I’ve been a strong advocate for online dating for a long time now. In fact, my mom is constantly badgering me about “meeting the weirdos from the internet”, because (admittedly) sometimes the person you meet isn’t exactly what you were hoping for – and sometimes, it can go really wrong. Every time I try to argue that it’s not just the weirdos using online dating anymore, and really I’ve only ever had about 3 or 4 “bad matches” on online dating sites… She still won’t stop with it. Even now that I haven’t used any online dating sites in years.
She does have some good points, though – there are probably some things that most people do on their online dating profiles that might be setting you up for disappointment. How many online dating faux pas are you guilty of?
Your Profile Picture
It should go without saying, but… Your profile picture should be a picture of you. Ideally, just you – that way there’s no confusion over who in the picture the profile actually belongs to. (Plus, it’s not really polite to put someone else’s privacy out there like that, so unless you’re trying to attract a partner for you and whoever else is in the picture, stick to solo shots.)
Your profile picture should show you something that feels comfortable to you. It shouldn’t be a picture of you in that bridesmaid’s dress you wore one time and cursed at the whole time. It shouldn’t be a picture of you gutting a fish, if you hate outdoorsy/wilderness stuff. Your profile picture should give a glimpse into your personality – not act as a lure.
Be confident and content.
You should be happy in your profile picture – no exceptions! If you’re not smiling, your profile is going to get passed over. However fair or unfair the situation may sound, everyone who looks at your profile will see you as your profile picture indicates. This also means that you shouldn’t edit your pictures in a way that alters your appearance – no matter how you feel about it. While incompatibilities based purely on looks are really shallow, you do want the person you meet up with to like you for how you actually are, not for how you can make yourself look with enough editing time. Makeup and filters are fine – but no blurring or weird angles!
Any picture posted on your profile should be reasonably current. While the exact timelines are bound to vary, if you’re actively using the dating app, it’s totally reasonable to switch your pics out every month. If it’s just sort of sitting there, waiting for someone to swipe right, you should still swap the pictures out every few months. Make sure the new pictures follow the same rules as the ones you’re replacing.
Your Job Description
If you’re single and unemployed, that’s not necessarily a deal-breaker for some people – and saying that you’re unemployed could lead to some new networking opportunities, particularly if your profile mentions that you’re looking for friends and networking, too. While it would be completely inappropriate to use a dating profile specifically for your job search, it’s perfectly fine to mention that you’re looking. Some people don’t mind helping someone to get established.
I don’t have a dating profile at the moment (or at least not any I ever check in on) – but if I were to update my profiles, there would be a lot of information to update. The last time I used any of these apps, I was an assistant at a photography company. Now, I’m a full-time writer, bouncing between my own personal projects, and projects for other people. What would I say on my profile? Simply “Writer” would be fine – just as, before, “Office Assistant” was fine. If someone wants more information about what you do, they can always ask – don’t put too much detail out there. You know… Because of the weirdos.
Your Name and Identity
You don’t have to use your birth name, necessarily, but you should use your “real name” in the sense that it would be natural for you to answer to it. Your dating profile isn’t the place to give yourself a new nickname just for the sake of your dating app. No one likes to get to know someone and find out they gave you a fake name – it puts an air of dishonesty over things, even if everything else was going so well.
If you’ve created a second social media account to hide the fact that you’re dating online, or to keep your matches away from your “real” account. There are a few problems with this theory – if you have your phone number saved to your Facebook, for example, you’ll automatically be added to the “People You May Know” section of their page – in other words, if someone has your phone number, they can find your Facebook. Thankfully, the opposite isn’t true – so feel free to keep your communication strictly online for as long as it takes you to get comfortable. That’s pretty much why the apps have messaging functions.
Act (and tell) your age.
I’m not sure about you, but if I find out that someone I was interested in lied to me about something as trivial as their age… Well… The flirtationship is over right then. This happens a lot with people who are really young (such as under 18), but also those who are in their 30s (and may feel “really old”). I get why you might feel the need to lie about your age, but really – if you’re “too young” for the app, you should not be on it, and if any match turns you down based on your real age, they were a waste of your time anyway – good riddance!
Even if your dating-app-of-choice offers you unlimited characters, your prime profile real estate is going to be within the text that shows without any scrolling or “read more” tags. This is basically true for any online outlet – if someone has to look harder to find the information, the majority of people aren’t going to. Try to make the first 200 or so characters important – even if only to tempt them to read the rest.
If there’s a specific type of person you’re looking for… Say so. Preferably in those first 200 characters. Obviously, you should find a “nice” way to word it, but don’t waste anyone’s time. If you’re looking for someone who travels (and who will go on road trips with you), make sure you mention that. If you don’t want to date anyone who smokes, make sure you mention that you are a non-smoker seeking same. You shouldn’t alienate those who are “close enough” but not a perfect match, though – so be sure you’re only checking off your deal-breakers and must-haves.
If you sound desperate in your profile, you’re going to come across as desperate. If possible, have a trusted friend look over your profile – he or she could even advise you on what you may be forgetting. This will help you to be more confident in your profile’s integrity, and it’ll also prevent you from humiliating yourself all over the internet. Trust me – it’s worth the awkwardness of asking for a proofread.
The words you use to describe yourself tell a lot more about your personality than you might think. I heard somewhere that the first six words that you think to introduce yourself with (i.e. lesbian, writer, your age, your hair color…) tell how you think about yourself. If the things that come to mind are worded positively, it’ll give the impression that you’re more confident. If your descriptors are negative, you’ll sound like you don’t value yourself. Take care to choose the right words to give the image you want, without being dishonest.
Most importantly, you need to make sure that your attitude is appropriate for what you’re looking for. That “tough guy with a heart of gold” thing is overplayed – just be true to yourself, in as positive a way as possible. I know, I know – it’s not always easy to look at the positive side of things, but if you’re trying to attract someone, you’ll need to find a way to see the silver lining. To get you started, here’s a fun little upside: Finding ways to be more positive about your life will, eventually, actually make your life better. It takes some practice being positive, particularly if it isn’t something you’re used to. But, in finding a way to love your life as it stands, you’ll be that much closer to finding someone who can compliment your life, instead of complicating it.