Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Internet Dating Is Not Like Ordering a Pizza by Cherie Burbach: A Singletude Review

In case you've been living it up on your summer vacation in Cabo while I've been slaving away over a hot CPU to serve up post after post of relevant, singles-friendly info and not feeling at all bitter about it, you may have missed that Singletude is currently running its first ever giveaway contest! The prize is a gift basket worth over $150 from It also includes a book donated by online dating guru Cherie Burbach, Internet Dating Is Not Like Ordering a Pizza (IDINLOAP).

Burbach, a professional freelancer who is also the Dating feature writer at, knows that of which she writes. After joining an online dating service, she went on a dizzying 60 dates in six months, a figure that defies credulity, memory, and eight hours of sleep a night. She also met her husband.

If you've been reading online dating advice for any length of time, chances are many of the tips and tricks presented here won't be new to you. In fact, Singletude dispensed much of the same advice over a year ago in"Tips for Online Dating Success, Part I," "Part II," "Part III," and "Part IV." However, if the book's strategy isn't totally original, it is solid. The reason you'll find various Internet dating experts parroting this same advice is because it works. What sets Burbach apart from the others is that she conveniently collects all this wisdom in one volume and makes it easy to apply.

How easy? Well, instead of nebulous suggestions to "be unique" or "show off your personality," she offers step-by-step instructions with lots and lots of examples so you can see what that really looks like in a dating profile. Rather than leave you to figure out for yourself what it means to send a reply that's "open" but not "too familiar" or "pushy," she demonstrates several appropriate ways to initiate and respond to messages. In essence, reading IDINLOAP is like shadowing an Internet dating coach as she works the dot-com scene. Whether you've just jumped into the online dating pool or have been swimming in it for awhile without success, you'll benefit from observing how an expert navigates the waters.

Set in big, friendly type with generous spacing, IDINLOAP adopts a conversational tone from the outset, as though the author had stopped by for a casual, one-on-one chat (which is, by the way, the same tone she recommends for dating profiles). Burbach's formula for online dating success can be summed up as the right profile plus the right attitude, and she immediately sets out to show singles how to achieve both. She doesn't skimp; every stage of online dating is covered, from photo selection to first date follow-up.

Drawing on her experience as a professional writer, Burbach reveals the secrets to creating a magnetic profile, which aren't nearly as complicated as you might think. In fact, one of her simplest trade secrets is to write as though you're "describ[ing] yourself alien," someone "who speaks your language but doesn't know anything about your world." Naturally, instead of just rattling off things you like to do and places you like to go, you would describe what those things and places are like, how they make you feel, and why they're important to you. The book's main tenet is that a successful profile isn't one that makes you sound better than you are but one that sounds exactly like you are so it will attract the kind of people who would be interested in you. Burbach's guided questions and examples teach you how to reveal yourself in your headline, profile essay, and multiple choice questions.

Another key part of her strategy is to help your potential date envision him- or herself with you, something you probably thought you had no control over. Don't worry. IDINLOAP will show you how to do that, too.

Soon, you may notice that Burbach's pointers for seemingly disparate pieces of your profile are transforming it into a thematic whole, a story of you that sparkles as more than the sum of its compelementary parts. This "big picture" approach is, to my knowledge, a completely fresh idea in the world of online dating advice and should add an impressive luster to any profile.

Thankfully, IDINLOAP doesn't push the online dating newbie out of the nest once the profile is complete. Burbach walks you through the search process, illustrates how to initiate and reply to messages appropriately, and will even hold your hand through the first date and its follow-up. Along the way, she provides a crash course in netiquette and steers readers away from the pitfalls that online daters unwittingly stumble into.

On that note, if IDINLOAP has a downfall, it's that its many "don'ts" may not be flexible enough for some readers. Burbach has very firm ideas about things like what you should and shouldn't show in pictures, the search criteria you should use, and how long your first date should be (exactly 60 minutes and not a second longer). Some online daters may find these rules too confining or not applicable. For instance, IDINLOAP is squarely aimed at singles looking for serious commitments, so those who want to date casually will have to adjust the guidelines to their own purposes.

Furthermore, the book's overriding philosophy is that online dating is a numbers game, so dating site members should make their searches as broad as possible and write to as many other members as they can. In Burbach's eyes, you can't figure out much about people until you meet them in person, so you should try to meet as many as will say yes to a coffee date. In contrast, the Singletude approach is to start searches narrow and work outward so you have the best chance of finding the ideal match for you. But, then, I'm writing from the perspective of someone who knows exactly what she wants, can detect it easily in profiles, and lives in a region with a lot of online daters. Also, I would find it overwhelming to juggle as many online contacts as Burbach recommends. In short, the Singletude strategy is based on what works for me; the IDINLOAP strategy is based on what works for Burbach. Either one may work for you.

If you aren't comfortable with the book's one-size-fits-all method, you can easily adapt it to your needs. However, most of the advice in this volume is not only sound but repeated again and again by Internet dating vets, so you will want to follow much of it to a tee. In addition, part of IDINLOAP's formula for success is a positive attitude that doesn't get much attention in most online dating how-tos. Everyone knows it's bad form to whine about your ex in your profile, but IDINLOAP's definition of a positive attitude is holistic, extending beyond smiling pictures and an upbeat headline to incorporate your expectations for the dating process on- and offline. Throughout the book, Burbach serves this slice of advice straight up to singles who are letting negativity interfere with their dating prospects and helps site members reframe the sometimes brutal online dating process as a light-hearted, experimental adventure.

If you're new to online dating, IDINLOAP is indispensable and could save you from costly errors and discouragement. On the other hand, if you've been around the cyberblock and are frustrated with Internet dating sites, this book may help you identify what you're doing wrong so you can finally meet your perfect match. Even successful online daters may find themselves refining old strategies with Burbach's advice. To win a free copy of Internet Dating Is Not Like Ordering a Pizza, enter the Singletude giveaway contest today!

Have you had success with online dating? If so, what are some online dating strategies that you would recommend? What are some online dating pitfalls that singles should beware of? If you've read Internet Dating Is Not Like Ordering a Pizza, do you have comments on the book?

Fun Link of the Day

Do you have a book or web site for or about singles that you would like Singletude to review? Contact Elsie!

Don't forget to enter the Singletude giveaway contest for your chance to win over $150 in prizes from!

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have a rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a "Singletude Q&A" or your rant or rave in a "Singletude Sound-off"!


bobbyboy said...

Thanks for turning me on to her and her site (which I bookmarked so I can get to read all of her articles).

"In fact, one of her simplest trade secrets is to write as though you're "describ[ing] yourself alien," someone "who speaks your language but doesn't know anything about your world." Naturally, instead of just rattling off things you like to do and places you like to go, you would describe what those things and places are like, how they make you feel, and why they're important to you."

I'm a big believer in communication and think that communicating who you are in more detail may indeed be better in an online profile.

I have had no success with online dating because I have never tried it. I join sites to make friends in my area and in other countries (which nave been a major success :))

I think up to date pictures are important (nothing worse than showing up for coffee and the person is 20 years older than they show in their online pictures), plus it's kind of dis-honest.

Like Misses Burbach mentioned, fill out the profile with a lot of information about who you are and what you are looking for. things you like, and don't like to do.

It amazes me how many people don't fill out much info on a dating profile. No need for your life story, but give members a little insight to who you are just makes sense to me.

Things to watch out for are phony profiles. If the person sounds too good to be true, they probably are. If they tend to brag it might be a red flag (hey that rhymed hehe). If there isn't good solid moderators watching your back you may want to find a site that does. One of the biggest things one should do is trust your gut!

Cherie Burbach said...

Thanks for the review! You guys rawk. You hit the nail on the head - take the advice I give and tailor it for your own personal situation.

I miss every one of your readers Happy Dating and people that care about them.

Clever Elsie said...

Bobby: Like you, I think the "friends first" policy is a good idea, and the Internet remains a great way to make friends as well as dates. Actually, a lot of what Burbach says in her book is applicable to singles searching for friendship online, as well.

I totally agree that using profile pictures that no longer look like you IS dishonest. Unless you really are unaware that you don't look like you did 10 years ago (which might be the case for a few dreamers), the intention can only be to trick someone who otherwise wouldn't be interested into showing up for a date. Not cool.

It amazes me how many people don't fill out much info on a dating profile.

Me too. For me, at least, a big part of the attraction is what the guy says in his profile and how he says it. I've never answered one of those profiles that says, "If you want to know about me, just ask" or, "I don't know what to say here." Everyone--and I mean everyone--can think of something to say. It doesn't have to be brilliant, and there are a lot of online dating advice sites out there to help you out. If you leave your profile blank, it looks like you're lazy or not serious about finding a good match.

Ah, those phony profiles! Dating sites will claim they don't create fake profiles as bait-and-switch, but a lot of online daters report close encounters with "fake" profiles and "fake" site members intended to lure them back to the service when they're about to quit. Signs of dating site impostors include:

1. Extremely attractive profile photos, especially photos that look like professional shots.
2. Multiple profiles with the same photos.
3. A profile essay that describes the stereotypical "perfect" person--a romantic, accomplished, often wealthy male seeking a LTR or an outgoing, adventurous, sexually provocative female seeking a casual relationship.
4. Contact messages that appear in your inbox right when your subscription to the service is about to run out or immediately after you've canceled it.

Of course, these warning signs don't indicate a scam every time. But when several of these red flags pop up, be on your guard.

Thanks for all these great suggestions, Bobby! As someone who's had a lot of experience making friends online, your advice should be taken seriously.

Cherie: It was my pleasure! Thanks again for donating such a helpful book to the Singletude giveaway contest! It deserves a big audience, and I can't wait to share it with the lucky winner. :)