A New Outlook on Online Dating and Internet Trolls Thanks to Readers Like You

snippet1When I submitted my xoJane Online Dating Reject article, I was pretty impartial about what would happen to it. Of course I wanted it to run on the website, but it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if it wasn’t picked up.

Last Friday when the article ran, I was pleasantly surprised to see 124 comments within two hours. Initially, the comments were very constructive. Many readers shared their take on my dating profile, and made awesome suggestions on branding myself in a more positive light.

Much of the advice pointed out really key suggestions I hadn’t taken into consideration prior. Sure, the description sounds witty if you know me and get that I am not a child-craving cat lady who spends all of time chugging smoothies in bed.  But if you read that and didn’t know me in real life- then it sounds like a teaser of an extreme introvert.

Readers you were right- it was not painting the best version of myself.  I deserve better than that description. It doesn’t show that I love photography, going to off-beat events like the Mushroom festival, trying new brunch places across the city, and attending random new classes like improv. Those are things that I want to share with my potential boyfriend, and activities that I want to participate in with him.

My first 5K in May!
My first 5K in May!

Sure, I tend to be more of an introvert, and not one for the party scene but I live a rich, active life that I want to share with someone. The word ‘forced’ was not the choice to use in the description. At the time that was written in in January, I was in the middle of training for my 5k and learning how to cook. 9 months later, I can say that I ran that 5k and can make an awesome baked kale casserole.  Yes, sometimes I have to force myself to try new things like cooking or going to a place where I don’t know a soul- but there’s a better way of phrasing it like for example,  ‘I’m always looking to expand my life experiences by trying new things and getting out of my comfort zone. I’m up for anything off the beaten path, as long as I’m laughing and we’re listening to good music.”

My friend who wrote my dating profile truly meant to help, and was in no means sabotaging my efforts. However, it’s one of those things that it has to come within, as corny as that sounds. And come on- I am a writer with a degree in advertising!

And with my photos- there are several more updated images that capture more of my personality. Those photos are about a year and a half old, and need to be updated. Personally I still like them(and appreciate all of the positive comments) but want to show myself out and about.  Photos that give a better, excuse me for this pun, snapshot of my life.  And even though the highly intelligent cat (who’s actually name is Annie) and my niece are awesome, they don’t really belong on my dating profile.

As the days continued, the comment count surprisingly continued to climb. At some point, the feedback started to include an unexpected turn into nastiness. Here are some examples:

“ I see three issues: 1 being is that your fat”

“She hasn’t gotten any replies because she’s fat

You’re fat and your profile is offputting, mystery solved.”

download (1)Initially, these comments shook me and triggered every insecurity about my body.  Like most women, I’ve struggled with my body image and self-perception. It has taken years of maturity, self-exploration, and therapy to learn to love myself while quieting my inner critic. My article asked for ways to improve my profile and feedback from reader’s own online dating experiences.  I did not expect the number of Internet jerks to body-shame- especially on a website that is meant to be a space for women empowerment and encouragement. Honestly- you purposely clicked on  women-positive website full of personal essays and then took time to read, and construct a comment that go against everything that xoJane is about? To me, that is a lot of energy wasted. And the fact that your opinions are ‘so popular’ that the only place they are published is on the anonymous comment sections online speaks volumes of the value of your two-cents.

And when a fellow xoJane writer named Galit had her article published Wednesday afternoon regarding the cruel, uncalled for body-shamming comments on her article that had NOTHING to do with her physique, I nearly jumped out of my office chair.

As a writer it made me feel less alone for experiencing similar comments on my own article. Then it pissed me off that seriously insecure people are contaminating the powerful, enlightening conversations that takes place on the comment sections of xoJane, and other online outlets.

One reader commented on my personal blog that she hoped ‘I was embarrassed by my pitiful attempt to be Carrie Bradshaw’.  Quite the opposite actually! I received terrific advice on how to improve my dating profile and ways to broaden my horizons in the online dating world that I would have never learned if it weren’t for my article being published. I sent the article to fellow writing and publishing colleagues who all had positive things to say about the article. The xoJane staff has been supportive on Twitter, and Jane Pratt even mentioned my article in a Tweet ‘insert fan-girl scream here’.  These are the opinions that actually have value.

emailFor me personally, as a writer I’ve always strived to share my particular experiences to connect with people. Putting myself out there and being intimate with readers, just like dating, can be scary and sometimes jarring. But the return, as with anything, is worth the risk.

Apparently my online-dating debacle struck a nerve to readers because I have received many emails, tweets and comments thanking me for sharing my experience- and that my story made them feel less alone. That is enough for me to continue to put myself out there in my writing for the rest of my life.

Also, the fact that this woman commented on my personal blog meant that she left the xoJane website, went to my blog and took time to share her opinion. Since the article was published, the visits to my blog have gone up significantly, which is a win for any writer wanting to connect with a larger audience.

I am proud to be an xoJane writer and to be part of an amazing community that continues the dialogue to inspire and support women. And I cannot wait to take another stab at online dating armed with a new arsenal of online dating tips and tricks. Of course this article will generate mixed comments, probably from the same commenters that left their mark on my article, or Gailt’s article. But my articles and essays aren’t for them. They are for the true xoJane reader, and anyone to whom which my writings resonate.

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14 thoughts on “A New Outlook on Online Dating and Internet Trolls Thanks to Readers Like You

  1. People on the internet will comment on posts and say Kate Upton is fat as if they wouldn’t love to be with someone that looks like her in real life. I mean, come on. People feel big and bad with a little anonymity. Anyway, I’m glad you’re able to see something good in the experience and took the chance to update your dating profile 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just read your article on Yahoo, and I wish I could say I am surprised by the mean comments, but sadly I cannot. It seems people feel like can say whatever they want on the internet, and they don’t understand that they are commenting on a real person with real feelings. I enjoyed the article, and I just wish everyone had been more positive with their comments.

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  3. No matter how much effort you put into updating your profile, sharing more and more interests, people will always find something negative, something they don’t like about the things you do. Just treat your dating profile as any other person you would meet. If you feel like not sharing specifics of your life, then don’t do it. Be true to your personality. As you said, it’s always good to expand our comfort zone (speaking as an introvert too) but not at the expense of who we are and who we like to be everyday. I read your Online reject article first in Huffington Post and I have to say, that not only you are educated and smart but you are beautiful and definitely fun to be with as well. I’m a 34yrs old single man myself, but not living in the same country as you do, but if I was and was using the same dating site as you, I guarantee that I would have approached you. Rejections are not universal nor do they last forever.^^

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  4. I can totally identify with your online dating experience. It sucks! I had one guy reply but after a few days, something wasn’t right. I had a friend check out his online presence – I found out he had scammed another woman out of thousands of dollars by telling her he was on a business trip and was stuck there and needed money. Geez! I reported him to the site.

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  5. I think the lack of responses has an up side, too! Look at all these superficial, appearance obsessed trolls that you didn’t have to date to find out that they’re not worth your time! Keep your head up. You’re awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Can you put in your dating profile that you are ballsy! I mean seriously you put yourself completely out there and wrote about how rejected it made you feel. Low point in life… And instead of thinking the world is kicking you while you’re down you reached out and put it there for everyone to see. You either get advices or pushed down more. Most likely the latter because that’s what people do. Those people are uninspired. You on the other hand… Good job.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. First off, you have a nice blog and it makes you seem way more attractive than the snippet of your profile you published. The one thing I really don’t understand is how do you reconcile that while you complained (for lack of better word) that nobody answered your messages, you never answered anyone else’s? Didn’t it occur to you immediately that you probably should act in a manner that matches your own expectations?

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  8. You’re a beautiful woman. Your lack of dating life is an opportunity. Think of all the awesome fun things you have. You have a job, a degree, a place to live, your health and sanity. In three days you’ll meet a tall, very good looking architect. He’s widowed and you remind him of his late wife. Don’t show too much interest in him at first. He has two boys. Ask about them: hobbies, interests, favourite food, toys, hobbies and say nice things about them.

    Show lots of interest in his work and ask him to elaborate on everything he says. Before your first date, do lots of research on gothic architecture in Vienna and ask him to talk about it without letting him know what you’ve dug up on your own. Smile when you hear anything familiar.

    Develop an interest in sports that you both can enjoy together: arena sports or swimming or tennis. Keep him active on the next three dates: talking, moving, eating.

    When he asks you out, say, “I’d love to hang out.” Then suggest interactions in the DAY time. Keep them short. Coffee, lunch, tea. Just control the time so it doesn’t go over 45 minutes. Suggest the time and place of the next coffee date. When he insists on taking you out to dinner pin him down on a day and location BEFORE saying yes.

    And before you know it, he’ll be thinking about you all the time: when he’s hungry, needs attention and support, and when he wants to do something fun.

    Other tips: Wear black. Simple A line dress knee length. Black underwear. Nude, red, animal print or snakeskin heels with flesh coloured stockings. Wear your hair in a high messy ponytail and do some runway ready eye makeup in dark brown, black and pink. Massive amounts of mascara. No lip gloss. Dark nails. Statement rings okay but no necklaces, bracelets or watches. Do NOT wear a scarf. Wear a very nice dress coat open in the front. Small purse. You want to look natural but elegant. Men love va va voom but they know it’s not politically correct to make demands.

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  9. When women like you say the truth, i mean the unfiltered truth, i truly admire you. To tell your story so that people like me don’t feel alone and can learn from you, can certainly erase all the comments from the HATERS! Do you

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  10. Hi Patrice, I thought it was incredibly brave to post what did in publishing the article about your online dating experience. In this society where we are told that outside approval is the most important thing to say publicly you are not getting that and it hurts is very courageous indeed. I wanted to offer you a copy of my book about sorting your relationship baggage and online dating in hopes that it might be helpful. I’m not looking from you, I just honestly thought it might help. Please contact me at my website modernloveguide.com if you’re interested.

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  11. I was impacted by this post since last night, I had my first encounter with cyber bullying. It all happened on a group I’m on Facebook, where the person who started the thread asked how people felt about last night’s immigration reform. I stated my thoughts, never offending or attacking another position, just explaining were I was coming from and how it affected people like me. Through the next 3 hours I read on, as ADULTS called me every name in the book, many even telling me that I’m a “selfless @#/$ and should just go kill myself”. I stared in disbelief as more and more ADULTS joined in, no one presented an argument, they just went straight to hurtful personal attacks, acting as if they somehow knew my life. It was awful and honestly I never thought I would be affected by some strangers’ words, but I was. This morning, as I started writing about this awful experience on my personal blog, I did a quick search to see if anyone has gone through this, and I’m shocked by the amount of adults who’ve been cyber bullied by other adults, it’s such a juvenile behavior I never expected it would be so common. Your story got to me the most. Thanks for sharing, I hope together we can bring a light to this lack of cyber resposibility.

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