Michelle Talbert & Ricardo Kingsbury Interview – Guide To Online Dating
“Guide to Online Dating”
Jasbina Ahluwalia interviews Michelle Talbert and Ricardo Kingsbury
Michelle Y. Talbert and Ricardo Kingsbury met online a week before Valentine’s Day. They celebrated Valentine’s Day together, had a whirlwind love affair and by Easter were asking, “What just happened?”
Well, they dusted themselves off, realized that collectively they have almost 20 years of online dating experience and that they must be doing something wrong…maybe.
At 41, they are both twice married yet remain single, more importantly, hopeful, that they’ll find and keep true love. In this book, they share their story and the stories of others who have used online dating for one purpose or another.
(00:49): Hello everyone and welcome to Intersections Match’s Talk Radio, a monthly holistic lifestyle show focused on the continual evolution into the best versions of our authentic selves. We and our guests discuss relationships and health and wellness, each of which contributes to meaningful and fulfilling lives.
This is Jasbina, your host. I’m a former practicing lawyer and the Founder of Intersections Match, the only elite national personalized matchmaking company focused on singles of South Asian descent nationwide in the US.
I’m very excited to welcome authors Michelle Talbert and Ricardo Kingsbury to our show today. Michelle and Ricardo collectively have almost 20 years of online dating experience. The two met online, had a whirlwind love affair, which ended up not working out.
After dusting themselves off, they collaborated to write Don’t Do What We Did!: A Conversation About Online Dating with an Ex-Not-Quite Couple Who Met on the Internet. This is an insider’s guide to online dating in which Michelle and Ricardo share their story as well as the stories of countless other online daters that they interviewed. It’s a he said, she said guide to online dating with hints, tips and secrets to online dating success shared along the way.
Interestingly, Michelle’s stepfather is Indian. He, together with her African American mom, raised her since she was nine. We’ll ask Michelle a question about that later. First, I want to jump into the topic of online dating. Welcome, Michelle and Ricardo.
(2:25): Thank you. We’re excited to be here.
(2:29): It’s a pleasure to have you. What led the two of you to write this book? Michelle, do you want to start?
(2:37): After the demise of our relationship, I realized that I wanted to figure out what was going on in the world of online dating. I’d been married twice and had been dating online for about a year and a half when I met Ricardo. I really thought that there had to be a better way to do things. He and I are great friends, even though it didn’t work out romantically.
We collectively have lots of insight and ideas. We’ve gone on to talk with a number of people who have also dated online. I thought it would be great to give a he said, she said perspective on online dating to figure out where we connect and where we have disconnect. I asked Ricardo if he would be interested in bringing his thoughts to the world. He jumped on board.
(3:38): Ricardo, when you were first asked, what was your impression? What was the first thought to flash into your mind when Michelle first threw that idea out to you?
(3:46): The first thought was that I’m not a writer by trade. I’m an actor. I was kind of skeptical at first. I didn’t know how we were going to format it and put the whole book together. She brought it to my attention that a lot of the women that she talks to would like to have some tips and advice on what we men think when it comes to dating online.
I thought that would be a great thing. I could share some of the things that we think about when we go online, what we’re looking for as well as some of our likes and dislikes. That’s what really attracted me to writing the book.
(4:47): One of the biggest mistakes that women make is making their profile too long. For a lot of men that I spoke with, the attention spans are not that great. We don’t read all of that. Be short and to the point about what it is you’re looking for in the beginning of a relationship. Don’t give us a whole story that will take us a long time to read. We lose focus very quickly.
(5:35): I have heard that echoed by men. Michelle, from your experiences online dating as well as what you learned from other online daters you’ve interviewed, what are some of the biggest mistakes that guys are making while online dating?
(5:51): A lot of them are not being honest about what it is that they’re looking for or how they’re representing their marital status. A lot of women are very fearful that they will meet a man online and he will be married. I don’t think that’s the rule. I think that, when the stories come out, they are so captivating that people become frightened when dating online. The most important thing for men is to be honest about what they’re looking for and also in terms of their status.
(6:29): Ricardo, you mentioned having a briefer version of your profile for women. What are some things that women can do to make their profiles appeal to more relationship-oriented men?
(6:54): Going back to what Michelle said, I would say to be direct and to the point about what exactly you’re looking for in the online dating world. If you’re looking to date for a while with hopes of a long-term relationship and eventually getting married, let’s put that out there. Put your best foot forward. Add a nice, smiling picture. Then go from that to a full-body picture. You are giving people an all-around view of who you are.
(7:33): Smiling came up right away. It sounds like you want to use a warm, inviting picture.
(7:38): Yes, you want a warm, inviting picture.
(7:42): Then you mentioned a full-body shot. It sounds like just a head shot doesn’t quite cut it. You want to have at least one full-body shot on there. Is that right?
(7:53): Yes, just one. Guys are visual. We would like to see everything. We want to see the whole body.
(8:05): Michelle, for the benefit of our male listeners, what are some guidelines for the guys to attract more relationship-oriented women to their profiles?
(8:26): The one thing that seems to work well for men is putting a picture with their children in their profile. It is interesting to me. Ricardo and I advise against adding pictures of your children in your online dating profile pictures. But hands down, across the board, every man who I’ve spoken with who has at least one picture of himself with his children have had very positive responses from women.
The response that they receive is, “It seems like you’re a good father.” I think that’s a very interesting tip for men. I would hope that they are good fathers and that the pictures are genuine. We found that this was counter to the advice that we’ve given women. We still give that advice for women.
(9:28): I still disagree with putting your kids in the pictures.
(9:31): I know that you do.
(9:34): I understand from Michelle that, generally speaking, you both advise against men and women putting pictures of their kids in their profile. However, you’ve found empirically that it is appealing to women to see pictures of guys with their kids. The men don’t seem to find it as appealing to see pictures of women with their kids. Regardless, you think it’s not such a great idea. Ricardo, tell us why.
(10:15): I’m totally against it. I feel like there is a bad element online. I don’t want to expose my kids or anyone else’s kids to that bad element. You hear about it all the time. Your online dating experience starts off with you. I think that putting your kids in your pictures makes it about something else. That can come up in conversation. We can talk about that. Eventually, you’ll see a picture of my kids, but not in the beginning. It can attract the wrong element. It’s all about safety.
(11:11): I love these different perspectives. Michelle, from your own experience or from the experience of the countless online daters that you’ve interviewed, tell us one of the funniest or craziest online stories that you’ve heard. I’m sure there are many.
(11:33): One of the funniest ones is funny, but somewhat tragic. There was a woman who was smitten with a gentleman who she met online. He seemed to be very interested in her. He did all of the right things, but she had an inkling that something was off. She invited him over to her house one day. Her cousin works with a private investigator.
While his car was parked out front, she ran his license plate and found out that his car was registered to his wife, who he still lived with. That was very interesting. I don’t know if it was funny, but at least she was able to get out of that situation without too much harm. It was really interesting that she had access to a private investigator who was able to run the license plate.
(12:31): This goes back to what Ricardo was mentioning about safety. Ricardo, what is one of the funniest, most interesting or crazy online dating stories that you’ve come across?
(12:41): I have a crazy one. It may be funny to some people. A person that I interviewed said that he met what he thought was a young lady online. They had dialogue and went back and forth for a while. They finally decided to meet. He noticed that she was dressed like a lady and spoke like a lady, but was not really a lady. She was a man. It was kind of crazy. Needless to say, he ended the date abruptly because that’s not what he was looking for. He mentioned in his profile that he was not looking for that. That was the craziest story that I’ve heard.
(13:39): That is pretty crazy.
(13:42): There are some scammers out there or people who will tell you anything.
(13:49): Michelle, what are some of the most effective ways for guys to initiate contact online? What would increase the chances of getting a response back? There are so many people online. People get frustrated.
(14:22): What I find is that, if you play upon something that was said in someone’s profile, that is really great. A lot of folks send out an email that says, “You’re pretty,” or “You’re beautiful.” While that’s a compliment, it really doesn’t give you much insight into the guy who sent it. It seems as though he may be fatigued and he’s sending out many messages at once.
As a woman, if you have something in your profile that says, “I love horseback riding,” a man could write, “While I’ve never been horseback riding, that sounds great. There’s a great equestrian spot near my home.” It lets the woman know that at least he’s read something in her profile. I think that will absolutely increase your chances of getting a response.
It sounds like you care at the outset. I think that really helps. I know that many guys don’t want to write a lot in their initial contact. I agree that you shouldn’t write too much in your initial contact. Picking out a morsel from their profile will go really far for your advantage.
(15:31): I think that’s a great idea. It shows that you’re making some effort. You’re interested in getting to know the person. Ricardo, what do you think of women initiating the contact online?
(15:48): If you had asked me the same question that you asked Michelle, I would have told you that nothing turns me on more, nothing makes me happier, than for a female to initiate conversation. On some sites, you can go on and see that someone has viewed your picture. They can speak or not. Most of the time, women will look but they won’t say anything. When they do, it shows initiative. It makes me feel like we can have dialogue. I love for a woman to make the first initial contact. There is nothing bad about it.
(16:42): Even if it is something that a woman does that a man has hesitation about initially, if they hit it off, over time he’ll forget who initiated contact. I’ve had that happen. I initiated contact. Into our relationship, the guy had forgotten. He said, “I remember when I reached out to you online.” He planned to reach out to me.
(17:01): That is the norm. Men are so used to reaching out. It’s different and exciting for a woman to reach out to a man. There is nothing wrong with it.
(17:14): On some sites, you can reach out and write something. Alternatively, you can send a wink. Do you have any thoughts on that in terms of which one is generally more appealing?
(17:37): I would say to write something. Sending a wink is kind of generic to me. If you write something, don’t just write, “Hi” or “Hello.” Generate a sentence. Ask me about my day or give me a compliment. That’s what I do.
(17:56): Yes, give a compliment.
(17:57): Men love compliments.
(18:01): That’s exactly what I was going to say. When men reach out to us, it’s nice when they compliment us or mention something that we’re written. If we compliment men on one of their pictures, their smile or something physical, they’re in.
(18:24): Michelle, are there any rules of thumb as to how many emails or phone conversations that relationship-oriented men should expect to have before initiating an in-person meeting?
(18:43): I prefer to meet as soon as possible. I tell women to meet face-to-face as soon as possible. I always have a conversation by phone, even if it’s only one, prior to meeting in a safe, public place. If you are interested in a relationship, I think that the best thing to do is to meet as soon as possible. I know that you’re asking me from a guy’s perspective. I think this is across the board.
When you find people who are severely hesitant to meet in person, I think that’s a bit of a red flag. I understand that there are security concerns. I do believe that if you’re interested in a relationship, you’ll want to meet face-to-face as soon as possible because you need to know as soon as possible whether or not the whole person in 3D really works for you. Do you interact well interpersonally?
Additionally, if you have too much electronic communication, I think that there is a higher tendency for buy-in. Then you are emotionally wrapped up in someone who, realistically, you don’t know. Meeting as soon as possible is best. I don’t have a rule of thumb. I think you can play it by ear. Ricardo and I met really quickly. I think there are people who chat for a week or two, or more. I wouldn’t drag it out too long. It’s really important if you’re relationship oriented to meet as soon as possible.
(20:16): Ricardo, let’s say that there is a woman with Michelle’s mindset. She’s looking for a relationship so she wants to meet this person sooner rather than later. Let’s say that you’re doing a little back and forth email, but the woman would love to talk and meet. What’s the best way for a woman to encourage that?
(20:51): I can tell you exactly what Michelle did. She said, “I need to talk to you on the phone. We need to have a conversation before we meet.” If it was up to me, I would have just met Michelle after our email conversations. Michelle insisted that she hear my voice. I was trying to figure out what she could tell by my voice, but there is a lot that you can tell from talking to someone on the phone.
You can even figure out a lot going back and forth through email communication. She needed to hear my voice. We talked on the phone for a quick second. Women seem to want to take it to that next level a lot quicker, as far as taking it from emails to actually speaking on the phone. I could go as long as you want to go back and forth through emails.
Eventually, we did talk on the phone and then we met. Be direct. If you want to take it to a phone conversation, let it be known. You can say, “This is what we need to do.” More than likely, the man will get on the phone and have a conversation.
(22:13): Michelle, from your experiences online dating as well as the experiences of the online daters that you interviewed, what would you say are the top two or three tips that you have for online daters?
(22:29): I gave one of them earlier. That is to be honest about what you’re looking for. I think sometimes we create a profile just because. We aren’t very clear. We’re sort of looking for a relationship. Maybe we’re interested in dating. We’re kind of wishy-washy. When you’re not focused on what you want the outcome to be, it’s a little bit more difficult to weed through the prospects. It is a smorgasbord.
There are so many opportunities in online dating to meet so many different types of people who are offering very different experiences. Unless you’re very clear about what you’re looking for, I think you can run into a lot of problems. It’s like the shiny, red ball syndrome.
The other thing is to be very clear about your intent in your profile, but not give too much of the story away. That’s a popular thing that we heard in our interviews. Someone had put so much into their profile about what their Mr. Right would present. It was the same woman who ended up with the man who had the private investigator check the license plate.
She gave the man an entire roadmap as to how to woo her. That’s over sharing. Let some things come out over time. Give a little bit in your profile, but don’t give it all away. You want things to unfold naturally in conversation and spending time with the other person.
The third tip that I give is to be positive. If you’re going online, approach it with a positive attitude. That will show through in your profile pictures. It will show through in the profile descriptions that you add. Don’t use the words “don’t” and “not” too often. Don’t write, “Don’t contact me if…” There are a lot of ways to be positive and happy. People are drawn to happy people. That will reflect in your profile. Those are my top three. Be honest. Don’t give it all away. Be positive about the experience.
(24:34): Ricardo, do you have any more tips to add? Those are three great ones.
(24:38): Honesty is always the best policy. That’s what I’ve learned from my online dating experience. I learned it with Michelle. In the beginning of our relationship, I came into the relationship not really being honest about what it was that I was looking for. I’ve learned from writing this book and our relationship that honesty is the best policy.
Here’s a good tip. If you’re not sure about a person, you have the internet. You can look up that person. There is Google. You can do what Michelle did when we met for the first time. She sent my tag number to her sister. You can look up the tag and find out about the owner of the car. There are securities. Safety is the most important thing. Think about your safety.
My last one would be not to put your kids in your pictures. Please don’t.
(26:02): As mentioned earlier, Michelle’s stepfather is Indian. He, together with her African American mom, raised her since she was nine. I’m wondering if Michelle has any interesting insights or anecdotes that she can share regarding her experience being raised by an Indian stepfather and African American mom.
(26:27): I think it was amazing. It was an amazing way to grow up. We visited India a number of times when I was growing up. I don’t think that I would have had that opportunity where it not for having an Indian dad. I also have a sister who is with him and my mom. We are very much a biracial family in terms of popular culture, music, movies and food.
My grandmother tried to teach my mother how to make chapatis. That was really funny because they didn’t come out very good. She tried. I think that our world is shrinking in so many ways. The ability to cross racial lines is a beautiful thing. I meet more people than not who have multi-ethnic backgrounds. Growing up black and Indian was definitely different in the seventies and eighties. It was the best.
My dad would tell me stories. It’s a really great experience that I’m thankful for. It was interesting being Michelle Prabu for a while in my lifetime. It was very different. People would think that I would be Indian. When I showed up, I was obviously not. That was always interesting. It was a great experience.
(28:04): From your familiarity with the Indian culture, do you have any tips for Indians about online dating or people in interracial relationships? Do you have any insights, thoughts or ideas that you want to share with our listeners?
(28:38): This is not particular to Indian. I think it’s more particular to interracial dating. If you’re open to it, I think it’s a beautiful thing. I’ve found, as an African American woman, that I’ve been approached by men of other races that were fetishes. I had to be careful of that. I think that if you meet someone who you click with, it should not matter.
(29:06): It shouldn’t.
(29:08): While there are sites, much like your site, which is a great opportunity for people to meet who are alike, it’s also a great opportunity for people who are different to meet people with whom they feel a connection. Because of my upbringing, I do understand an Indian man. I would understand being in a relationship with an Indian man.
As long as you at your core are connecting with another person at their core, that’s the key. It cannot be, “I am interested in only this because it’s some type of fetish.” Like I said, the world is shrinking. We are all interconnected and interrelated. I meet people more often than not who are of a multiracial background. In terms of dating, for your own protection, make sure that this person is interested in you. Those would be my tips. Make sure that the person is interested in you for you.
(30:09): I agree.
(30:15): I think those are great points. Our clientele is pretty much South Asian. We have clients, for various reasons, prefer to be with someone of a similar ethnic background. We also have clients who are very open to different ethnicities and races. It runs the gamut. It’s very interesting.
I really appreciate you sharing your insights with us, Michelle and Ricardo. They’ve been really interesting and insightful. I’m wondering if there is any last thought or take-home message that you would like to leave our listeners with. I’d love to give both of you a chance to answer this.
(30:57): Again, be positive about the experience. If you find that you’re getting fatigued, take a break. It really can open up a wonderful opportunity. Look at me and Ricardo. We thought we were getting online for romance and we ended up becoming great friends and writing a book together.
Stay open to the possibilities of what’s available to you and the people who come into your circle. Now your world is so much more broadened. We would have never crossed paths were it not for an online dating site. Our lives have both been enriched by that experience. It’s great to find romance online, but just be open to the opportunities. It can be a very positive experience.
(31:53): Approach this online dating thing with an open heart and an open mind. Everything else will fall into place. If you’re honest about everything that you’re looking for and what it is that you seek, everything will fall into place.
(32:12): The book is very interesting. I encourage everyone to check it out. Thank you, Michelle and Ricardo, for joining us.
(32:20): Thank you.
(32:21): Thank you.
(32:23): In case you joined us late or would like to share this show with people in your life, I’d like to remind you that today’s radio show will be archived and available as a podcast on Intersections Match’s website, which is www.IntersectionsMatch.com. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Would you like to share a website with our listeners?
(33:01): I appreciate you hanging out with us. Do email me with topics you’d like discussed in future shows. Make sure to join us for next month’s show. Thank you so much.
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