Internet Dating: Ladies, You’re Doing It Wrong! OR 5 Tips for Writing a Killer Profile

By far the most common style of women’s online dating profiles is the Prince Charming Model. It includes list of things you love and need (your family, your morning coffee, and Anna Karenina); a photo that tries very hard to be appealing but not suggestive; and another long list of what you want in a man. You’ve gone to some trouble to make sure your pictures are of you alone, not with friends or family, and aren’t selfies shot into a mirror. Your grammar and spelling are just fine. You don’t come across as high maintenance or focused solely on finding a husband. You’ve avoided clichés about walks on the beach. Your friends approve. All you really need now is to sit back, relax, and wait for your noble prince to come and pluck you, his flower, from the online dating garden.

Why on earth are you doing that?

Why are you creating a profile that—exact wording aside—is still like every other profile on the site and expecting someone to search through them all to find you? Why are you creating a profile that appeals to women’s magazine readers instead of real, live heterosexual men with working brains? Why aren’t you actively searching for the right guy for you?

No, I’m not telling you to start scrolling through the men’s profiles and “winking” at them. I’m telling you to show agency in your profile. By what and how you present yourself, you tell men who and what you want; let them worry if they’re good enough for you (not the other way around):

1. Write what you want, how you want. If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.” Don’t offer an unreadable (and thus unread) laundry list of what you like and dislike — that can feel like nagging before you’ve even met! Wherever you’re asked for a list of anything, pick one thing and expand upon it. “What are you good at?” Pick what you feel proudest of and let your pride shine through: “I am the best damn veterinarian ever. And each day I see someone’s face light up when I return what was a dying pet to play at their feet.” Feel free to ignore any categories you don’t care about or find silly, and focus only on what you do care about.

2. Be witty and original, even a little bit snarky. You want to be a challenge; you want to be chased. But careful: you don’t want to demand or demean.

YES: “I am high maintenance—high intellectual maintenance. You’ll run as fast as you can to keep up with me.”

NO: “You have to be smarter than the average bear to date me.”

The second one is actually funnier, but it’s kind of mean. Sass is okay; sourness is not.

3. Be specific about what you want. And make it clear that you’re only interested in someone who can give you what you want. One woman writes in her profile that anyone with a Prince Albert (if you don’t know what that is, please don’t Google it) has a sure chance of catching her attention. You don’t have to go that far, but setting up real hurdles weeds out those who aren’t willing to jump over them to be with you.

4. Put little tests in your profile to see who can pass. Give your readership a chance to show you if they’re paying attention. After all, you’re going to reply to the well-considered email, not the “Hey”s. Give the guy (and yourself) a break; give him a hook to hang his wit on. If you like films by the Duplass Brothers, include a line from one of them, and see who responds appropriately to the joke. Say (if you believe it) that the best novel ever written is Notes from Underground — see who recognizes it and has a literate opinion (and doesn’t try to “correct” you by adding a “the”). Or mention Buckaroo Banzai, the second greatest movie ever made, and find out who’s seen it. This may sound like you’re creating a laundry list, but you’re not: you’re writing a one- or two-paragraph mini-autobiography focused around a general topic: what makes you laugh, perhaps, or what makes you cry. Within that, a specific example gives him something to respond to.

5. Be tough. Use simple, direct language. Leave out the fluffy bunnies. The online dating profile is not a writing exercise, it’s a tool with a very specific purpose: finding the right guy. Leave out anything that does not meet that purpose. You are trying to present yourself as someone confident who’s worth pursuing but not so angry or arrogant as to be uncatchable.

You’re probably afraid that all you’ll generate from such a profile are angry attacks on your femininity. You’d be wrong. There is no upside to being nice and no downside to being direct. Women who post the kind of profile I’m recommending report (at least to me, in my unscientific research) that they receive no more (if, alas, no fewer) inappropriate responses than anyone else. You’ll still get an infinite number of “wassup?” replies and the very occasional patronizing comment, but the literate responses will attempt to engage you on your own terms.

Bland profiles yield bland responses requiring interminable on-line chitchat to find out anything about the person on the other side of the conversation. Be proactive. Be aggressive. Show agency. Prince Charming isn’t out there. But a lot of smart and personable men are. You just have to start commanding their attention.

You’ve got the text now, but do you have the traits?
The 4 Physical Traits Online Daters Find Most Attractive

One Comment

Comments are closed.