Online Dating – Part One

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The holidays are over, kids are back in school, and people are back to work. All the Christmas related inventory in retail is now replaced with pink/red hearts and chocolate. Which means it time to start thinking about Valentines Day.  Some of you have found yourselves suddenly single for whatever reason (I find January sees a rise in the number of newly singles). With that, you’ve likely put yourself on the online dating market – or at least contemplating it. Having been on a couple of dating sites in the past, I would like to help you get your profile set up, and avoid the mistakes that many online daters sadly make.

Before we go into what I would like to share, I should point out that I am not going to recommend certain dating sites (Match, Tinder, etc.). I don’t want end up in legal trouble. Besides, you could find out more by doing a Google search. I will, however, you suggest that you set up a profile on two sites. One that is free, and one that requires a monthly fee. The reason for this is so you can cast a wider net, and have more options. In this post we will focus on two things: how to articulate yourself online and your profile photos.

About Me

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Most dating sites feature an About Me. This along with your photos are the make-or-break for your profile. They will decide whether a potential interest will view or pass on your profile. Think of this as your resume. Employers will glance at a resume for a few seconds before deciding to read on or dismiss. Potential love interests do the same. In the About Me, you are basically providing an abstract about yourself . Some sites have no word count limit, but you should aim for 250 to 300 words. A lot of users, especially first-time users, make the mistake of describing themselves with generic adjectives. I’ll use an example from a profile I came across while using a dating website:

I’m kind, caring, intelligent, and generally unintentionally witty.

This basically says nothing about yourself. My reaction was, “Okay…so?” It is way better to describe yourself in detail such as where you are from, what you do for a living, your personality and what you like to do in your spare time. However, you also want to add something unique about your hometown, job, personality, etc. This way you’ll stand out from the competition. An example could look like this:

I’m from a Toronto suburb that is known for being in the gridlock of rush hour traffic. I’m a teacher, and I love the fact that I’m helping people achieve their goals. I don’t mind being the topic of ridicule, say when I make an awkward classroom entrance. I asked my friends and family to describe me, and two words that kept coming up were loyal and adventurous. So…I’m basically a talking cat possessed by the spirit of Indiana Jones?

This example shows rather than tells, and it also incorporates humor. And speaking of humor, your profile should have a mix of seriousness and humor. It is a much better way of saying, “I’m funny”, which is another common error made in online dating. An example like the above will likely entice a user to message you, or reply to your message (More on messaging later).

More tips on About Me:

  • it should include something about your personality, hobbies, and life growing up
  • as previously mentioned, humor is key
  • don’t go into too much detail about your job. Some sites have a section in which you describe what you do for a living; save it for that. Otherwise, just briefly explain your job and why you are passionate about it
  • avoid adjectives like the you-know-what
  • No using platitudes. A common example could be, “That’s a loaded question”. Again they say nothing, and make you appear like you could not care less about online dating
  • describe what kind of partner you are looking for, and not just the physical necessities. Example could be: I’d love to find someone that embodies the words active, adventure, caring, and doesn’t mind the occasional tickle fight.

Some sites do not require users to fill in an About Me section, and as a result some users do not even fill this out. I’ve come across such examples during my online dating days. DO NOT DO THIS! This is a surefire way to have potential matches skip your profile.

Photos

The next most important part of your dating profile. Actually, it is probably THE most important. You know the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, not when it comes to online dating! Good photos make potential matches want to read your profile; bad ones send them on to the next profile. It is crucial that your profile photos are the best pics you’ve got! You would be surprised how many users get this one wrong. You may have a well crafted profile, but unless your photos are good quality, other users will pass you by. So here are a few Dos and Don’ts when it comes to photos.

Dos:

  • have photos that show you from the torso up
  • have a friend take a few photos of you, say in your garden of you leaning against a tree and smiling
  • have at least one photo of you engaging in your hobby
  • one photo of you with a friend, or several friends (to show you have a social life)
  • post recent photos of yourself. Nothing older than two years
  • definitely post a picture of you from a recent vacation

Don’ts:

  • bathroom selfies or selfies of any kind. I can’t tell you how many I came across in online dating, and it immediately turns me off. These just make matches think you couldn’t be bothered into putting effort into your photos
  • accessories. I’m talking about photos with you wearing sunglasses, hats or anything else that obscures your face. Matches want to see your entire face, and anything that blocks it will make a bad impression
  • photos of you with an attractive friend or relative. It makes the user think, “Gee, her friend is cute, I wish I could message her.”
  • photos of you with Instagram filters (you with bunny ears or cat whiskers). It’s okay for Instagram, but not for online dating
  • photos of your pets without you in the picture, or of you with your back facing the camera. You’d be surprised how often this happens!

Another common photo mistake is the user posting all group photos, in other words all the photos contain them with other people. Don’t do this! This makes me think, “Who am I messaging?”

How many photos should you have? Ideally, four to five is great! They should be of you only, you with a friend, and you pursuing your hobbies/interests. It is important to note that your main photo (the one other users first see) should be of you alone, looking your best. Here is an example:

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This does not mean you have to do a photo shoot. Just simply have a friend, or relative take a few good shots of you. That’s it! Again, I want you to learn from mistakes I’ve made and seen.

Stayed tuned next week, as I will talk about messaging a potential match. Until then, happy online dating!

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