Online Dating

The Delicate Etiquette of Chat - 10 Tips for Instant Messaging

So let's assume that your profile pic rocked, your about me section was all that and you've waded through the chaff to find someone worthy of a chat. Before you just dive in with a "Hi there!" - let's take a moment and review some basic rules for giving good chat.

1. Have a plan - you either want to flirt, get to know someone, just spend a little time or a combination of the above. But have an idea of how you want the conversation to go or what you want to get out of it before you start. There's noting worse than sitting in a chat staring at the blinking cursor. Hello? Hello? Is there any intelligent life on this planet?

2. NO SHOUTING - There's no reason for ALL CAPS. It's jarring and appears as though you are screaming your conversation. For that matter, stop with the crazy fonts and background images. Having falling leaves and rainbows as your chat environment and sparkly fuschia letters in 18 point text is cute for your pre-teen daughter. You're supposed to be a grown up. Stop it.

3. No machine gunning - It's the rapid fire statements, one after another before the other person has a chance to respond. 
Them: I like wine.
Them: Do you drink wine?
Them: Cheese is great too.
Them: We should go to a wine bar.
Them: Don't want you to think I'm a lush.
Them: But wine is great. With chocolate too.
Them: I think chocolate is a food group.
Them: I could never be in a relationship with someone who didn't like chocolate.
Them: Why aren't you answering?

You: Um... give me a second to get a word in?
4. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) - Especially that first chat. Don't try to do too much. The purpose of chatting should be developing a comfort level to move to a phone conversation or an in face meeting. You need to be charming, not smarmy. Open, not thirsty. Do not lead off with discussions about exes, whether size matters or politics. Take it slow.

5. Read once and then again - It's not as easy to pull context from a few lines of a stranger's text as it is from hearing a voice. So when you read a comment, stop and read it twice. And don't jump to conclusions. Feel free to use the phrase, "Can you tell me more?" or "That's interesting, what do you mean by that?" Trust me. One time I bit a guy's head off because I thought he was calling me a tramp. Turned out he was talking about the song, "The Lady is A Tramp" to illustrate his love of jazz. AWKWARD

6. Smileys are your friend - And since things can be misinterpreted and not everyone gets your sense of humor right away, it's okay to throw in a LOL and a :-)... just not every :-/ other O__o word!

7. Be proactive - Don't sit and wait to be dazzled. You are both auditioning. Have one or two things you want to discuss and get to it. The blinking cursor is the kiss of death. Get to the point where (like a job interview) you have a killer icebreaker that cuts the tension and gets the ball rolling. It's just another weapon in the arsenal. Acquire it. Master it. Use it.

8. Watch the tone - The line between flirty and freaky is thin, know which side of it both of you want to be on and stay there unless invited across. The line between snarky and bitter cynicism is razor thin as well. I remember telling one dude, "Pardon me, your inner bitter black dude is showing." He logged off. Buh-bye now.

9. Proofread - Again.... spell check is your friend. Most of these programs will underline your misspelled words so unless you are like me and make up shiggity words from time to time, pay attention to what the built in editor is telling you. And double check what you type, as you type. You have no idea how much drama can pop off because you typed bare instead of bear

10. Have an Exit Strategy - Your phone is ringing, you have somewhere else to be, it's time for sleep... have SOME way of cutting off the conversation. Some people will chat the night away (talking about absolutely nothing) until you nip it in the bud. And if you decide you'd like to chat again, set up a time to do that before logging out. However, if you are too through with the conversation and someone isn't taking the hint - feel free to eject yourself without a backward glance. This is just a chat, no one has taken any vows.

And a bonus tip - Know your IM software. Once you have cut someone off, is there a way to keep them from seeing you? Stealth or Incognito mode is your friend. IM is a cyberstalker's playground, do you know how to block and report "inappropriate" behavior? I have dropped dime on many a flagrant line-stepper in my past and would do so again in a heartbeat. Life is too short, my friends. 

BougieLand, what say you to my list? Did I miss one? Do you have some helpful chat tips to share with the group? Is there a "line" you use that always breaks the ice? Do share...

Don't blame it... An Online Dating Adventure by @Reads4Pleaure

Today's internet dating tales comes from the ever brilliant book blogstress, @Reads4Pleasure. Do not attempt to read this while sipping substances next to electronics. Show some love...

Don’t blame it on the sunshine, don’t blame it on the moonlight, don’t blame it on the good times, blame it on Luther

Back in December Luther Vandross’ song Second Time Around kept popping up on my iTunes and my iPhone.  I have almost 3,000 songs in iTunes so it struck me as more than strange that in a two-week timeframe, I heard it no less than six times.  Were the lyrics a sign? Was Luther the Patron Saint of Romance trying to tell me something?  Or did my iTunes just need an overhaul? I don’t know, but I took it as a sign and decided to give dating a try after a 4 ½ year hiatus.  I’ve been busy doing other things.  Don’t judge me!

Being honest, I’m not the chick men notice on the street, in the grocery store, library, etc.  I stopped doing clubs years ago because I got tired of holding everyone else’s purse while they had a good time and I sat in the corner observing.  So I figured I’d give online dating a try.  Surely someone would read my profile and realize that I was just the nerd he was looking for, right? Wrong!

In the 30 day challenge I set for myself, I decided that I would put myself out there and hope for the best.  I thought my profile accurately portrayed me as a somewhat shy nerd with a passion for books and music, a love of football and a dry sense of humor.   I was looking for someone who was appreciative of those things, sure of himself, responsible and communicative.  I wasn’t interested in whether or not he was white-collar or blue-collar, as long as he was able to handle his business.  I also stated that he didn’t have to be the most handsome man, as long as he had a good heart.  For the record, I also mentioned my preferred age range.

Some of the responses I received were from:  the Hamburglar, a dude who told me his idea of fine dining was McDonald’s; a guy who was an “a ventures person” who really liked to look nice when his “ends are right;” and from someone who “wonted” to be loved. There was the 69 year old Caucasian man I had to block because he filled my inbox with his number and requests to talk and/or meet.  There was the 61 year old deacon who wanted more children and thought I would be the perfect woman to give them to him.  And then there was Cat Daddy.

Cat Daddy said he was 48 in his profile on one site, but was 50 on another site.  That was slightly older than I was willing to go, but he spoke in complete sentences in IMs and seemed to be the winner of the bunch.  So what went wrong?  When we finally spoke by phone, he sounded 60.  I swearfoGod I expected him to break out with the J. Anthony Brown ‘watchouttherenow’ at any moment.  But I was being open and open-minded, so I talked to him a second time.  This time around he repeatedly told me about how fabulous his house was, asked me to move in, offered to pay some bills and asked how soon I thought we could start having the kids God never blessed him with.  Hold up, partner!  I give good phone, but it’s not THAT good.  I don’t think I’d said more than 20 words to this man and he had me barefoot and pregnant by year’s end.  Needless to say, I’ve not spoken to him since.

The challenge came to an end and I have to say I wasn’t sorry to see it end.  I’ll leave the dating to the professionals.  In the meantime, there are books to be read, music to be heard and television to be watched.  And that Luther song?  Oh, it went bye-bye.

What do you think, BougieLand - is it just that hard out there for a Bougienista? Do you think (as I do) that 30 days isn't enough time to see what's out there? I've noticed that many of you have stated that you tried and gave up in frustration. Should we consider searching for acceptable companionship a marathon instead of a sprint? And what is to be done with these Cap/Cat Daddies out there? Can someone (Brian McKnight) host an intervention reality show to get some of these dudes out of the club?! And have YOU mastered the art of giving good phone? Show some comment love...

The Top Six Things NOT to do in your online dating profile

We've talked about unfortunate photo selection for your online dating profile, now let's discuss that "About Me" section. Just like the picture, the About Me (or personal profile) section is your introduction to your potential S.O. What you write in that section is the equivalent of walking up to somebody and either whispering "Psst, psst, hey baby" or saying something intriguing that makes them want to know more about you. [For the record, "psst, psst" is NEVER a good idea] Think of this as your SuperBowl Ad. You have one chance to make a lasting impression on a huge audience. What do you want your ad to say?

I get it, it's not easy to talk about yourself. And it's especially not easy to walk that delicate tightrope of making yourself sound interesting without revealing too much of yourself. You want the reader to get to know you without really getting to know you. A lot of services now give you tips and hints on how to present yourself in the best light in two paragraphs or less. They have you answer random things about your favorite food, your hobbies, the place you want to visit most in the world. And while those are sort of but not really interesting, they rarely get to the heart of what makes you you

It's nice to know that you like walking dark alleys in the rain and camping in Yosemite. But that only tells me that if we get together, I'll have to plan our leisure activities. The profile is meant to catch attention, capture imagination and keep them. Here's what NOT to do:

1) Open with "I don't really like to talk about myself" - **crickets** C'mon now! You knew when you signed up to this website that you were going to have to talk about your darn self. Saying that you hate to do it is a gigantic waste of time and a cop out. But not as much as...

2) Writing "call or email me if you want to know more" - What part of the game is that? What if I want to know more BEFORE investing in an email or a phone call? That's the whole miraculous purpose of online dating - it allows you to build in a pre-pre-screen. 

3) Unrealistic shiggity - Here's a direct quote "Men love me and I love them back. I'm only on here to narrow the field and meet my ultimate prince. I cook every day, bring home my paycheck, keep the house clean and treat my man like the King that he is. I'm a lady in the living room and porn star in the bedroom. I'll be the best thing that ever happened to you." No ma'am -  your online profile is already the sub-plot of 214 Lifetime movies. Don't make promises you cannot humanly keep. And what's that I smell? Eau d' Thirsty. Stop. It.

4) An English Teacher's nightmare - I cut and paste the following for you: "hEY, thurr, Miz Ladies! I AM a mean whom knows waht he wants in a women. ans I will b vurry vurry gode to who end up wit me." Hell. No. Even if you are foreign and don't understand the basic grammatical principles of the English language... there's an app for that - we call it GOOGLE! Type in your native tongue and have Google Translate tell you what's up. NOW if your native tongue is Ghetto Ebonics - get thee off these here innanets and go to a Reading is Fundamental Class. You are NOT ready for primetime. Is that harsh? Pookie should be allowed to post a profile? Fine, Pook - have your smarter cuz Ray-Nay post on your behalf. But people please acquaint thyself the following English basics:
a. Text talk is not appropriate for getting to know you time. I ND A GRL 2 B HOT 4 ME is unacceptable on a myriad of levels
b. Conversate is NOT a word
c. Where and wear are not the same word
d. Spell check is your friend
5. TMI - Your profile should be a brief enticing snapshot of you, not a docudrama. Please don't share what happened on your last five dates, your past relationship, your last two marriages, or last night's hook-up in your profile. We didn't ask for all that. And while you are describing yourself, keep it light-hearted and PG-13. It's so unnecessary to describe your cocoa prowess at this stage of the game. And by the way, the rule on that is - If you have to talk about it, you probably are overcompensating. Don't talk... just do.

6. The "List" - Every fifth profile I've looked at has someone going ALL THE WAY in on what they don't want in their future S.O. From height, weight, skintone, race, profession, salary and on and on - I have seen people list up to twenty things they will not accept. I list three: 1) Smokers, 2) Overly Opinionated Pompous Fake People, and 3) Fans of Sarah Palin (with the understanding that #2 and #3 are often the same issue). That's plenty. By listing an entire set of dealbreakers and knock outs, you are narrowing the field of people who will approach you. And you're making yourself look very, very high maintenance. Literally, I saw one gent write out 30 lines starting with IF YOU ARE _______, YOU ARE NOT FOR ME. Well, alrighty then. NEXT!

BougieLand, agree or disagree? Have some to add to the list? Care to elaborate? The floor is yours...

My Online Dating Story: The Good, the Bad & The Ugly by @AGrownAzzMan

Today's Online Dating story comes from @AGrownAzzMan. Show him some love...

See what had happened was….

I was minding my own business on twitter when our dear Chele posted in a tweet that she was planning a theme week around online dating. Yours truly jokingly replied that I had been there, done that and there might be stories. A few tweets back and forth and I had been drafted, was forced, volunteered to write a guest post.

First of all let me say that I am out of the game. Been out. I was blessed to meet a wonderful woman online and we have been in a great relationship for some time now. However, I did a fair amount of searching before I found gold and therein is the tale.

The Good:
I think online dating is great. Yeah I said it. Now that that is out of the way let me tell you why. I have been some places and seen some things. I have been married and divorced. Twice each. Lifehappens/don’tjudgeme. I got to a point in my life where I had a good grasp of what I could bring to the table and what I needed in a partner. No more trying to be all things to all people. What I found useful about online dating is it allows you to be systematic and strategic about what you are looking for and whom you choose to meet. Romance is what we all want but why invest the emotional energy in someone you really can’t have a future with? You also get the chance to communicate with people you would never cross paths with any other way.

Follow me here. We all have specific needs and wants. Most of us have busy lives and plenty of things to get done on a daily basis. Time is a major limiting factor in trying to meet someone. When you meet in any other setting (Church, the club, networking events, the grocery store) you don’t get the information you really need until somewhere in the middle of the process. MAYBE. Online it is all there, from the beginning. Not only the vital stats but the person’s expression of who they are and what they want in their own words. I know some of you are thinking, “But people lie online.” Yes they do. People lie in person too. Liars lie. The key is to do your due diligence. At least online the initial time and financial investment is usually very small.

I met some really great women online. I know if it could happen for me it can happen for anyone.

The Bad:
There is that whole not really who you say you are thing. This could be a whole post unto itself. Of course this is not unique to online meetings. There was the woman who smoked even though I was very specific about not dating smokers (She said she was planning to quit).

There was the woman who said she had no children when she actually had 3, all under the age of 10 with 2 different daddies. There are plenty of men who are willing to date woman with children but I stated very clearly in my profile that this was not for me. She thought I would change my mind after meeting her and eventually her kids. WDDDA?

And of course no discussion of online dating would be complete without talking about the pictures. I understand that life online allows folks to create the fantasy version of themselves complete with pictures. Sometimes the pictures are a few years (pounds) ago. I get that. But how do you then show up, looking like who you really are and think someone will accept you?

Toes are about to get stepped on here but if the name of the web site is BlackPeopleMeet what is up with all the white women on there reaching out to black men? #HollaFail

The Ugly:
We all have preferences. Among other things, I could never date someone who smokes, votes Republican, or roots for the Boston Celtics, not necessarily in that order. That’s just how I roll. If you know that upfront, why are you giving me a second thought when there is no possibility that we could be on the same page? This brings me to the subject of cyber stalkers. What is it about a screen and a keyboard that makes someone want to fill up your inbox with why-not-me messages? Desperation is not the business. If there is no mutual interest please just move on. Fortunately that did not happen too often.

In conclusion, I am reminded of the old saying all’s well that ends well. I would do it all again, even the smoking woman or BeBe’s kids to end up where I am now because this is priceless.

BougieLand - what are your dealbreakers? Do you only date within a certain age group? Body type? Who still smokes in this day and age? Would you date a smoker? A conservative Republican? A Lakers fan? (Sorry GAM, I had to throw that in there) Someone with multiple kids by multiple partners? Where is (or was for the already married/committed) your line in the sand? Inquiring minds want to know? 

Ten pictures you should NOT post with your online dating profile... ever

In today's Online Dating What Not To Do, let's talk about what that profile picture really says about you. [Note, below I used fake pictures from gettyimages so as not to get have someone recognize their sister's cousin's second husband's stepbrother on here] Let's start with some basics. Your picture should be:
1) Flattering. Ask someone if you're not sure.
2) Taken in a neutral or phototabulous location. This means against a blank wall, a bland sofa, or in front of a touristy spot. Beaches, mountains, landmarks welcome. Bathrooms, kitchens and random confusing place not. By random confusing place, I mean why are you posing in front of a vending machine? In line at the local cafeteria? In front of a high school? (I've seen those three recently)
3) Like a resume - non-threatening, positive, and revealing the best you have to offer. And like a resume, it should not give me any reason to reject you from jump.
Here are some of the worst offenses:

1. The Cropped Pic - If the only good picture of you is the one of you huddled up with a former S.O. or some random person of the opposite sex... I'd rather you go with the bathroom mirror picture. Something about this is just wrong. But it's not as bad as...

2. The Wedding Pic - No sir. No ma'am. I'm sure you did look lovely on your wedding day but er, uh - aren't you in the market for someone new? Do you really think it's a good idea to post your failed marriage pic on your "Seeking Sexxxy Singles" profile? Go ahead and say it, "What part of the game is this?"

3. The Trying Too Hard Pic - They say a picture is worth a thousand words but this one is more like one: Thirsty. This picture is appropriate on your "aspiring model" MySpace page, not if you want someone to actually buy you dinner. Unless your message is "I'm down for whatever' - keep the ultrasultry pics on lock for a minute.

4. I'm going to give the "street cred" photo a pass because I recognize that a) there's an audience for that and b) it could be worse:

5) The Prison Pic - I'm so sad to report that I have seen this with my own two eyes. My first problem is - what are criminals doing with internet access and digicams? My second problem is - Is someone seriously checking for the Orange Jumpsuit dude? [I know there are prison groupies but come ON now] This is just no bueno.

6. The Offspring Pic - on the one hand, it's great that you are proud of your kids. It's also great if the two (or more) of you are cute together. But I feel some kinda way about having your child in your dating profile picture with you. I'm not saying keep your kids hidden, I'm just saying there are people who prey on that, don't open yourself up to it. 

7. The Cap Daddy (old guy in the club) Pic - Who can point all the ways this picture is wrong? I can count eight instances of FAIL in this picture. All that's missing is the balloon coming out of his mouth saying, "Watch out there now!"

8. The Ebony/Jet Pose - Cue the line from Boomerang "This is my best mac daddy vibe I'm giving you here. What's up?" When I see pics like this (in front of jets and cars), I think of #3 above - Trying. Too. Hard. What is natural about that? How many times a day do you find yourself squatting and holding the position (non-exercise related)?

9. The "Twenty Years Ago" Pic - Listen, the older woman in the picture above is lovely so there is NO GOOD DARNED reason why she should post her college picture and pretend she still looks like that today. People have got to stop perpetrating with the 10 years/40 pounds/2 kids ago pics. Yes men, you too. You are who you are today. Somebody is checking for the real you. Quit holding onto the past.

10. The Infamous "Flex" Pic - Why gents? Unless you are a personal trainer... why? Please reference numbers 3 and 8 above. And don't take this picture, let alone post it somewhere. I'm begging.

BougieLand, do you have any pic tips for our online posters out there? Did I miss some glaring violation? If you were posting your picture - what would it look like? Are you the posing in a bathing suit type? Leaning on your car hood? Smiling sedately into the camera? Do tell...

This week on BnB – Online Dating: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

So... have you ever thought about or tried online dating? Have you had someone setup your profile and submit you without your knowledge? (Side-eye to Jayme!!!) Wondering about the different services, what works, what doesn't, what not to do? Well, we're going to try and answer some of that for you this week. We have some WNTD (What Not To Do) tips as well as some horror and success stories. Stick around, it'll be fun.