Greg sat there with a hot mug of coffee and a mountain of determination. He was going to look through as many profiles as he could on the dating site he’d recently signed up for.  His search found over two hundred matches, but the more he looked, the more his hope started to dwindle.  Row after row of generic placeholder images where a photo should be with simply a username and age underneath was what he saw.  For a fleeting moment, the thought of a cemetery popped into his mind, with its rows on rows of low grey stone and brass plaques noting the presence of a person, but with no character or charm to showcase who they were.

“I’m not shallow,” thinks Greg, “Looks aren’t everything after all,” and into the profiles he dove.  Profile after profile served to etch the words in his brain that became so recognizable they needn’t even be read… “I’ll tell you later”.  To be fair, about half the profiles had some form of bio, but Greg starts to notice a few trends.  “I’m the quintessential Sagittarius,” and similar proclamations of a zodiac sign as though it is supposed to convey everything one needs to know, the many mentions of morning yoga, how their pet is the centre of their life, and lastly “a glass of wine in the evening,” became so commonplace that he thought he was reading a new version of the Stepford Wives.

Now Greg found himself with a sense that something in general was wrong, and after looking at several more profiles it hit him… these are  “fast food” style profiles. Generic..and common.

What’s wrong with fast food? 

Fast food and large franchise restaurants have their place.  They’re comforting because they’re familiar.  We go there, not for the outstanding quality or unique experience, but because it’s easy and we know what we like (because we tend to like what we know)! 

Dating isn’t about blending in but standing out

Greg, however, is a chef and has been in the restaurant business for a while. Suddenly it all becomes clear and he sees how online dating has the same essential truths as the restaurant industry. 

He thinks about his own profile and how instead of being ubiquitous and familiar he needs to treat this like a stand out local restaurant.  Breaking it down Greg sees it like this:

  • Even before you step in the door, a stand out restaurant will showcase a style of decor to impress upon prospective customers what they can expect within.  So the photos on my profile are not just about what I look like but need to give an idea of what to expect of me as a person.
  • Once inside, how customers are greeted should be welcoming and reassuring, leaving no doubt that this is the place for you. 
  • Just as the photos and greeting set the tone for the restaurant and the experience to come, my profile needs to set the tone that is consistent with who I am and the overall kind of experience I bring. 
  • The next logical step on this journey is the menu, which should showcase the chef’s personality, style and skill.  If the content of my profile is my menu, it needs to showcase only the best of me and what specific kind of experiences I offer because I enjoy and do so naturally.
  • The timing of service counts. No customer likes to wait too long for food or service. People are generally really understanding of issues if they understand what’s going on, so being up front and transparent is important.  You don’t need to be a slave to a dating app but you should be mindful and respond in a reasonable timeframe, even if just to let people know where you’re at and where they stand. If it becomes clear that they’re looking for an experience that  you are not comfortable offering, don’t be shy to let them know that this may not be a good match.
  • The food needs to always be the best you can offer for what was described. Does it live up to the experience that was described?  Does it make you want to come back for more?  If someone enjoys the experience enough to return then the true test begins. 
  • Can you deliver on the experience again and again? Can you do so consistently?  If you’ve been authentic, honest and relaxed then this should be a piece of cake.

A stand out local restaurant doesn’t just mean Michelin-star winning French bistros.  We’re talking about everything from the family owned dessert shop to the classic Italian trattoria, the teppanyaki grill to the local sports bar with the wings you can’t get enough of, to the truly original medical themed diner (Heart Attack Grill) or a local dinosaur themed geek-friendly teahouse (Thésaurus Thérrarium). Each one of them has their unique style, character, identity, and delivers consistently on their experience and attracts  people who are comfortable there.

What’s on your menu?

There’s nothing wrong with astrology, yoga or a glass of wine but restaurants that stand out don’t just say “steak”.  Like any menu item meant to tempt, be specific and descriptive with your profile and stand out by calling out your fellow connoisseur. 

“A glass of wine” as a description pales in comparison to “a pleasantly moderate glass of German gewürztraminer” both in charm, personality and the opportunity for a recommendation or discussion.  Maybe the wine is merely your ritual to celebrate those precious blessed moments of peace away from a “hair on fire” kind of busy life, and there are many who would prize sharing those moments of peace over a drink.  

Being “into sports” is vague, almost evasive, where a well placed “Go Birds!” or “I like watching Lightning score twice” will let fellow  fans know where you stand and could lead to anything from playful teasing about rival teams to adjacent seats in your home team stadium for as many games as your respective schedules permit.

Wrapping it up (to go)

As It goes with restaurants, so it goes with dating! Success boils down to distilling your identity into a tempting and friendly opportunity, and what sets you apart from the crowd are these very reachable things:

  • Be 100% authentic, and 
  • Stand out to the people who will be delighted by the experience you consistently provide because it’s simply about who you actually are! 

Make the effort so that the people around you feel heard, respected, and valued and you’ll stand out even more in all the right ways online or in person. Whether you’re a sports bar type of person, a Michelin-star winning french bistro type of person, or a family owned pizzeria type person,  then be that, unapologetically (says this unapologetic Canadian)!  It’s easier than pretending to be something you think people want, and infinitely more attractive, because, in the end, everyone’s attracted to people who know who they are.