In light of ASDF’s comment that he had jumped into the online dating waters, and my friend’s experiences with eHarmony, here is some advice about how to write a profile that will stand out from the treacly, saccharine rest.
(1) Your profile is like a resume. Treat it with the same care.
When I say a profile is like a resume, I don’t mean that you should list your accomplishments in bullet points. I do mean, though, that you should use proper English: capitalization, punctuation, spelling, grammar, the whole nine yards. Typos in profiles are as much death as they are in a professional resume. Thanks to my friend’s, um, generosity, I have been able to view a lot of men’s profiles. Most of them look like they were typed by a blind chicken. It’s a huge turn-off and works against you in an environment where you’re basically being considered like a menu item at a restaurant.
(2) Your profile is also like a cover letter, so show your personality.
Resumes are like the structure of a building, while cover letters are the inner decor. Two people can decorate the same house in completely different ways. So while, for example, at eHarmony everyone has the same type of information on their profiles, the way you express yourself can make the difference between her seeing you as a lame tool or as a cool guy. This is why it is so crucial to demonstrate personality in your profile. In online dating, she will not wait to get to meet you in person for you to show her how cool you really are, so if you’re a fun, funny guy, your profile is where to show it. If you’re a serious, romantic type, show that. If you care about saving the children of a fashionable African nation, show that. But be genuine. Insecure try-hards are very easy to spot. (They’re usually the guys writing “lol” all over the place.) Also, do not be sarcastic. Sarcasm doesn’t usually work well on strangers, and in print, it is very easy to misconstrue tone. Especially at eHarmony, whose members are primarily looking for a future spouse, sarcasm is a sign of unseriousness.
Talented writers have an advantage over unskilled writers here. If you’re not that great of a writer, you should write some rough drafts and have a friend (preferably of the opposite sex) proofread and critique you.
(3) Contrast is king.
(HT to you-know-who for coining this excellent phrase.) Yes, even in dating profiles, contrast works. eHarmony has its members list the five things they are most thankful for. Pretty much every guy lists “God, my family, my friends, my health” as four of the things they are most thankful for – and yes, they list them using those exact words. To avoid sounding like a cliche, find more descriptive ways to list those same things – or find something else that is interesting to list. Do not be treacly, though. Writing “the ability to breathe God’s beautiful fresh sunshine air” is NOT sexy.
(4) Have at least five recent photos of yourself on the site in a variety of settings.
Women do not see past the exterior in online dating. Your picture, unless backed up by a killer written profile, can make or break you. So here are my recommendations about photos:
– The more photos, the better. Okay, there’s such a thing as overkill, but having only one or two photos is a turn-off. It says you don’t take good pictures, you don’t have much of a social life, and you’re lazy.
– Caption your photos. Mention where you were, what you were doing, the date the photo was taken. Do not write Facebook type stuff like “on the top of a mountain!!!!!! woo hoo!!!!! it was AWESOME!!!!!! lol”.
– Have some close-ups as well as full-body shots. Your body/build matters. Basically, all of your photos should not be headshots, nor should all of your photos be far away. That said…
– No photos of you taking a picture of yourself in the bathroom mirror with your cell phone. That’s Craigslist territory. Also:
– No naked/half-clothed shots. Most women seriously looking for husbands do not care what your bare chest looks like. Pictures with your shirt off, unless it’s a beach/swimming picture, scream narcissism.
– No photos of yourself partying in a bar.
– No photos of yourself with women draped all over you. A PUA will consider this preselection. A woman seriously looking for a husband will do the following: (1) judge the sluttiness of the women in the picture. If they are slutty-looking, you’re toast. (2) judge the prettiness of the women in the picture. If they’re better-looking than her, you’re also toast. (3) label you a player. You are toast. (4) think of you as the kind of man who has way too many female friends. You are toast. The only exceptions to this are photos of you with female relatives (mom, grandma, sisters, aunts, cousins). Oh, and (5) if the women in the photo are beneath the woman looking at your photo, then you’ve preselected yourself out of the running. You are toast.
– No photos where you have clearly cropped out the girl on your arm.
– No photos of you when you were 18 (unless you’re, say, 19). No photos of you as a child – unless it shows something about your personality. (Ex: “Me at age 8 with my childhood sports hero. Die-hard [your favorite team] fan to this day!”) No more than one of this type of photo, and only if you were a cute kid. No photos of you when you still had hair. No photos of you when you were still thin. These will only invite negative comparisons.
– Unless you have jacked up teeth, include some photos of you smiling. Women find smiles inviting. Women do not find photos of you with a gangsta scowl inviting.
– Photos of you dressed up are a plus. (THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO PROM PICTURES.)
– No photos of you badly groomed, unless it shows an appealing part of your personality. (Ex: “Me trying out Alaska chic. It lasted 3 months.”)
(5) Brevity is the soul of wit.
Don’t overwrite your profile. Don’t treat it like a diary, like your shrink, or like your creative writing class. Don’t write like Matthew from Boundless.
Write crisply, clearly, vividly, and authoritatively. Do not use ellipses. Do not abuse the exclamation point. Never write more than one exclamation point or question mark in a row.
Above all, do not qualify yourself to the woman. Don’t explain
ad nauseum why you’re a great catch. BE a great catch. The good ones will pick up on it pronto.