Back many years ago, some friends and I did an experiment. We went onto a popular online dating site, (not eHarmony), and created an account. We wanted to see if we could create the “perfect” man and what the reaction would be.
We found a stock photo shot of an average looking man. He wasn’t overweight or extremely fit – just a regular dude. We listed his profession as “owns a consultant firm” and the income we put between $150,000 and $200,000. He lived in Los Angeles and was educated at Yale, where he was a punter on the football team. His father had been a US State Department Official so he grew up traveling in Europe and Asia and spoke 4 languages fluently.
He was also quite smart. He loved to read, and had even had a novel published. It was no big seller, but he was proud of the accomplishment. He liked to travel and went to Paris 3 or 4 times a year, where he was part owner in a small bistro. He also loved to be outdoors. He snowboarded, hiked and ran marathons when his time permitted.
But for all his business acumen and busy life, his favorite thing to do was to sleep late on a Sunday morning, put on a pair of old jeans and drive up the Pacific Coast Highway to a little seafood shack called Neptune’s Net. He was looking for a woman who could enjoy the simple things in life just like that.
Maybe you can guess what happened next. We posted his profile and within 10 minutes there were 25 women asking to communicate with him. The next day, he had hundreds of women, some of them simply begging to go out. We had created a man that, on paper, looked very good indeed.
Clearly our little experiment proved that some people and their accomplishments are very valuable to wide groups of people. There’s no shock there, but what makes a person “good on paper” and should we care if we’re good on paper?
Some of you will insist that nothing external matters to you when dating. You’ll insist that no amount of accomplishment or life circumstance can predict if you’ll be compatible with someone. You’re just as interested in meeting a Nobel prize winner as you are in meeting an unemployed bookie. You just want someone to love who loves you back, and that could be anybody.
Really? If you feel that way, you’re probably rare. For most people the “resume” plays at least some part in their desire to get to know the person behind it.
1. Do you look good on paper? If so, why? If not, why?
2. If you had to rank and rate the following traits as being important, what value do you give them? Are there other traits/accomplishments that are impressive to you when you see them in a profile? Do you think these traits figure in the same for both women and men?
- Stellar education
- Awesome job
- Wide range of compelling interests – intellectual, physical, fun
- Big income
- Big accomplishments in his/her past – climbed Everest, had a best selling novel
- Exceptional upbringing
- Interesting lifestyle – homes on both coasts, some degree of fame
- Award-winning intellectual
3. The people you’ve met who looked good on paper, and weren’t good in real life…was there a typical problem?