A Dating Website Primer: Choosing a Website and Photographs

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July 18, 2010

Hello friends. I was sitting here by the the fireplace with the air conditioning cranked contemplating dating websites. Earlier this month I wrote a short blog on how dating websites are similar to porn. (http://www.reuniting.info/node/4172) That sparked something of a debate regarding the efficacy of dating websites and about dating in general that I found very valuable and after some feedback I've decided to take out some pearls of wisdom, make 'em real shiny, and share them with y'all.

First things first, this is a post for people who are ready to date no matter what step you are in in the process of quitting pornography or in board parlance "P/M/O" porn, masturbation, orgasm. Dating an actual person is very important in the process of quitting porn and attempting to try some of the ideas in Cupid's Poisoned Arrow (CPA.) We don't have to "Go it Alone." I am *especially* interested in hearing the thoughts and insights of women (and experienced men) on this topic. Women who are dating online are the best teachers in this area of inquiry.

Dating advice is a thorny issue in and of itself. In my opinion there are a lot of people making impossible claims about how if you buy their book or DVD they'll turn you into "a sexual tyrannosaurus." I make no such claims just want to give you a few ideas and hopefully you will take action on your own behalf and learn for yourself how to date online (or anywhere else) using such an old fashioned concept as trial and error. I will make recommendations and you are free to take or leave them.

Choose a Dating Website or 3

Lots of us, at one time or another, have thought about dating online but haven't quite got up the nerve to try it. There are many types of dating websites catering to various people and interests. Choose the websites that have 1. Large numbers of members and 2. Are free or at least inexpensive. The dating websites I have been using are first and foremost Match.com (the largest dating website) OkCupid an excellently designed free dating website and lastly PlentyofFish a poorly designed site with near pornographic ads (you are forewarned) but is also free and has a large membership.

A website to avoid is eHarmony: They openly excluded homosexuals until a class action suit forced them to change. They are also more or less openly trying to find conservatives who want to get married. Great if that's you but I don't support bigotry or Christian fundamentalism. (http://www.protectconsumerjustice.org/sex-lies-and-internet-dating-sites...)

This should be a no brainer but you should also scrupulously avoid anything like Craigslist personal ads or other "hookup" sites like Adult Friend Finder. For the most part you will meet people who are desperate for a lay or who want to swap money for sex, either professionals or amateur ladies looking for "sugar daddies." Hope this one isn't a hard sell but this *won't help you* find someone who is ready to take a step back from "goal oriented" sex towards a more "sacred" sexual sharing. So, off limits!


Now that you have chosen a few websites you need to get some good pictures. PLEASE READ THIS CAREFULLY: I cannot overstate the importance of your photographs. You *need* good photos. This means looking up that friend of yours who went to photography school and ask what she charges for a couple hours of her time. You should have *at least* 8 photographs of yourself in various settings. I think Match allows you to upload around 15...but you don't need *that* many. You will use the same photos on all three sites. This let's people see who you are and what you look like - a prerequisite of meeting someone in real life. In short, for best results, you need a GREAT HEADSHOT. Nothing else will do.

Next in importance to a GREAT HEADSHOT is another GREAT HEADSHOT or simply a good representation of your face from a different angle/setting/lighting. I like a good night shot with flash. Pics with dark backgrounds look cool and there's less clutter in the image...just your mug. Make sure you are dressed GQ, or whatever the totems are for your tribe. Are you into punk rock? Dress to the nines in punked out gear. Then someone takes your picture at night. I know you can put something classy together and if you aren't certain what that is again try on some outfits and ask women their opinions. Being friends with a helpful lady can make a huge difference in your outlook.

Take a look at some profiles of your favorite women on one of these websites. How would you rate her pictures? Are they a good representation and leave a good impression on you? Is she wearing flattering clothes, no matter what her body type? Does she have at least one photo that makes clear what her body type is? Now compare your favorite woman's profile with your own. You should have everything that she does, including a pic of you far enough back so she can see your body type. It really matters less than you think so don't be shy, this is just being honest. If the quality of your profile pics are inferior to your favorite online crush in some way, why would she want to date you? You are just leveling the playing field for the type you are trying to date.

You should also, GASP, look at the profiles of other men. Go ahead and look man, it's cool. You will see some guys who clearly did not take the time to get good pics. Pay attention to the profiles of men who did think about and prepare their profile. You may even find yourself being jealous of them. Put that energy into how you are going to improve your own profile and steal liberally from anyone who has a good idea. They know what they are doing.

There's some debate if you are guy whether or not you should smile. Ask women you know to rate your photo. Also add your pic to HotorNot.com (again don't be shy it's only the internet) and let them rate what they think looks best. I was surprised that the photos I thought were the best weren't always highly rated by women. In fact my highest rated photos I tended not to smile, I was not looking at the camera. In some I was doing something related to who I am and my goals in life. (For me I was playing guitar.) You might look great smiling or you may want to look like you are someone who is thoughtful. Go ahead and smile if you think that's your best representation but have other photos where you don't smile.

Be creative and think about how you want to project yourself, these things will tie in with what you have written in your profile. (I'll cover that in another blog entry.) Plan out where and when you want your pics taken. I had my friend meet me in lower Manhattan early one afternoon and we went around to various landmarks and shot some pics with me and my guitar. Some great stuff came out of that - I paid her $100 for her time and also bought lunch. It was a good deal.

Other pics you should include are you with friends, doesn't matter who, man or woman but it can't be corny. I advise against holding your baby nephew or niece. However, I get a lot of comments about the dog I live with and it's a positive association. Borrow your best friends dog if you have to. I don't care if it's your pet reptile, bird, fish...have good pics of you and them together. We are social creatures and this shows something good about you, you take care of an animal, maybe you even *like* them. Walk up to ten random women and ask them if they "Like animals?" What do you think they will say? If you don't have a pet go buy a goldfish or even get a pic of you watering your plant. (Incidentally, these are also things that will ease some porn withdrawal symptoms...)

A friends pic with other men who are obviously attractive should be avoided...he can go start his own profile, this one's about making YOU look your best. Funny photos and humor is a terrific thing but don't give anyone who would want to date you an excuse to move on because of some corny photo of you that only you or your friends think is hilarious. There's a fine line between "quirky and fun" and "creepy" or "dumb." I am not a fan of these types of pics anyway when I see women do them. I think it shows some immaturity...but hey maybe they still want to date younger boys. Everyone thinks they are so funny with their photos, for now I advise just keep it simple.

There are other obligatory pics...you on vacation in Europe ect, you climbed a mountain and have a picture. Get it? These photos are of "You doing stuff," going to a ball game, using your carpentry skills, you drinking (but obviously not sloppy drunk. Remember you are always a *moderate* drinker if you drink at all Wink ) All these types of pics are great and should all tie in with your personality and individuality - those qualities are what *separates* you from the herd. Remember your profile is an advertisement, there is no real competition out there because you are letting them know the things about you that make you *unique* and *different.* They will find you if they are into you.

P.S. THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!!!! Please enjoy the ride and don't be afraid to take risks! No risk, no reward.

I will post more in this series and I welcome feedback. Good luck in your search and start thinking about who's going to take your pics.

Dano Clarke


This is great, Dano

Can you find a way to put a link to it in a Wiki? Either an existing one, or a new one? It's so helpful for someone overcoming an addiction to start connecting with potential mates...even as friends.

Good stuff

I've been meaning to do a lot of what you mention, but have been procrastinating. When I go back into online dating, I'm making sure to incorporate most of what you suggest.

Lots of good advice! I had

Lots of good advice!

I had great success using Match.com (as did my sister) and I have to say I will overlook a lot of things in men's profiles, but a man sitting without a shirt in front of a computer using a webcam photo or taking one without his shirt on in front of his bathroom mirror is *not* something I go for, lol!

Also, be honest~~don't exaggerate height, income, schooling, etc., and also please use current photos so there are no surprises!

What I love about the whole idea of online dating is you can put yourself right out there, quirks and all, and if someone doesn't think they would like you, they just don't contact you. If they do, you're already ahead of the game because they know what to expect.

I would encourage anyone thinking about "getting back out there" to give it a try--you never know who you may find. I'm so very glad I did it~~


Thanks for your advice!

We need it. Do you remember some good first dates? Can you remember things people wore or the little details that made you say to yourself..."This guy is different?"

I'm glad you had success with the dating website and recommend it to others. I think the beginning is so hard because we want to put our ego and self worth on the line with every little interaction...It's scary. Hopefully, we can help people to be courageous and try something new. Many former porn users are isolators and have self esteem issues. (I should know...) This can be very stressful to even think about doing, so many don't even try.

Oh yes I should have remembered another "don't"....Keep yer shirt on fellas!

As far as good first dates,

As far as good first dates, etc., there really isn't any one thing a person can do to make it right because everyone is different~~there's always a chance that you just won't click, no matter what you wear or do! But you have to try because the alternative is...nothing!

For me, I first became attracted to the man I am in love with through his e-mails--they were short, honest, simple, funny, but *punctual* lol--he always wrote me back the same day and that means a lot to me. Also, it didn't take long before he set up a "phone date" with me--maybe after a week of e-mailing back and forth? And I am attracted to people who are positive about life in general and his notes were always so full of joy and gratitude. That was hugely attractive to me as well. Also, he contacted me even though I did not have a photo on my profile. He actually read what I had to say about myself and was curious enough to contact me and said he'd love to see a photo because my profile was so interesting to him. He scored big points there, lol.

Our phone date was step 2 in capturing my heart...just the sound of his voice and the way he spoke appealed to me deep inside. We just clicked right away. In contrast, there were a couple of gentleman with whom I'd had phone conversations and they did not appeal to me--for example, one man spoke poorly about some of the women he'd had dates with (they ate too much, they were fatter than their photos, etc.)--it made me wonder what they would say about me?

And after having a great conversation by phone, we set up a meet very soon afterwards (maybe two days later? again, punctuality is a good thing!) and at that point, I was nervously waiting to see if all the other things would come into play--his looks, his smell (yes, I got a good whiff of his neck when I hugged him goodbye), his manners, everything.

My sister has been with the man she met for going on six years now (they live together) and her advice would be--don't give up if at first you don't succeed! She had a lot of dates that went nowhere, but she was still determined to keep trying. Even the guy she eventually ended up with--he had sent her a photo of himself that got no response from her and after he analyzed it and showed it to friends, he decided to take another one to send her because the first one just wasn't that flattering--the second photo got a response from her! So a photo can make a difference~

Just be honest about what type person you want to find and who you are...the real you.


Great post Dano. And great

Great post Dano. And great insight rediscovered. Thanks! It sounds like the man you met found was able to appreciate the beautiful things that make you, YOU!

Life after porn is the question. What things will you do in your life to move forward after you give up p/m? I think this question is ofter overlooked or not focused enough. For myself, I'm going to start dating again and get out there. Here's to life!

Thanks Dano

On okcupid they have MyBestFace which is a photo rating thing like hotornot, but the advantage is it's only okcupid users who vote, and you can see there votes and stuff. It's under treasures->toybin or directly at http://www.okcupid.com/mybestface. I found what I thought was my worst photo came out on top!?

Whilst you're here, some advice please?

Question 1: I do martial arts, do you think it's a good idea of having a photo of me doing my thing? Obviously not 50 photos showing how much a nutter I am but a couple could be good, right? Or would something like that put people off a little? Stick to more social photos?

Question 2 (Here's the clanger): I had been exchanging messages with a girl for a few weeks, and one day she sent me her private email address and her phone number, as she didn't use the website much and asked if I wanted to stay in touch or meet sometime... (hmm I had to just check the last message to see what it said, damn I feel a fool now...) so I emailed her because I'm a little nervous about phoning her, but I guess if she gave me her number it meant she wanted me to call? And dammit asking if I wanted to meet probably means she wanted to meet? But sent an email anyways trying to keep the tone that I had set, but got no reply from the email so...? I have only just sent a little message asking if she got it 'cause maybe it went in her spam folder, right?


And can you reply with your smoking jacket on please :)

Thanks Wolf...didn't know about feature on okc

1: Yes, I advise you to even *stage* a photograph with good lighting. Have a friend take a good pic of you doing your thing in class or at an event you are attending. It should be flattering and cool. Just one really good quality photo of you doing this is better then two or three mediocre ones. Can you do something badass like jump in the air? Are you very flexible? These are things that are called "fitness indicators" and also can be "proof" (in an online sense anyway) that you are physically fit or at least do something athletic. It's a great thing to play up. I can't imagine who it would offend. As stated above if it offends someone they won't contact you anyway. The way I see it you have nothing to lose. Experiment and taking risks are our watchwords.

2: Now that my smoking jacket is on...This situation is very common. The main thing is to swallow your fear and call her. If you are very nervous *rehearse* what you want to say, maybe even write it down. I mean it. Think it through. She gave you her number and said she wants to meet up. That means you've done something right! Congratulations.

I am gonna write a whole series on this dating thing...of which the post above is the first installment. Emails are a whole other component of how it works. Timing here is key. We should all reread Rediscovered's comments above about how *punctuality* is important if you want things to progress to meeting in person. There are some people who institute a "two day" rule of contact. I think arbitrary rules like that have to be thrown out the window. If she emails you last night...get back to her today, either through email or phone. Same day is even better, although I tend not to send emails after say 11:30. A reasonable bedtime. Phone is better, it's more personal and you get to hear the persons voice and she gets to hear yours. Sparks can fly based on that alone!

It's fine to just email back to the personal email if you aren't up for a phone call yet. If she sent you that email last weekend you emailed her at her personal email...let her get back to you. Don't send *any* follow up to your initial contact. You now know not to do this in the future. My friend, do not concern yourself with her spam filter! She's just busy dude, or she's moved on already. That's why it's a good idea for you to have a couple irons in the fire yourself. If one falls away there's another to take her place.

The phone call is another step. Need to be brief on the first call...you want to meet in person not be interviewed or kick it for an extended period. Always try to get off the phone first. (Dating coaches for women say the same thing...) Leave them wanting more.

In your specific situation you have sent two emails to a woman who said she was down to meet up and gave you her phone number, but she hasn't gotten back to you. I don't know how long it's been since you sent the last email but I take it a few days have lapsed at least. Really, you should let her get back to you, but in this case, just this once, I think you should call her now (that means today...don't put it off) -- just for practice. Here's what your VM could sound like. Keep it short and sweet. Every time.

"Hey, it's Wolf, I was wondering if you would be down to meet up for coffee or tea some time. I know a great coffee place. (If you don't know one...find one today.) I've got something going on Friday but I could do Saturday afternoon if that works for you? My number is 555-wolf. take care, PEACE."

Then *FORGET ALL ABOUT HER.* She gets back to you and you can work out a time to meet, or she has moved on to greener pastures and you never hear from her again. Chalk it up to experience and start sending out lot's more emails to interesting females whose profiles you admire. All while you work on getting your profile up to snuff as detailed above.

There are many, many false starts in the beginning so don't take anything personally if she doesn't get back to you for a few days or for awhile, or not at all.

Remember this is a fun game. Wink

And for what not to do - check out this clip of Mikey from Swingers...


PS I just figured out a protocol for you if you are ever again worried about a spam filter! When she sends you her email and/or phone number then you just go ahead and send her your information right then and there. Probably as soon as you read it just send her your email and number. Then any screening of numbers she doesn't recognize or emails in her spam filter she will recognize. Also your subject line should be "Wolf from Match" of "Wolf from Okcupid."

Thanks for the tips dano

I certainly have more than a better idea of what to do next time :) It was over a week since I last had contact from her, so I am guessing that she's moved on or something she did seem pretty busy herself actually. _When_ it happens again I will definetly reply with my own details as well as pluck up some courage to make a call. I think I must have not read her message properly and just got excited at the fact she'd sent her contact details, totally missing the remark about wanting to meet up! Bit of an own goal lol