In the Trenches

Understanding the adolescent mind.

“I’m a Really Nice Guy, and I Have a Testimonial to Prove It!”

My mom says I'm a wonderful person.

Testimonials. What do they have to do with dating?  Testimonials have recently introduced themselves into the online dating community.  If you are presently registered with an online dating service, you may be asking yourself: "What exactly is a testimonial?"   Let's begin by looking at the dictionary definition of testimonial:

Testimonial
1. A written declaration certifying to a person's character, conduct, or qualifications, or to the value, excellence, etc., of a thing; a letter or written statement of recommendation.
2. Something given or done as an expression of esteem, admiration, or gratitude.

The word testimonial brings to mind testimonial dinners, acknowledgements, or giving testimony in court. Why would someone have a testimonial statement attached to their dating profile?   And who would you ask to write your testimonial? Imagine the possibilities!  Your mother? Hmm, I don't think so. You don't want to be perceived as a momma's boy.   Although, she would likely tell everyone how special you are! An ex-girlfriend? That could be tricky.   I suspect other women may wonder why your ex-girlfriend is writing a testimony and perhaps this may scare away potential matches. If you were so great, why didn't she grab you up?  And if you rejected her, why would she write a testimonial about you? Unless, you are both still attached to each other.

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Would adding a testimonial make a person's profile more credible?   Online daters have claimed that when they meet in person, the profile pictures often bear only a vague resemblance to the person sitting across from them.

Do we need recommendations from others to prove that the person is telling the truth? Has dating turned more into a job interview?   With testimonials serving the same purpose as  three recommendations at the end of a resume?   Or is the culture becoming more paranoid and untrusting of each other that it is forcing us to believe we need additional references?  And if that were the case, why would anyone believe the person who wrote the testimonial?

Do testimonials help or hinder the profiler in their quest to find that special someone? I recently asked two men who participate in online dating services about their thoughts regarding testimonials.   One man responded: "I think men who use female testimonials are just trying to get other women to feel jealous.   I never felt the need to have others write testimonials for me."

Another fellow answered this way,  "I think testimonials help me stand out among the crowd. A woman I dated right after my divorce wrote a testimonial about me. In her testimony she talks about me being a nice guy, a good father, and an honest man." He continued, "I think women trust other women more than they would trust what a guy says about himself."

I questioned his logic regarding women trusting other women. Historically, when it comes to mating women are competitors.   Women can be supportive of each other when they are not in "competition mode" but when competing for men it is a different story.

These are just two men's views on using online dating testimonials but more research would be needed to assess the effects of testimonials on dating.   I wonder how men would react to reading a male's testimony on a women's profile?

What arer you thoughts on the matter?

©2010 Wanda Behrens Horrell, All Rights Reserved

www.wandabehrenshorrell.com

wjb60@columbia.edu

 

Wanda Behrens-Horrell, L.C.S.W., N.C.Psy.A, is a child developmental psychoanalyst in Scarsdale, NY.

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