Wednesday, April 12, 2017

21 Tips For Your Online Dating Profile

Working in a middle school, I don't have the opportunity to meet people who aren't 35 years younger than me so I've used online dating as a way to discover new people. I really don't like online dating, but the alternative of trolling for men in bars is even less appealing. (Although I still hold out hope that one day I'll bump into the man of my dreams while selecting avocados in the produce section of Publix.) 

As an educator, reading profiles on dating sites makes me sad for the future of this country. As a blogger, it gives me plenty of fodder. As a single woman, it makes me want to give up and adopt cats. I don't know what makes me cringe more: the abominable grammar, or the awful photos. It's really a toss-up. I haven't had any great dates, but I wouldn't say that I haven't gotten anything out of online dating. I've gotten the idea to create a business fixing horrible dating profiles. 

Here's the deal with the online dating culture - you have a few lines of text and a couple pictures to make an impression. Are you much more than a couple lines of text and a few pictures? Of course you are! Is it fair that people will make snap judgments based solely on that? Nope. Is that the way it works anyway? You betcha! I don't think the majority of people fully understand this. Faced with an entire website full of potential dates, if you don't make a positive first impression, people will skip right over you and move on to the next profile. Period. You could be losing out on the guy/girl of your dreams simply because you're not smiling in your picture.

I'm a sucker for a happy ending and want you to be successful in your online dating endeavors so here's a little free advice for creating a dating profile that attracts attention (the good kind of attention; not the what the heck? kind.)

BIOS:

1.  Usernames matter!  Choose a name that stands out. Don't just go with your name and a bunch of numbers. Bill12345 is boring. The same goes for random letters and numbers - tn76Xgh4u. That's not a username; it's a password. Maybe you like to visit the shooting range, but Likesguns makes you sound like a serial killer. Think about possible negative connotations; don't be like Michael Scott and create a username like LittleKidLover.

2.  Show; don't tell!  This is the first rule of writing. Don't say, "I like to travel;" describe a trip you went on. 
Don't say, "I like to help people;" tell about the organization for which you volunteer. Don't say, "I'm funny;" tell a joke. I can't tell you how many guys have described themselves as funny yet their profiles read like a piece of dry toast.

3.  Be interesting!  Do you have any idea how many profiles I have seen that read - I like long walks on the beach? Do you know how many feature this little gem - I can dress in a tux or jeans and a t-shirt? By my calculations, there should be absolute traffic jams of people walking on every beach at any given time if this were true. And yes, although it is impressive that a grown person is capable of dressing oneself, it's not really necessary to include in your bio. Be creative! Stand out! Stop writing the same boring stuff that is in 97% of the profiles. Make a potential date want to learn more about you!

4.  Use proper grammar!  Although I believe what you have to say is more important than how you say it, I admit that I'm likely to move on to the next profile without finishing yours if you don't seem to know the difference between your and you're. Granted, not everyone is gifted with perfect grammar, but again, we're talking about first impressions here. You get one chance! One. Make it count. Ask someone to proofread and edit your profile before posting it.

5.  Use proper punctuation!  I've read many a profile that consisted of a single 300 word run-on sentence. Punctuation counts. It's important. It's the difference between I enjoy cooking my pets and my family AND I enjoy cooking, my pets, and my family. Don't be a psycho. Use punctuation.

6.  Use proper spelling!  I know, I know, we've already covered grammar and punctuation, but each topic gets its own bullet point because they are that important. Again, you get one chance to make that first impression. If you can't spell, get help. Seriously, get help. If you're old enough to date, you're old enough to know how to spell the word date. Have someone look over your bio before posting it. The winner this week for the most commonly misspelled word used on dating profiles is pique. As in - If I have piqued your interest, please send me a message. It's not peek. Or peak. Or peke (which isn't actually a word.) It's pique!

7.  Don't detail a long list of must-haves!  Sure, you're entitled to be selective about potential dates. You can have a mile-long list of must-haves and deal-breakers, but don't include all of them in your profile. It makes you look like a jerk. You might choose to only date thin girls who are Catholic, who don't have children, who are under 5'8", and who have blonde hair. That's your prerogative. But listing all of that in your profile makes you come off sounding like an egotistical donkey. People shy away from profiles that list such specifics.

PHOTOS:

8.  Smile! I think this applies to men more than women. So many men out there want to look tough in their pictures. Newsflash: you don't look tough; you look like a serial killer. If you're smiling, you appear friendly and approachable. So smile!


via GIPHY

9.  Skip the filters! This one applies to women more than men. Yes, we all love those Snapchat filters, but save them for goofing off with your kids and friends. Guys don't want to see the airbrushed, flower headband version of you; they want to see you. The same goes for barfing rainbows, bunny noses, and any other creation Snapchat comes up with.

10.  Use good photos!  I think this is a problem for men more often than women. Guys just don't ask their buddies, "Hey, take a picture of me standing over here!" so they end  up using selfies that are dark or blurry. Use a couple good, well-lit photographs that are in focus. Use photo editing software like Picmonkey.com (It's free and awesome!) to crop or otherwise fix your pictures. But don't airbrush your wrinkles away, erase that double-chin, or obliterate 20 pounds. Be honest. After all, you're planning on meeting people one day, right? You want to look like your photos.

12/2017 with friends in Chicago (I'm in the middle)
11.  Use photos that feature you! It's fine to have a couple pictures of you with friends or family, but if every photo shows a bunch of people, it's hard to pick you out of the crowd. If you use pictures of multiple people in it, clarify which one is you in the caption.

12.  Use current photos! Yes, I'm sure you did look better 10 years ago, but guess what! When you actually meet someone in person, they will notice that you look much older than your pictures. If you really want to use an older picture to highlight your trip to Italy or the marathon you ran a few years ago, you can get away with one or two older ones, but make a note of the year in the caption so people will know that they are older photos.


13.  Feature your passions!  Include photographs of you doing things you like. If you like to cook, include a picture of you in the kitchen. If you're a runner, post a photo of you crossing the finish line. If you like traveling, incorporate pictures of you standing in front of the Acropolis, the Statue of Liberty, the Hollywood sign.

14.  Take off the sunglasses!  I'm sure women do this too, but in more than 50% of the photographs I've seen in men's profiles, the man's eyes are hidden behind shades. People want to see your eyes (windows to the soul and all that) and they wonder what you're hiding when you're skulking behind those Ray-Bans. Take off the sunglasses!

image: Morguefile
15.  Skip the photos with fish!  Yes, your cavemen instincts motivate you to show everyone what a good provider you are by holding up your "catch-of-the-day." I get it. But that would kind of be like me holding up a shopping bag to show off the amazing deals I got at the mall. You guys don't care about that. And we don't care about your fish. The exception is if you're a guy trying to attract another guy, or you're on FarmersOnly.

16.  Skip the selfies in the car!  I'm not sure why this is, but almost every man's profile includes a selfie of himself in the driver's seat of his vehicle. The unfortunate thing about this picture is that it's always taken at this low angle that shows right up the subject's nose. Unless they're holding an otoscope, no one wants to see up your nose. Trust me. It isn't flattering.

17.  Skip the bathroom selfie!  Honestly, it's probably a good rule to skip selfies altogether. Too many selfies makes you look like you have no friends and all you do is sit around all day taking pictures of your face. If you must take one, don't shoot it in your bathroom mirror. With a flash. And water spots on the mirror. And dirty towels on the sink. And clothes on the floor. And hemorrhoid cream on the counter. Don't laugh. I've seen these photos more than once.

18.  Skip the photos of your truck/motorcycle/boat!  Yes, I imagine there are women out there who are all about what you drive (but do you really want to be with someone so shallow?) And I guess it isn't inherently bad to show a picture of your toys. If, for example, riding a motorcycle is a big part of your life and you want to showcase that, it's fine to include a picture of your bike. But be in the picture with that motorcycle because potential dates want to see you! 

19.  Skip the photos of random stuff!  I can't count how many profiles I've seen that have pictures of food, sunsets, scenery, pools, pets, etc. Again, we want to see you! If you want everyone to see your dog, be in the picture with the dog. The Grand Canyon - lovely, but be in the picture with that beautiful scenery.

20.  Include both close-ups and full-length photos!  I've found that most people are pretty wrapped up in looks and want to know what they're getting into before initiating any communication. Include close-up (yet still in focus and flattering) pictures of your face and also full-length photos.

21.  Include more than one or two photos!  People want to get a sense of who you are and what you look like. If you've browsed profiles online then you know that the same person can look vastly different from photo to photo. Include a variety of pictures of you having fun with family and friends, doing things you enjoy, close-up and full-length photographs. 


Follow my advice and see if that doesn't help you bring more attention to your dating profile. And as always, may the odds be ever in your favor!

2 comments:

Pat Moore said...

We must be sisters! I have had the same issues with POF profiles. When I lived in AZ, I was matched with a guy who looked very familiar, but much younger than I thought he was. It was the guy in the next cubicle, posting pics that were 10-15 years old, and he was married! SMH

Ernie said...

This is hilarious! I've never tried to date online - probably because I'm married. This makes me grateful that I married my brother's best friend even though his parents suck. Big time! In case you are interested, here is a link to two posts I wrote about my nutty, control freak father in law. Not sure if it's bad manners to include a link in comments to my blog, but I'm not completely up on blog etiquette. I have 6 kids too, so maybe you will be able to relate to some of my stories!

http://www.nosmallfeetblog.com/2016/11/get-your-shit-together.html

and http://www.nosmallfeetblog.com/2017/03/learning-to-deal-with-outspoken-father.html

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