One of the biggest topics I come across when talking to folks about sex and orgasm is the perceived “problem” that all people with vulvas have in reaching orgasm with their (usually) male partners. While mainstream answers to this usually focus on foreplay, there are a number of underlying reasons for the perception (and reality) of unequal orgasms between mixed-gender partners. This morning, I came across this excellent article by Suzannah Weiss, in which she points out some of the many ways that our relationship with our bodies, our culture, and our partners contribute to women of all kinds holding (or being held) back from experiencing pleasure authentically. It’s worth a read. Hell, it’s worth a couple of reads. And then some follow up thinking. And sharing. And as always, leave a comment here if you want to add to the conversation!
So, I’ve been doing the online dating thing for over a year and a half now, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s pretty awesome. I’ve met some awesome folks (some of whom have become friends, some of whom I’ve had some (redacted) fun with, and some of whom I had some (redacted) fun with and have moved forward to having relationships with). However, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are a bunch of things that folks can do to be more successful at it, and so, in the interests of making your online dating better (and saving myself from having to read more cringe-worthy profiles and emails than I have to), here is my list of Shit That You Can Do To Make It Better:
1. Your profile photos should not include the following things: a photo of your chest, belly, and hips devoid of facial features; photos of you and groups of friends that don’t point out which person you are; photos of gorgeous scenery in some foreign place but do not include you (or a great story about that photo in the comments); photos of your cats, dogs, or kids. It should also go without saying that, unless your profile is on a site that is specifically made for sex hookups, definitely don’t include a photo of your genitalia.
2. Make the first move, but don’t be dumb about it. Read the entire profile. If it says “don’t send me a message that just says hi”, don’t do that. If it says “tell me why you want to connect with me”, do that. Avoid calling the recipient anything like “honey”, “baby”, “sweetheart”, “handsome”, “ladie”, “miss” or “mister”. Put your best foot forward. If you do not have a best foot, then figure out the best way to frame your not so good foot.
3. Repeat after me: you do not need to engage people who are not worth your time. Now repeat it again. Every time you get a message from someone who breaks one of your cardinal rules (see number two, above, for example), you do not owe them a reply. You don’t owe a reply to the person whose profile says that they’re cheating on their spouse if you aren’t up for that. You don’t owe a reply to anyone. It’s your damn profile, and it’s your damn time. Use it wisely.
4. If you are looking for casual sex, say so. If you’re looking for relationships only, say so. If you are monogamous, say so. If you’re a poly person, say so. Do not hesitate to ask for what you want. It makes life a lot easier.
5. Use grammar and spell check on your profile (and on your messages, if you have difficulty getting your point across). The more important intelligence is in a potential hook-up, the more important your profile and messages are. As an example, the person who said I was a “beutiful ladie” did not get a reply from me. Nor should they. You are allowed to not know how to write poetry, but you can at least take the extra two minutes to make sure that you’re not offending someone.
6. The thing that you think of as a limiting factor may be the thing that someone else sees as a quality feature. Let your freak flag fly a little. Total dork for video games? Don’t write three paragraphs about it, but do say that you’re proud to have the high score on Gyruss at that video arcade across town (uh, cuz I do, and my sweetie thinks it’s hot to watch me get my gamer groove on). Love going to Ren Faire? Put a photo up of yourself in garb (along with the other pics) and talk about how tasty any food is when it’s served on a stick and costs four times the gross national product of many small countries. Trust me, someone(s) out there are going to see that, and voila! A kindred soul connection can happen.
7. Use the improv concept of “yes, and!” as your guide with online conversations. Don’t just regurgitate information and answer questions. Ask questions of your own. Volunteer a piece of info about yourself. Be curious about the other person. Ask why they got a particular tattoo, or what they loved about the book that they said they read last, or whatever. Conversations fizzle when they’re one-directional, and they fizzle even faster when the conversation is solely about “what are you into”. Everyone wants to know that the other person is curious about them. Be curious, and expect curiosity.
8. It’s not the end of the world if you hear “no”. It’s not a referendum on your value as a person, a potential partner, a lover, or a friend. It’s just a “no”. And yeah, it feels super personal and can drain the air out of your balloon faster than most anything else, but it’s just a “no”. Shake it off, move on, and look for the “yes”. Because there are a lot of options for “yes” when we’re not hung up on the “no”.
I wish you luck in your online dating exploration. If you have great tips to pass along, drop ’em into the comments section!