In the Dark Ages, before the Internet, it used to be that if you wanted to meet people to date, you would try the local bar or club. If that didn’t appeal to you, you could try a personals ad in a newspaper. Finding potential mates in a drinking establishment speaks for itself, and may partly account for the increasing divorce rate in the last part of the last century. A personals ad was a different kind of animal. It was a costly proposition, since newspapers liked to charge per letter, and sometimes these ads were tied to a service that had you pay per minute to pick up voicemails. It was the genesis of abbreviations such as “SDF looking for LTR.” Yes, it was that primitive. The cost alone made you sharpen that pencil to turn out an ad that not only reflected the true you in the fewest words possible, but also filter out those you really didn’t want to meet.
We have a proliferation of online dating sites, all with profile pages. Some people think they can be casual with regards to what they put in their dating profiles. Wrong. If you are serious about attracting a mate – or just a date – you should craft these things as carefully as you would a resume for a potential employer. Let’s take a look at some common pitfalls and what you can do to avoid them.
Some sites have you set up a screen name. Unlike chat rooms, where you are anonymous for as long as you like, your screen name is associated with your picture. Choosing the wrong name can have unfortunate consequences. Try for neutral rather than clever, since you might not be as clever as you think. Names like HarveyWallBanger, Magic Hands and The Tongue not only fail to impress but also set up the impression that you are looking for just one thing. Maybe you are, but do you want to be that obvious?
Again, the theme is to set up the best impression you can. Pictures of you shirtless, in your bathing suit – or worse yet, nearly naked – may not impress people as much as you think. Keep your toys out of the pic as well. Pictures of you next to your car, on your motorcycle or in your boat give the impression that your toy is the most important thing in your life. This is hardly the message you want to send out, is it? Likewise for pics that include other people in your life. Keep your best buddy, your child, your coworkers or someone of the opposite sex out of the picture unless you want to send the message that your potential date is going to be playing second fiddle to other people in your life. And don’t use a picture that obviously clips out a person that shared a picture frame with you. It just makes people wonder if they will receive the same treatment from you. Use something current, not your prom picture from ten years ago. People want to see what you look like now. Last but not least, don’t even think of not putting up a picture. It just makes people wonder what you are trying to hide.
Some sites ask you questions, others leave it up to you. Some are a combination of both. Unless you are clever at turning a phrase, just keep it simple. To avoid are things typical of your gender. Most men have an interest in sports, so reinforcing that only makes a woman wonder if she would end up a sports widow … again. For women, phrases like “hanging out with my peeps” just has a guy wondering if you’d dish about the whole date with a bunch of people he doesn’t know. You will of course, but do you really want him to know that?
That should cover the basics, to keep you from bombing out before you start out, but if I missed something, share it with us. What turns you off in online dating profiles?