I'm really good at...Nothing?
August 5, 2014 2:38 PM   Subscribe

OKCupidfilter and beyond...How do I make me seem less boring?

I'm hoping the hivemind can help me here.
I started up an OK Cupid account and month I have had zero success...and I know why because my profile is BORING. I got bored writing it, I can only imagine how it is to read...
I think it will be easiest if I just make notes as I go down the profile page. Oh, Male 41

My self-summary - (I hate this. I really don't know what to say here...I've viewed many summaries and have been very impressed; people are often able to give an interesting and often witty in-a-nutshell story. But I just draw blanks.)

What I'm doing with my life - (The truth is I'm trying to figure that out...40+ years old yet I haven't really done much so far. I have zero family and no real friends to speak of, I have not travelled, though I very much want to it is not on the horizon any time soon. Really, other than work (sales, it's dull) I just wander around looking for something to do...is there a better way of wording this?)

I'm really good at...- (This one hurts a bit, a bit of an eye-opener for me. I've come to realize I don't have many skills/abilities. I play no sports, I can't cook, don't know how to dance, not good at any games, etc.
I am a musician, but I have had no success with it and do not play outside my home. I aslso do have an encyclopedic knowlage of bands/artists/records...I can perhaps squeeze the musical aspect for all it's worth, but it seems one-dimensional. I don't want to just make stuff up.)

The first things people usually notice about me - (I haven't a clue. People don't notice me.)

Favorite books, movies, music etc & Six things I couldn't do without - (Finally a couple easy ones. I am able to confidently answer these, so no problem here.)
On a typical Friday night I am - (Ouch.)

As for pictures...I'm not very picturesque; I don't think I am downright ugly but not handsome. I don't photograph well, I have stare-eyes and my smile is always closed-lipped (stained teeth). They are self portraits, I do what I can with them. I have no "action" or group shots.

Now I should state here I'm not a shut in social weirdo; I'm pretty well-spoken I think and can talk your ear off about tunes and films...folks don't mind talking to me. I've just been living under a rock for a long time, and have severely short changed myself.
I do need to know though: How disadvantaged am I here? I see so many profiles where they do this and that, exciting things, been all over the world, with photos of them and their friends and family, on the ski hill, jumping out of planes, posing in front of the Eiffel Tower and so on. I can't depict any of that...
And back to the main question - How do I make the most of what I do have? How do I punch it up and make it more exciting than it is? I don't want to bullshit anyone...
posted by Soap D. Spencer to Human Relations (30 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
It's not about what you do/have done, or at least it doesn't have to be. It's about who you are, like your personality, your outlook. I actually just reworked mine to make almost no mention of the hobbies I do have, because I found myself just answering questions about the hobby over and over rather than actually getting a chance to express who I actually was. My self-summary is basically "here is how I view the world, and here is how I interact with the world." (It's linked in my profile if you want to look at it.)

Are you an optimist, pessimist? What do you value highly? What kind of thing can you just not stand? What do you like to think about? Those things matter so much fucking more than the last place you went on vacation.

Just remember: the worst, most annoying person in the world can take a photo in front of the Eiffel Tower or jumping out of a plane.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:46 PM on August 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am a musician, but I have had no success with it and do not play outside my home. I aslso do have an encyclopedic knowlage of bands/artists/records...I can perhaps squeeze the musical aspect for all it's worth, but it seems one-dimensional.

Also, this is a perfect thing to talk about! You make it sound so negative, but I would love to be able to play an instrument and to be knowledgeable about music, and I like talking to people who are super into it.

OH, and finally: as a 41-year-old man, be very clear on whether you want marriage and kids and/or would be willing to be a stepdad. Single women in your age group will want to know that information, one way or the other.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:50 PM on August 5, 2014 [8 favorites]

You're definitely looking at yourself through a glass half empty lens, which is going to be troublesome not only for filling out your profile but also when it comes time to actually go on dates and put yourself out there and offer up something of yourself to the other person. I get pessimism, I really do, and it is easy to get down on yourself. Basically, the only disclaimer you need to put out there about yourself is something along the lines of, "I am a little introverted" or "I am still getting to know people in the area." And that goes at the END. You have no obligation to be a world traveler or a great cook. But dude, what do you like to do? If you like to watch 7 hours of CSI on Netflix, there's even a way to spin that in a conspiratorial way, like, "Haha, and sometimes it's fun to space out on Netflix and seven hours later…" People can relate to that, too.

If you have been kicking around on Earth for 41 years there is definitely something fascinating about you, something you are great at and one or more hilarious stories in your past. I don't know what they are because I don't know you. Is there a chance that you're getting so worked up comparing your profile to other people's that you are drawing a blank when it comes to thinking about who you actually are? Whoever it is, sort of own that person and just put it out there.

If music is your thing, then spin the High Fidelity type thing from the get go. Write that you love to spend hours in the record store or that Otis Redding speaks to your soul or whatever the truth is about you and the things that get you excited.
posted by mermily at 2:52 PM on August 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: You don't need to bullsh*t anyone, but could you try putting a positive spin on things?
I don't want to offend you, but this post is incredibly negative - and I find myself thinking you wouldn't exactly be a barrel of laughs to go on a date with.

Start framing things in a more positive manner and think outside the box, I think that would be a good place to start.
It may seem that everyone else in the whole world is travelling to crazy places and doing amazing things all the time, but that really isn't real life. Also, maybe some women just really want stability in their lives and really truly aren't looking for an intrepid traveler.

You could just really, really love sandwiches. So, put that in your profile! I'm sure you have a LOT going for you, just try to realize it and take it from there.
posted by JenThePro at 2:53 PM on August 5, 2014 [12 favorites]

Best answer: I'm a pessimist myself, but I'm going to be frank: your extreme negativity, not your lack of hobbies and interesting skills, is why you're having zero dating success.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:00 PM on August 5, 2014 [12 favorites]

First off, one thing that might help is to think about the kind of person you're trying to attract: how would they fill out these sections? What would you want to read there that would make you interested in them? That might give you some perspective on what you want to put out there about yourself.

My self-summary

This is really the worst section, isn't it? Save it for last. Keep it brief. Don't be that guy who says "I hate writing self-summaries" or whatever. You can stick to facts for all the other sections; whatever creative mojo and capacity for insightful self-appraisal you possess, save it for this.

What I'm doing with my life

Spend a week, or a couple weekends, whatever your schedule allows, wandering around looking for things to do (make sure you actually do things). Write about those things.

I'm really good at...

You just supplied your own perfect answer for this. It doesn't matter that you're not a professional musician. Keep it positive.

The first things people usually notice about me

Ask some friends or family or coworkers or internet strangers to give you some leads on this.

On a typical Friday night I am

You will be forgiven for writing about non-typical Friday nights here. You can totally write about the last atypically awesome Friday night you had, or what you aspire for your Friday nights in a better version of your life to be like.

For photos: go to some local tourist traps, or just downtown, find some approachable-looking people who don't look like they're in a hurry or overwhelmed by wrangling their children or anything, and ask them to take a couple pictures of you. Accumulate a whole bunch of pictures. Pick 3 or 4 good ones. And show some teeth. Not showing teeth in photos is a really conspicuous omission for a lot of people, it's better to let on that you could use some whitening rather than look like you're trying to conceal a mouthful of broken fangs or whatever.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:02 PM on August 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Few things:

1) You honestly might want to look into other areas of your life before getting into a romantic relationship. It sounds cliche, but you are very likely suffering from depression. Regret is normal, but you have a litany of failure here I'm sure is not 100% accurate.

2) If I had a dollar for every time I met somebody who had a profile pic on a mountaintop, or on a white water rafting trip, or skydiving and then was a disappointing shell of a person. Ugh. I could retire. Mine was a pic of me in Spain. I went there once. It was 4 years old by the time I was on OKC.

3) Go to meetup.com. Find something you have a vague interest in. Continue doing this everyday. Go to meetups. Learn to mingle. It will suck at first, but unless you want to be a lonely old man sitting in his house watching his stories, this is a much better option.

4) 41 isn't that old. People are obsessed with youth, but once I got into my 30s I realized what a shit show my 20s were. I've had more fun in the last 3 years than in the previous 10.
posted by lattiboy at 3:07 PM on August 5, 2014 [8 favorites]

You need to not view your life as a series of negatives or in comparison with other people. I realize that OKCupid feels like a competition, but even if it is, you and the guy who goes basejumping in Paris are not competing for the same girls, because you're looking to meet someone who will be compatible with you and your lifestyle, not someone to go basejumping with.

Think positively about the kind of woman who is going to enjoy the things you do -- someone who likes to make music and hear music and talk about music, even if it isn't a profession; someone who wants to get out an explore the city around them but is also open to comfortable evenings spent at home.

Also, keep in mind that you don't have to fill in every section. If you don't put something there, the other person doesn't see the section at all when viewing your profile, so you don't need to worry that they're reading it and seeing a bunch of 'did not fill out this section'.

What are your six things you couldn't do without?
posted by jacquilynne at 3:07 PM on August 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

The "I'm really good at" section need not literally be a list of thigs you're god at. You could use it rather as a space to talk about what you'd like to be good at, and why. That's just as interesting, and just as revealing of your interests, priorities, and personality traits.
posted by jessicapierce at 3:17 PM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

So you can talk my ear off about tunes and films? Sounds like something you're good at, plus lots of people like that too so you'll attract them, plus it takes away the worry of a silent first date.

There are probably lots of potential partners out there just as intimidated by the skydiving globetrotters as you, so you could be a breath of fresh air there. In fact, you might want to aim for that as a vibe - the guy who won't make you feel inadequate for not having climbed Mount Kinabalu

Finally, a good friend of mine found love when older than you are after a long, fruitless and barren dating life. If you want the story, memail me.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:27 PM on August 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

The essay questions are really just prompts to help you think of something to say, you don't need to follow and answer the questions specifically. If you think you don't do very much and don't know what to write about that, then maybe instead think about what you hope to do in the future and write about that instead of the past, or activities that you think you would like to do with a partner.

If you haven't already, read OKTrends, especially the older entries. You may be getting into ruts that don't matter all that much, and skipping past ways you can do better.

In the meantime, I think a "midlife crisis" might be good for you. Go find some things you wanted to do when you were young but never got around to. Have more fun!
posted by anonymisc at 3:28 PM on August 5, 2014

The best advice i ever got for a profile was to imagine you are rolling yourself as a character for D&D or GURPS or whatever Role Playing Game you know. When you try to do this honestly you will be amazed at what skills you possess-I mean you are holding down a job right? you manage to operate a motor vehicle(or navigate a transit system or stay alive on a bicycle or found a place to live next to you work-whatever), you successfully navigate life on a daily basis-that isn't a no skills scenario. Maybe you aren't Eric Clapton in the music realm, but then there is only ONE Eric Clapton-doesn't mean your a zero because you aren't the best.

And secondly as you are inventorying yourself for your profile, you can identify what you want to gain in skills/abilities, and write that down. NOONE is born knowing how to do cool stuff, and don't focus on what you should know by 40-only focus on what you want to learn/do next. Basic competence in most things can be gained with wikipedia, a library card, possibly classes and sufficient practice. And people who are practicing and learning and stretching their boundaries are interesting.
posted by bartonlong at 3:34 PM on August 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

Have you read other people's "I'm really good at..." answers? People always write small stuff like "I'm really good at making sauerkraut" or "finding parking" or "scrabble" or "folding fitted sheets"*. You don't need or even want to convince people that you're The Best At Everything. Just convey that you're an okay person who might be fun to go get some coffee with.

* In fact nobody is good at this, because it is impossible
posted by aubilenon at 3:53 PM on August 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your input!
Maybe I've come off more negative than I usually am...
Like I said I found writing my profile boring and I can't help but wonder that someone viewing it would be thinking the same.
The music thing: I do highlight that, and very positively. But I can't beat into the ground. I don't want someone thinking "All this guy cares about is music..."

I have read a number of tips from OK Trends, as well as right here on MeFi; most often I see mentioned "too many photos of just you", "you look too posed" and "need action shots" and "you with your friends"...how in the essays one should capture the viewers imagination and so on.
I'm just feeling a little unarmed in that department.
I plan to do more stuff, but until I do, I'm looking for ways to "pad" my profile...kinda like a spotty resume.

Couple more random points: When I say I have no family, I'm serious - I am the only child of two only children, and they have passed on. There is no family unfortunately. As for friends, I have a few acquaintances who I am trying to turn into friends...honestly I'm not super upset at this, often people my age are married and have kids. I takes a long time to make friends, but I'm working on it.

Also, it was mentioned in one of the replies to be specific in regard to marriage/kids: Yes I have made it clear (Long term, marriage, wants kids).
posted by Soap D. Spencer at 4:18 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I once read some touristy stuff about how serene and quiet some desert was. Almost anything can be spun positively.

There is no family unfortunately.

So, you are blissfully unencumbered. Your life is uncomplicated. You aren't bringing a pre-existing family circus to the table. Some people will view this as a positive. (I am divorced. I was much more thrilled to be shedding my in-laws than my actual husband. We could not work things out but I was no longer speaking to any of his relatives well before I decided to divorce him.)

And it is okay to talk about your Friday nights in terms of "quiet homebody" terms. I think I am a happening person but I am not someone out on the town on Friday night or whatever. Some people like cooking at home, watching a movie at home, and otherwise arranging to have the outside world generally leave them the hell alone on the weekend after working all week. So just start describing it -- what do you actually do on Friday night -- and then get out a thesaurus or whatever and start looking for ways to frame it positively rather than "gee, I don't have a life and I don't do anything." I mean, you are doing something on Friday night, even if just going to bed early to catch up on your sleep. You aren't ceasing to exist for one night a week and then coming back from non-existence on Saturday morning (and, hey, if that is what you are doing -- some folks would be fascinated. I mean you could write a TV series about something like that).
posted by Michele in California at 5:00 PM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

This isn't really about your OKCupid profile.

You seem to be unhappy with yourself. Dating people will not cure or change this. If you do not have a good relationship with yourself, a good relationship with someone else will be difficult to achieve and maintain.

It's a thing commonly said on AskMe, but: if you don't already have a therapist, then finding one would probably be a good idea.

Otherwise: perhaps find a class in something, or individual lessons. If you're not finding success with your music, maybe some lessons in your instrument would help you get out of the rut and improve your skills. Or learn a new instrument. If you don't have money to spend on this, there are YouTube tutorials in everything-- but the human contact involved in learning something from other people, with other people, is a definite plus.

It just generally helps to have a project going, something to talk about, something you're building or doing or at which you can see yourself improving. It could help with the boredom, the self-esteem and ultimately the life-direction thing.

Basically, instead of trying to "seem less boring" so you can get into a relationship, maybe try and add interest to your life for yourself so you'll be in a better place when/if the relationship thing does happen.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:38 PM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh, and...
What are your six things you couldn't do without?

Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
posted by Soap D. Spencer at 5:40 PM on August 5, 2014

Best answer: Tea, Earl Grey, Hot

I think I smell a Star Trek reference and dry sense of humor.

Some people will go for that. Some over-the-top-emotive types like hanging out with calm people who won't add to the drama they live with.
posted by Michele in California at 5:43 PM on August 5, 2014 [7 favorites]

What worked really well for me on OkCupid was just forgetting it was a "dating" profile and treating it like it was Facebook or any other social network. Once I accepted ***not every single woman on here is going to be into me no matter what**** I could just write about myself freely and not feel the judging eyes of some imaginary ideal woman on every sentence.

I also agree that being a musician is cool. I love music as a fan but can't play an instrument for shit. Women searching OKC probably aren't expecting it to be Bono or Coldplay and, if they are, then I guess that specific woman is not for you. Like I said, you don't need to be attractive to every woman, just a few or even one.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:26 PM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

The answer to "what I'm doing with my life" sounds like it should be "working hard, and hoping to meet a nice (girl/guy) to hang out with, experience new things with and maybe, eventually, settle down with."

It doesn't need to be "exciting", it needs to be positive and speak to the kind of person you want to attract. Someone who needs a hang gliding partner wouldn't be right for you.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:31 PM on August 5, 2014

Have you read other people's "I'm really good at..." answers? People always write small stuff like "I'm really good at making sauerkraut" or "finding parking" or "scrabble" or "folding fitted sheets"*. You don't need or even want to convince people that you're The Best At Everything. Just convey that you're an okay person who might be fun to go get some coffee with.

Along these lines, my "things I'm good at" answer includes procrastination and taking naps, if either of those would work for you. I think at one point I included "looking at pictures of cats on the internet."
posted by pemberkins at 7:39 PM on August 5, 2014

It sounds like you're not very confident in yourself. For every positive characteristic listed here you have tried to downplay or diminish it. Maybe work on that first at least to get yourself in the proper headspace to write a dating profile.

I mean, look, we all know you're probably not the lead singer of a popular band, right? That's just not something very common for people to be. You don't have to give us any excuses for why you aren't in a band. But you still like music and you play an instrument – that's great! Now focus on why you like collecting records and dig into that more. Do you participate in Record Store Day? Are you an expert on technical death metal? The more details the better. Doesn't matter what other people think, this is all about you.

I think people on OKC (and in the dating world in general) have a tendency to see this as a résumé of sorts. Like you have to somehow stand out from the crowd by adhering to a set of universal success criteria: athletic prowess, success in a career, a creative talent, etc. That's just not true. Anyone who wants to date you is going to do so based on your personality and how you comport yourself. Your profile just has to catch their attention and exude confidence.
posted by deathpanels at 8:24 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You already get it, but just to hammer it in one more time.... some of us non-musicians will find your ability to play an instrument endlessly impressive and never one-dimensional.
posted by Buddy_Boy at 11:54 PM on August 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

Now how long have you been 'planning' to do some things Soap D Spencer? ;) ... maybe time to prioritise that a bit... start with a list maybe of anything you are remotely curious about that could be accessible/do-able.

Personally I always found those action shots a little naff "look how ke-razy and fulfilled I am"... but II'm not an internet dater.

Make a list of everything you'd like to find in someone else, then figure out how you can cultivate that stuff in YOU first.
posted by tanktop at 1:01 AM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

What are your six things you couldn't do without?

Tea, Earl Grey, Hot

I'm not an online dating expert, but I think this list is an example of where you're close, but not quite there. There's humour and a sense of who you are, but it could be a lot better. 'Tea, Earl Grey, Hot' works as an in-joke and 'spreadsheets' is slightly quirky and take-me-as-I-am. Shouldn't 'cactus' be 'cacti' or 'my cacti'? 'Music' is too vague - maybe 'playing music' or one particular genre. 'Soap' sounds a bit desperate, 'I may be boring, but at least I'm clean'. Again, twist it to be specific and/or relateable, so 'unscented soap' or 'a long morning shower'.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:22 AM on August 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

I agree with others who say that to a non-musician, ability to play an instrument is especially admirable. And as someone who grew up without radio or pop music, I am stunned by people who have a thorough knowledge of the history of rock music and the way different performers and styles relate to each other. I would love to hang out with somebody like that, and "get lessons". However, as a casual musician myself, I find a huge red flag in someone who hangs a huge amount of their personality (or advertised self) in their once-every-other-month unpaid gig or open mic night (preceded of course by twice-weekly band practices). So my advice - if music isn't genuinely important in your life, trying to leverage it to make yourself look interesting can quite possibly backfire. Mention it, but don't get too hung up.
posted by aimedwander at 6:33 AM on August 6, 2014

Don't feel inadequate compared to all those people with action shots or crazy life experiences. They're not for everyone and *I know* that photos don't show everything.

I've had some pretty fun adventures, but none of it has been captured on camera because I am not a photo-happy person, and I'm too busy being present to interrupt the moment with a selfie-pod or whatever. So I don't expect cool people to have the best photos either. Most of my photos I pretty much come across by accident, by acquaintances tagging me on FB or something.

And external qualities isn't all there is to a person. I am acquainted with a guy who you could argue is the most interesting person around (been to 20+ countries probably, development worker saving the world, living in a different country every couple of months, socially progressive, hikes exotic mountains, teaches martial arts, boyishly cute, athletic body, geeky references, music encyclopedia and plays guitar). He is technically attractive and should be my type, but even if he was sitting beside me right now, I probably wouldn't flirt with him because he is too high-strung and spends too much time talking about himself instead of letting me be my funny and goofy self.

He's cool, but I'd want to date someone who I'd feel equally at home with conquering an exotic mountain and just chilling at home drinking Earl Grey (Tea, Hot, with Milk) at home and doesn't judge me for the amount of time I spend playing on my 3DS, you know? I also like to talk a lot. I ramble about Big Serious Topics and silly mundane observations, and I need someone to find most of it funny and worthwhile and worth discussing, including the mundane observations. How my date and I relate to each other and have fun (especially in mundane contexts, because life is 90% mundane and routine by nature) is infinitely more important than his or her individual accomplishments. I want to be appreciated for all of my idiosyncrasies, for all of my adventure and my simple comforts. The most accomplished and exciting woman or man in the world isn't going to cut it for me if I don't feel relaxed and free around them.

So my anecdata aside, what are specific things I'd advise you to do?

1. Practice liking yourself and take stock of the qualities and accomplishments you're proud of.

2. Talk about your passions, interests, and stuff you find funny. Having things to look forward to is more important than having accomplished things. I actually fear dating highly accomplished people, because it might mean that hike/weekend trip/third world used bookstore side street exploration session wasn't as special for them as it was for me. I want me and my date to do new things together, so don't devalue that aspect of yourself.

Your interests can also indicate possible future dates. What could you and your future date do? Jam together? Watch live concerts? People watch while eating a greasy brunch? Go to a high tea place and drink tasty Earl Grey Tea? Portlandia marathons? Keep that in mind as you fill out your dating profile.

3. "I'm really good at..." Like other people said, don't take this so literally. I had "trolling everyone with Morrissey songs in Filipino karaoke bars" on mine. Just for for colour and endearingly idiosyncratic rather than actual accomplishments.
posted by Hawk V at 6:47 AM on August 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

*just go for colour. Sorry for all of the typos!
posted by Hawk V at 6:54 AM on August 6, 2014

As Busy Old Fool suggests above, I think it's helpful (in all sections) to provide more specifics and examples: it gives responders something to relate to and talk about. Maybe instead of just saying you can't live without "music," you could say you can't live without a specific album, or band, or something--then you might hear from somebody else who loves Kind of Blue, or Van Halen, or whatever it happens to be.

(I do think--maybe not for you in particular, but just in general--that there's a slight risk of coming off as obnoxious/pretentious with this, if the album you pick is too heavy with sociocultural/tastemaker/hipster import, but if you include a sentence about what makes it sincerely important to you I think you can defuse that to some extent.)

I also share Busy Old Fool's curiosity about Cactus. Do you have one? That's pretty cool. Maybe you're really good at keeping a cactus alive, and that's your thing?
posted by honey wheat at 8:30 AM on August 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you want to look as though you do interesting things, you have to actually do interesting things. You could start right now doing something (rock climbing, for example) and tell people that you enjoy rock climbing. They don't need to know up front that you just started last week. You'll tell them that if they get around to asking you.

And here's the thing: if you enjoy rock climbing, you win. It doesn't matter if it fails to attract dates. You are enjoying yourself doing something healthy, exciting, invigorating. Assuming you don't fall and die.
posted by pracowity at 12:46 PM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

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