“… highly entertaining and completely characteristic …”

An aspect of eHarmony that I find hugely amusing is how women will send  “prewritten” questions to men, and then express disappointment when they get back “prewritten” answers from them. So based on what I have personally heard and read,  the fact that you choose to check a box (instead of typing your own words into a field) apparently tells a woman far more about your deficiencies than you could ever imagine.  From this one single act (clicking instead of typing) they can immediately determine whether you are unmotivated, uncreative, uninteresting, unengaged, lazy, dull or any combination thereof. (Interestingly, the fact that they routinely send “prewritten” questions indicates none of the above.) But while the unfairness of this view is blindingly obvious (not to mention highly entertaining and completely characteristic), in this particular case I have to side with the girls. Most of the “stock” answers (and many of the “stock” questions) should probably be retired on the grounds that they are indescribably boring.

So, as part of my ongoing effort to eradicate unimaginative online dating email material, I have written alternatives, a few of which appear below. All of them will fit the eHarmony field (200 spaces). If they don’t reflect your views exactly (which they probably won’t), I would suggest that you modify them until they do, and (as always) I don’t think you should be reluctant to admit that you had help. (Or better yet, pony up some cash to pay my customary confiscatory rates, and actually get some.)

Here is the “prewritten” eHarmony “travel” question, along with the four “prewritten” answers:

What’s your philosophy on travel?

a) When are we leaving. My bags are packed.
b) I like to take a couple of big trips a year
c) I generally plan one trip a year to a domestic destination
d) I’m not a big fan of travel. I like to stay home.

Here’s a more engaging response:

Presumably you mean “leisure” travel (as opposed to the obligatory variety), so provided it does not include tents, campers, staying with relatives, coach seats or sweaty guys with guns, then I’m in.

Then there’s the frequently asked “bad day” question:

If I had a bad day, what is the first thing you would do for me?

a) Cook you dinner
b) Rub your shoulders
c) Talk with you about your day
d) Take you out on the town.

A more original reply might be this one:

Clearly these answers weren’t written by men. I might talk with you about your day (but only under duress), however I’d then expect you to rub MY shoulders and cook ME dinner for being so nice. 🙂

One last point, the problem of drab, leaden answers also extends to some of the more philosophical questions. For example: 

Which of the following things would you rather have lots of?

a) respect
b) money
c) fame
d) power

Here’s a more thoughtful answer:

Fame is being known and respect is being admired, but both things derive from the opinions of others, not from your opinion of yourself. As for power, it can usually be bought. So, money.

Remember, skill helps; talent is even better, and genius is a wonderful thing to have. But the only real requirements for writing reasonably well are time, effort and a Thesaurus. 



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