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Day 63: where I learned to write

To realize you have an interest in or become better at anything, you need practice. But writing itself wasn’t something I ever liked or considered myself good at, until online dating came along in 2004. With this platform of communication, you had the opportunity to capture the interest of someone long enough that they’s notice you, just through words and pictures. That’s a lot of room for powerful self discovery as to what you want to express and how you want to share it.

And as you can tell from my stories thus far, I had a lot of online dating experience, especially between the years of 2004 and 2011. And that means I also had a lot of practice playing with how I wrote my dating profile.

The dating platforms I was on, were Match.com (paid) and Plenty of Fish (free) had standard questions for you to follow to create a profile, but they also had a long section for you to write about yourself, which I believe is where the gold is, and where I truly learned to write from my heart. After all, the goal was to connect with a compatible man, so I knew it was important to express myself, not just describe myself, as fully and honestly as I could.

I’d describe scenes from an ideal date or an ideal vacation, or I’d describe funny scenarios I’d find myself in that would reflect how my brain worked a lot more than just writing, “I’m eccentric” or “I’m adventurous” or “I’m curious about life.” If I gave certain examples in my profile leading to the same descriptions, that I was eccentric, adventurous or curious, then conversations with men started differently and felt lighter.

Playing with how I expressed myself through my writing was really fun to do. And over the years, there were several different versions of my dating profile. And though I didn’t save them all, I remember how I felt when I was writing them; I was having fun, I was in the zone, and thus they all reflected the kind of woman I was slowly becoming and the kind of man I wanted to attract.

However, on one occasion, my new approach to profile writing got noticed, but not in the way I hoped for. I'd been regularly switching up the radius and cities where I'd search for available men and I particularly loved exploring men in Colorado, because it was a short flight and fun road trip away. Well on Match.com, once you view someone, they see that and return the view or perhaps send a message. But on one occasion, I remember viewing a handsome man in Denver, Colorado in his mid 30’s, but he along with everyone else had pretty boring profiles, so I kept going. I’d just written a new profile and it was getting lots of attention, and this particular Colorado man returned my view but didn’t say anything. But a week or two later, as I was performing another search, I noticed him because he’d changed his profile picture and looked new to me, so I clicked on him again. And I was shocked at what I read. He’d nearly word for word copied my example of a perfect date in his profile. But this wasn’t just 2-3 sentences that looked a little similar, this was 2-3 paragraphs that were copied and pasted from my profile into his. Wtf was this; he certainly wasn’t trying to get MY attention that’s for sure. So of course I reached out to him in the kindest way I could, to express, “what the fuck are you doing stealing my words?” And he didn't respond and nor did he change it after a few days, so I called Match.com and reported him. I remember the Match.com support person read my profile and his, and acknowledged it was good writing, which was flattering. They took down this guy's profile and a few days later he sent me a sincere message and apologized, but he also wrote an engaging note as to why he copied it. He told me that my profile made him imagine a different kind of life with a woman; and it was the kind he wanted to have, though he didn’t realize that until reading what I’d written. So he admitted to the plagiarism, but also admitted that he thought it was harmless because we lived in different states and were seeking the opposite sex, so who would find out? It was the strangest apology I’d ever received, mainly because it was also unclear whether he was going to change it. It was as if he was seeking my permission to still use my words, because he hadn’t changed them yet. I asked him to please write his own profile or I’d once again report him to the Match.com police. But this exchange also inspired me to refresh and rewrite my own profile yet again. Because now, after this AND my recent travels, I felt like a new version of myself.

It was summer of 2011 when this plagiarism happened, and I’d just returned from my Bali trip (see day 61), so I was the most clear I’d ever felt regarding who I wanted to be in this world and the kind of man that would “match” me. That being said, it was time to write something new. So I told a new story in my dating profile and wrote a letter in my dating profile directly to the man I wanted to meet. This way, it allowed him to imagine himself in my world and see how it feels.

And from the amount of messages I got from men very quickly, the results from this style of profile were astounding. Apparently I’d touched a myriad of men in a way that was endearing and playful, and I received some of the sweetest messages. A lot of men who reached out told me they knew they weren’t my type or age range, but they just wanted to tell me how much they loved reading my profile, and they wanted to thank me for making them smile. And for the first time, I truly saw the power of my words.

Below was my dating profile and the picture in this story is the picture I used:


"I'm at the Whole Foods downtown and it's time to go to the bulk food aisle. I look left, look right, then casually lift a scooper with a few raspberry yogurt covered pretzels not into a bag, but into my hand and carry on my shopping experience. That's when I see you standing in the produce section staring at me. I'm just out of yoga, so yes I look a little grungy and awkward carrying my scooter helmet, wearing my hoodie, yoga pants and Uggs, so clearly this isn't the "she's so pretty I can't take my eyes off her stare," this is the "I just busted you doing a drive-by eating of the bulk aisle" stare. Hmm...what to do now. I'm nervous, I'm feeling guilty and have no idea where to go from here. As I'm plotting either my escape towards the coffee section or my admission of guilt to the innocent check-out guy, you come towards me. Crap, of course you HAVE to be handsome, have engaging eyes, the perfect amount of scruff and looking incredibly approachable in your hoodie and flops. What am I doing thinking like this?! You're about to out me not hit on me! You casually walk right past me and brush my shoulder, giving me a refreshing smell of who knows what kind of awesome, sending chills down my spine. Then I feel it. A hand on my lower back and a whisper in my ear, "you've got crumbs on your lip babe. If you ate the chocolate covered raisins, coffee beans or cashews, that wouldn't happen. Your welcome." And with that, you graze the remaining small width of my lower back with your hand and walk away towards the front. So there I am left frozen in the bulk aisle of Whole Foods, my heart racing, my head spinning and I slowly lick my bottom lip to eliminate the tell tale sign of my mischievous behavior and simultaneously grin at what just happened. I continue the rest of my shopping still replaying the turn of events in my head and kicking myself that I didn't turn around, grab you by the back of your hoodie and pull you back towards me for something, anything, even just to find out your name. I'm taking an impossibly long time to finish my shopping, walking down each aisle with the nervous jitters that pretzel buster guy will round the corner and either cuff me and take me to the front or scoop me up in his arms. After what seemed to be 5 hours, but really only 30 minutes, I go to the check out line and give the poor Whole Foods guy a 2 minute shpeal about taking the 4 pretzels and I give him an extra $1 and tell him to do with it as he pleases. There. No bad Karma and I feel relinquished of my guilt and free to carry on with my life. I proceed outside to the scooter parking area out front and load my 2 small brown bags into the milk crate on the back of my scooter. As I'm about to turn on the engine, I see a piece of paper tucked into my drink holder wrapped around a bag of raspberry yogurt pretzels. I immediately grin ear to ear. I pull it out and it reads, "Hey rookie thief, I am making a calculated guess that this pink scooter belongs with the pink flamed helmet you were carrying. If so, let's hang out. I can tell you're active so let's get out and enjoy the sun and eat these pretzels together. And not to worry, they're paid for...YOUR NAME & # HERE." ------------------------------------

What made this profile stand out so much? I told a story about life and I invited my match to literally envision himself experiencing it with me. It was personal, it was reflective of me and I could see it happening, regardless of whether it was made up. And I was smiling the entire time that I wrote it, which I think you can feel in the words.

And in this day and age of people being busy and easily distracted, it's easy for people to turn to quick profile swiping and giving each other quick glances. But what if longer and more heart-felt profiles became more common? I wonder.

So that's how I found my passion for writing. It was through expressing myself for the sake of online dating, and I even began to help some friends transform their profiles as well. Everyone starts their journey somewhere.

But I will eventually share who did respond to this profile and the journey into darkness we took together. You gotta know the dark to be able recognize the light.

I may take tomorrow off, because my dad is coming to town for 2 nights, so we'll be spending concentrated time with him.


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