Whether you love to write and do it all the time, or avoid it like it had germs all over it, writing about yourself is the hardest of all. But there is no avoiding the profile if you are going to try on-line dating. Let’s try to break the process down so it is not so stressful for you.
First, an important news flash. This is not creative writing! It is the truth you are trying to convey, not an elaborate fiction that will crumble like sugar icing at the slightest touch! You want to market the real you. The best of you, naturally. But you. So keep that in mind.
Here we go, point by point.
- Create a user name. Typically, people browsing profiles look first at the user name, headline, and photo before reading further. You want to catch the attention of interesting browsers with an attention-grabbing, clever “handle.” At the same time, you want your on-line name to reflect your wonderful individuality in some unique way. Jot down the first things that come to mind when you think of you—personality, interests, profession, humor, lifestyle, hobbies. Use some of those things in creating your name. Funny Teacher, World Traveler or Hiking Papa are some examples. Be careful to protect your privacy by not using your real name or any numbers that are significant to you, such as birth date or age. Names like Hate Exes, Lonely26, or Chubby can be a turn-off, as they appear negative, desperate or self-denigrating.
- Craft your headline. With your headline, you want to have the “had me at hello” effect. As annoying as it is to realize first impressions matter, they do. It’s that instant gut reaction that will entice someone to read your profile… or not. Thus, you will want your headline to give a hint about who you are and what you want. If your goal is dating, go for a light-hearted tone. If you are seeking a long term relationship, sincerity and a more serious tone is suitable. Quotes, movie lines or songs are popular, especially if you adapt them to reflect your uniqueness. You can include humor, pose an interesting question, or emphasize a unique characteristic. E.g. “Music man seeks harmony,” or “I keep my head, heels and standards high.”
- The photo. There’s no denying it: people are visual creatures. Your photo is important and gives texture and honesty to your profile. You have nothing to hide. You are comfortable with yourself. Use a recent great headshot of you smiling. Your smiling eyes and an open, friendly (as opposed to seductive or aloof) expression will speak volumes. (You know the old saying? This photo is saving you from having to write about a thousand words!) If you don’t have a head shot you love, hire a professional or get a friend to help you capture the best you. For the other photos, I suggest some candid shots, perhaps of you engaged in a favorite activity: decorating a cake, painting, working with wood, hiking, biking, reading etc. Be careful that the setting of your photo does not give too much away, like a specific neighborhood in recognizable town or city, your house number or car.
- Describing you. I know I promised that a good photo would save you a thousand words, but you still have to write something. But take it easy. Remember the first words you write are nothing but a draft. So do not write into the dating website’s little box. Open Word on your computer, or whatever program you use, and create a document. Give it a name and save it. You will reread, edit and revise this document before pasting it into any dating website.
Now, what to write? It’s all about you. Think about what sets you apart from the crowd. Be confident and fun. As with any good writing, the first sentence needs to be an attention grabber. You probably don’t have a lot of space; most sites allow 250 words or less. (250 words is approximately half a typed page.) Make a list of what you want to share—hobbies, interests, work, family, life philosophy. Decide which things really have to make it in to your profile. You can also include less information but capture a reader’s attention with a story or anecdote. The more specific you are, the more real you will seem. Rather than listing traits like active, smart or generous, tell your reader that you enjoy rollerblading, tutoring college math and volunteering at Habitat for Humanity. You can mention your children, places you’ve lived, your social circle, and pets. It is worth taking time with this, revising and fine-tuning. Avoid negative comments, untruths or sounding bitter or desperate.
- Describing your future partner. This is just as important as conveying yourself truthfully. Be honest about what you are looking for. That means you know your requirements and wants. Whether you are looking for a long term relationship or dating for fun, be clear. Mention life goals and core values that you would like to share with a date or partner. Be realistic and open minded. Describe your ideal date with enough specifics to be grounded, but avoid coming across as exclusionary. Don’t ask for tall, dark and handsome if you don’t want to exclude men under 6’ with some gray at the temples. Don’t specify small, blonde and athletic unless you never want to see that tall brunette who otherwise matches you perfectly. On the other hand, be clear about deal breakers. If you absolutely are not interested in a smoker or must date within your religion—say so. That kind of clarity early on avoids many false starts.
- Fine tuning. Good writers say that the best way to look honestly at your own writing is to let some time pass. So save and close your document and look at it through fresh eyes tomorrow. Then, read it aloud to yourself—it’s the best way to find spelling or grammatical errors. Ask a friend of the opposite sex to read it too, and give you honest feedback. If you are worried about perfection before going online, you may never get yourself out there! Don’t expect it to be exactly right the first time. You can even change your profile after it’s online, depending on the responses you are getting.
Most important of all is to write the way you speak, while imagining that you are addressing your ideal date. You are, in fact, addressing your ideal date, because it is that person who is more likely to respond to an honest profile that highlights the wonderful person you are. Good luck!