Don’t Scare People Away With Your Online Dating Profile

In a previous post, I talked about how to choose an online dating site from the myriad that exist today.  Now, I’d like to talk about how to write a profile that will attract a person perfect for the special person that is YOU!

According to a paper presented at the 2010 American Sociological Association meeting approximately 25% of new marriages originate from online meetings.  But just putting a profile up on an online dating service doesn’t guarantee  relationship success. In fact, many people who write dating profiles make big mistakes that actually keep potential partners away.

I did online dating for about 6 years before I met my husband online. I’ve been in the trenches and I’ve spent hours pouring over online dating profiles with my amazing girlfriends who also date online – many of whom have also met their significant others online too. Writing a profile is like writing an ad to show off your best attributes – and by that I don’t mean provocative photos of your body parts (please….just, no). There is an art to writing a profile and what you put out there absolutely does matter.  So what are some things to avoid or to make sure that you include in your profile?   Here are my recommendations:

  • Please don’t write that you “love to laugh,” that you like to “take long walks on the beach” or that you  are an “interesting” person. Snore city! Everyone says those things, but how many people actually ARE DOING those things? Saying generic things like this make you blend into the pack instead of helping you to shine.  Instead, be specific and demonstrate the traits you most want to convey by sharing things you actually DO. Show how unique you are through the things you do, things that interest you and that make you tick. For example, don’t say that you love to travel…talk about where you have traveled and where you’re going next.
  • Keep your profile to 2-3 paragraphs tops. And do break your profile into paragraphs. These days people don’t want to wade through a long soliliquy about your favorite color and a list of the books you’ve most recently read. Think upbeat, charming and punchy. The goal is to intrigue someone…not pour out your whole life story. Less is more. Maintain some mystery, but showcase what makes you compelling.
  • Don’t just drone on about yourself. Help a potential partner start a conversation with you by asking a fun questions in your profile headline or in the body of your profile – that will also help you weed out folks who don’t bother to read your profile. I used to ask guys to identify a movie quote or lyrics from a favorite song. It provided an icebreaker and gave a common point of interest to start things out. Plus, it was fun!
  • Please, please, please spell check and grammar check your profile and any emails you send. LOADS of people will flat out ignore your profile if you appear to be ignorant or illiterate. Oh, and please don’t write your profile or emails to prospective partners in ALL CAPS. Just don’t do it.
  • Your profile photo is incredibly important. Always have at least one headshot and one full length photo. And please make sure that they are taken within the last year and within 10 feet from the camera. Believe me, you really don’t want to go on a date with someone only to find out that they are disappointed in how you look. Be upfront and accurate from the beginning. Oh, and it’s not necessary to include a whole portfolio of photos, put your best foot forward and that’s it. A menagerie of photos looks really self-centered.
  • Be positive! No negative Nellies! No talking about ex’s. No listing out attributes that you DON’T want to attract. No complaining about past dating experiences. No one wants to meet a complainer or someone who leads with a string of negatives. If you can’t be postive and optimistic about the experience of dating, it’s time to take a hiatus until you can.
  • Come up with a catchy user name. Don’t use your actual first name. Pick something interesting about you – a hobby, something from a song you like, a place you love, etc.  Again, this is a chance for you to show how unique you are. Even more important…don’t use the word sexy or other sexual terms in your profile or in your username – show some class.
  • Don’t sound desperate! (see talking about sex above) Focus on the happy life you are living – not that you are looking for someone to “complete” you or enrich your life. Don’t demonstrate in your profile that you’re waiting until you meet someone to live life and do the things you most want to do. It’s a lot of pressure to put on someone who hasn’t even met you yet. Plus, who wants to date someone who sounds sad and like a project. Don’t be a project…projects are just exhausting.

Ok – so those are just a few key things off the top of my head. I LOVE writing online profiles, so if you need help with writing yours, write to me with your questions. I’d be happy to help. Ulitmately, it’s really important for your profile to convey honesty, intelligence, a sense  of humor and a little bit of mystery. Spend some time making lists of things you love or love to do….personal passions or goals for your life and weave those into a positive, pithy vignette that describes what makes you tick. All of those things are sure to intrigue the right guy or girl and compell them to want to meet you in-person.

So, what other things are must-do or never-do for writing an online dating profile? I’d l0ve to hear things that you’d add to the list above…

Photo credit: Muddy Funkster’s Flickr photostream


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Categories: Online Dating


I'm a married publicist who holds a Master's degree in psychology, with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy. I'd like to make the world a better relationship at a time.

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12 Comments on “Don’t Scare People Away With Your Online Dating Profile”

  1. Will Date For Free Food
    January 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    Great advice! I reposted =)

    • January 30, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

      Thanks so much for reposting! I really appreciate it!! 🙂

  2. January 24, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    This is great! If I choose to go back online dating (gag) I will definitely use this advice…maybe the guys I attract will be better! LOL

    • January 30, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

      You are too funny! Yeah, online dating is tough. I definitely recommend that people take breaks after they have been doing it a while. I don’t personally think that people spend enough time thinking about what their profile conveys to other people. Usually, people complete them in a rush and then forget about them…but they are out there, representing you and definitely impact whether someone will write to you or pass…

  3. January 24, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    I have been thinking to do a post myself on some of the individuals that have mailed me on the site… you have the points down pat.
    I hate that expression “ZEST for life” can one have a ZEST for death?
    Here’s what I have found thus far –
    PHOTOS: SO IMPORTANT – in my opinion – photos alone are better.
    I am divided on someone posting pics with their kids (because one pic I saw was rather endearing)
    NOT with your mother (one guy did this and it screamed “mammas boy,” another had 2 photos of himself posed with VERY sleazy women – like prostitutes, or porn stars (ya like I wanna date you? NOT!) Not with a woman someone might think is your ex-gf, (only) your pets pic, those horrible “serial killer” or “porn watcher” style webcam stills, NO photos taken in bathroom mirrors (especially with your shirt off) – can u say “CHEESE,” (one guy sent me a pic of his chest), and every pic does not need to include sunglasses, and finally I find “pro-model” like pics somewhat of a turn off. I think it screams vanity and “I will spend more time in the bathroom than you!”

    • January 30, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

      Yeah – we should do a contest for the most cliche online dating phrase….that would be funny!

  4. January 25, 2012 at 12:12 am #

    I had an on-line dating profile once for about 10 minutes. I quickly dropped it and found some one in the real world. Not that there’s anything wrong with on-line dating… I’m just saying.

    • January 30, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

      Interestingly, most of my friends have met their husbands online. I think it’s a great way to meet people!

  5. aktifistri
    February 3, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    I’ve met my husband through online dating. We’re inter-ethnic & inter-national couple. Quite many people still can’t believe in meeting a ‘significant others’ online..they can’t believe that there are good and descent people in seems forgotten that people are people, online offline are the same..just need your brain and feeling to see what kind of person you’re dealing with. I believe integrity can always pretty much be seen in both online and offline.

    Fortunately, more people are getting open-minded.. since after marriage, I created a facebook group for mix-marriage couples from my country, it reaches almost 3000 members now, and i found out so many of them have met their husbands/boyfriends through dating-sites.. good news for ‘living in a global village’ issue.. internet does help people connected!

    Interesting and actual posting, and i respect your major of study, since I’ve been thinking of pursuing further study in psychology with concentration on inter-ethnic & inter-nationality marriage – if I have a fortune to do so. Followed your blog as well 🙂

  6. February 6, 2012 at 1:23 am #

    Its amazing that even after all those things have become so cliche and overdone, and talked about in articles like this one those types of profiles still abound. I think I am going to venture into the world of online dating again. I did it years ago and hated it but with my new found experience and knowledge and outlook on life I might find it intriguing. If nothing else it will be fodder for my blog!.

  7. drcoachlove
    February 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

    Enjoyed your post on online dating profiles. So true. I met my husband through a dating site. Our 10th anniversary is this year. We have a great marriage! Thought your readers might get a good laugh from a You Tube video featuring my alter ego, Dr. Coach Love—-Top 10 Reasons You Know Your Date was a Bust —-

    Keep in touch.

    Patt Hollinger Pickett, Ph.D.
    Relationship Expert


  1. Don’t Scare People Away With Your Online Dating Profile – Couple-tastic! « Will Date for Free Food - January 24, 2012

    […] from someone who has been online dating for the past 8 months… this is spot on great advice! Check it out here!! Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

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