Online Dating Guide

For most people, the worst part of online dating (except, of course, some of the dates <smile>), is writing their profile.  Below is an excerpt from a guide I’ve written that walks you through the three simple steps to writing a great online profile.

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Excerpt:

This chapter will walk you through the three primary parts of your online profile: the freeform write-up (the profile); the personal information (age, location, etc.); and the lists of preferences (favorite movies, books you’re reading, etc.).  When signing up for a dating site, you’ll be taken through a series of questions that result in these various sections being filled out.  While you don’t have to answer every single question in every category, you do need to fill out at least some.  Remember, a profile tells people who you are, and leaving much of your profile blank tells people that you are someone who is barely serious about dating and that they shouldn’t bother to contact you because you are uncommitted to the process.  By the same token, too much information, like a novel-length profile or endless lists, is also a turnoff.  The TMI profile is begging people to skim it and move on.  Here’s a rule of thumb: If you have to scroll down the web page to read your profile, it’s too long.

As you go through this process, always remember: your profile is a marketing document, there to invite people to contact you and give them a flavor of what you might be like on a date.  Like all advertising, it’s meant to be a truthful representation of the best of who you are.  While your – totally understandable – inclination might be to simply rush through it and get it done, it’s worth taking a few extra minutes to construct it so it best shows off you.

So let’s get started.  If you already have an online profile, copy and paste it into a word processing program or someplace where you can edit it.  If you haven’t written one yet, now is the time to take the plunge.  Go ahead and make your first stab at writing a profile before continuing with this book.  See what you come up with on your own and then run it through the tests I list below.  If it passes, great, you’re done!  If not, then follow my solutions for how to fix it.

Section 1: The Write-up

A dating profile is a snapshot, and a favorable one at that.  You have a limited amount of time in which to grab someone’s attention, and how you use that time is critical.  Whatever you choose to put in your profile tells people who you are, and the goal is to ensure that your textual self effectively captures what you’re like as a real person.  Your profile should be something a reader can take in fairly quickly in order to get a good gist of who you are.  While we are all multi-faceted humans with many different personality characteristics, an effective online dating profile highlights the characteristics you think best exemplify what’s great about you and for which you want other people to like you.  It’s a typed version of what you’ve done every time you’ve ever turned on the charm to a stranger at a social event.  When turning on that charm, you are showing off the best of who you are: engaged, funny, energetic; intellectual, open, non-judgmental.  An online dating profile is simply a textual articulation of those same characteristics.

One problem people face with online profiles is that they often blur them with other forms of social networking like Facebook status updates or Twitter tweets.  Online dating is vastly different.  Unlike other social networking sites, people come to dating sites with intent: They are paying a monthly fee in order to meet people.  To that end, your profile needs to be much more constructed because it’s directed toward a specific audience for a specific reason.  Think of your online profile like a job cover letter.  In the same way that you wouldn’t send a cover letter filled with wishy-washy feelings about applying for the job, complaints about past jobs, lists of demands about what this new job needs to give you, or vague statements about yourself, so with the online dating profile.

The central problem most people run into when writing an online profile is confusing what they want with who they are.  We all have many facets to ourselves: hopes; dreams; needs; preferences; dislikes.  Because an online dating profile is short, it amplifies anything you put there and becomes a character statement about you, whether you intend it that way or not.  For example, listing primarily your needs – which is really just one part of the entirety of who you are – makes the reader think that that’s ALL you are – needy.  Primarily listing fantasies makes you look high-maintenance, dislikes as judgmental, and preferences as rigid.

I’ve designed three tests to help you avoid the problem of making a poor impression in your profile.  Once you have a draft of your profile, run it through all of the tests below.  Each sentence must pass all three tests in order to stay in your profile.  Sentences that fail one or two tests need to be rewritten.  Sentences that fail all three should be removed.  Remember, the point here is to ensure that you’re showing off your best.

End of excerpt.

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