In the past decade, online dating and hook up social media have moved from an embarrassing secret hobby to being one of the primary tools that singles use to tap into unknown dating pools in their areas (not to mention for long-distance affairs). Online profiles on dating sites and social media first took their lead from the personal ads of yesteryear, but have now evolved into a bit of a science.
When you create an online profile, your goal is to get your personality to shine through the usual cliches in order to set yourself apart from the thousands (or millions) of others vying to be memorable online. In essence, you are marketing a product (one that you believe in), and that product is you.
If you think about the types of advertisements that have drawn attention in the past, you will note that they have a few things in common (sincerity, humor, uniqueness), so build on these and try to avoid profile pitfalls. What follows is a list of tips to follow, and pitfalls to avoid) that will help you build the profile you need to get noticed and get out on the market.
Tips And Pitfalls
Show your personality
Your personality is what is unique about you and what is going to draw good matches. Try to write how you speak. To get that personality across, use stories or anecdotes to portray who you are instead of generic adjectives like “nice” or “funny.” If you are funny, be funny. If you are confident, it will show through.
Pitfalls: While you should write how you speak t get your personality across, do not use this as an excuse to use sloppy spelling or grammar. Poor spelling simply makes you look unintelligent.
Be honest about who you are and what you are looking for. If you embellish or lie, you will be found out, and you will draw people to you who aren’t going to be compatible with who you are and the values you hold.
Pitfalls: While being honest is good, don’t give too much information. You don’t need to air your dirty laundry. Leave nasty ex stories out. No one wants to date the bitter, scorned ex. Don’t warn people of your flaws or your neuroses: you will come off as looking insecure. Don’t give them a reason not to contact you.
Everyone wants to be around a positive person. They are energizing and brave and open minded. People who are hopeful about finding someone come off as more approachable than those who give the impression that they are just waiting for the next dating disappointment.
Pitfalls: Don’t be negative about anything if you can be, especially about the online dating process. If you start your profile with a caveat that you “never thought you would be doing this” or imply that you might think online dating is stupid or for losers, no one is going to respond, as they will assume that you think they are a loser for being online. As energizing as positive people are, negative people suck good energy right out of you. People will avoid that.
If you do not express yourself well in writing, then ask a friend who is a good writer to give you a hand. Try writing it in your voice first (as you want your personality to shine through), and then have a friend look it over. If you don’t have anyone you can turn to, there are services that can help you, and most online dating sites will have tips for you to follow. Most importantly, make sure you have someone proofread it for glaring errors.
Pitfalls: If you have a friend or service help you build your profile, make sure that the end product still has some of you in it. You don’t want it to come off as sounding too contrived, or worse, not at all like you.
Filter out your preferences
If you are looking for a specific type of person, then make sure you specify. Your goal online is not to date as many people as possible—it is to date as many people as possible that are compatible with you. If you cast too wide a net, then you will find yourself throwing a lot back and becoming disenchanted with the process. Be specific about things like the age range you are looking for. Specifics that are deal-breakers for you, for example, non-smokers or drinkers, certain religious affiliations, people who do or don’t have children, are important to identify.
Pitfalls: Do not lead with specifics that are too shallow or materialistic. For instance, specifying body types or looks, or specifying people making over a certain salary per year are generally not well-received. You will come off looking arrogant and picky. Most people are not going to contact a person who seems ready to reject people based purely on surface impressions.
Include a picture
Many people are filtered out immediately if there is no picture whatsoever on your profile. This does not mean that people are shallow (although, let’s face it, first impressions are important). Many people find that the images you choose to put on your web site give another dimension to your personality. If you feel insecure about putting a picture up, then try something artistic. If you have an arty friend, get him or her to take some funky pictures of you, or to Photoshop some existing images. This shows not only confidence, but creativity. Not all pictures have to be a standard frontal shot. If you don’t have any photographer friends, go to a mall photo booth and have some fun.
Pitfalls: In your profile photo section, include pictures that portray your various interests (hobbies, traveling, etc.), but do not include too many party pictures. One picture of you having fun with friends is a great idea (it shows you actually do have friends), but don’t opt for the one where you are passed out, funneling beer, or being groped by one or many women. Also, vanity shots of you flexing your muscles are too cheesy and make you look full of yourself. Sell yourself in your photos, but keep this rule of thumb in mind: if your picture looks like it belongs in a beer commercial, leave it out.
Even though there seem to be a lot of rules to follow when building a profile, remember a few basic things: keep it simple, avoid being generic, and be proud of who you are. If you aren’t afraid to share your hopes and dreams, then chances are that you are more likely to find that person who is on the same path.