Dear Dating Ninja – Why no profile picture?

Dear Dating Ninja,

I just got an email from a guy on Match.com who seems really interesting but has no profile picture. Why would someone post an online profile with no photo? Do I hit Delete or answer the email?

Please advise.

Kate, Age 37

 

Dear Kate,

It is my experience that in the majority of the cases where someone doesn’t post a profile picture it is because they are either married or in a relationship. However, there are actually some very good reasons why some people can’t post photos in their profiles. Some people in high profile jobs or in industries where posting their photo may be a danger to them just can’t take the chance.

Don’t be shy. Just ask. You can start with, hey I notice you don’t have a photo posted. Are you a) Married, b) A public figure, or c) A Member of the WItness Protection Program?

He could be a judge, a school principal, or a prison guard. Or he could be married, in which case you hit the big DELETE and BLOCK button immediately.

♥Dating Ninja

The Skype Coffee Date

In the prehistoric dating world we dated people at work, in the neighborhood, or in the same zip code. If we were really adventurous we might venture to a neighboring zip code for a date. Well online dating has expanded that dating radius to every zip code, area code, postal code and country code in the world.

That’s great, right? Sure, if you have unlimited vacation time and a bottomless bank account.

What happens when a guy in area code 503 (Portland) meets a gal in area 206 (Seattle)? They exchange a few emails, maybe a phone call, and then one of them offers to make the 3-hour drive to meet for coffee (more likely dinner because it’s such a long drive). They meet and immediately realize there’s no chemistry. She thinks he looks 10 years older than his profile picture. He thinks she looks 30 pounds heavier. And they are both right. They could have saved themselves a lot of time and money if they would have done one thing: had a Skype coffee date.

All of the emails and phone calls in the world won’t show you what Skype will.  Skype adds the dimension of body language that you can’t get via email or phone. I highly suggest you skip the lengthy emails and phone calls and go straight to Skype.

The First Skype Date

Do yourself a favor and treat the first Skype date like you would any other first date. That is, take a shower, put some clean clothes on, brush your teeth, and pretend you’re actually meeting in person. I suggest “meeting” for coffee first, and following the suggestions below:

  1. Pick an area in your home that is free of clutter, and doesn’t have any personally identifying information in it.
  2. Set your computer on the table facing where you plan to sit, and then walk around to the back of the computer and take a look at what your date will see. Is there some hideous art in the background? Pictures of your kids? Your ex? Take them down or pick another spot.
  3. Check that the light is flattering. Fluorescent lights and overhead spotlights are the worst.
  4. Take a picture of yourself with your webcam so you can see the environment and the lighting before your date.
  5. Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea before the date, and off you go!

The Second Skype Date

If you’re still not quite sure if you want to drive the three hours to meet your date in person, or fly 5000 miles as was the case with my first Skype coffee date, have a second date. In fact, make it a lunch or dinner date. You think I’m kidding? I’m not.

Have you ever been annoyed by the way someone eats a salad, munches their popcorn, or slurps their soup? Yep. Have a date that inlcludes food. Set your laptop on the kitchen table and have a meal with your date.

Once you have had a couple of Skype dates you’ll know if you actually want to make the effort to meet in person. You will also get the added bonus of not having first-date jitters when you have your first real date, because you’ve basically already met.

Happy Skyping!

The DOs and DON'Ts of a Main Profile Picture

I am a registered member of a dating site called OKCupid. One of the unique features of the site is you can write Journal entries, which I occasionally do. I posted the entry below a few days ago and I couldn’t believe how defensive some of the guys got. It was like I had personally attacked their masculinity with my simple tips on how to choose the right main profile photo.

Here’s the post:

Okay guys, listen up. I’m going to let you in on a couple of secrets about what goes through the mind of a woman when she looks at your profile and decides whether or not to read it or click the dreaded Hide button.

You have less than five seconds to catch our interest. This is the order in which most woman I know would notice things in your profile:

1. The first thing we look at is your MAIN photo.

2. The second thing is your screen name. Screen names like “PatheticLonelyGuy” and “Just4Sex” say a lot about who you are, how you feel about yourself, and what you’re looking for.

3. The three adjectives.

4. The first sentence in your profile (if we get that far).

Lesson 1: The Profile Picture

This is all about that very first picture we see. The rest of the photos shouldn’t follow all of these suggestions.

These are the DOs for your MAIN profile photo:

1. Headshot that clearly shows you from the shoulders up.

2. Smiling please. No one wants to date a sour puss.

3. Face the camera. No profiles.

4. Make sure the shot is in focus.

5. Recent photo.

6. Look directly into the camera. I realize I violated this with my original profile shot I had up, but there are exceptions to every rule.

These are the DON’Ts:

1. No hats. We want to see your hair or your chrome dome, as the case may be.

2. No sunglasses. We don’t trust you if we can’t see your eyes. How would you feel if you met a woman for a date and she never took off her sunglasses? Would you trust her.

3. Shot of you from far far away. Save that for the second or third photo.

4. No dead animals land or sea. A shot of you in a fishing hat and sunglasses holding up a dead fish does absolutely nothing to ignite the passions in a woman.

5. No photos of yourself in the bathroom. I take self shots a lot, but you’ll never see a bathroom mirror, shower stall or toilet in the background!

To be cont’d…

If the IT Department Managed My Dating Life

I recently had an experience where I met someone online and then a few days later did some cyber sleuthing only to find out the person was not who they really said they were. I felt a little violated, you know like someone had hacked into my OS and planted a Trojan virus. And this is someone I met only once for coffee!

This experience got me thinking, why can’t I run my dating life like I run my servers (computers) at work?

Opening Ports of Communication

A port on a computer is a communication channel that allows devices to talk to each on the same piece of hardware without interfering with each other. Think of it as a phone number. If you publicize that port number anyone can call it.  Don’t publicize your port number unless you’re ready to communicate!

Install Anti-Virus Software

I would never open up a server at work to the outside world without first installing some sort of anti-virus software to protect it. You’ve all heard of computer viruses, those nasty little programs that hackers and spammers secretly install on your poor unsuspecting computer. In the IT world there are anti-virus software programs like McAfee, Norton and Semantic for that.

The anti-virus software in the dating world is called your gut instinct. Just like Norton your gut will raise all kinds of red flags when it senses danger. Would you ignore Norton if it popped up a message that said some malicious piece of code was trying to gain access to your computer? I think not. You would click that Quarantine or Delete button without a second thought.

So, the next time you’re on a date, and that anti-virus gut instinct software starts popping up messages, don’t ignore them! Hit that Delete button and run!

Whitelisting

My production servers at work are locked down tighter than Alcatraz in the 60’s, unless you’re a really good swimmer/hacker. I employ something called whitelisting, which means you can’t talk to my servers unless I know who you are. This is a difficult concept to apply in the dating world, but  it can be done. Before you decide to meet that person on Match.com for a cup of coffee talk to all of your friends who have been active in the online dating world. Ask them if they have come across this person before. The dating pool is small. The likelihood is that someone you know has already met this person for a date, and can give you some very valuable feedback. Positive Feedback=Whitelisting. Proceed with coffee date.

Blacklisting

In the Microsoft world you can blacklist a website by adding it to your hosts file. The hosts file is like a guest list that meaty bouncer outside the coolest club in town has on his clipboard. Not the V.I.P. list, but the OTHER list. You know, the one that lists all the people who have been kicked out of the club at one time or another, and are banned for life. That my friends is the blacklist, and you need one.

While whitelisting is the “known good” list, blacklisting is the “known bad” list. When you log on to Match.com and come across people you work with, add them to your blacklist. Just block them. You know you’ll never date them, and do you really want them perusing your dating profile while they’re deciding whether or not to promote you? And furthermore, blacklist the people you met on Match.com three years ago. The second or third time is not the charm.

Security Certification Process

Many of the clients I work with on a daily basis require my company and my servers to pass a rigorous security clearance. The process involves a lengthy verbal interrogation and a cyber scan of my servers from the outside world to see what they can see. In a word, they are trying to find out that I am safe to communicate with, and that I am who I say I am.

Thanks to the World Wide Web this concept maps very well to the dating world. Most people give you enough information in their dating profile and their initial communications for you to find out more than you ever wanted to know about that person. If all you have is a first name and a city, you may be hard pressed to find any useful information unless the first name is really unique. However, if you have a first name, a city and an occupation you may be in luck. Plug that information into our good friend Google and you’re off and running. You can often find the very pictures they have posted on their dating profile on their business website, which allows you to verify who they are.

If you have an email address or a first and last name and a city, I suggest you get familiar with a site called pipl.com, which takes the information you input and then crawls the Web for you. Pipl.com provides a comprehensive list of all references to that individual anywhere on the Web.

For the serious cyber sleuth I recommend a service called BeenVerified.com, which will give you a 7-day trial if you really need to do a deep dive on someone. This service provides past addresses, name changes, MARITAL STATUS, and criminal records. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know.

Proceed with Caution

People are not as black and white as computers, so even if you employ all of the above methods as you navigate the murky waters of the online dating world, you still need to proceed with caution. Think like an IT manager:

  • Don’t open a port of communication unless you’re ready for that person to start calling you and texting you. You can always close a port on a computer when you want to stop communicating. In the dating world it’s called blocking his/her phone number!
  • Don’t whitelist someone until you really know them. Whitelisting someone gives them access to things that no one else has access to.
  • Do your due diligence, and if you find some compromising information on someone ask them about it before judging them. Not all computer programs are flawless, and not everyone who looks like a criminal online is actually a criminal today.

Go forth young grasshopper, and apply these Dating Ninja skills the next time you decide to try online dating.