Writing an Online Dating Profile That Works
Your online dating experience will be only as good as your profile
Posted March 21, 2016
The days of looking down on online dating as a last resort for losers are past us. Online dating is an established fact of modern life, with sites from Tinder to Christian Mingle offering options for all kinds of daters. Quite a few of the happily coupled introverts in my book Introverts in Love made their love connection online.
Online dating has a number of benefits for introverts. First of all, you can “meet” lots of people without leaving the house—although presumably you’ll eventually want to gussy up and meet some of them face-to-face. You have a degree of control over interactions; email is an opportunity to dip a toe into a new connection without being trapped with a blowhard at Starbucks. Also, introverts tend to be pretty good at expressing ourselves in writing, which means we can make a good first impression given the opportunity.
But you’ll only get the opportunity if your profile works for you, which is why Lisa Hoehn wrote You Probably Shouldn’t Write That: Tips and Tricks for Creating an Online Dating Profile that Doesn’t Suck. Hoehn is founder of ProfilePolish.com, an online-dating profile makeover service.
The whole book is filled with great insights, suggestions, and caveats for creating a profile (including a rundown of some of the top sites, so you can choose one that seems most likely to work for you), but here are a few to get you thinking—and looking with fresh eyes at your own profile.
Be strategic about picking a username: In this situation, sex doesn’t sell. Just don’t. Generic doesn't attract attention. A string of numbers just causes people’s eyes to glaze over. Hoehn suggests puns and clever wordplay (LastManCamping for an outdoorsman, for example); pop culture references (NotBradleyCooper or NoSleepSinceBrooklyn); or just something silly and absurd (BirdsWithShoes).
Trash the clichés: Are you sassy? As comfortable in old jeans as you are in heels and a dress? Are you living life to the fullest? Do you like cuddling by a crackling fire and long walks on the beach? Then you sound like every third profile. Yawn. You’re not a cliché, your profile shouldn’t be either.
Focus on you: Everything you say in your profile should be about you. Attracted to Buddhism? Tell the world why rather than explaining what Buddhism is about. Want to talk politics? How are your conservative values reflected in the way you live? Instead of just labeling yourself as an introvert, talk about what that means to you, specifically. (I go to parties sometimes but I’m usually back home and in my jammies before the real party animals even arrive.) Use anecdotes and details to show who you are.
Be conversational and concise: Try reading your profile aloud. Does it sound stiff and clunky? Revise, revise, revise. You want it to sound like you’re chatting over coffee, not presenting your resume. And don’t be long-winded. People probably won’t read a long profile, and you’ll come across as self-absorbed and like you might be the dreaded first-date blowhard.
Be positive and confident, not hangdog or cocky: Talk about what you do like, not what you don’t. And while you of course want to let people know about your good qualities, boasting about being the smartest guy in every room or on the fast-track to earning the big bucks will turn people off. Sell yourself, but softly; use humor and gentle self-deprecation.
Choose your photos strategically: Hoehn recommends a minimum of four photos—and she cites research from eHarmony that found that users with four or more photos receive the most messages. But, she adds, any more than seven and you might come across as self-absorbed.
Your photos should add up to a picture of your life. A head shot, of course (but not your professional mugshot); a “personality” shot that shows your style; an action shot of you doing something you like; a shot with friends, to show that you have them; and a full-body shot because…well, because people want to know.
Make sure all your photos aren’t catching you in the same pose with the same “having my photo taken” smile. Change up your outfits (she particularly warns men of this); mix up the activities you show yourself doing, so it doesn’t look like you have limited interests; make eye contact with the viewer in at least a couple of photos (and sunglasses in only one photo, if any); smile; use your pets if you have ‘em.
Of course, there’s plenty more in the book—including before-and-after profiles that Hoehn made over. To be sure (and Hoehn emphasizes this), the book is not magic: You’ll still have to spend time revising and tweaking your profile. But as a writer, I can assure you that it’s always helpful to have an editor’s suggestions when you’re embarking on revisions, and Hoehn’s guidelines will help get you on the right track.
Check out my books, Introverts in Love: The Quiet Way to Happily Ever After; The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World; 100 Places in the USA Every Woman Should Go; and The Yankee Chick’s Survival Guide to Texas.
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