It’s not news that people have no fucking idea how to look for a date on sites like FetLife. Sadly, it turns out they often don’t even know how to make friends either. Maybe some simple instructions will help.
Cunning Minx posted a PolyWeekly podcast about how not to be a douche on FetLife. Listen to it. At the very least read the description, it lists her four main points. Her tips are somewhat dating-centric, but it’s all good advice no matter what kind of relationship (capital R relationship, play partner, friends only, etc.) you’re looking for.
If you’re only looking to make friends at this point, you don’t need to worry too much about having pictures on your profile or adding a list of fetishes. If you’re looking for a partner, you really should have a recent, accurate picture of yourself on your profile, but if you just want to find somebody to talk to and maybe go for coffee with, having a picture isn’t such a big deal.
As for having your fetishes listed, that’s largely a matter of personal preference. Again, if you’re just looking for friends, it doesn’t particularly matter. Personally, long lists of fetishes put me off. A few are fine, but when your list of fetishes is longer than the rest of your profile, I start thinking you care more about what I can do to you than what you have to offer me.
The rest of your profile, however, is always, always extremely important. If you have enough time to message people on FetLife, you have enough time to fill in your damned profile already, you lazy little shit. Speaking of which, some people seem to think that not putting much in their profile makes them mysterious and tantalizing. Newsflash: when you’re reading someone else’s profile, there’s no way to tell ‘mysterious’ from ‘lazy’. Practically nobody actually likes writing profiles, that’s not an excuse. Suck it up, princess. Not knowing what to write is also a cop out. Everyone can describe themselves and what they’re looking for.
No matter what it is that you want, you need to give the person you’re messaging a reason to give a shit about it. That’s what your profile is for.
In case that didn’t sink in the first time: if you want something from someone, give them a reason to care! If I don’t know anything about you, I don’t care what you want from me. If you’re too lazy to fill out a profile, I don’t care what you want from me. If you won’t put any effort at all into making friends with me, I don’t care what you want from me.
Basically everyone you’d ever be interested in talking with has things they could be doing besides exchanging messages with you on FetLife. If there is someone out there who literally has nothing better to do than chat with random morons on FetLife, do you really think they have anything interesting to say? No? I’m shocked. People who are interesting to talk with generally have lives. Those lives eat up quite a few hours every day. I, for example, work full time, work more on my own projects in my spare time, blog, run errands, get some exercise now and then, and occasionally even hang out with my friends. Oh, and I kind of like sleep. The time I spend replying to messages on FetLife has to come from somewhere, so how about you make a token attempt to justify taking time away from something else in my life?
That said, you don’t need to be the most fascinating person ever to double-major in comp sci and english lit while selling your own hand-made toys and volunteering at the local SPCA just to get a response to an email. All you really have to do is make an effort. Everyone was new to the scene once. We all remember being freaked out about going to our first munch without knowing a single person there. We’re generally happy to pay it forward and help a newbie out. You do have to meet us half-way, though. If you expect other people to do all the work of making friends with you, you’re going to spend a lot of time alone.
Everyone has trouble figuring out what to say in that first email. Here’s a handy template you can customize.
Hi, I’m _____. I’m [new to the city|new to the scene] and hoping to make some friends. I’d really like [someone to talk about kink with|someone to hang out with when I start going to events]. From your [profile|forum posts] you seem like a cool person. <Add something about why you chose this person in particular to message>.
I’m curious about [what munches are like|kink that you’re into], can you tell me anything about that?
That’s not so hard, is it? The only tricky bit is explaining why you chose this person to talk with. You really do need some sort of reason, everybody likes knowing whoever sent them a message actually read their profile and isn’t just blindly messaging everyone with tits within a 50 km radius. Nothing makes a person feel wanted like knowing the only reason they got a message is because they were next on the list.
Also, pay attention to the last line in that template. If you want a response, make it as easy as possible for the person you’re messaging to give you one. Questions are easy to answer. Incoherent rambling sits in my inbox until I finally give up on ever answering it.
One more note about messages: spelling and grammar matter. Yes, really. It might not be fair, but you are being judged on the apparent effort you put into your profile and message. All is not lost if you’re just not a great speller, however. A simple acknowledgement along the lines of ‘English is not my first language’, ‘or ‘I realize that my spelling isn’t great, but no matter how much I practice it just doesn’t stick’ goes a long way. People are also more likely to excuse your spelling if you have something interesting to say. Again, this is a respect thing. The less mental effort people have to put into understanding your messages/forum posts/profile, the better.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed a theme here. Think about what other people might want. It’s not rocket science. Would you reply to a one-line message from someone with a blank profile asking if ‘u wanna b frendz’? Then don’t send one.