Over the years I’ve had the occasion to read more than my fair share of online dating profiles. And, since my job is communicating stuff, I’ve also been asked to repair a fair few profiles by friends who are questioning why their only interest is coming from AARP members. ‘Consulting’ is a term I like to use, since I won’t actually write someone’s profile for them, but I do enjoy holding someone’s hand as we fix the glaring issues and hopefully get a better, more truthful version of them out into the world.
A caveat: My own online profile, sucks balls (I’m not the most objective writer), but when reading someone else’s ‘About me’.. the ‘yikes’ moments just jump off the page. I put on my judgmental hat on and off we go. So today I thought I’d hope across the aisle and share some of the tips I pass on to my online dating fellas. Don’t sneer … you need this…and they actually work.
Just like the ladies, you fellas need to think more strategically about your photos. We’re not going to be trying to estimate your chest size from that beach shot, but we do want to know if your version of ’5 ft 11′ is our version of 5 ft 11′. Whether ‘athletic’ means ‘runs daily’ or ‘walks into McDs rather than driving through’. And don’t go posting those shots from before your divorce when you were 40lbs lighter, had a whole rug of hair and non of those grey bristles. Own who you are – TODAY. It’ll save a very awkward, and short, first date. So guys, you need to post: 1 photo headshot (not taken in your bathroom and smile goddam it), 1 full body pic and 1 or 2 pics which show you doing your usual type of activities. If you’re a skier, a slopeside pic is great, but if the last time you skied was during the Clinton administration.. probably not the most honest representation. If hanging out with friends is how you spend your time… include a photo of that.. even if its just you and them enjoying a night at the pub. And if you insist on posting 14 photos of you doing awesome stuff (paragliding, scuba, windsurfing, hiking Everest, teaching yoga in Pakistan) go for it… but if we don’t see any other people in your shots, we’re going to question whether you have a friend in the world… so bear that in mind. Its not a ‘whose lived the most amazing life’ contest. Its ‘what my life looks like’ peep show.
An easy way of thinking about your profile is four sections;
- Intro – the thing that grabs attention.
- Your personality; what your personality is like
- What you like to do: activities and hobbies, things that you find interesting
- What type of woman you’re attracted to (‘the list’)
Section 1: Intro
‘This is really hard’ ‘I hate writing about myself’ ‘V2.0′, ‘blah blah.. will fill in later’ ‘Just looking for a great women’
No. Just no. Post your profile when its ready. When it gives us enough information to judge whether you’re worth checking out. Don’t spend the first paragraph telling us how modest you are, how long it took you to write a paragraph or what your sister/coworker/mother thinks of you. We.do.not.care.
Think of your intro as your fishing hook. The thing that reaches out of the screen and grabs us, pulls us in to reading more about you. If you’re spending 3 or 4 sentences saying blah blah blah, we’ve already moved on. Say something witty, interesting or just different and we stop skimming. Ramble on about nothing..we’re already gone. What does a good intro look like? A synopsis of who you are. A taste of your personality. A peek into your mind. Therefore…I advise you to write it LAST.
Section 2: Your personality
Next you need to tell us the 5 most positive attributes associated with your personality. Things which your friends would nod along to (ask them if you’re not sure). Are you a relaxed, easy going mellow fellow, or an energetic, driven planner who strives to wring the maximum enjoyment out of every day? Are you someone who likes to lead, or are you willing to go along with whatever everyone else wants to do. Are you introverted or extroverted? A dominant personality or everyone’s favorite team player? Are you a sarcastic fellow with a dry humor, or a goofy laugh out loud kind of a guy who loves nothing more than a good Will Ferrell pic? A cultured city dweller or a nature lover? This is not about what you look like (she’s got photos for that) or what you’ve done… its what she needs to know about your personality and character. Whether your flavor is Vanilla or Mint Choc Chip, Pistachio or Frozen Soy Yoghurt. You don’t need to list everything about your personality.. limit yourself to 5 traits. For example, ‘I’m a driven guy who loves his job and the adventures that it affords me in my spare time. I’m energetic and optimistic, a leader and a planner’. She can learn the rest when you buy her a drink. Women know what type of guy they’re looking for and your summary tells them about your basic compatibility. Oh.. and don’t have this be more than a paragraph. No one likes a braggart or a narcissist (except other narcissists…).
What you do
Don’t spent a heap of time listing out everything you’ve ever done. That’s what dating and marriage are for (you’ve got to have something left to talk about in your 50s). If you played college football, awesome.. but after the age of 30, we don’t care (just like you don’t care about our major after freshers week). Its fine to tell us about your travels, your past accomplishments or significant moments in your life, but we’d prefer that you tell us what you actually do TODAY. After all, I used to spend 2 hours every day in the gym…. (but not since 1999). Use the last 18 months as a mirror. What have you done, how have you spent your time and be honest. If you’re a couch potato, its ok to say that you love watching movies and cooking. If you’re someone who works out everyday, say it. Don’t tell us what you did once, or what you’d like to do at some point in the future… we can talk about that on a date. Save your dreaming for off the page unless it a major lifestyle change that you’re actively planning for. After all, I’d love to sail around the world, but I’ve not stepped onto a boat in 20 years… so its not going in my profile. The woman who wants to date you, wants to know what type of guy she’s potentially going to spend time with and you can only ‘act’ your profile for so long. So unless you want to commit to running marathons or lying about your love of Camus, don’t go there. Some women like a homebody. Some want a predictable guy who’s going to be home every day at 6.. others would wither and die with that level of routine. There are women out there who like to do everything you do… (well, probably not as much porn… but you get the picture). Don’t pretend to be something your not, or something you once were. If you need a reality check, stand naked in front of a full length mirror and think about your greatest assets. If you can see them all in the mirror… you’re not really looking at what women want to know. (we don’t look for men based on your pecs or dick size.. just sayin’).
What type of woman are you attracted to?
This is actually the third most important part of your profile. Yes. Third. Your photos are #1 (we’re as judgy as you are), and your overview is #2 (we skim as much as you do). Women are flexible, we’re adaptable and most women will see a little bit of an overlap of what your looking for and round up. (NOTE – so should you). After all, we’re not signing up for perfection.. just a guy who seems to be looking for someone like us.
So go ahead, be specific, but – and here’s the catch – you only get to be really specific about 3 things.
Yes 3. You can write out your list of 25 things and say ‘I don’t have a laundry list’ but you do. We all do. So write your list… then start deleting the ‘nice to have”, the would be nice’ and the ‘preferably’. Think about the absolute essentials for you. All 3 of them. It can be as broad as ‘a positive attitude towards life’, or as specific as ‘I love tall women’… but you only get to ask for 3. Loyalty. Honesty. Warmth. Physically active. Stable… these are traits you might want to consider. Sure, you can include ‘takes care of herself’ and ‘hot body’ but what if she’s a lying manipulative unstable weirdo? You can add more than 3 traits (of course), but each extra requirement signals your rigidity and limits your pool of candidates to a very specific subsection (which may not correspond to what your lady reader thinks about herself). What you consider ‘takes care of herself’ might mean ‘stays skinny’ to you, but to her might mean ‘gets her nails and hair done weekly’. Be specific and honest about 3 must have things. Now many guys want to date someone who’s slim, mentally sound, financially stable, loves her job, has great friends, collects lingerie and would love nothing more than spending every Sunday watching football… but if she responds to you with a whole lot of ‘yes’s?
… she’s probably lying.
Of your list of 25 things.. she’s probably got 3.. maybe 5. So keep it simple and focus on whats important.
NOTE: Focus on positives ONLY. Don’t list all of your ‘nots’ (signals ‘dude has baggage’) and don’t mention ‘recent pictures only.’ (signals.. ‘no fat chicks’). Her pictures are probably as up to date as yours, so use that guideline. Focus on what attracts you rather than what you’d like. I’d like someone who looks like Ryan Gosling and rides a bike like Contador, but what attracts me is a smart positive guy who pursues new adventures and loves his job. He might not even ride a bike. He might resemble Woody Allen. If you’re not sure of the difference think back to previous girlfriends and what attracted you to her… was it her massive smile? her goofiness? her long legs? her adventurous spirit or just her ability to waste Sundays playing Xbox? These are your attractors and say way more about you than a laundry list of bland attributes. FYI ‘Nice’ is not a trait.
And finally… we’re back at your intro
You’ve written out your 3 main sections (and edited it down/ bulked it up to a reasonable length). Now its time to create your intro. This is where you get to be clever or smart, show your edge, or simply outline what type of guy you are in 3 sentences.
Yes. 3. Your first paragraph is short and ‘grabby’. It spark’s her interest. That’s all. It doesn’t need to be witty or intellectual, but it should give her a flavor of who you are. Think old school ‘Personals’ ads from the paper.
You can summarize a few points from your other paragraphs, or use the intro to include something that didn’t fit elsewhere. But please, please don’t tell us what you mom or your sister or your friends think of you, and don’t even consider telling us that you don’t look your age, or you can’t believe you’re still single. Yawn. No edge.
So.. here’s my shout out to the fellas who are online or thinking about dipping their toe into the online pool. Be real. Be honest. Be positive. And yes, that beer funneling photo might be cool.. but its’ really not working for us.