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The devil is in the detail

Browsing the messages in my dating website inbox, I opened one from a new chap – and was taken aback by his opening line. ‘Dear HopefulGirl,’ he wrote. ‘Your profile leaves a lot to be desired.’

‘Crumbs,’ I thought, ‘that’s a bit harsh! Why email me just to tell me that?!’

But as I read on, I realised he’d misunderstood the phrase. He actually meant: ‘There’s a lot in your profile to be desired’! Once I’d stopped laughing, we had a friendly exchange of messages. But it was hard to get past that opening blunder and I couldn’t view him as a serious prospect after that.

One of the problems with online dating is that with so little information to go on, small details become more significant. We all know appearance is judged more harshly than in real life. But things like bad spelling, unappealing hobbies, denomination, even what food or films someone likes can also be enough to put you off contacting (or replying to) a prospective date. Yet we all know that if we hit it off with someone in real life, we can easily overlook the fact that they commit the occasional literacy faux pas, collect model airplanes, love smells and bells when we’re happy-clappy (or vice versa), or thinks a burger and a shoot-’em-up film is a top night out.

My Facebook friends confessed some of the quirks that put them off their fellow cyberdates. These ranged from using text-speak in emails, to talking about how well travelled they are, to having too good (yes, too good!) a job.

As for me, I admit that during my time on Christian dating websites, I couldn’t help judging possible suitors on their spelling, grammar and writing style. A grown adult not knowing the difference between ‘there’, ‘they’re’ and ‘their’ was a major turn-off. I just couldn’t consider them boyfriend material.

But here’s the thing: one day, I hit it off with a lovely man at a singles event. He was fun, warm, interesting and we had lots in common… and, it turned out, he couldn’t spell to save his life. And do you know, I discovered it didn’t bother me. Well, not too much, anyway… 😉

Now, I’m all for being discriminating when choosing a partner. Absolutely. But we need to pick our battles. I wonder how many of us have dismissed someone for trivial reasons, who would have surprised us with their character, confidence and kindness.

I’m friends with a couple who claim to have little in common. He’s creative and she’s a technician. He’s messy and she likes the house to look like a show home. There isn’t a book or film one of them loves that the other doesn’t hate! They admit that if they met online, they’d never go for each other – yet they’ve been happily married for two decades.

If we allow ourselves to be influenced by unimportant details, we’ll pass over the profiles of people who might make us very happy, just because of factors that are of no consequence to the success of a relationship. After all, having an excellent grasp of English grammar isn’t going to count for much if they’re bad-tempered, judgemental or unsupportive. And their tendency for text speak will be easy to ignore if we fall for their trustworthiness, generosity and open heart.

So friends, let’s not obsess about the details (if we met them at a party, we wouldn’t even discover their quirks until later, by which point we may not care). Instead, let’s keep our eyes on the bigger picture revealed by someone’s profile – their character, values and priorities. And if in doubt, give them a chance! You never know, it might make a good story for your grandchildren…

Do you find yourself judging other members on the tiny details in profiles? In real life, has one of your must-haves turned out to be a don’t-matter? We’d love to hear your stories!

Photo accredited to originalpunkt /

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