Finding love online – Data, A Love Story

This post talks about an unorthodox approach to finding love, which is not for everyone. I really haven’t done the methodology justice so you should probably read the book or you can ask me questions about anything that doesn’t make sense.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! If you have a sweetheart, I hope you’re planning something special for him or her (hint: special doesn’t need to be costly or time-consuming!). If you don’t have a sweetheart, show non-romantic love to someone: a sibling, a friend, the person you buy your lunch from every day. My plans for the evening are to go for a lovely dinner with a friend at one of our favourite restaurants, The Keg steakhouse.

I read a book last month on the topic of finding love. The title was Data, A Love Story (author: Amy Webb), and I discovered the book last year when its author was featured on the American show 20/20. The book is about how Amy reverse-engineered a dating website to find her man, who she’s married to today. She made the keen observation that online dating sites as they are aren’t as ideal or as helpful as you’d think they’d be when it comes to finding your best matches. I’m wildly paraphrasing here but it was something like:

  1. Often without being aware, people tend to write profiles for what they aspire to want in a partner and what they personally aspire to be, rather than what they’re really looking for and who they actually are.
  2. Dating sites can’t do their job too well, otherwise they’d be putting themselves out of business!

How Amy found her man online

Contrary to what single people are told, the author advocates being very specific about what you want! Her methodology was: figure out exactly what you’re looking for, determine how important each of those things are to you, then figure out what the guy who meets your criteria would need to see in your profile to choose you, then write your profile with this in mind. What I’ve just written is a huge oversimplification of what Amy actually did: she created male profiles, I think 10 of them, of the types of guy she’d like to meet (yes, there’s the question of how accurate or authentic these profiles could have been, but I was impressed by how much effort she put into making the fake men real—for each she had a family story, down to details like how many siblings or how close to his family a guy was…she really got into each character!), then gathered information from the profiles of the women who contacted these fake male profiles (Amy made sure not to lead the women on and she never made the first move). She also logged in as a “man seeking a woman” so she could evaluate the most popular female profiles and decide the best way to write her profile, using real information about herself (not just copying the other profiles). The woman was me-ti-cu-lous and I’m so glad that she found someone because that would have been a lot of work to do, only to get the same snoozer guys! At the end of the book Amy offers some tips of things that women can do to make their online profile more appealing, but still accurate and authentic.

In addition to working on creating the perfect profile (which she called a ‘superprofile’), Amy also worked on her physical appearance: she got a hair cut and learned how to make her supercurly hair look good rather than frizzy, changed her glasses, bought several new outfits, and signed up with a personal trainer to lose a few pounds, all before taking some more visually appealing pictures (and she gives tips about how you can make your pictures look better—think natural light, v-neck tops, and non-posey shots where you look like the picture was snapped just after you stopped laughing at a good joke).

If we were sitting at a coffee shop and I was telling you all this and you’re a typical Nigerian woman (uh oh: stereotype alert!) you probably already look darn good, thankyouverymuch all the time, so the tips about having an on-point physical appearance are making you think “Um, duh?!?” but trust me, some of us need a gentle reminder. Ahem.

Lessons learned

You’re probably thinking I’ve gone off the deep end, that all this blah blah blahing about being single has finally gotten to me and I’m going to follow in Ms. Webb’s footsteps and reverse-engineer a dating site to find Mr. Right-for-me. You have to read the book to get a true idea of how strategically meticulous and intense her process was—we’re taking rating systems, binders of info, spreadsheets, and data analysis galore…ain’t nobody got time for that! If I ever try online dating again, my take-aways from this book are:

  1. Get super clear on who you’re looking for: I need to do this even if I never online date again. I believe that God answers prayers, even beyond our wildest dreams, so why not be specific?
  2. Write a lot less on your profile than you’re used to, and keep it light…you can share your depth and accomplishments in person.
  3. Make sure you “match” what you’re seeking. If you hate exercising and sweatpants are your uniform, then setting your sights on a man who’s got a body like whoa and who dresses like he’s in a magazine might not work because you’d best believe that his dream girl probably has a hot and fit body. This is NOT a hard and fast rule because we see evidence that opposites attract every day. The take-home point is don’t ask for more than you’re willing to give in the relationship.
  4. When things aren’t working out, shift your mindset and attack the problem differently. In the book, after Amy unleashed her “superprofile” on the online dating site, she wasn’t too impressed with her potential men, so she edited her profile to allow it to show men who lived further away from her than before and this opened up a whole bunch of new possibilities. A former colleague of mine did this on Facebook about seven years ago: she was searching for men of the same nationality as her and our city didn’t have anyone good who appealed to her so she switched her “network” as they used to call it to the biggest city in Canada and voila! She found her future hubby and they’re getting married this year!

If you’re online dating and aren’t having as much success as you’d hoped, get your hands on Amy’s book and give her tips a try…or maybe there’s enough in this post to get you started. Either way, good luck!

I know four people who met online and have been married for years now. Did you find love online, or do you know someone who did?

2 thoughts on “Finding love online – Data, A Love Story

  1. This online dating ish… hmmm after reading about all the online dating scams, I have nothing but respect for those that go down that route!
    surely there has to be another way!:D

    • I think there is another way…but we can’t discount that online dating can work. God help those who are searching!

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