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9 Unbreakable Rules For Writing Your Online Dating Profile

We spend so much time looking at online dating profiles, we have an innate sense of what works and what doesn't--at a glance.  Rarely have we seen a profile that cannot be improved.  And improvement equals more dates and better dates.  After all, what does does the other person have to base his or her decision on besides your profile?

1. Get Your Profile Name Right

Do you luv2parti?  Are you a Seahawks4Ever type of person?

That's exactly what your dating profile name is communicating to the world in the span of a millisecond.  Profile names are not the biggest issue in the world; if you are stuck with a mediocre name, suitors--whether male or female--can usually bypass this evidence of poor judgement in favor of more substantial evidence about you, such as photos and your profile text.

Even if it's not a hugely bad profile name, keep in mind that it still sets the tone for how people view you.  If you declare yourself to be

But if you have a monumentally bad profile name, we recommend that you take advantage of OK Cupid's for-fee program that lets you change your name but retain your membership.  Or you might have to scrap your account and begin anew.

See:  Find Out How To Choose the Right Profile Name

2. Create a Killer Tagline/Headline

The single-sentence summary of oneself is no longer used by OK Cupid.  But plenty of other dating sites still use this, and even within OK Cupid, there are sections that are well-suited to the short, pithy statement of self.

Basically, all tagline/headlines are corny; it's just a matter of how corny you want it to be.  Thus, something like

Once in his life, a man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead (Lucille Ball)

is fine because it is unique(ish).  An OK Cupid search for these keywords turns out a scant few of these headlines.  But a headline like

Looking for Mr. Right

is so painfully overused that you would be better off leaving that headline blank.

3. Do Not Engage In Meta Talk

Or, as we like to say:  "The First Rule of Online Profiles Is Don't Talk About Online Profiles!"

In this meaning, "meta" means a statement that is self-referential to its context.  Meta talk is where the profile discusses the act of writing a profile.  Examples range from the nervous Nelly type...

I can't believe I'm writing this profile.  I never thought I'd be talking about myself to the whole world.

...to meta-talk that tries to be clever.  Both of the following are in response to  OK Cupid's question, "The most private thing I'm willing to admit"...

Then it wouldn't be secret, would it?


that I'm actually writing an online dating profile and I think it sucks.

Cut this entirely.  There is no place for this at all.  It's a time-waster and it weakens your online poise.

4. Photos Are Paramount; Thus All Photos Shall Be Perfect

We are visual creatures, men and women alike.  Some online dating searchers entirely skip over the text in your profile and go straight to the picture.  Some peek at the pics and then move to the text.  But everyone sneaks some kind of first look at the pictures.

By "perfect," we do not mean studio photographs.  In fact, whenever we see studio photographs in a profile, we recommend that our clients remove them entirely.

Curate those 4 or 5 photographs as carefully as if you were choosing a picture that was going to be published in a book.

See:  "Ladies Your Online Dating Photo Is All Wrong, But Let's Fix It

5. Use Sensual Language; That Is, Language of The Senses

The very best, most successful online dating profiles include this--and we very rarely see it.  The men and women who employ sensual language--that is, language of the senses--tend to be flooded with dating requests, and they own messages attract attention.

Chances are, you won't do this.  Because it's hard.  Because even the best writers find themselves slipping out of this writing mode.  Here's what it isn't:

I would like to go bowling with you and maybe we can have dinner there.  Most people don't know it, but The Bowl Burger has 1,173 five-stars on Yelp.

This does a good, workman-like job of describing the Who, What, and Where.  But it doesn't appeal to the senses--smell, taste, sound, feeling.  Try this instead:

I like to bowl, and not "ironically," either.  I just like bowling:  the clatter of pins, the thunk of the ball on the maple, and of course, The Burger Bowl's tangy, smoky BBQ burger--yum!  And 1173 five-stars on Yelp, too.

6. Express Personal Desires

Um, I'm a whatever kind of guy.  I'm easy-going and flexible.  Whatever you like, I'll probably like, too.

Women read versions of this flip-floppy statement all the time, especially the part about being easy-going.  In recent years, men have become so conditioned against being a Neanderthal douchebag--that type that slugs his mate over the head and imposes his will on her--that they have gone in the opposite direction.  They feel their personal desires don't count.  They ask permission.  They're up for...whatever.

Potential mates will like you because you have strong personal interests (this goes for both men and women).

7. Do Not Require Things of Intended Mate

You haven't even met the person and already it's the Bickersons?  This is another big no-no, yet we see this all the time:  the dating profile that runs down a laundry list of potential mate attributes.

It is fine to think these things and to ultimately judge suitors or suitees by your personal standards.  After all, you probably left a relationship where the other person did things that drove your crazy.

But keep these desirable or undesirable characteristics private.  Any kind of dating profile that lists too many demands has a kind of black, malodorous stench hanging over it, like a landfill in July.

8. Do Not Be Too Glib or Sarcastic

We see this thing all the time, mainly with online daters in urban areas:  the sharp, cynical, glib, sarcastic voice.  After all, this is the city, isn't it?  We're tough-talking people!  We punch dead cow carcasses with fingerless gloves!  We slam car hoods and shout, "Hey, I'm walking here!"  And if you don't get any of that, you need to brush up on your film lore.

Yes, but.

But:  cynicism, glibness, and sarcasm don't translate well to the page; or the screen, as it is.  They resonate about fifty times stronger and uglier than you intended.

9. Avoid Red-Flag Words

Certain words weigh down your dating profile.  A few are immediate interest-killers, and a few others simply give your profile a bad smell.  The safest route is to eliminate all from your profile.  A few are:

  • Divorce
  • Former boyfriend/girlfriend
  • Laid-back, easygoing
  • Cuddle
  • Hate
  • Break up
  • Lonely

Rather than memorize a list of words, here's a good rule of thumb:  be positive, optimistic, and don't talk about former relationships.

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