Optimized Online Dating: The One Thing You Need to Know

“I’m just gonna put something up on Match and see what happens,” my friend Paula announced with a shrug of her shoulders.

Paula and I had met for coffee to catch up with one another on work, kids, and (of course) men. Paula had been divorced for a little over a year, and throughout her separation and divorce we’d gotten together frequently to talk about the ups and downs of starting over.

In the months after leaving her husband of 15 years, 43-year-old Paula had racked up a breathtaking list of accomplishments. She had found a new residence, negotiated the rent down, dumpster-dived for furniture (which she transformed into magazine-worthy “shabby chic”), and persuaded her boss to promote her to full partnership in the business she’d helped him launch and grow.

She had in that year also played the role of medical advocate when her daughter was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder—seeking one opinion after another until she found a specialist who cured her daughter through a new, non-invasive procedure.

Oh, and throughout all of that change and stress, Paula had maintained a regular schedule of getting to the gym by 5:30 a.m.

“Ripped abs and buff shoulders just make me feel pretty,” she was fond of telling me. As if a couple hundred crunches and pull-ups before dawn were sort of the equivalent of getting a spa pedicure.

In short, my dynamic friend never stopped creating, planning, persuading, bargaining, marketing, exercising, and advocating. Even when life was at its most challenging. And she certainly did not leave important aspects of work, home, parenting, or health to chance.

This was the same woman who was telling me she’d just…sorta…put herself on Match and wait around twiddling her thumbs until something happened?

The question nagged at me. Why would Paula, who was light-years ahead of me in overall assertiveness, take such an anemic approach to dating?

So, the next time we got together, I asked her.

She grew thoughtful.

“I’m best at meeting people in person,” she said. “So every so often I try the bar scene after work. Only problem is, most of the men around me seem to be waiting for their online dates to show up.”

Her answer surprised me. I had, by that time, done a lot of online dating—but I had never actually given much thought to how sites like Match and OKCupid might be changing the culture of dating.

“Oh, slight correction,” she added with a wry smile. “I am sometimes approached by men who are not out to meet up with their Match date. Typically, they have indentations on their ring fingers where a wedding ring must have been just minutes before.”

I laughed, imagining my laser-focused friend zooming in on the telltale ring imprint as the philanderer sidling up to her took a swig of his scotch.

“Well, if you want help writing your dating profile, let me know.”

“Gina. If I thought anyone was going to actually read it, I might take you up on that.” She gave me a quick hug, grabbed her purse, and prepared to head off to her next appointment.

Does my friend Paula's story sound familiar to you? It seems to me that the majority of single and divorced women I know–chicas who have taken charge of virtually every other aspect of their lives–feel flummoxed by online dating. And so, typically, they slap up sort of a wilted, cliche-ridden profile on Match–and then hang back with a wait-and-see attitude.

And then the real boredom and time-wasting begin–when these glorious gals start to meet up with the droopy dogs who respond.

I started a blog, Cupid'sLaboratory.com, to help the Paulas of the world take charge of the whole complex “enterprise” of online dating. Captivating women should have an equally captivating presence online. And it all begins, I believe, with crafting a riveting profile. The more fascinating the profile, the more responses it'll get. And the more responses flowing into the inbox, the more GOOD ones will be among them.

It's a numbers game–pure and simple.

And thus, in the face of cutthroat competition, the droopy dogs and the dullards of the date-iverse get screened out. In one decisive CLICK of a diva's delete key.

Do you have questions about how to optimize the experience of online dating? Ask away. I'm all ears.