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Online dating profiles

Interpreting online profiles

If you’ve been clicking on profile after profile in your list of recommended partners and can’t see the wood for the trees, then here are some tips on reading between the lines of their factfiles, their ‘About me’ pages and so on. When it comes to making contact, it could make all the difference.

Interpreting online profiles

Could the engineer with the amusing ‘About me’ page be the one? And what about his potential rival, who hasn’t written anything about himself, but who is a film director and plays the saxophone? It could be time to subject your recommended partners’ profiles to closer scrutiny.

Basic information in the factfile

The first thing to catch your eye might well be your recommended partner’s profession: a university teacher … an actress – not bad! Bear in mind that you are homing in on a job here and the reality of the person is not necessarily in line with the conceptions you have of their profession. The university teacher might turn out to be impolite and tightfisted, while the actress might have little in common with the glamorous creature you imagine. The number of children can also lead to misconceptions. Rather than imagining yourself surrounded by candidate X’s three children and jars of babyfood, maybe you should find out exactly how old the dear little things are – the children of a 40-year-old parent could already be independent. You can also tell a lot from the date of the member’s most recent log-in to PARSHIP. If it’s some time back, it means that the member is not especially active at the moment – or maybe on holiday. Perhaps an approach from you would prompt him or her to log in again.

Don’t jump to conclusions

If someone says they are separated in the ‘Family status’ section, it’s not right to make the automatic assumption that he or she is after an affair. As PARSHIP psychologist Nicole Schiller explains: “It’s more likely to mean that the member in question has not been separated for long.” Schiller suggests that you should always make contact with people who look interesting to you and that you should ask them for how long they have been separated. This is also a way of rooting out people who are looking for something ‘on the side’. They will either evade your question or come clean with you straight away.

Jumping to conclusions is also a risk when you take a look at a member’s list of sporting activities. If they mention 10 sports it doesn’t by definition mean that they are decathlon material. “Some people will go to the trouble of listing every sport they’ve ever participated in,” says Nicole Schiller. “If they were crazy about football when they were young, tried out aikido three weeks ago and don’t go the gym very often, even if they’re a member, it doesn’t really say very much about the way they are.” On the other hand, someone who is very sporty doesn’t necessarily expect the same of a potential partner – and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have any time for relationships.

The results of their PARSHIP test

“Don’t get hooked up on details,” advises Nicole Schiller, “look at their results overall.” To disregard the total compatibility score and to concern yourself primarily with people towards the bottom of your list of recommended partners (“I’m only concerned with their level of domesticity”) is not a good idea. The people further down the list are less likely to harmonise with you in a number of other ways. On the other hand, even if a particular aspect of a potential partner’s profile looks unsatisfactory to you, you shouldn’t ignore a high overall compatibility score. Nicole Schiller advises giving things a go: send a contact request; see if you receive a response and see how things turn out. “A lot of people don’t do that, which is a shame,” she says. “They tend to go for the person they think could be the one. But you always have the option of bringing any contact to an end – and just because you send someone an email or two, it doesn’t mean you have to meet up with them.” You can find out more about aspects of another member’s personality in the diagram of their test results.

‘About me’

The ‘About me’ section, together with a brief self-assessment alongside the test results, provides the subjective counterweight to the PARSHIP test. This is where you can really start to find out whether, beyond the compatibility score, someone really could be a prospect for you. If they haven’t said anything in their ‘About me’ section, you shouldn’t see that as a bad sign. A contact request is the real route to discovery and is always worth a go. If the other member has completed their ‘About me’ section, does it contain anything that gives you a starting point? Do you like what they say about their habits – for instance, do you also like to “see out the day with a glass of red wine”. Take note of the way things are written. If something makes you smile, it could well be that the two of you share the same sense of humour. Someone who addresses you directly (“I want to wake up next to you”) is challenging you to get in contact. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to make the move.

Classics of self-description

You will find yourself coming across somewhat uninspired standard lines, such as “A day is perfect for me when the sun shines”, but you need to remember that not everyone has the knack of describing themselves or their life in a distinctive way. What’s more, some people are afraid of giving too much away about themselves. Follow up with some questions, such as “What do you do when it rains” and maybe he or she will tell you more. And just because someone writes well, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will make the best partner for you – and, what’s more, many people only come into their own when talking on the phone or when they’re on a date. If someone doesn’t give very much away about their appearance, this is because they would prefer to remain discreet rather than describing themselves in detail or even talking themselves up! Once again: ask questions. Perhaps, instead of putting it in words, he or she will let you see a photo.

A classic phrase supplied by PARSHIP members is “I wish I could fly.” According to Nicole Schiller, this expresses a desire for freedom and a lightness of spirit”. If a member says “I wish I could turn back the clock”, then he or she seems to be living in the past and might well not be ready for anything new. Follow up on your first impression by communicating openly about it: in doing that, you will be giving the other member a chance to think about the impression he or she is creating. The same applies when someone seems to have very high expectations of a potential partner. Tackle the issue by writing something like: “I don’t know if I live up to your expectations, but …” Then it’s a matter of waiting. Some answers you receive might challenge the conclusions you’ve drawn so far. Whatever the case, it’s exciting stuff!

Five words that say a lot

Although it’s just few words, ‘Member XY describes himself/herself as’ (on the PARSHIP Diagram page) is very revealing. Many of the listed attributes speak for themselves, but PARSHIP psychologist Nicole Schiller provides a few pointers.

Serious

“He or she takes life very seriously, so you should avoid saying anything flippant until you know him or her a little better.”

Uncomplicated

“Probably a tolerant, adaptable person.”

Reserved

“On the passive, patient side, or at least sees himself or herself that way. Shy? Not necessarily – find out for yourself.

Thrifty

“This often suggests a rational type, someone with a marked need for security – or simply a bargain-hunter”

Hard-working

“Like being thrifty and assiduous, being hard-working is a classic virtue. This could suggest someone who believes in doing things properly.”

Child-friendly

“Either he or she wants children, or simply gets on well with them. Don’t overinterpret – ask more!”

Characterful

“Probably quite confident.”

Good-looking

“Has maybe had a lot of positive feedback on his or her appearance – or perhaps is simply trying to capture your attention. Attributes of this kind are very subjective – it’s up to you to put together a picture.”

Educated

“Engages in cultural activities or believes in a certain refinement.”

From a good family

“Maybe somewhat status-conscious. Comes from a family of doctors, lawyers or shipowners or something of that ilk. He or she doesn’t necessarily expect the same of a partner, but has certain expectations of lifestyle.”

Independent

“If a woman says this, it is often a signal that her own career is important to her. It has nothing to do with a fear of commitment.”

Career-conscious

“Possibly expects the same of a partner – or that his/her partner should be understanding of his/her ambitions.”

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