“Do I believe in computer dating? Only if the computers really love each other.” - Groucho Marx
I’ve heard this many times, “Don’t tell anyone we met on a dating site.” The shame, the fear of mockery, is palpable. There’s a lingering notion that dating sites are for the desperate, the societal misfits only. Meeting someone on a dating site, even if it leads to love, happiness and life long, true companionship, is still given the hairy eyeball by many people and, you know what, it’s time to just stop that.
If you're going into online dating knowing that you’ll lie about where you met your mate or you’re carrying shame about it, then don’t do it. Just don’t because, your shame, your fear, your guilt will taint your experience and limit the number and variety of people you may encounter. Dating is hard enough on its own, why stack the deck against yourself before you even start? Makes no sense.
In the United States alone there are over 2,500 different dating sites. From general sites like Match.com, OKCupid and Plenty Of Fish to extremely specific sites like; Amish Online Dating, Equestrian Dating, Sea Captain Dating and even, yup, this is real, Clown Dating; “Everyone loves a clown, let a clown love you.” With so many places to find love, it’s time to stop seeing online dating as a last resort.
The world is busy now, right? You ask someone how they’re doing and 60% of the time, their answer is going to be; “Busy,” which is not really an answer at all but, don’t get me started on that. Since we’re all so busy, since there’s no time to slip even one more activity into our already bursting schedules, how else are we supposed to find partners, dates and love? When you really think about it, online dating is the perfect answer to this fast paced, Twitter, Snapchat, Texting world, isn’t it? So, let’s stop pretending it’s wrong, shameful and not a viable way to find a special someone.
Show Them Who You Are
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s discuss your dating profile. The essay, the blurb, the paragraph that you put on your profile page that tells the world who you are and what you want. You can go online and put the keywords ‘dating profile’ into your browser and find literally hundreds of articles and blogs and sites to help you write the perfect dating profile. The one that works! The one that will get you true love! Plenty of people out there are willing to write your dating profile for you. Hell, I did that myself for a few years, wrote profiles for others while my love life ebbed like the easter tides.
If you look at those sites and blogs you’re going to find just about the same advice again and again. I am not saying you should ignore them, not at all. In fact, I will say that Natalia Lusinski has a piece which is quite informative and unique. What I would say is be cautious. If all this advice is actually working then, why is there all this advice?
Someone said love is a game, people believed it, then it caught on and now, we’re stuck with it. Games are fun and being in love is fun, the problem is, games have a winner, a loser and usually, some kind of angle. Love should not have an angle and that’s where dating sites and profile advice falls short, they’re looking for an angle.
If you're Googling for help with writing your dating profile, you’re going to come across advice such as; be exciting, be charming, be interesting. Say this, don’t say this and then, you’ll find a mate. Here’s the rub, if you follow that advice when writing your profile, so are a hundred other people and so, you’re right back where you started, being lost in the crowd.
Also, if you follow some advice and create a profile that’s designed to just “catch someone” and it’s not really who you are, then your choices, when you meet someone in person, are to continue being that person you created for the site for the rest of your life or, be who you are and maybe disappoint the person you’re meeting. The angle may work to get someone to meet you but, it doesn’t work for a relationship, the truth will come out.
Being You Isn't Always Easy
I’m not going to tell you the things you should or shouldn't write and tell you you’ll find love, no one can make that kind of guarantee. I will share some thoughts I have about dating profiles from being a hired writer to seeing what works and what doesn’t in my friends attempts at online dating.
First thing I will say is; Be You. Yup, that’s the most important piece of advice I can give, be you. Not the contorted, manipulated you that you think will get you dates, be the real you. I’m talking, in your underwear, eating Ben and Jerry’s, this makes me happy, this confuses me, you. This isn't as easy as it sounds. Before you start writing your profile, sit down and ask yourself who you really are. Your likes and dislikes, fears, needs, wants, dreams, all of it. Not just favorite color or what kind of food you like, dig deep, get real, get naked, about who you are. Remember this is the person you’re bringing to a potential relationship and you want to bring your true self. If you compromise in the profile, you may be doomed to compromising for the rest of your life. Know who you are before you start showing strangers online some vague simulacrum of who you think you are or ... who you want to appear to be.
Specificity is a Must
Next, who do you want to meet? Again, this is a dig deep, tell the truth, kind of thing. Don't just say handsome and a good kisser. Sure those are nice but, think about who you’re going to spend lots of time with. What kind of character does the person you want to give your time to have to have. Don't compromise here either. Be completely honest with yourself. Get a clear picture in your mind and heart of who that person is and then, write to them. Write specifically to them. Keep the one you want clearly in your mind and write your words to them. If they are the one, if they are right for you, they will know it when they read your words. Believe that you’ll attract who you really want if you’re specific about how you write.
I can’t stress that enough, be specific. Specificity is key in this situation. Having that person in mind, those qualities you're looking for and writing to those qualities, is going to get you more good dates than just throwing it out there, following the unspecific; be interesting, be exciting, advice. Some think a woman who reads ten books a week is exciting and interesting. My friend Dan likes a skydiver, white water rapids kind of girl, that’s exciting to him. Exciting isn’t just one thing, one idea. Be specific in what you find exciting or interesting and that will come back to you.
Now don’t mistake specific with being rigid. No one is going to fit every single quality you’re seeking. Be flexible and know what you’re willing to be flexible about. Being rigid, saying no to everyone who doesn’t fit your perfect date exactly is going to close you off to some interesting possibilities. Again, know yourself and know what you’d be willing to compromise on and what you just cannot abide by. Don't compromise on something you know will be a problem just because you want to go out on a date. That will only make you feel more hopeless in the long run. However, being even a little open can introduce you to things you didn’t know about yourself.
Me Talk Good
There is a saying in advertising, facts tell, stories sell. This is a good saying to apply when writing your profile. A list of activities or foods or movies isn’t going to tell someone who you really are. Telling a story about a moment in your life or something that had a great impact on you is going to tell others who you are more than just a list. Think about a story you’ve told to friends or family or a story that is told about you and share that instead of seven movies, six objects and twelve books. A story gives someone something to relate to on a personal level.
A few nuts and bolts here. Even if good grammar and spelling are not important to you, you should do your best to use both when writing your profile. If you use “there” instead of “their” it may be that one trigger that turns the person off. Good spelling, proper grammar are just polite when communicating with others. And, in this age of spell check and grammar nazi, there’s no excuse for not following some rules.
Speaking of polite, it’s a good rule of thumb on dating sites to be polite. It takes a certain amount of courage to write to someone online, be polite and answer them. It doesn’t have to be a tome, you don’t have to give excuses or reasons if you’re not interested however, a simple, thank you, I appreciate your note, we are not well suited, really goes a long way. In this computer age, the sense of anonymity seems to have given us a pass on being polite. Bring basic manners back.
State What You Believe
I read a great piece of advice that I have passed on and incorporated when I was writing profiles for others, the idea of “I believe”. I believe statements are good to use in order to avoid the rigid, demanding sentences such as;” I want tall, handsome outdoorsy, works with hands, he must be…” Replace that with something like; “I believe in love.” It’s softer, more of an invitation than a rigid demand. You can still infuse it with the who you’re looking for and that certain who may be more inclined to approach because of the easier style. Alexandra Franzen writes a nice piece about this approach on mind body green.
As I said, there are many blogs and articles with advice about writing that perfect profile paragraph but, I want to stress that being honest, being true to yourself and what you want is the best place to start. People who have hired me to write their profiles and have been willing to be open and honest, always had the best results. The ones who wanted me to shape their profiles to make them look good or interesting, ended up finding the same kind of person again and again and they were not happy. Read the advice and if something makes sense to you, if something really resonates with you, apply it. Don't take every piece of advice as gospel truth and try to cram it all into your profile, remember you’re an individual, you are the only you. That makes you unique, interesting and special already. The more you try to be those things, the further from yourself you go. You are your best asset, don’t forget that, don’t shy away from it.
Listen, you can write verbs, put up the best photos, list all the books, movies and baked goods you like, however, if you don’t start with an honest examination of yourself and what you truly, truly want, the rest won’t really matter. If you’re attracting the same type of person over and over and it's not who you want, examine your profile and rethink it, make sure what you’re putting out there what you truly want to attract and if you’re not … change it.