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Common Fucking Courtesy: Grammar, Usage and Online Dating

grammar online datingOnline dating. Yup – we’ve been here before. If you missed my post on my professional blog (Online Dating: A New Way to Think About Branding, SEO and SEM), have a gander at that once you’re done with my weekly diatribe.

Having utilized various online dating sites over the years (and with statistically wondrous results – no shit), there’s one thing for which I’m a complete sucker: a well-written profile. A man who can write an intelligible profile and introductory email is, by far, enough to make me drop hundreds at Agent Provocateur in anticipation of meeting this rare, elusive and delicious beast.

That’s right: RARE.

In a sense, I owe this blog to a man I recently met on Match.com. Our initial phone conversation went the way of profiles and our mutual agreement of how difficult it is to find one that:

  1. Reads as if it’s written by an adult with some functional grasp of the English language;
  2. Isn’t laden with a litany of usage errors, punctuation nightmares or smiley-fucking-face emoticons;
  3. Gives you a hint as to the personality of the computer operator writing said profile and isn’t merely some generic iteration of Joe or Jane Anybody.

Said gentleman inspiring this blog shall remain nameless at this juncture. However, our conversation on the subject ended with his statement that, “Good grammar – it’s just common courtesy, isn’t it?”

Why, yes…yes, it is.

That said, school is now in session. Whatever the hell it is you might have forgotten since you last took English composition, we’re going to run over it now so you can stand a chance of getting a date. Well, a date with someone who doesn’t live in a home that they (proudly) “just took the wheels off of.”

The Redhead’s Rules of Online Dating Communications: Profiles, Emails, and (for fuck sake) WINKING/POKING and other Offensive Practices

  • Spell Check – It’s What’s for Breakfast. For the love of all that is holy, cut and paste. While MS Word can occasionally offer useless advice, it’s generally pretty spot-on about the whole spelling thing. Just follow the little red squiggly lines! When writing your online profile or an introductory email, drop it into MS Word (or some other product that’s not a spawn of the satan that is Microsoft) and click on that little icon that checks the spelling. Members of the opposite sex will THANK YOU. It blows my mind as to why online dating sites (not a freakin’ ONE of them) never have a spell check in their messaging or profile building applications. Maybe they believe in Darwinism. But I say see the beginning of this blog. I’m offering to go lingerie shopping for men who can SPELL. Seriously – make me spend.
  • Capitalization – Use It. Your online profile and initial emails with a prospective mate are nowhere to be sloppy. The first word of a sentence is Capitalized (like that…see?). There are no exceptions here and unless you’re a published author with a New York Times best-selling novel and you want to go toe-to-toe with me on this, sit the fuck down and hit the shift key. Oh, and profiles and emails are also NOT the place to use text messaging lingo. It’s mind boggling how many emails I’ve chucked from would-be suitors (urp) who have written me emails saying something to the effect of, “UR gr8. Wuld u like 2 chat?” (uh, no.) Use whole words. Real words. Fo schizzle.
  • Usage – It’s Not a Crime. I can forgive a simple slip up between “its” and “it’s.” Once. But when a profile is riddled with poor spelling and horrific usage, I throw up just a little bit and wonder what I (a professional writer) am doing looking for love in a place where it all begins with images and the written word. I’m likely a masochist. However – let’s have a simple usage lesson that can serve as a gentle (shin kicking) reminder for use even beyond the glorious realms of online dating:
    • It’s vs Its – One’s a contraction…one’s a possessive pronoun. No, that doesn’t mean a noun “in favor” of something. Check it out:
      • It’s (it is) likely that The Redhead is a masochist.
      • The Redhead has lost its (possessive) fire.
    • Your vs You’re – Again, it’s hell on earth to determine the difference between these two words that sound so much alike, but it’s contraction-versus-possessive pronoun time again:
      • Pardon me, but your (possessive) car is on fire. Is that your ex-wife I see running away?
      • You’re (you are) going to be my next ex-husband. I can feel it.
    • There vs TheirHoly crapola. This one’s a doozy. Well, not really. One indicates a location and one is a (shocker) possessive pronoun:
      • After realizing her reaction to his collection of belly lint, he picked up his coffee and decided to end the line of conversation there (location).
      • On their (possessive) first date, it was clear by the second drink that they were going to bone.
    • Too vs ToI’m all for letter conservation, but sometimes ya just gotta buy a vowel, Vanna. One indicates direction and one “additional.”
      • Aw, honey…I think the chicken fingers at Applebees are great, too (as well/additionally).
      • I gave the house to (loss of mine/gain of his) my ex-husband in the divorce.
      • Actually, “to” has a plethora of uses. Check ’em all out here, Walt Whitman.
    • Moot vs Mute – OK, this one’s just really a pet peeve.
      • Moot – means “doubtful,” as in a “moot point.”
      • Mute – means silent, incapable of speech…or DUMB. Anyone who confuses these two is just…dumb.
    • If you confuse any of the above, please go to the bookstore and purchase a copy of Eats, Shoots and Leaves.
  • Winking and Poking – Just Fucking Quit It Already. You…yeah, you with the finger stickin’ out. Don’t even THINK about poking me on Facebook or Winking at me on Match.com. Here’s the rub: write me a goddamn email. If you wink, I’ll think you have something in your eye and hand you a bottle of Visine. I would personally rather have my ass slapped by a random stranger on a street corner than have a “wink” or “poke” thrown my way online. Why? Because I’m a woman. I want you to be a man, not some pansified oh-my-god-will-she-write-me-back-shudder-in-the-corner-after-I-dip-her-pigtails-in-the-inkwell girlie boy. Ladies, I think that in general, men like a woman who’s not afraid to make the first move. Why? Because from what I’ve heard from my dates as well as male friends who partake in the petri dish of online romance, IT’S RARE. Make the first move. Read my profile. Say something witty, strike up a conversation. After all, we may actually meet one day and if we can’t talk…boy, are we fucked. (and not in the “I bagged the hot guy/gal on the first date” way)
  • Extra Credit Assignment – Use the Buddy System. Before you go releasing that profile out into the wild, you virile guys/gals, grab a pal and get some weigh-in. Do you sound like an ass? Is your profile a psycho magnet? Are you coming across as a “listmaker” who won’t reveal your income but wants to date a man who makes at least $150k a year?

Now, in all honesty, I’ve made errors with both grammar and usage. I make them daily, but hopefully my audience never sees them. The point of this blog is that proper grammar and usage really are common fucking courtesy. They’re like opening the door for a woman, being on time to a scheduled appointment, sending your mom a card on Mother’s Day or bringing your buddy a six pack to his backyard barbeque. When you take the time to spell check, use real words, capitalize, write complete sentences and treat online conversations more like real world conversations, your online dating experiences will improve drastically. Don’t hide behind the online shield or think that, “Oh, it’s just an online dating profile. This stuff will never work.” Whether you’re on a free site or a paid portal, take the time to show the men or women out there that you’re concerned about your appearance…in writing. After all, you never get a second chance to fuck-up a first profile view.