Friday, 19 July 2013

How Not To Write An Internet Dating Profile

Everyone's Into Internet Dating These Days (Photo by Espacio Camon)

So last post I indicated that I was getting back into internet dating. My logic went pretty much like this: Yah, I'm self-employed. Boo, I don't go out much and won't get to meet anyone new. Yah, I have lots of time, a flexible schedule, and spend quite a bit of time on my computer.

Pretty sound logic, no? 

I will admit that there might have been some prompting from a friend who will remain nameless (if you know me in real life, you can probably guess who) who supplements her career driven life by living vicariously through making me do things she wouldn't do herself.

Together, we make one awesome online profile, if I do say so myself. 

So next time I'm going to write out some of the secrets to writing a great internet dating profile, because it is another useful writing skill. 

However, I thought I would start today with the common mistakes I've seen again and again in writing a profile. If you read this list and think you recognise your own profile, it's not actually yours, thousands of people have made the same mistake. 

I also full admit that this is focused particularly on what guys do wrong (as I only read male profiles), and assumes you want to find someone more or less like me: nice, normal, somewhat intelligent, good hygiene, and a basic sense of grammar. If you don't any of these things, please feel free to ignore this advice. 

1. The Profile Picture

So, we all know that it's shallow to judge on appearances. However, please be realistic: we all do it to some extent. Therefore, avoid the following:

a) putting a picture of something else. If you have no pictures of yourself, people are going to assume the worst. Or even if they don't, a picture tells a thousand words. You are missing a great opportunity to present more information about who you are than you could write in a profile. (and no, you're not a sunset).

b) putting a picture with multiple people in it. Why would you do this? Seriously, if you can take a picture of you and your two mates, then pull out your iPhone again and ask them to step aside. 

c) you and a girl kissing your cheek (or really any shot with your arm wrapped around another woman). Are you trying to prove you can pull hot girls? Message is sort of undermined by the fact that you are on an internet dating site. Also, keep in mind that it tends to subconsciously bring out the worst in women to see other girls all over a potential mate. If the girl in the picture is at all good looking then the thinking might go along the lines of 'well, she looks like she must be a total bimbo, and so if he's into that sort of thing, then he can just keep his barbie dolls...' etc. Only case where it is acceptable is your grandmother. Your mother makes you look like a mama's boy.

d) comic ugly shot. Okay, we get that you might be hiding behind humour, but it just comes across as a bit insecure. Don't make it your main photo if you want to put it in. (though guy that was dressed up as Capt. Jack Sparrow, you did any awesome job... great if I ever need a partner for a costume party.)

e) a shot that doesn't actually show your face. It's not porn, we like to see that you have a head! Even if you have a good body, still want to see your face. 

I think that covers most things to do with photos. 

2. Your Online Name

I admit that often the name you want is already taken, and OK Cupid makes great suggestions like putting 'taco' on the end of it. Having said that, here are some options you still shouldn't take. 

a) anything that is immediately offensive or just makes the reader feel slightly dirtier for having read it. (Not that I like naming names, but 'ilikesuckintoes'... I'm talking to you.) 

b) a real word spelt incorrectly in a way that makes it appear you that you just can't spell. There are accepted short cuts, and then there's just plain wrong. 

c) names that are questions. For example (I don't know if someone has this name, sorry if you do), but 'RUthe1' just automatically makes me scream 'no' before actually looking at your profile.

d) a subjective opinion as a statement. Okay, so I know it is a bad human trait, but if you say 'I'm super sexy', all I think is 'nah, not really.' Therefore, stay away from making any statements in your name which will lead someone to automatically want to cut you back down to size. Particularly of the 'sexy' variety. That's for me to decide, Mister. 

e) finally, it's best not to have a name that is a random collection of letters and numbers. Sort of hard to remember or pronounce. (Especially if you are really cute and I have to talk about you to friends before I get up my courage to message you. Because then my friend will just make up a code name for you, like 'Dognoodle', sorry but it had to be done.) 

3. Personal Information

First of all, if you are going to try online dating, try it properly. If you put up a picture of an inanimate object and then fill out no information about yourself, but list what sort of girls should contact you, why exactly do you think this is going to work? (if it does, please let me know.)

Having said that. 

a) don't lie about your ethnicity... it's sort of obvious. 

b) I'm not entirely sure why it has the question about income there, but unless you are earning mega bucks, not sure it adds to your profile to display it. Especially if you are hyping yourself up and earning $40,000. 

c) yes, OK Cupid (and presumably others) do have an option that you can tick 'I'm looking for someone for casual sex'. And yes, if that were on the tables you might be quite happy. Please keep in mind that by ticking that, you are ruling yourself out for a large number of girls. Not everyone thinks asking for casual sex is a normal thing. (So, I know I'm a prude, but I can't imagine that many girls would be on internet dating just looking for casual sex. We don't have to go onto sites to get there, we just have to stand around a bar.) 

4. Self - Description

Please keep in mind that within even a few minutes online, the person reading your profile has probably just read five others as well. Therefore:

a) don't waste my time by starting with 'oh, I'm really new to this, don't know what to say, umm...' blah, blah. Cut To The Chase! Just like a great novel, your first sentence has to catch me, so don't waste it with drivel. 

b) Don't use cliches, because everyone is using them. These include:
- 'I love living life to the fullest.'  (Please respect the fact that some of us are saving our life up for later.)
-  'I'm easy-going/down to earth/ a nice guy.'
- 'Fun-loving' (unlike those awful people that just kill fun dead. Hate those guys). 
- 'Like meeting new people.' (seriously, once you've met a few, you'll get over it. Trust me.)
- 'passionate' - everyone thinks they are passionate. You never see so many people in real life being passionate about things, but online, everyone is.
- 'I love travel.' Especially when you can't back this up with proof. And what type of travel? If I love 5 star cruising, I'm not going to go backpacking with you in Africa.

c) anything that indicates you haven't taken the time to proof read it or to learn to spell. (Yes, this is a reoccurring theme with me, it is also a reoccurring theme online. Even after I said 'don't contact me if you don't know the difference between their, there and they're.')

d) trying to cover all bases. You're a dreamer, with your feet firmly on the ground, huh? You can't be ideal for everyone, so just be realistic (and cut the philosophising.)

e) It's a 5,000 word essay. Seriously, just give me the Cliffnotes version (or sparknotes to make it more interesting). 

These are just some simple tips you can take to make sure that you too don't come across as either a complete idiot or a wet fish with no personality of their own. 

Tune in next week as I'll actually give some tips for writing a better profile. 

Until then... Gotham still needs me...

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