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Planning your attack, er, strategy for online dating

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In this day and age, most people know someone who has tried online dating, or they have tried it themselves.

This artful memoir by Baltimore-based journalist Amy Webb dares to ask the question: "If technology has become as sophisticated as we know it to be today, why is it still so difficult to match us with our soul mates?"

This is a fun book, even for those not interested in online dating. Despite her obvious intellect and, frankly, intimidating resumé -- she wrote for major U.S. publications before starting her own digital-media consulting company -- Webb is down to earth and keeps things light and funny throughout. She's also not above dropping the occasional F-bomb or two to make a point.

Webb, who is in her 30s, registered on several dating sites to avoid further ill-advised set-ups by friends and family. Although some sites promised "true love," Webb quickly realized that sometimes "a match made in heaven" may just refer to someone living in the same zip code.

Following a particularly obnoxious date, Webb decided that if she was going to find someone remotely compatible, she was going to have to outsmart -- or "game" -- the system. After making a list of all the traits she was looking for in a mate, she gave each one a score, depending on how much she valued each trait (wanting to have kids she deemed more important than wanting to travel). This would help her score her upcoming dates and stay within a certain margin.

Her next step was to go undercover; Webb signed on to a dating site under a male alias, which essentially allowed her to view her competition and their profiles, determine which women were the most popular and what they had in common.

The most sought-after women online tended to have simple profiles of usually no more than three sentences, the idea being to pique the interest of prospective dates, not bore them to death.

By comparison, Webb's own profile read more like a job resumé, with photos that were outdated and downright frumpy. The result, even she was forced to admit, was seriously underwhelming.

As an intelligent woman, she wanted to attract an intelligent mate, so while her profile would never read "I love to have fun" or "I love to laugh" (who doesn't?), she realized she needed to put in a bit more time and effort.

"I didn't want to try to hide who I was or pretend to be someone else," she explains. "I just wanted to learn from the masters and present the best possible version of myself online."

Eventually, she did, creating a new and improved profile, this time with current, flattering photos. Within one day, Webb received 14 new messages. And, yes, one of those messages was from her future (now current) husband.

Webb spent one month assessing profiles online, documenting her findings with charts and graphs, some of which she reproduced here.

But put those highlighters and Sharpies down! She's not advocating that readers follow her plan to a T (no need for an online alias, either).

Instead, Webb outlines only the most important steps to success and gives lots of helpful tips on every aspect of planning your attack -- er, strategy.

Lindsay McKnight, who works in the arts in Winnipeg, has not ruled out online dating.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 9, 2013 J9


Updated on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 10:27 AM CST: adds fact box

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