I’ll Tell You Later

Looking-glass Self
Looking-glass Self

You don’t usually go to a social event in your underwear or apply for a job with an empty resume, but quite a lot of people present themselves on dating sites in, effectively,  those ways. They are usually just taking a peek at who is available, but they are also presenting themselves publicly without anything to commend them.

When people create a Match.com profile but don’t fill in the details, the site optimistically inserts the words “I’ll tell you later” instead. Children: I’ll tell you later. Income: I’ll tell you later. Education: I’ll tell you later. Interests: I’ll tell you later.

Many people I know have said how laborious the profile-writing process was for them. Some of us ask friends and relatives how they would describe us, and then we have to adjust to that awareness before inserting some of those observations into the written profile. We wrack our brains to remember the movies we’ve seen and the books we’ve read. We agonize about whether or not to include quirky hobbies or complicated family lives. We try really, really hard to see ourselves as others see us, and then to put that perception into about five or six fascinating paragraphs.

I have read many profiles that begin by saying how difficult it is to describe oneself. Others say that it seems vain to “strut your stuff.” It is a very uncomfortable and unfamiliar procedure. There is so much that one could say, but selecting our most endearing or engaging characteristics is not easy because most of the time we don’t know what they are. Not only that, but we have been taught that it is wrong, or annoying, or sinful, or anti-social to do that.

Those of us who have been hanging around on dating sites for a while periodically revise our profiles. We update them, we tweak them, we insert newer photos, and we change our interests as our interests evolve. We even, occasionally, check out the competition and revise our profile according to what seems to us to be attractive in other people’s profiles. At the same time, we are careful not to write too much, because few people read lengthy descriptions.

We end up with upbeat, outgoing, optimistic, and concise self-descriptions. If you want to know if we snore, or have health issues, or are nit-picky, or are resentful about life’s disappointments, you will have to date us to find out. Those are things that, well… we’ll tell you later.

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