Everybody wants to be perfect on the internet, and that includes me.
Let’s take a look at the woman I may present to you. She works out diligently. She’s got a closet full of nice clothes and a beautiful apartment that she owns. Her friends are great and she’s always cooking and hanging out with them. Her family? Close, and kind, and adorable. Same with her coworkers and -- even worse -- she’s actually one of those people who enjoys going to her job.
Pretty solid internet persona there, Catherine. And frankly, all of that above? It’s true. It’s also, as with anybody, not the full story. But it’s what I show, here on the internet, and by extension, also on my dating profiles. And recently I realized that maybe that perfectly positive and crafted persona was actually not the way I wanted to approach dating any longer.
A couple years ago I heard a podcast interview with a guy about a new dating website he was launching. His concept? Listing your flaws, putting up your unflattering photos, and baring the dark corners of your soul to your potential mates on your profile. His thinking was that, and I quote, “Hey, wake up. You're not perfect. Your partner's not going to be perfect or your date's not going to be perfect. Your wife's not going to be perfect. But again, you can be perfect for each other. The imperfections are what make us real. They're what make us us.”
He decided to name the site Settle for Love. The interview stuck with me in the corners of my brain. I think there’s something to his concept. (The name and branding could use a different approach, though, in my opinion.)
I don’t date much these days, though I do idly flip through apps once in a while, and yeah, looking at my profile on them right now, I’m definitely trying to present the best possible version of myself in all aspects. I mean, who isn’t? Flattering photos, I’m smiling in every one. I talk up my running and reading and crack jokes and come off as charming and list my accomplishments and attributes. That’s the gist of the whole endeavor, right?
But looking back at the the best and most successful relationships I’ve ever been, I realized they were the ones where I was completely comfortable to be my full self, where I chose to or was forced to reveal deep insecurities and was still met with love and understanding and compassion.
So why do I never talk about that side up front in online dating? Why does nobody? Instead we’re supposed to meet our soul mates based on the fact that they also like Game of Thrones and Mad Men and drinking IPAs? HOW ILLUMINATING. (I could go on a whole separate rant of how we think we can connect with people over favorite TV shows or music or food, when a true connection I think has genuinely nothing to do with your pop culture favorites or tastes. Anyways.)
It made me wonder if there is something to the concept of intentionally presenting a more vulnerable version of ourselves on our online dating profiles. Could what I perceive as my flaws or insecurities actually draw somebody to me? Could being up front about any number of my struggles be a release in a way, so that I’m not always wondering and anticipating when those issues will present themselves down the line, and potentially cause me to be rejected? Should I post that one photo of myself where I’m in a Snuggie and look like I have no eyebrows???
No to the last one. But the other concepts, I found intriguing.
So as a general thought experiment, I present My Flawed Dating Profile. If I had the guts to update my OKCupid profile one of these days with everything that I definitely don’t want to share immediately or even ever with potentially romantic possibilities, this is how it might go.
Hi, I’m Catherine, and I’m coming to the table with a not-insignificant amount of romantic and personal baggage.
I’ve got several serious relationships under my belt -- and one failed engagement -- and at least a couple of those partnerships left me with some trauma and insecurity issues. To work through that -- as well as high levels of anxiety -- I’ve been going to therapy for the last eight years. The anxiety is pretty much under control (well, or it was until Trump came into the picture), and I take medication, do yoga, and meditate to keep it at bay. The insecurity issues? Actively working on them.
I like to do fun things, like, run, dine, cook, travel (though flying freaks me out), be with my family. But a lot of the time, I’m a huge couch potato, and relatively lazy. I’m an introverted homebody, and while I have characteristics of a social butterfly, I need to spend at least one evening alone for every one I spend in a group.
I don’t like cats. They freak me out.
I love to write. I make it part of my day to day, both for personal fulfilment and in my job. But it means I’m in my head a lot. Entire worlds are up in here, and I can seem far away on occasion. I’m also shy in new situations, which is often perceived as aloof. But I’m probably just intimidated.
I’m relatively steady, but I can be a person of extremes and a temper. I’m very loyal to my friends and family. I judge others too quickly. I fall into the trap of tribal politics reinforcing my own world views. I rant angrily about feminism (this part is not a flaw it is a good thing about me, but you should know). I like to be right. I believe I’m almost always right. I’ve even been known to mansplain, yes, even though I’m a woman. Yes, women can mansplain with the best of them.
I love to shop, to consume, I love beauty, and makeup, and keep up on the world of celebrity because I honestly think it’s kind of fun.
My evening going-to-bed routine takes 30 minutes and involves upwards of a dozen products.
I struggle with communicating my needs, and often am afraid to state those very needs because I assume without asking that they will be rejected or not met. Again, a lot of work has gone into this, so it’s better. But it’s still a thing. I really need somebody to make me feel secure, to make me feel confident, to make me feel grounded, to be reassuring of their feelings for me, and demonstrative about them. I’m not into PDA, but being affectionate is important to me.
I truly believe that perception is everything and that every setback can be seen as an opportunity for growth and reflection… but I also love to complain. And gossip. Sometimes I gossip.
I can be on the computer, doing literally nothing except clicking between Twitter and a chasm of pointless tabs, for like… hours.
My laugh is really more of a loud, evil cackle.
I’m bad at talking about myself, and will constantly deflect the conversation away to another topic or ask you a million questions about yourself. When met with somebody who is truly interested in getting to know me, and keeps trying, it’s likely I will either a. Run away or b. Burst into tears.
I guess all of these are to state the obvious as with any of you: I’m human. I’m not an awesome robot with no imperfections. I struggle to connect with people on occasion, and to be vulnerable. Sometimes I get sad and need reassurance, and sometimes I’m happy and think I can run the world. My friends and family mean more than anything to me, and I have a deep desire to see the best in people and all of their potential. I can be wildly charming and charismatic, and I can probably definitely make you laugh at least once.
In short, like anybody on here, I’m simply looking for somebody to share a Netflix account with. But I’m also looking for somebody who gets me, who sees me, who will take my insecurities or obsession with beauty products and understand it’s countered out by my genuine warmth and intelligence and kindness and wit. There’s highs, there’s lows, and there’s everything in between. Let’s go for a ride.