In the world of online dating, you’re only as desirable as your profile lets on. Check out these tips for creating the most authentic online dating profile you can.
I spent 17 years on and off with my ex-husband. I spent 10-ish of those years on and off of internet dating websites. During that time I became an expert on how to have a dysfunctional relationship. I also became an expert on how to fail at internet dating.
Now, I’m married again—to someone I met on an online dating website. How did that happen?
I turned 40.
You see, when you turn 40, you suddenly acquire zero tolerance for bullshit. My bullshit was living with my ex husband while also dabbling in online dating. Since I was doing both poorly, it seemed the best thing to do was go big or go home, meaning: choose one and at least try to do it well.
I didn’t know this when I was 39 years and 11 months old. At that time, my friend—a fellow improviser and yoga instructor who was engaged to someone she met online four months prior—gave me the following advice:
“Redo your profile. Be authentic and speak from the heart,” she said.
I laughed at her.
The following month I turned 40 while on safari in Africa. The intensity of being so close to endangered wildlife made me think twice about her request for authenticity.
When I was 40 years and one month old, I was housesitting over Thanksgiving weekend and had a lot of alone time to assess the situation. The half-assed profile I was using certainly wasn’t furthering my cause. From time to time, I’d get a date that I’d grow bored with almost immediately.
The real truth was that I wasn’t accurately representing myself in that profile. I wasn’t lying, but I wasn’t being real either. The truth was that I wanted a relationship—not just a beer date. I thought about my friend’s advice and then I thought about spending another Thanksgiving like I had spent that one.
Suddenly my fingers were flying across the keyboard rewriting my profile—accurately and authentically. That evening, I transformed my profile from a “let’s grab a drink” message to an honest open call for a meaningful long-term relationship. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I used these guidelines:
1. I was completely honest.
I put my desires—not my friend’s desires or society’s desires—out there. If you only want to date someone without kids, without religion or without an AARP card, that’s just fine—say it. But, if you’d consider the alternative because you’re open to it—not because your friends are telling you to be open to it—then express exactly that.
Just remember that whatever relationship comes your way is yours and it won’t last if you’re not being honest with yourself. For me, I really didn’t want to date someone older than 50—and that’s just fine.
2. I was open.
And let me be clear, I was open in that I let readers know who I was without betraying myself. I didn’t leave myself vulnerable, but instead of saying I like cats, I put it out there that pet overpopulation is one of my passions and a societal issue that concerns me. Liking cats and spending 10 years working in animal welfare are not necessarily the same things. Be open and let your profile show exactly how you like, do, see something.
3. I dug deep.
This is so hard for many of us as we don’t want to open ourselves up to strangers. However, how is a potential love of your life going to know if you’re different than the thousands of other profiles that may share your interests?
A lot of people like to travel. But how do you like to travel? I had just returned from Africa and the experience forever touched me for a number of reasons. I wrote about it.
4. I put out there what I really wanted.
That means not only did I not lie to readers, but most importantly, I didn’t lie to myself. All the time I was putting “beer buddy” out there I got just that and wondered why I was getting frustrated.
I, in plain English, said I wanted a deep, authentic, committed relationship. We’re not in high school, so we don’t need to be concerned about being “cool.” We need to be real. If the real deal is what you want, put it out there.
5. I didn’t fill my narrative with things I didn’t want or don’t like.
Negativity in an online profile is toxic. Please, stay away from it. I said I liked a career that included meaningful work. I said I was seeking a partner who wanted to travel responsibly. The reader can then conclude that the opposite of those things are dislikes.
When you meet in person, you can go over all of your likes/dislikes in detail. That’s what makes dating fun—getting to know each other.
6. I was passionate.
I’m not talking about sex. I am talking about life.
Some questions to mull over: What are my values? What can’t I live without? What excites me when I wake up in the morning? What are my beliefs? How do I look at the world? How am I moving my life forward? My passions were clearly spelled out and were supported by anecdotes and stories.
7. I did, in fact, speak from my heart.
What’s in my head is all well and good, but I was looking for the love of my life—not a business partner. Put your heart in your words and even in your photos. Post photos of yourself doing the things you love. I posted photos of me traveling, working in animal welfare and doing improvisational theater.
After hours working and reworking my profile, I posted it. Later that night, my future husband dropped me a note with only one line. It wasn’t much to go on. His profile was mildly amusing. His photos were terrible. But one thing was clear: he appreciated my new profile. For that reason alone, it was worth an in person meeting. Exactly a year later, on the anniversary of his writing just that one line, we were married.
Most online dating profiles list what we do, what we like and what we’d like to do. We rarely, however, discuss who we are. This is the magic behind a five-star online dating profile. Pretend you’re an onion and peel back your layers until you get to the heart of the matter—the real and authentic you.
[image: via Wirawat Lian-udom on flickr]