The X Factor

Have been trying to come up with new topics for this freelance piece I'm doing for an online magazine. My first idea was to do something about on-line dating, like the top ten things guys do wrong in their profiles. I have only looked at them in the academic sense, research, you see, not for personal reasons. I am perfectly happy in my utter solitude. What one finds on these sites is that men on the whole seem to not understand what women are looking for. I am certain that if I took the time to investigate the female profiles, I'd see a whole host of cringe-worthy mistakes--perhaps involving photos of the a woman surrounded by 15 of her cats or old high school photos, twenty years out of date with the girl in her cheerleading/band outfit or profiles with titles like, "Is Prince Charming Out There or Does He Only Exist in My Personal Fantasies About Patrick Dempsey?" But since I am absolutely too busy to be fair in my critique, I'll just offer a few "don't's" for the guy profiles.

1. Don't include a photo with the following: you holding anything dead, including a bass you just caught, a deer head, or the corpse of a former girlfriend. Don't have a picture of you with your shirt off and chest painted in Day-Glo, holding up a can of PBR at a college football game. In fact, don't include any pictures of you not wearing a shirt. It's TMI. Ix-nay also on the photo of you leaning against your newly-waxed transam or a photo where the other person (clearly a woman) has been violently scratched out. You'd be amazed at the number of shots men post where you could be almost certain it's from their wedding day. I also don't want to see you running a race, climbing a mountain, wearing a bandanna, or white-water rafting. That's just me personally because I can't see myself joining you in any of those activities (especially the wearing of the bandanna).

2. Don't give yourself some crazy, weird user name like ghostrider53 or luv269 or hot4u or thesizeofasmallbanana or picklejarheadlover or excon911 or HarryPotterBoy or thatdude or goeagles or iheartjesus or metallica5 or looking4 jailbait.

3. Try to refrain from sounding overtly hostile (as in: Don't play games with my head. If you're looking for a baby daddy, look somewhere else. I've been burned too many times and don't want to hear from any more psycho bitches), or completely desperate (as in: I am completely content to give back massages all day and all night. I am looking for my soul mate, someone who wants to have children and live in the woods and home school them, sooner rather than later). No one wants to go on a first date that threatens the risk of bodily harm or a marriage proposal.

4. Put at least a little bit of effort into writing the profile, otherwise, it's obvious that you wrote it on an impulse, after coming home drunk from the bar at 2 a.m.

That's a short start on the list. My idea was rejected because the editor thought it needed a spin more directly to the female readership and so therefore, what not to do for men in their profile wasn't applicable. My other two ideas were to write about keeping track of your ex-es. I have about four or five men who I used to date/live with/kiss who I keep in sporadic contact with and it's sort of strange, because, on the one hand, you want to be sure they're okay, and, on the other hand, you don't want for them to be doing too well without you or like moving in with the girl they dated after you in the house that the two of you picked out and fixed up together and now he is seeming perfectly content with his new live-in despite the fact that you are clearly the better partner. My other idea was to write about crushes on unattainable guys...those who are married or engaged or skittish or utter strangers or much too young for you or all of the above and how it's easy to have these crushes on them because they allow you to sustain a pretend interest in someone you will never really have to be intimate with. They're safe as long as they continue to not notice your crush or reciprocate in any way because you don't really want them to require anything of you--that would make things complicated and too real. The whole purpose of the fake unattainable crush is to keep the disconnect between fantasy and reality so you don't have to risk anything. I am fully aware of how self-protective and tragic this is. I don't recommend harboring a fake crush, but the phenomenon does exist and it could be interesting to write about. I've had these sort of FC's morph into real world complications with teachers, mail boys, and air brush artists and trust me, they are nothing but trouble.