Video Conversation as Online Dating Profile?


Nearly everyone in the U.S. has Internet access. Many online dating services are inexpensive or free. Many people are single and say that they would prefer to be partnered and/or married.

From the above facts I think it is reasonable to infer that online dating services are not very effective (see my 2011 posting on the subject).

What could work better? What about a way to learn how a person interacts with other people, e.g., in a conversation? A way to hear how they talk, laugh, respond? Why not a simple video recording of a conversation on general topics? Not “What are you looking for in a partner?” or “How many children do you want to have?” but “What did you do last weekend?” or “What do you think about some recent news stories?”

As I am a documentary filmmaker (translation: “I own a video camera”), it was easy to do a test last weekend. My friend Avni, a single 35-year-old Bostonian interested in marriage, was over for dinner. I recorded about 30 minutes of conversation and edited it down to a five-minute YouTube video.

What do folks think about the result? Does it give a better sense of Avni than a standard online dating profile listing favorite books and movies?

(And finally, if you’re looking for a warm and wonderful partner in the Boston area, send me an email and I will forward it to her!)

[Please forgive some of the technical shortcomings. It was dim light and I had an f/1.8 lens mounted and what looked like sharp focus on the back of the camera doesn’t look sharp now. If you’re a camera/video nerd, the equipment used was a Canon 5D III on a tripod, an 85/1.8 lens, and, most important, an Azden wireless microphone system (one lav mic mapped to the left channel and one to the right).]

Related: a dating profile that I created for a friend a few years ago; she married a medical doctor with a passion for online communities who was a reader of my site and now they have a very lively two-year-old daughter.

17 thoughts on “Video Conversation as Online Dating Profile?

  1. I am pretty sure that this was a thing BEFORE the Internet. But it looks great and if I were looking for someone I’d love to see this sort of thing in addition to a profile.

    You miked her wonderfully, and you horribly. Something you couldn’t correct in the mix? You need to be mixed *way* down.

    There is, of course,

  2. Colin: I know that there was video dating before the Internet, but was it a conversation? Or a solo person (presumably single) talking to the camera? The site that you reference says that you can upload videos but they don’t seem to suggest what the videos should contain.

    We were wearing identical mics in, I thought, identical ways. Maybe I am just a loudmouth! I could dial my track down 6 dB and re-export.

  3. The conversation is natural enough, but the video could be improved simply by:
    1- Arranging the camera so that it was shot over the shoulder of the interviewer (philg or child), directly facing Avni
    2- Carefully choosing the topic. Perhaps her work is a real window, but it’s not as revealing as asking somebody what *else* they really like to do.

    In both this video and the “Clarissa” bio, the voice of the author is so present that it’s hard to know how much of the subject’s own personality comes through.

    A further experiment might explore finding a set of discussion questions that trigger longer responses from the subject.

  4. It’s an excellent idea for people who have someone like you, to play straight man. Not sure that aspect of it can really scale well…but if it can, it ought to be a big part of the future.

  5. Perhaps because the interviewer is taller and has long arms and was wearing a light grey shirt he appeared to fill the frame more than the interviewee. Something to consider next time.

    Yes, it does help to hear somebody’s voice and laughter but isn’t that what a first date is supposed to accomplish? If the goal is to save time perhaps you can have a virtual date via Skype …

    In any case, best of luck to your friend!

  6. I think that Paul nailed it on the head — there is very little to add to what he writes, but do take it into account. Also, internet dating does work, just as my wife.

  7. There could be room in the online dating space for what you’re talking about.

    I would model the video portion after Chatroulette (minus the improptu nudity), add the compatibility questionnaire of one of the mainstream dating sites, and possibly the simple thumbs up/thumbs down of Tinder for ratings, combined with some predictive analytics on the backend.

  8. Edit:

    I realize my suggestion isn’t exactly what you’re talking about, but it seems relevant given the topic. I suppose you could have an old school video site, but I think real time conversations are more valuable. Maybe have people record a video of themselves and a “Request to Chat” feature if someone likes what they see…

  9. Why cannot Avni (or anyone else interested in this media) use her smart phone to create a video diary of herself about things she experienced in a day, week, or month? Think of it like a video-blog. This way she can truly express her own self vs. someone else helping me do it. Sure, you have to edit and decide what to post, but that’s no difference from what Phil has done.

    Having a video-dating-blog website is what I’m envisioning as the finish product.

  10. George: My theory was that a person talking to another person is a more natural and representative environment than a person talking to a camera.

  11. Looks like an attractive and very interesting and kind young woman. That she is a coder is icing on the cake for your average computer geek. Having lived in Boston in the past, I know there’s go to be tons of smart single people around town. I’m curious what has kept her from finding a good match in town? Boston is like nerd paradise… I’d imagine one could find a social event every weekend with like minded people.

  12. Many people are single and say that they would prefer to be partnered and/or married.

    1. The term “revealed preferences” was invented for moments like this.

    2. Most people would probably prefer to be partnered and/or married with a person of sufficiently high status, however the first party defines “status.” But many if not most of us have contradictory desires or preferences or dreams.

    From that I infer that the online dating industry may be working reasonably well but that a) search costs are high, b) people don’t want to admit who they can “get” given what they bring to the table, and c) a lot of people are full of shit.

  13. Back in 1994, before on-line dating came about, a friend signed up with “Great Expectations.” Under that company’s format the prospective dater went into the company’s office and looked through catalogs of photos and brief biographical data of each candidate of the opposite sex (and back then it was only opposite sex). The profile photos were a simple head shot. My friend dated a couple of very attractive women. He didn’t develop a relationship with the 35-year old virgin, but did end up marrying one of the women and they had a son two years later.

    On the other hand, my experience with on-line dating sites like is that many of the profiles, especially of the attractive women, are fake. I suspect that the company creates them to inflate their numbers and make it seem like such women are actually using the service to meet men.

  14. What a great idea! Painting a candid portrait of a single seeking a mate by using a camera. You could call the service “Candid Camera”, if that name hadn’t already been taken. Pity!

    Seriously, I think candor has been tried hundreds of times over thousands of years, when it comes to seeking a suitable mate. It’s been abandoned in favor of artful deception, every time. You are going to have to find something unique about the present circumstances in order to avoid the same outcome.

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