Three Things Women Wish Men Knew About Online Dating

(File under: Is the grass really greener on the other side?)

I’ve been online dating off and on since my divorce almost ten years ago. I’ve watched (and experienced) a shift in the medium over the years; I’ve seen it go from deep and introspective to downright lazy, and I have a few things to say about how (many) men are doing this online dating thing.

I’m writing this because this is the shit women complain to each other about all day. We send each other screenshots of your dating profiles with the caption “Can you believe this shit?” or “🙄” or “WTF????” I think it’s high time we let you in on these conversations because we’re not making the world a better place to date by just talking about you to each other.

If you’re a man who has any interest in meeting a woman of substance online, read on. If you’re just looking for a hookup, you might want to read on as well, because there are ways to get in a woman’s pants, and they’re not what you seem to think they are.

1. We don’t care about your naked abs. We know you worked hard for them, and you’re clearly very proud of them, but did you know that your naked bathroom selfies turn us off?

And what’s more, the fact that you don’t know this turns us off even more. It tells us that you don’t listen; it tells us that you don’t take the time to understand what women want or are looking for, which indicates a level of narcissism beyond just thinking your abs are spectacular and that we should fawn all over you for them.

This falls in the same category as dick pics. See, we know that men are visually stimulated. We understand this about men, because we’ve taken the time to research and learn this about you. But when you behave with women as if they are the same as men without taking time to learn what they might want, it speaks volumes about who you are are in a relationship—and that’s a left-swipe from almost every woman I know, whether they’re looking for a LTR or a hookup.

While YOU may be visually stimulated and want photos of our private parts, women (for the most part) don’t GAF about photos of yours.

We’re turned on by the connection and the physical experience of being with a man, not the disembodied body parts that are inherently a part of that experience. Abs or dicks, we don’t want to see photos of them, and you photographing them for “our” pleasure, tells us all we need to know about you.

2. We want you to make the first move. The way almost all online dating sites work now is that you can’t directly communicate with someone unless you’ve both swiped right on each other’s profiles. And once that little banner comes up saying, “It’s a match!” someone needs to make the first move.

I recently discovered that many men will swipe right on ALL the profiles; then, if there’s a match, they’ll look closer and see if there’s any real interest and write a note only to those they actually like.

This blew. my. mind.

Here am I scouring each profile, reading words (if there; see next point), pouring over photos and swiping left 99% of the time, and here’s men, just right-swiping all day long, playing the numbers like a ball bouncing around a roulette wheel. UGH. Here I am thinking that a mutual match actually means something. Turns out, I’m totally off base. Silly me.

So, if that’s how this is skewed, I’ma need you to make the first move. And for the love of all that's holy, please say something more than "Hi," "Hey beautiful," or "What's up?" Because really what am I supposed to do with that/

You can be sure that if we’ve matched, I’ve read your profile. I’m interested. And since apparently I can’t have that same assurance from you, I’m gonna need you to make the first move.

I’ve heard that men are afraid to make the first move. They think that women are inundated with messages (sometimes we are, sometimes we’re not; depends on our filters), and many men who deeply respect women think that making the first move makes them seem creepy or stalker-y. I’m here to tell you that if we matched, I’m already a yes, and I’m waiting to hear from you.

I want to hear from you. If I don’t, I think you’re a serial right-swiper who thought better of it on a closer look.

(This doesn’t count if we’re on Bumble, because Bumble was created just so women could make the first move.)

3. Write something in your damn profile. When I put my very first profile up on any dating site almost ten years ago, it was on an algorithm-free dating site called Nerve. The New Yorker, Salon, The Atlantic, and a few other intellectually stimulating publications all had their own “personals” pages, that funneled into Nerve.

Nerve was where people with similar (intellectual) interests could meet. There was a section for you to describe what’s next to your bed right now, and the answers were always, “10 unread issues of The New Yorker (I’m sure I’ll get through them someday),” and a description  of the stack of esoteric, highbrow books that always intimidated the shit out of me. The profiles were deep and introspective, intellectual and challenging, and even if I didn’t date these men, the conversations were stimulating and thought-provoking. I was excited to be single in this dating pool.

And then along came Tinder.

Over the years, all the dating sites have been reduced to a left or right swipe, after a cursory glance at one or two profile photos. I call this the Tinderization of online dating, and apparently I’m not the only one because my spell check didn’t even blink at the word.

And I get it. The premise of Tinder was that people look at photos first, so we should create a site for which photos are primary. But it’s now been reduced so low that a vast majority of profiles don’t have anything other than pictures in them. No words. Not a single thing to describe you other than a few blurry photos of you in sunglasses on your dirt-bike, and I’m sorry, you may be the nicest guy on earth, but I’ll never find out because you won’t even put one step over the line to tell me who you are.

We’re talking about possibly getting involved in the most intimate relationship known to humankind, and you think we’re gonna start it in a void? No thanks.

I don’t really know what you hope to gain from an empty profile. Even a sparse profile is hard to grasp onto (and to be fair Bumble and Tinder have such ridiculous character limits it’s hard to get in anything important—and also that’s half the challenge).

If we match, what am I supposed to say to you. “Hi, nice abs”??? Give me something. Anything. Give me some words to describe you and what you’re looking for, and for God’s sake don’t let them be “I love to hike, bike, yoga, beach,” because if I read those words again I’m going to throw something—hard. WHO ARE YOU??? What makes you tick??? What matters to you?? The Dodgers? OK, fine, you’re not a match for me, but at least I know that you have a passion for….something???


I saw a profile the other day that said, “I”m an open book. Any questions, just ask,” and I thought, “You motherfucker. No, you’re not an open book. You’re lazy. You’re putting it on me to ask questions; you’re making me do the fucking heavy lifting and all the emotional labor and we haven’t even had one conversation. I know exactly how this relationship is gonna play out, trust me, and that’s a hard NO from me.”

So really. If you want to have a higher chance of matching with almost any woman on the planet, write something interesting in your profile. We actually read them.

Men, we want to date you; we really do, but sometimes you make the barrier to entry so damn high we return to our covens and give up altogether.

Kate Anthony