The 12-Step Guide to the Perfect Dating Profile

The Internet and public in general are sort of split on the ‘love vs. hating’ online dating. 

Some would argue that it’s a gift of the 21st century; while others say it’s an exhausting sojourn into shallowness and an utter waste of time. 

The point, however, is that it’s a tool that can be utilized to meet your needs--if you’re up to the task. 

Regardless of how we might feel about these apps, they’re definitely popular--and they work, at least for a percentage of the population. 

Just check out some of these numbers: 

75%
of 18-24 year olds

Tinder

58%
of 45-54 year olds

Match.com

4%
of marriages in US

eHarmony

That’s a sizeable chunk of the population in those age ranges who are meeting people on dating apps. The fact that 4% of the marriages in America alone came out of an eHarmony match speaks for itself. 

For those who fully embrace the eDating life--you’re not alone; and, it can pay off big. 

After all, the online dating industry’s revenue is roughly $1.8 Billion so they must be doing something right…

Right? 

Well, let’s take a look at the makeup of online daters first to better understand what your profile will be up against. 

Reading the Odds: A Breakdown of Online Daters AKA “The Competition”

The world of online dating is undeniably skewed in favor toward women with 47.6% being female and 52.4% being male (1). That puts men at a disadvantage, number wise; but some would say it makes the woman’s task even more irksome.

Anyone who’s used a dating site or app knows that if you’re a woman, you get bombarded with messages and solicitations from the get-go. 

And they’re definitely not all winners...

It’s probably the reason why 59% of women have a negative view of online dating in general (2). 

The two biggest criticisms?

Bad profiles and vulgar/weak messaging game. 

With the majority of users being male, that’s a huge weakness to have in online dating, especially when all the apps save Bumble typically lean on the guy to make the first move. 

If your profile is weak or your first message misses the mark (or puts people off) then you’re just not going to see results. 

But here’s the kicker: 

Even if you think you have a good profile and your messages are brief, witty, and encourage a conversation you still might not see results.

Why? 

That’s just the way online dating works. 

It’s a numbers game. You put in the time to build your profile and see how you might come across, you work on your messages, and you just put yourself out there. 

Only, there’s no instantaneous success or failure as their is with in-person encounters. It’s just silence filled with waiting for replies--or waiting to be liked back to make the match. 

So, maybe your profile could still use some work, even in this game of numbers. Your aim should be to optimize what you’re putting out to attract quality matches. 

Regardless of where you fall on the gender spectrum, it’s not always a bad thing to get too few matches or messages--especially if you can dictate their quality and avoid the burnout associated with having to wade through countless duds? 

First, we’ll cover 12 general tips that can be applied to most dating apps and online in general to get you the most out of the experience. Then, we’ll take a closer look at a trio of popular online dating services to see how best to put some of these tips into practice. 

12 Tips to Make Online Dating Work For You

1. Be positive and have the right mindset. Don’t give up after a few days or bad dates/conversations.

Online dating can get old. 

Fast. 

Give it time. Pace yourself. Tweak your profile to perfection, post it, and shut it off. 

It’s not a race to swipe or match with someone. Especially when you take time of day or day of the week into account. 

Go into it with a positive mindset: 

Be zen about the whole nerve-wracking experience. And if all else fails, don’t take it too seriously. Even if you get ghosted, stood up, or wind up chatting with a catfish. 

It’s all a numbers game and hey, worst case scenario?

You wind up with a humbling story of your dating escapes when you do eventually wind up on that first date. 

2. Try to limit yourself to only two dating apps or websites. High, dynamic turnover in the online dating world. Give each one at least a month before moving on to a different one.

It’s easy when joining the fray of online dating to go overboard. 

They’re all so...free...and so filled with possibility!

Lucky you, you have us. 

Give the online dating circuit a month, if that, and you’ll see the same faces popping up on multiple apps. Sure. You could swipe right on the new app for someone you’ve swiped on in a different app, but what kind of signal does that send? 

Not one you want to send. 

I mean, at least that’s our guess. 

The reason to hold back from downloading a slew of apps is two fold: 

One, you’ll avoid burnout--a preoccupation with managing your profile and endless swiping. 

Two, the online dating world features a rather dynamic turnover rate. People give up periodically. The infamous “cuffing season”, like similar times of the year, can encourage people to flee online to find a snuggle buddy. These things change the landscape of dating. 

Want to switch? Give your current app at least a month before switching. Some apps might not cut it for you given your target audience or your area but you have to account for the ups and downs of the online dating populace. 

People go and there’s plenty of fish in the sea…

And dating apps are like recycling goldfish in a barrel. 

Seriously. 

Don’t swipe right on the same goldfish across multiple apps. They didn’t do anything to deserve it. #PETA

3. Pay attention to your spelling and grammar. Mistakes could show a lack of care or consideration. People might not take you as seriously. 

I can appreciate this one, to a point. No one likes a grammar nazi; but when you’re trying to put your best foot forward, just like with a resume, a misspelled word could ruin you. Not as bad as that but a lot of people will take your sloppy editorial skills as a sign of weakness and weed you out. 

Just take a moment to read over whatever you wrote in your profile, avoiding l337 speak when possible. While spelled correctly, it’s so 2009. 

After all: 

You want to get a date. 

You don’t want to date yourself. Literally or figuratively. 

Got it, n00b?

4. Use appropriate photos. Selfies suck, apparently.

In the day and age of selfies and snap filters, it’s kind of surprising that the dating world would look so unfavorably upon selfies. 

Even the unpracticed and unfiltered ones. 

According to dating expects and even daters themselves, selfies are in inauthentic and vain portrayal of yourself. They make you look narcissistic and self-absorbed, I guess. Here’s the thing: Everyone takes selfies. We don’t all have access to photo-happy friends or professional photographers, or even that guy at the base of your next jump ready to immortalize your face as you plummet while bungee jumping. Use what you have while remembering these three golden rules: First shot should be a non-blurry, unfiltered headshot. Second: Include at least one full-body shot to spoil the surprise your potential matches you meet up with. Third: Try to include at least one action shot. Even if it’s you channeling your inner 90’s kid and “walking the dog” with your yo-yo. That’s still cool, right? 

Yo-yo’s? Anyone? 

No? 

Okay. 

5. Don’t be negative in your profile. Even if it’s to tell a certain demographic/type not to message you, etc.

We’ve all seen some variation of the “Debbie” or “Donnie” Downer. “Don’t message me if you’re…” 

“Tired of the games. I want a…” All that tells prospective matches is that you’re been through the wringer and came out all the more jaded for it. It makes you seem angry about the whole dating scene and relationships in general. We’ve all had awful relationships and crummy experiences with online dating, but don’t let it harsh your mellow. Stay upbeat if not stoic. No one said you had to shout your love of swiping left or ripe on your future mate...just...don’t talk about how much it sucks. 

6. Be careful with adjectives that could be taken in different ways by different people.

Saying you're “adventurous” and “fun” could mean a multitude of things to different people. 

Adventurous could mean anything from a love of traveling abroad, to new locals completely alone; to someone who simply enjoys trying exotic new foods. 

Rather than speak in vague adjectives, be specific. 

Love to travel? 

Write about your favorite experience or place. 

Love to try new food? 

Talk about the one food you’d never thought you’d try but did anyways. 

Specificity isn’t giving it all away. It’s about providing details to a quality or passion you have, and letting that “show” your adventurous side, rather than telling all about it. It also bypasses any hilarious misinterpretations of the word “adventurous. 

7. Pick a nondescript user name to protect your identity, or prevent someone from looking you up in other ways. 

Safety is of the utmost importance when it comes to online dating. 

There’s no harm in picking a pen name of sorts for your dating profile. Not only can it help prevent others from cyber stalking you, but it gives you a degree of safety overall. 

Online dating can be anxiety-inducing to say the least. It helps to know you can protect yourself from strangers or even potential catfish who might seek to take advantage of you. Besides, once you get to know someone or arrange that first date, feel free to disclose your real name then.

It’s much safer to save the details of a real name for a real-life encounter than it is for a simple exchange for messages, especially when a survey of 800 millennials on Plenty of Fish (a dating app) said that 79% of them had been ghosted (3)?

Like the finer details of your life, these things are ultimately best reserved for those make who make it through the gauntlet of online conversations, texting, and meet up with in real life. 

8. Always be honest about your age, height, weight.

Look: 

Some people are shallow, but everyone is allowed to have a preference. If you think hard enough you probably have a few yourself, don’t you? 

And that’s fine! 

But save everyone the time to weed out the people whose ideal person you don’t match up with by filling these statistics out when you can to save yourself the trouble of someone with a height hangup. 

Plus it spares the both of you some awkward moments on that first date when one of you does not at all resemble your photos or the measurements you gave out. 

9. If you’re given room to write, don’t leave it blank. 

Unless you’re using Tinder which has a max limit of 500 characters for your profile, you should use the space you’re given in other apps that encourage a more custom, creative profile. 

That’s not to say you should max the character count at every opportunity. 

Far from it. 

By putting in the effort to genuinely answer the prompts of say, OKCupid, you’re not only giving people a glimpse into your personality and life, but you’re showing them that you’re taking this whole “dating thing” seriously. 

Not to mention most people will take the effort you put in to your filling out your profile to indicate the kind of effort you’d put into a conversation. And without a profile, potential matches won’t have anything to start a conversation with. 

10. Be honest and transparent about who you are and what you’re looking for/want

In online dating terms: 

Don’t be a waffler. 

Say what you mean, and be honest about what you’re looking for.

Just looking for a hookup? Then say it. You’ll give others a chance to pass you over if they’re looking for something serious. Conversely, you’ll narrow your potential matches down to those who are after the same thing. 

Be upfront about the kind of person you are--don’t make it some revelation that comes out on the first date. You should know what you’re looking for when you first sign up. 

Of course that can and may change over time, but you’ll only be doing yourself a disservice by chatting up people who aren’t after the same things. 

11. Make it easy for people to talk to you. Don’t say things like “Just message me to find out,” etc. Give them a question or some kind of short, interesting, or entertaining prompt to inspire a conversation.

It pays to read someone’s profile--and if they don’t have one to read, well, you can cross them off the list per tip 9 above. 

Find something you have in common or pose a question about something that really interests them. It not only shows your thoughtful side, but shows you took the time to get to know them via reading their profile. 

12. Don’t overshare or give away the whole mystery. Give a few specific details but don’t make your profile into a resume or cover letter.

There’s a fine line between mysterious and creepily vague. 

Likewise, there are things that you don’t really need to put out there off-the-bat. Like your divorce or the weird habit your ex hates. Save those things for after you’ve gotten to know someone or after the first date. Let it come up organically. 

If you spoil the mystery right away and put these kinds of details out there, you could easily scare off a quality match before they’ve had the chance to get to know you better. 

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