Posts Tagged relationships
If there’s one thing every Dating Ninja knows it’s that first impressions are everything in the world of online dating. That first email you send to someone on an online dating site can make or break your chances of getting a response. But with a little thought and little effort you can increase your chances of getting a response.
These are the DO’s and DON’T's for that first email:
- DO personalize the email and mention something from the person’s profile and tie it back to you. For example, I notice you like Green Day. Did you see them when they were in town last year? It was a fantastic show.
- DON’T start with, “Hi, how are you?” It’s an empty question with a one-word answer – “fine.”
- DO keep it short. Three to five sentences is about all you need in a first email.
- DON’T send the same email to every person you write to. It’s impersonal and lazy.
- DO check for spelling errors before you click Send.
- DON’T ask a question that is already answered in the person’s profile. It is a big red flag that you never actually read the person’s profile.
If you’re not the best with words and you don’t know where to start, use this formula:
- First sentence is about the person you’re writing to.
- Second sentence is about you.
- Third sentence is a question that gives the person a reason to respond.
Dear Dating Ninja,
I love the photo of you in front of the Trevi Fountain. I was in Rome in June, and threw a couple of coins in the Trevi myself. What was your favorite spot in Rome?
While the above email comments on a photo in the profile, an email that comments on something that you read in the person’s profile can increase your chances even more.
Dear Dating Ninja,
I see you have a passport story…me too. I learned that you should always know the expiration date of your passport! What’s your story?
The bottom line is be authentic and engaging. Good luck!
A very good friend of mine in the UK called me last week to tell me he had finally found the lid for his pot, or as they say in Cockney Rhyming slang his perfect China Plate (mate).
We have both been single on and off for the past 10 years, and have had many Skype sessions discussing the various reasons why. But it wasn’t until this past week that we came up with the perfect analogy for our unsuccessful dating histories.
Test driving Volvos when you want to buy a Ferrari.
That one phrase pretty much sums up both of our online dating experiences. Online dating sites are chock full of Volvos. There is nothing wrong with a Volvo. It’s a sturdy, stable, reliable car, but there’s really nothing extraordinary about it. And it’s just not sexy.
There are plenty of people who want to drive a Volvo, and plenty of people who want to drive a Ferrari. Me, I’m more of a Tesla girl. The Tesla is a one-of-kind car, a unique driving experience, and very adventurous. Here are some real comments from the Tesla website:
“It’s one of the most fun vehicles I’ve ever driven.”
“There has simply never been another car like this one.”
“…my eyes are wide and my jaw has dropped.”
That is exactly what I’m looking for in my China Plate. Someone who makes my heart pound and my jaw drop. In the words of Jeff Bezos I want someone who’s resourceful. Someone who could get me out of a Third World prison. I’m pretty sure a Tesla could do that.
I have been lucky enough to test drive a few Tesla’s in my life, and I’m still hoping to find the perfect model. But for now it seems like I’m looking for a Tesla in a city full of Volvos.
What’s your perfect model?
Finding love is something millions of people are willing to pay for, even in a recession. Online dating sites like Match.com and eHarmony have taken that fact to the bank, and with the recent success of Patti Stanger’s Millionaire Matchmaker TV show on Bravo, it’s no wonder that ordinary people all over the country have started hanging out a shingle proclaiming themselves to be matchmakers. So I wasn’t surprised a few weeks ago when a friend of mine told me she had recently been to one. However, I was surprised that said matchmaker was right in my own backyard in Lake Oswego, a small suburb of Portland, Oregon.
The only personal experience I have ever had with a “matchmaker” was the intake interview I had with a 20-something sales associate at It’s Just Lunch many years ago. I filled out a form, she briefly interviewed me, and then proceeded to set me up with dates over the next 12 months. Although she did set me up with some pretty interesting men, there was no real coaching or follow up after that initial intake interview. The only real advice she gave me was on what not to talk about on the first date: sex, religion, politics. She set me up and I was on my own.
Enter Jacqueline Nichols, personal matchmaker and proprietor of Intuitive Matchmaking in Lake Oswego. I was very curious about this local matchmaker so I sent her an email and arranged for a visit.
The Intuitive Matchmaking office is located in a small business building nestled in the middle of the First Addition neighborhood in Lake Oswego, and you’d never know it was there if you didn’t know exactly where to find it.
Her office space is intimate and colorful with little reminders of that love her clients are so desperately seeking. I notice a stack of brochures featuring photos of happy couples romping on the beach and the tagline “Find love. Enjoy love. Keep love” printed on the cover. Nichols takes a chair and I seat myself on – what else – but a love seat.
I ask the obvious question, why become a matchmaker?
The answer to that question lies in the name of her business, Intuitive Matchmaking. “I have been doing spiritual work for 25 years, and have been a sort of spiritual life coach for so many people through my Gratitude for Success business,” she explains. “Part of being a spiritual life coach is helping people find balance and joy in all aspects of their life including their relationships, so it was just a natural instinct to help my clients find love as well as success in other parts of their life.” It wasn’t until her clients started writing “matchmaking” in the memo on their checks that the light bulb really went on.
“I match people at the soul level,” she says. “That’s the difference. I pay attention to what chapter of your life you’re in right now and find you someone who’s in that same place.” A lot of her clients come into the service wondering why their relationships aren’t working out. “There’s a big difference between dating material and husband/wife material, and that’s where I can help.”
So what do you get when you hire a matchmaker like Nichols? Well that depends on how much you’re willing to pay. The Beginners membership to her service starts at $99, which gets you a personal consultation and a spot in her database, where you can search to your heart’s content. If you are an Elite member Nichols will proactively search her database for matches and possibly match you with “hidden clients” who are not public in her database. You also get a monthly consultation at this level.
The top level in her service is the Platinum tier. “I am basically your personal on-call matchmaker at this level,” she says. “The Platinum clients have access to me 24/7, and I will search outside my database for matches for them if I need to.” If you have to ask the price you probably can’t afford it.
Although there are no guarantees in the search for love, Nichols claims to have a very high success rate. “I can usually find a match for someone in one to three introductions,” she says. But don’t expect those introductions to all happen in the first week. “I know your time is valuable, and I will not make an introduction unless I know it would be worth your time.”
Her database of clients is small (about 500 people and growing) in comparison to the online dating institutions like Match.com or eHarmony, but consider the fact that Nichols has done her homework on your potential matches up front. “I have met or done a phone consultation with every single person in my service. And I do background checks on everyone as well. It’s all about quality not quantity.”
Although I have never claimed to be a matchmaker I have certainly become the go-to person in my circle of friends when it comes to questions about dating, especially online dating. So, I was extremely curious to hear Nichols’ perspective on the state of dating and courtship in today’s society.
“People don’t know how to date,” she says, and I couldn’t agree more. We both agree that people are very quick to judge someone on a first date, which means in the world of fast-food dating (like Match.com) there are very few second dates. And who’s quicker to judge on a first date? According to Nichols it’s women.
“Men seem to be more forgiving on a first date. If there’s no immediate chemistry they will usually give the woman a second chance just to see if there’s something there. Women on the other hand usually have a much longer check list in their head, and if he doesn’t have that one thing they walk away.”
Nichols says people need to slow down and be more patient, and just allow the other person to get to know you. She suggests to give it at least three dates before you throw in the towel, preferably five. And what’s the perfect first date venue? “Not a coffee date!” she says with a hint of frustration. “A coffee date just says, you’re not really that special, and I want to make sure I can get out of here fast if this date is a disaster.”
In her opinion a better choice would be happy hour (2-drink max), or a meeting at a bakery and then a walk, or just a glass of wine and appetizers somewhere. “You need one to two hours with nothing scheduled after the date, so you don’t feel like you’re constantly looking at your watch because you have to be somewhere else in an hour.”
According to Nichols the biggest mistake people make on a first date is being too full of themselves. “They sit there and talk about themselves the whole time, and never really even take the time to get to know the other person.” She says men and women are equally guilty of this.
My next question is a hotly-debated topic amongst my wide circle of friends.Why do so many older men only want to date younger women? I think I already know the answer to this question, but I want to hear what she has to say.
“I don’t get those men as my clients,” she says. “The successful men in my service are looking for a partner not an accessory. Successful older men who only date younger women are doing so because they think they’re a great catch, even if they’re not.”
And what about the older women? “A lot of them want to date their fantasy,” she says. “They want to date younger men because they are trying to recapture that feeling they had in college when they fell head over heels in love and everything was so fun and easy.They are trying to make up for all of those lost years.” She says a lot of women my age are in that category. “The hardest thing I have to do is tell those women to look in the mirror and be honest with what they see. You may feel younger than you are, but you don’t look like you’re 25.” Oh snap!
Nichols’ business currently focuses on the Portland/Vancouver Metro area, but she plans to expand her business in the near future to reach out to clients in Seattle and Medford. Wait, did you just say Medford? Isn’t the median age in Medford 75? Apparently retirees in their 60s and 70s are looking for love too, and Nichols aims to help them find it.
In the end her advice is pretty straight forward and simple. Stop watching the clock, stop focusing on the finish line and just enjoy the journey. And if you want to hire someone to ride that roller coaster with you hire a matchmaker.
You can find out more information about Jacqueline Nichols and Intuitive Matchmaking at IntuitiveMatchmaking.com.
Tell her the Dating Ninja sent you and receive 25% off one of her Beginners packages.
My dear friend over at The London Leprechaun once wrote a blog of letters to himself at various ages, so I thought I would do the same. If I could give myself advice…
Dear Kelly (Age 3),
Yes, that toy Tonka Jeep is sturdy, but it’s not meant to be ridden down the driveway like a luge sled. Especially not face first. So now you’ve got this big scab on your face for your fourth birthday thanks to the small pebble halfway down the driveway that stopped that Tonka truck cold and launched you into the concrete like a missile. But don’t worry, there won’t be scar.
Dear Kelly (Age 4),
The Monkees are never going to drive up to your house just because you love their show so much, so stop staring out the window and watching for them. The show is taped Kelly. When you see them drive away at the end of the show they are not driving to your house. They are probably in some bar having a Scotch.
Dear Kelly (Age 5),
Uhm, you forgot to take your pajama shorts off before you left for Kindergarten this morning. They’re still there under your dress.
Dear Kelly (Age 12),
You’re lying there with your arm in a cast. It’s summer. I know it sucks. You’re lucky you didn’t land on your head when you fell into that empty swimming pool. And just so you know, your wrist is going to heal just fine and you’re going to be a fabulous volleyball player for the next 20 years. What? You’ve never tried volleyball? You will.
Dear Kelly (Age 13),
You and your best friend Cathy, whom you’ve known since you were 4 years old, have gone your separate ways. I know you are heartbroken, but let me tell you something. You two will reconcile and stay the best of friends until the day you die. Just give it some time.
Dear Kelly (Age 16),
I know that your original plan was to escape to a foreign country for a year just because you were sick of living at home. I know you’re homesick in Finland, but resist the urge to pack up and go home. Stick it out. This experience will shape the rest of your life. And that family you’re living with has a heart of gold, and you will keep in touch with them for the rest of your life.
Dear Kelly (Age 17),
When the guards at the Russian border tell you to stay in your seat on the bus and not take any pictures at the border crossing they mean it! Did you really think they wouldn’t see the camera flash as you took the picture while the bus was pulling away? Tsk tsk. You’re lucky that all they took was your film.
Dear Kelly (Age 18),
The fact that you were Homecoming Queen will have no value whatsoever later in life. No, I’m not kidding. Sorry, but it’s not something you can put on your resume.
Dear Kelly (Age 21),
I know you went to San Diego State because you wanted to be a news reader and a reporter, but it’s going to take a while. You’ll graduate in a year and become a cocktail waitress because there are no jobs in 1980. Eventually you’ll decide enough is enough and you’ll get your first corporate job at Sun Microsystems. You will have this incredibly awesome boss who will push you into Engineering. I know it sounds really far fetched, but it’s true. You’ll love it. Don’t worry. Oh, and that news reader thing? You’ll eventually have your own political talk show. You’ll write it, co-produce it and host it. Yes, really.
Dear Kelly (Age 22),
For future reference, you’re not supposed to touch royalty. I’m sure Prince Andrew will get over it but the Mayor of San Diego will never forgive you.
Dear Kelly (Age 23),
Did you really think that buying a one-way ticket around the world and traveling by yourself was going to be without incident? You are too trusting. Leave Madrid as soon as you can and stay in India for a while. You’ll like the Shah family. Did you know that Mrs. Shah thinks you are her daughter from a past life? They will love you like a daughter. Go.
Dear Kelly (Age 29),
I know you’re wondering if you’ll ever get any sleep again. That little baby who’s waking you up at all hours will grow up to be a young man you can be proud of. He will have written two novels by the time he’s 20 years old. Oh, and he will stop spitting up eventually.
Dear Kelly (Age 41),
I know, I know, this is not where you thought you’d be at this age. Being a single mom with three kids is rough. No doubt about it. But Kelly, this time in your life is going to teach you so many good life lessons so make sure you pay attention.
Dear Kelly (Age 42),
You are a Survivor. Remember that.
Dear Kelly (Age 47)
This too shall pass.
Dear Kelly (Age 48),
The teenage years don’t last forever. You’re not the first to have an angsty teenage daughter.
Dear Kelly (Age 50),
I warned you! Be careful what you wish for. You got it. Now what?
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:
- Pick an area in your home that is free of clutter, and doesn’t have any personally identifying information in it.
- 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.
- Check that the light is flattering. Fluorescent lights and overhead spotlights are the worst.
- Take a picture of yourself with your webcam so you can see the environment and the lighting before your date.
- 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.
As I was sitting around the table at Starbucks this morning with my running buddies of 15 years, there was a common theme in the conversation. We were all more than happy to kiss the last decade goodbye.
When I look back at the last 10 years I realize that I have been through every major life crisis imaginable. I went through a divorce. I lost my mom. I had cancer not once but twice (I’m five years clear now, knock wood). I had to short sale a house I owned in L.A. I had to take a business partner to court. I was underemployed, and then unemployed. I ended the decade with a very destructive relationship.
We all watched our 401k plans shrink by half.
But even with all of that adversity I still saw the glass as half full. Every time I wanted to have a pity party I thought about the people who were worse off than me. I had a roof over my head. I wasn’t sleeping in my car or under a bridge. I survived cancer. In 2008 I won my court battle. And in 2009 I sold that house in L.A. and landed an awesome job. And in the Spring of this year I vowed to never again accept anything less than integrity, honesty and mutual respect in a relationship.
We all change over time, but I feel like I had a major life makeover. I truly believe that if you never know adversity and sorrow you can’t really appreciate joy.
May this decade bring us all an abundance of friends, family, love and joy. Happy new year everyone.
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…
Originally published on MySpace on December 19, 2008.
Is all really fair in love and war?
I got an email from a good friend the other day. I’ll call him Mitch. The email started out on a very positive note. It started out with, Karma is shining her face on me I guess. The subject: Match.com.
But as always, there are interesting twists and turns when you are speaking of the online dating world.
Mitch’s email to me went on to say that he had just been thinking it was time to cancel his Match.com membership and give it all a rest for a while, because he just wasn’t meeting anyone worthwhile. Then he got an email from Cindy. She winked on a Monday morning, and they exchanged a few emails that day. It seemed she liked “nerdy, shy, intelligent types” (Mitch is), they enjoyed traveling to the same places, and even had the same favorite restaurant.
They arranged to meet for dinner on Wednesday. It all seemed too good to be true.
And it was…
He received an email from Cindy late Monday night, after they had traded emails all day and had planned to meet for dinner.
I would love to post the email verbatim here, but I don’t have permission from Mitch to do that. But here’s my version of it (grammatical errors and all!).
Hey, I’m sorry to have to break it to you, but don’t bother going to our
favorite restaurant on Wednesday – I won’t be there. In fact, I was really never planning to be there.
CONFESSION TIME: I put this profile up on Match and started emailing around to get my boyfriend jealous so that he’d get off his duff after 3 years and propose already, and it worked beautifully.
Sorry you got caught in the crossfires, but the emails had to look real. I guess your radar about my profile being to-good-to-be-true, was dead on. But hey, sometimes a gal’s gotta due what a gal’s gotta due.
If it makes you feel any better, you weren’t the only one I was emailing. Just one of the few I didn’t have to stand up. Happy Holidays!
Cindy <– Her real name because she deserves to be publicly flogged!
WTF Cindy? You used my good friend and a few other innocent bystanders to get your boyfriend to propose to you? And he actually walked right into your trap and proposed? Let me tell you something Cindy, people don’t like to be cornered and given ultimatums. Your boyfriend proposed to you under duress because he thought it was the only way he could keep you. Well guess what, if he’s not a dumbass he’ll wake up one day soon and kick you to the curb. Who wants to spend the rest of their life with a manipulative woman who acts like she’s still in high school? Or maybe you’re both dumbasses and you just saved my friend Mitch from a disaster. Good riddance.
The moral of the story? People misrepresent themselves online all the time to get what they want. And they don’t give a shit about you, because you’re just a fictitious persona they came across on Match.com.
P.S. My friend Mitch is not curled up in a fetal position because of this little incident. It’s just one of the many landmines of online dating. He was suspicious from the beginning.
Originally published on October 19, 2008.
I had one of those totally surreal experiences right out of a Meg Ryan movie on Wednesday. First of all I was having very good parking karma that day, being that I had run over my 90-minute meter by 57 minutes by the time I left work, and there was no yellow envelope to be found on my window when I got back to my car. Sweet!
I had finished work a little early and I decided to stop by Cabana Boy’s loft before heading home to pick up the kids from school. I drove the short distance from work to his loft in The Pearl and found a parking space right in front of his building. I fed the meter and fished in my purse for the keys to the front door of the building. Let me just say that my keys only work about 50% of the time because the lock on the front door seems to be stripped, and I usually struggle for a few minutes before someone with an electronic keycard comes or goes, and I slip through the door behind them.
Today was no different.
I put the shiny silver key into the lock and started jiggling it to see if I could get it to catch the pins. I’ve figured out that if I pull the key back just a hair it sometimes works, but not today.
I heard a voice behind me say, “You have an envelope stuck to your purse.”
I turned and looked and sure enough, one of the many sticky parking meter stickers floating around my car had found its way to an envelope and then my purse. Lovely.
I looked at the guy and thanked him as I pulled the envelope and parking sticker from my purse.
“Oh my God!” he said, with a huge smile on his face. “You don’t recognize me, do you?”
I immediately started scrolling through the list of faces from my 50 first dates of Match.com, eHarmony, craigslist, etc. Nothing registered.
“No, I’m sorry I don’t recognize you,” I said, just waiting for the embarrassing part that was bound to come next. “Who are you?”
“No way!” I screamed, as I immediately recognized this slightly older version of this guy I once knew. “But, wait, what? You live in Portland?” I said, completely flabbergasted. Was I on an episode of Punk’d?
“I live in the building,” he said.
“No way!” I said in disbelief. “I don’t believe this. Hey, can you let me in? My key never works.”
We walked in together. He told me about his wife who is expecting twins in January. We exchanged business cards. He got off on the 4th floor, I on the 5th. When I arrived at Cabana Boy’s loft I walked into the kitchen with my mouth hanging open and said, “You are never going to believe what just happened to me in front of your building.”
You see Sam was my boyfriend when I went to University of New Hampshire in 1983! I haven’t seen or been in touch with him since about 1988!
This has to be the most unbelievable case of “small world” that I have ever experienced. Second runner up is when I was walking out into the surf in Puerto Vallarta, turned to my left, and saw my next-door neighbor from my childhood neighborhood.
Have you ever had an incredible small world experience like this?
Sidenote: I was a senior and 21 when I exchanged to New Hampshire for a semester, and Sam was a freshman (save the cradle robber jokes!). We met ..-in day at the dorm. I got written up on my very first day in the dorm because I was drinking in his room with he and his roommates and they were all minors!