world goes round, my friend. But by the sound of your profile, you already know that. You've obviously been burned (and possibly choked), so go lie down while I attempt a rewrite:

    "I'm raising three great kids pretty much on my own, which means I've had to give serious thought to the kind of man I want to bring into my life. It's not that complicated, really—I'm just looking for an enlightened grown-up who is interested in a solid relationship along with a good time. Major integrity and genuine kindness are essential."

Let's review—the key to this whole online profile thing is really quite simple: Be direct while maintaining an air of mystery; be modest while flaunting what you've got; be flexible while explaining what you need, while keeping it brief and making it flirty and not getting cute; and be yourself, only more so, only not so much more so that you exaggerate, intimidate, or irritate. I know it sounds like a tall order, but if the prune can do it, so can you.

Manage Your Online Profile

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