Guys, please don’t take this the wrong way, but chances are, your online dating profile isn’t helping you put your best virtual foot forward. (I know this because I recently dipped a toe into the intimidating, tempest-tossed waters of cyber romance).
I also know that men don’t like to ask for directions. However, I’m hoping that viewing your online profile through a woman’s eyes will prove useful. (And I assure you, my purpose here is to support and inspire, not attack).
So, as a public service, I’ve put together some online dating profile do’s and don’ts, based on what I’ve seen first-hand. The good news is that once identified, even the most problematic online profile issues can be easily fixed–if you’re willing to expend just a bit more thought and effort. I promise: you can create the kind of irresistible profile that will lead to your ultimate goal: canceling your subscription because you’ve met the woman of your dreams.
In a nutshell, it all comes down to three simple words: SHOW SOME EFFORT.
Your Profile Picture(s)
- If you read no further, I beg you, please take this first piece of advice: Do NOT post a selfie that you took while looking in the bathroom mirror. (This is far more common than one would expect). I can see the toilet and/or shower behind you! And the flash in the mirror. And since it’s nearly impossible to smile naturally in a selfie, you end up looking confused and upset. When a woman sees this photo, her reaction is, “Is this the best you can do?” I know you can do better. Ask a friend (or even one of your kids) to snap a few shots of you in various settings.
- Don’t post a photo of yourself with your arm around a woman. OK, maybe it’s your sister or your cousin; it doesn’t matter. Just as real estate experts recommend removing the family photos when you put your house on the market so that potential buyers can imagine themselves living there, your future girlfriend doesn’t want to see you as already part of a couple. Show her that you are alone, waiting for her to come stand by your side. (And I know you would never post a photo of yourself where it’s obvious that a woman has been cropped out, right)?
- Don’t show yourself wearing a hat in every photo. Do you have hair? Show it. Are you bald? Show that, too. When you actually meet a woman in person, she’s going to discover where you fall on the hirsute scale anyway. So work with what you’ve got; confidence is sexy.
- Do include at least 1 full-length image of yourself, preferably doing something active (not just standing against a wall like you’re in a criminal lineup). If your photos are all tight close-ups, women may assume you’re hiding something (i.e., a weight of 400 lbs.).
- Skip the “come hither” (i.e., lying on the bed) and bare-chested poses. These are really hard to pull off, and are more likely to trigger an “ick” response than the effect you’re presumably going for. (Unless you’re David Beckham, in which case, please, post away).
- Share only photos that are in focus. Why are so many of you posting pictures that are so blown up, grainy, or out of focus that they are beyond recognition? This leads to frustration on the part of the viewer, increasing the probability of her clicking away from your page. It also sends the message that you either don’t care enough to provide a decent photo or that you’re too old and tech-challenged to know how to do so.
- Finally, I’ll state the obvious: do not post any photo of yourself taken during the Carter Administration (unless you were a member of his Cabinet). Since the point of online dating is to eventually take things offline, what’s the point of setting yourself up for a disappointing first date?
Your Profile Name, Essay, and Q&A
- Put some thought into your profile nom de plume. What message do you want to send? Unless all you’re looking for is sex, BigStud4U isn’t a good idea. And since few women find arrogance attractive, neither is SupermanHarry. Not everyone agrees with me on this point, but I think it’s preferable to stick with the long number the website randomly assigns to you than to use a profile name that’s a potential turnoff. (Especially if you have a really terrific profile picture).
- Keep the “about me” section upbeat and brief. (Dostoyevsky already wrote War and Peace, so you don’t have to). Be sincere and modest, keeping in mind that this is not the appropriate venue to bare your soul or talk about the many ways life has let you down. Just provide a bit of background information about yourself: career, where you grew up, education, hobbies, activity level, etc. Share an experience or passion that shows your uniqueness. Remember: you have less than 60 seconds to grab a potential mate’s attention. If you ramble on with no focus, women will quickly click the “back button.”
- Limit the humor. Describing your perfect date as flying off to Pago Pago on your private jet or writing a long, crackpot description of yourself is annoying and off-putting. While most men and women say they highly value a sense of humor in a partner, if your profile is excessively jokey or goofy, you don’t provide any insight into the real you. Women may assume you are either emotionally unavailable or hiding something.
- Age/Height/Weight. As someone who is pathologically opposed to stating her age outside of a doctor’s office, I get it. Nobody wants to be unfairly judged by the number of times they’ve orbited around the sun. So I’ll forgive you if you fudge this one just a bit. Regarding weight, women don’t need to know, as long as you’ve provided a full-length photo. But please, don’t say you’re 6 feet tall if you’re really 5’5″. Again, once you meet a woman in person, she’ll see the real you. Don’t set yourself up to disappoint.
- Keep an open mind when filling out the “what I’m looking for” section of your profile. If your parameters are insanely specific, you may severely limit your pool of potential mates, causing you to miss out on someone who may be perfect for you. If you’re 55 years old, do you really need to restrict your search to women 29-44?
- I know this is slightly off topic, as it doesn’t have to do with your profile, but I hope you won’t mind if I share one more piece of advice: If you like a woman’s profile, send her an actual message, not a “flirt” or a “secret admirer” alert. Again, it’s all about showing some effort. Believe me, a woman will appreciate your having taken the time to write her a short, articulate note. Want to score extra points? Refer to a specific detail in her profile. She has visited India? (Tell her how much you enjoyed the sights and flavors of Mumbai) Her guilty pleasure is Taco Bell? (You can relate!).
Will you find the love of your life online? Who knows? But I promise you, if you put some thought and effort into your profile and photos, you’ll greatly increase your chances of attaining your ultimate goal: saying goodbye to the dating sites and hello to a happy new relationship.
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