I created a fake profile on Plenty of Fish. The reason was singular but it matters not. The profile served its purpose, but I experienced something completely unexpected. What attracts men, anyway?
This is one of those situations where I don’t really know what to make of what happened. It has caused me to question things I’ve told myself, and I’m curious what you think.
I created a profile of a 39 year-old woman. She was pretty but not stunning, but had a very hot body. There were four pictures on her profile. The main profile picture was her in a small bikini walking out of the ocean and smiling, in dark sunglasses. There was a closeup of her face, smiling, and two pictures of her outdoors. None were selfies and they didn’t show cleavage.
Let’s call her Pam. She was 5’6″, athletic, divorced with no children. An undergraduate degree. Her profession was “a good one”. Interests? Surfing, dinners out, wine, yoga, and travel.
There was very little in her profile description: “Hi! I’m new to this site so haven’t filled everything out yet. I am divorced and have my life together, but despite a full life would love to have someone to share fun times with! Please be real :)”
In other words, at least in my estimation, it was fairly banal profile. Except the bikini profile picture.
Within the first few hours of putting up the profile Pam had received almost 100 messages. I was stunned. Her profile restricted anyone messaging her except those between 40-52, so I can’t imagine what the numbers would have been without those parameters.
The only time I ever experienced anything similar with my real self was on Adult Friend Finder, and the very first naughty site I went on. Those sites are highly sexualized, I had naked pictures, and mentioned my sexual appetites. Oh, and most women on those sites aren’t real – literally. They are “bots”, or cam girls looking for money, so just being a real female I had an advantage. It was still nowhere close to that many messages.
When on sites like Plenty of Fish, and OKCupid, I may get five messages a day, maybe ten if I’m active. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the more you are on the sites, the more your face shows up in searches or in their “look who’s here!” promotions. So if I’m not active for a couple of days I may get one message daily.
So why the hell did Pam’s profile get her so much attention?
My first thought was – oh, shit, I’m too fat to attract men. Perhaps the beautiful shot in Pam in her bikini is what did it. Forget the “rules” on the site that your main pic has to have a clear shot of ones face. It seemed no man minded seeing Pam’s flat abs.
So was it that? Was it as simple as a hot athletic body does it? Can men be that simple? The messages Pam received weren’t all from men just looking for hookups. Messages flowed in from many seeking relationships, some described her profile as “authentic” and “honest”. I stared at my screen in disbelief. Are we really so shallow that a few pictures and sentences can let us see authenticity? I resisted the urge to respond to the man who said he could tell I was a “real woman who said exactly who she was”.
There were a number of basic statistical differences between our profiles. Pam is a good 4 inches shorter than I am. Could it be that? I know men 6 feet and over make up only 15% of the North American population. At 5’10”, I’m half a foot taller than the average North American woman.
Pam is 39 and I am 43. Do that many men over 40 look for women under 40?
I list my body type as “average”. I know there are people who would only search for “thin” or “athletic”, and while I’m strong, I’m not slender.
I have a child. Pam had none. Assuming men even read profiles, I know there are many who don’t want children, or who want one of their own so would rather not meet up with a divorcee who comes with a built in plus-one.
But then a friend suggested men are intimidated by strong, intelligent, and successful women… and I check all those boxes. Could it really be that Pam, a hot bodied woman without anything real to say, no indication of business success, nothing too strong or forthright or intense… is that what brings all the boys to the yard?
Or is that just what I tell myself to make myself feel better? Like the friend who told me ages ago I was too intimidating and beautiful for men to approach me in real life. I never believed it to be true. I will acknowledge I’m conventionally pretty for a white chick – curly blonde hair, blue eyes, and all that – but I am really tall and somewhat curvy and take up a lot of space. I look at myself next to shorter and smaller women and have a hard time believing that the reason I’m not approached is anything to do with being too anything, other than too…big.
When I started dating online I noticed men were intimidated by my job (my profile says I’m a corporate executive), or my intelligence (my profile says I have a masters degree and apparently my smarts come through in what I write), or my confidence and forthrightness (again, which I’ve been told comes through in my profile). But could that actually be the difference between Pam and me? Are the things that I believe are the right things to aspire to, also the things that prevent men from reaching out?
I have a hard time believing it, and that’s what I’m interested in your opinion about. Please tell me what you think.
And don’t worry, I tell myself that those men who aren’t attracted to me in all of my facets – my hips, career success, wit, strength, passion – they aren’t the ones for me anyway. But of course I’m thinking about why her experience is so different from mine.