If you type this question into any internet search bar you will be bombarded by hundreds of articles, with sources ranging from self-help gurus to clinical therapists to professional dating services. They all have different advice to offer, depending on their experiences and what type of outcome they believe you should be looking for. Most of them will lead you to a certain point, then have a ‘pay for more personalized help’ option. Fair enough, we all need to eat, but in most cases that extra monetary step really isn’t necessary.
I have been online dating off and on for over 4 years. When I am online I am generally very active, I enjoy meeting people. To date I have physically met about 55 potential partners, messaged with around 700, and have viewed approximately 2000 dating profiles. Actually read the profiles mind you, not just looked at the pictures. My primary apps are POF and Tinder as those are the most used in my area, but over the years I have also used Facebook, eHarmony, Ok Cupid, Match, Single Parent Meet, and probably one or two others I can’t remember anymore. They all have their perks and pitfalls, depending on what you are looking for.
Now that we have established my absolutely unprofessional credentials, here are my completely free tips, tricks, and opinions on what should and should not be in a dating profile.
If you are on a site that asks for a username try and be creative, fun, and upbeat. Things like ‘canadaguy87’ or ‘outdoorsman53’ or ‘looking4love’ are so dull that I forgot them as soon as I typed them. Your username is one of the first things people will see, it is how they will refer to you when speaking to others, and it may even be the name they address you by. It should reflect who you are in a memorable way. Try and stay away from random or suggestive numbers, names that include demands, or anything that sounds angry or depressed. Bust out a thesaurus, play with alliterations, or even pick your favorite gaming or TV show character’s name. If nothing else, it may help to start a conversation.
Most sites that require a headline also show that headline in any search a user may run. This means that along with your photo and username it will be one of the 1st things a potential partner will see, so it better be good. Think of it as the slogan or catchphrase you are going to use to sell your product. No one is going to want to buy something advertised as ‘single and bored out of my mind’, ‘just checking things out’, or ‘not sure what to expect here’. It’s also not your greeting, so stay away from variations of ‘hi’, ‘text me if you want’, or ‘just looking to talk’. Be clever, positive, and most of all, unique. There are thousands of suggestions for things you can use on the internet. Make an effort, find a few you like, and adjust one so it fits your personality.
This is a big one. A lot of users won’t even read your profile unless your pictures attract them first. It’s shallow, but true. This doesn’t mean you have to look like [insert celebrity name here] in order to get any action, most of us don’t and we still do ok. What it does mean is that you need to put some serious thought and effort into what you put up and how you want to be seen.
My biggest piece of advice on this is also the easiest – smile. Mouth open, closed, goofy, playful, sultry, serious, it doesn’t matter. A smile lights up your face, lifts your cheeks, and brightens your eyes, all things that people find attractive. It also shows that you can smile, which is hugely important. Post multiple pictures, showing different parts of your face and body (no nudes please). Maybe it’s not all great, but it is all you, and it’s you that they are considering meeting. Post pictures having fun, whether it’s out doing something, in a costume, or just ridiculous selfies. The most commented on picture I have ever used was just my face and a giant red clown nose. Pictures can be a conversation starter, so make it easy, give them something to ask about. Post as many pictures as the site will allow, and remember to update your pictures often. You will change over time and your profile should reflect that.
There are a lot of ‘do not’s when it comes to online dating pictures. Do not use old pictures. Yes, I’m sure you looked fantastic in that one beach picture from your trip to Cabo in the late 2000’s, and I hate to be the one to break it to you, but that is not the way you look now. Your past is not what you are selling. Do not use filters that make you look like an animal. Unless you are trying to attract a furry all this does is hide your actual features. In fact, try to stay away from using filters at all, most of them just hide things that will be obvious as soon as you meet. The idea of profile pics isn’t to trick people into thinking you are someone you aren’t, it’s to show them the best of who you are. Do not post pictures with your kids. Being a parent is a huge part of your life, and important, but in most cases posting pictures of your kids will automatically dry up any sexual interest a prospective partner may have been feeling towards you. Do not post group pictures, particularly if you are not the most attractive person on the pic, or if they can’t even tell which one you are. It’s confusing and distracting. Do not post only selfies, they limit what you can show and they tell the world ‘I’m always alone’. Find a friend, or a professional, or a random weirdo off the street, and ask them to take a couple pictures for you. Do not post pictures of your truck, boat, pet, quad, fire pit, or sex room. These may be important parts of your life, but they are not you. Do not post memes, we can all get them off the internet.
If your prospective partner has made it through those first three layers of who you are and is still interested in you then you are doing well. Don’t fuck it up now. When it comes to the write up about who you are there is one very important rule to follow – STAY POSITIVE. I don’t care if you are actually a positive person or not, just like the rest of your profile your ‘about me’ section should reflect the best parts of you, and we are all at our best when we are feeling hopeful and excited. If you can be funny, be funny. A profile that makes someone smile or even laugh is always a winner. If you can’t be funny, give them something to ask you questions about. Talk about hobbies you love, trips you would like to go on, musicians you can’t live without, or art you have seen or created. If you are into something unusual that you need in a partner let them know, but in an encouraging and playful way. Do not create long lists of things you are looking for, or write angry rants about things you do not want ‘again’. These are huge turn offs. Don’t make ridiculously obvious statements like ‘my kids are my life’. Of course they are, and anyone who is considering dating a parent will know that. Feel free to have fun here and let your energy shine through.
So there it is, my advice. Stay positive, look happy, be creative, and update frequently. It’s not as difficult as it seems, I promise, and you will probably learn a lot about yourself along the way.