Internet Dating - Part 2: Setting Up Your Profile
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
continuing from Part 1: Getting Started...

Now that you've gone ahead and selected which sites you plan to troll for that special someone, you need to put yourself out there so they can find you. Today's post is all about crafting the perfect profile, that will best illustrate why someone should pick you out of all the people out there.

You need to put a profile out there that reflects the unique snowflake that you are, that captures the essence of your personality, while at the same time not looking creepy, needy or weird. Mind you - I haven't used sites like eHarmony, so their matching system may or may not be enough for you to get started.

Tip #1: Nobody Likes a Long Talker
When crafting your profile, don't get super excited and write a whole novel about yourself. Remember that people are perusing many different ads and are looking for something that jumps out at them - you need to make a quick impact.

Tip #2: Be Clever, Be Original
There's nothing worse than perusing the headlines of various online personals and seeing the same old tired stuff. For the love of God, put a little thought into what you put out there - the headline is the first thing that people are going to see. Does "Looking for Love" really grab you? How about "Just Want To Find a Nice Guy"?

Remember, every part of the profile needs to be about illustrating what makes you special. The two headline examples I gave don't give you any new information. I automatically assume that a person who registers a profile on an online dating site is looking for love, and is probably interested in nice people only. Now, a headline like "Would love to find a man to mistreat me" would at least tell you something you couldn't guess (though obviously that's an icky thought).

Your unique headline can be clever, thoughtful, sassy... whatever you feel best represents you as a person. I'm actually not opposed to the more forward, salicious headlines, because at least it tells you something about that person immediately (e.g. "You Bring the Paddle, I'll Bring the Bum to Use it On").

Let's say someone uses the headline "Sarah Palin-type looking for someone to be her Todd". Yes, that's twisted, but here's why it's effective: you get a ton of information in that one simple sentence. In just 10 words you've communicated the following about yourself:
  • You are conservative.
  • You look like Sarah Palin
  • You like rugged, outdoor-sy men
  • You are interested in politics
  • Bears don't scare you
  • You like small towns
  • You are probably pro-life (so you may want to make sure you take condoms on any dates with this person)
I joke a little here, but seriously, tell me that you didn't read that and immediately get a mental image of the type of person who would write that. I know that many of my readers would probably be repelled by the type of person who would write that, but that's the idea, and allows me to segway into my next point.

Tip #3: Red Flags and Green Flags
The purpose of a good profile is not be liked by everyone, but rather, to attract the special few people who you might connect with. Remember rule #1 from yesterday - Be Honest. Honesty means knowing who you are and accepting that you may not be right for everyone.

Again, because space is limited and you need to grab your reader right away, you need to seed your profile with certain sentences and words that are coded "red flags" and "green flags".

Some are pretty straight forward. In my own profile, under a section titled "What I'm looking for", I listed "I am looking for someone who is intellectual, feminist and liberal." Obviously, for like-minded people, those are green flags that tell you I care about politics, women's issues, probably enjoy high falutin' debates about books and so forth. On the other hand, for a Todd Palin type (to continue my example from above), this would be a red flag moment. That's good - Todd Palin-types don't want me and I don't want them either, and that's quite alright.

On a more subtle front, you can list interests that are green flags for certain kinds of people. As another example, I put a fun little bit in my profile, offering "bonus points" for any person who could use the words "there"," their", and "they're" correctly, as well as name the 5 pilots of the Voltron lions. One person responded to me with a single sentence using all 3 forms of the word. I was pleased, because the fact that he picked up on that and then was clever enough to put it all in one sentence told me that he "got" that weird, anal grammar nazi part of my personality. I had other people who wrote and told me that the Voltron lions part was what caught their attention. Since my fascination with toys, videogames, etc is a big part of who I am, it was important for me to put that out there as a green flag for people who were also into that sort of stuff.

You can take these examples, and apply them to your own profile. Love a particular author? Perhaps seed a green flag in your profile that references and/or quotes one of their books. Sports fanatic? Make some sports analogies (or just flat out say "On Sundays, no one is allowed to call from 1pm until the 4pm game has ended").

Tip #4: To Upload or Not To Upload....
I have mixed feelings on uploading photos on the web. There are some privacy issues here, so you're going to have to make your own call on this. I will say this: profiles with pictures are much more likely to get looked at. However, do realize that a photo of you means that anyone who knows you in real life can stumble upon your profile. If you are in the closet, have written weird and saucy things in your profile, or whatever, think long and hard before putting up a picture. If you do put up a picture, make sure you don't use one with other people in it, because that's just rude. You may consider a picture where the person can get a sense of what you look like, but not necessarily one that people could recognize you from.

Tip #5: Things to Address in Your Profile
I'm going off the Spring Street network profile set up here, but I've found this general format usually works for me. They have sections labeled "What I look like (hair, eyes, race, general physical appearance), why you should be interested in me, what I'm looking for, and a general notes."

Here are some dos and don'ts.
  • Do: List general info about your physical appearance.
  • Do Not: Lie. If you are a chunky monkey or a skinny minnie, say so. If you have purple hair or a shitload of piercings, say it. If someone is shallow enough to ignore the rest of what makes you awesome because of some aspect of your physical appearance, you don't want to waste your time with them anyway.
  • Do: List your hobbies, interests, favorite books, movies and shows
  • Do Not: Make an endless list of crap you like. 2-3 favorites in each category should suffice.
  • Do: Be honest about what you're looking for.
  • Do Not: Be a douchebag. If you like skinny girls, fine, but don't write crap like "No fatties!", unless you are trying to communicate what a dick you are.
  • Do: List attributes your ideal mate would have.
  • Do Not: Be vague. "Nice guy" doesn't tell you anything. "Outgoing, sense of humor, should love cats and cooking" at least gives some guidelines for potential suitors.
Tip #6: Get a Second Opinion
Everyone should have at least one best friend in their life who's not afraid to "tell it like it is" and offer blunt feedback. Find that person and have them proof-read your personal ad. Ask their opinion on the vibe they get from it. What kind of person do you come across as, based on what you've written? Take that feedback, and if you like and agree with what they say, go ahead and click submit. If you don't, go back and fix the specific areas that are causing problems.

Tip #7: Go For It.
You've got nothing to lose by putting yourself out there, so take a chance and put up a profile. The only thing it's going to cost you is the 30 minutes or so that you spent writing it up.

Hopefully, this was of some use to people. Tomorrow I'll discuss the "first contact" scenario - how to set up the first real life face-to-face.

  • Email me at
Coming up tomorrow: how to set up the first real life face-to-face
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