Update: Get the entire Online Dating series, updated and compiled into the Tao of Bachelorhood Guide to Online Dating, absolutely free! Just subscribe to Tao of Bachelorhood to the right of this article or on the Subscription page.
The most daunting part of the online dating process is probably writing the profile. And it’s true: your profile will make or break your online experience. Think about it, you wouldn’t expect women to fall for you in real life if you greeted them with a limp, damp handshake, babbled about golf clubs and wore a dirty t-shirt, would you?
Just like at a party or on the street, it’s important to put your best foot forward online.
Let’s start by walking through the nuts and bolts of constructing your online dating presence. Each site is a little different, but let’s start with Match.com. If you’ve picked another of the top sites we looked at, let me know. The basic nuts and bolts will be similar across the board.
Don’t look for a “sign up” link—most sites instead try and suck you in with a fake search box, which leads to either results you can’t actually access or the sign-up page. Match is no different. But that’s okay, you’re going to have to add all this info anyway.
Make sure to use your actual birth year. Yes, you may want to be with a younger girl, and sure people all tell you that you look younger (about five years younger, right?), but you’ll just have to find a girl who’s okay with your actual age. And yes, lots of the ladies lie about their ages. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be a man about it. Also, if you fake it now, most sites make it hard to change.
Okay, so now it looks like Match is letting us walk through the wonderland of cute women…until you click on one. Then you get another screen asking for more information. See how they suck you in? But that’s okay—it’s why we’re here. Fill out the form, and the next one, and the next one.
There will start to be some information you don’t have to offer up, while other information is vital, and will save you headaches later if you answer honestly:
- Astrological sign: optional
- Height: use your actual height (okay, fudging up to one inch is allowed, but she will notice when you’re 5’4″ and not the 5’9″ in your profile)
- Body type: be honest (although “average” covers a lot of ground, “slender” and “athletic” are very specific)
- Interests: these are supposed to be things you do, not things you watch others do.
- Common interests: this is a loaded question. This should be something you really want your prospective date to do with you. For example, “Fishing/Hunting” may disqualify you from consideration by women who can’t bear to kill things.
- Kind of movies you like: optional, but part of the matching formula.
- Exercise: answer honestly. If you start the Simple Starter Workout now, you can improve your answers!
- What you do for a living: don’t bother unless you’re passionate about your work or it demonstrates social status (model, executive).
- Children: if you aren’t honest here, it could kill a budding relationship quicker than you think. Women get stuck—stuck—on this.
- Annual income: leave it out. Too much looks like bragging, too little looks bad, and no woman should be looking for you based on this.
- Pets: be honest. The only tip I can give is that you should try to like cats.
- Ethnicity, Faith, Languages, Education: answer honestly and skip the essay questions.
- Political affiliation: this will be polarizing to many, but answer honestly. If a conservative guy and liberal girl can deal with it in a relationship, you’ll find each other.
- “Get to Know Me” questions: they’re silly but count in the matching system. If you don’t like them, don’t answer them, and be glad you’re on Match and not OKCupid, where you might have to answer hundreds of these.
Up to the fourth info screen you’ve only had to answer multiple-choice questions, but the Interests screen includes the dreaded empty text boxes. This isn’t the critical part of your profile (I’ll show you how to write the main essay later) but here’s a tip: don’t include a laundry list of things or places.
Instead, offer one or two of the activities and places you’re most passionate about, and include how they make you feel:
- “The smell of Kauai right after a summer rain shower is one of my favorite things.”
- “There’s nothing more exhilarating than free-falling toward the earth: the literal leap of faith as I jump, the sound of the wind, and the peaceful drifting feeling after the reassuring tug of the parachute.”
- “Remember watching lightning bugs fly and flicker and wondering how they work their magic? I did too, and now I can tell you.” (If you can make entomology sound sexy, my friend, you’re in.)
Same for questions like “Describe your job.” If you can’t describe it in passionate, feeling terms, leave it out.
Who You’re Looking For
On Match.com this is called “About My Date.” This is where you can help the matching engine find you the most “compatible” women. Be honest about what you’ll accept, but try not to exclude too many. For example, if you only want a slender woman with blonde hair and green eyes, you’ll have excluded about 80% of really attractive women.
Match now includes a “Must have/Nice to have” choice: “Must have” will exclude anyone you didn’t choose from your (and her) Mutual Match results. “Nice to have” will just score them lower. My only real “must haves” are body types that match mine (slender/athletic), non-smoking, and a marital status that does not include “separated.”
This is the big kahuna. So much so we’re going to devote the next article to that. Don’t worry, I promise not to leave you hanging.