Online dating was once considered a last resort for the truly hopeless. It was populated by desperate thirty- and forty-somethings, all hoping against hope that they might find someone, anyone, to date them. Nowadays, the stigma associated with online dating has vanished; in fact, it’s considered an essential element of modern dating.
It makes sense: dating is, in most cases, a numbers game, and online dating gives you access to the greatest number of people looking for an intimate relationship. But just because everyone does it doesn’t mean that everyone’s good at it. So if you’re not getting as many dates as you would like, it might be because your profile isn’t up to snuff.
Even though setting up an online dating profile is a good first step in increasing the odds of finding your ideal partner, there are still plenty of ways you can screw it up if you’re not careful. And it’s a lot easier than you think to make the kind of mistake that’s the difference between someone responding to your message and ignoring it. Here are the 8 most common mistakes people make with their dating profiles.
Posting the Wrong Pictures
Online dating is great because it gives people the chance to get to know you as a person first. If you approach someone at a bar, you’re pinning the whole interaction on the hope that they find you attractive enough to respond to you; with online dating, you get a little more of an opportunity to sell yourself – figuratively speaking, of course.
Dating sites only allow a certain number of photos, so first and foremost, don’t waste them on pictures of things that aren’t you. If you have one picture of yourself and four pictures of, I dunno, cool birds (?), the person viewing your profile is likely to think you’re either unattractive or have poor self-esteem. And weirdly, folks tend not to go for that.
But even pictures of you can turn people off if they’re the wrong kind of photo. Here’s a brief list of the kinds of photos you need to avoid:
Nobody wants to see your dirty-ass bathroom mirror. Half the time, these pictures are basically just of someone’s torso and legs, so unless you get lucky with a real “torso-and-leg” kind of person, it’s a waste of a spot.
Poor-quality or Grainy Pictures
Unless you’re a Sasquatch or a time traveler from 1998, there’s no reason why you should have blurry or pixelated photos of you. The first Sony CyberShot digital camera had 1 megapixel image resolution; the front camera – i.e., the shitty one – on the new iPhone is 7 megapixels. No excuses.
Nothing says “I can’t promise I won’t end up ruining your life” quite like a dating profile with no pictures. There’s no easier way to make someone think you’re either batshit crazy or thunderously unattractive than by not posting any pictures of yourself.
Writing a Lazy Description (Or Not Having One at All)
There’s not much more intimidating than that big, empty box where you’re expected to lay out your elevator pitch for why you’re worth someone’s consideration. We’re not used to typing lengthy screeds about ourselves, and it’s weird to do. But if you don’t, you’re basically sacrificing the primary advantage of online dating: giving people an idea of who you are before you start talking.
Almost as bad are the profiles that say something lazy and trite, like “I love having fun and laughing.” You think someone’s going to read that and pick up the phone like “Mom? I FOUND THE ONE!”? Even if it is true, I think it’s probably safe to assume that everybody likes having fun and laughing.
Put a little effort into coming up with something that will make you stand out.
Poor Grammar, Overusing Slang/Emoji
If your “About Me” section just says “JUST LUV 2 PARTY!!!!!! 😉👻💩,” you’re setting yourself up for failure. For one thing, like I said above, it’s lazy. But more importantly, does that look like the self-description of an intelligent, interesting person? Of course not.
The same goes with bad grammar. The occasional typo or spelling mistake is fine — anybody who cares that much about it is probably not barrel of laughs anyway. But too many typos or errors says that you’re either careless, lazy, or plain old dumb.
Listing Must-Have Qualities in Your Potential Partner
The whole point of online dating is to give you an opportunity to meet people you may not otherwise have the opportunity – or the inclination – to meet. And setting rigid expectations is bad enough from your end, but they’re probably also not helping your case with whoever is viewing your profile.
If you came across one of those lists on someone’s profile and you didn’t meet all the criteria, you’d probably say “Well, I guess they wouldn’t be interested in me” and move on, right? Nobody likes rejection, so if they’re told up-front that they have to meet a very specific set of requirements and they don’t tick every box, they’re not likely to take the leap; why set yourself up for failure?
Of course, it’s okay to know what you want and what you’re attracted to – having a few “Oh-no-no“s is perfectly fine, but you don’t have to advertise them. If you do, keep it abstract: instead of “Must have an IQ of 105 or better,” say you’re “looking for someone who’s intellectually curious and loves to learn new things.” See how much nicer that sounds than “SIMPLETONS NEED NOT APPLY”?
Telling Your Whole Life Story
While it’s true that the more information you give up front, the better, you also don’t want to write a novel in that little section. Nobody wants to read about what the weather was like the day you emerged from your mother’s womb or the time in 3rd grade when you spilled juice all over your backpack. (Nice juice skills, idiot.)
The other problem with writing too much is that the more you give away about yourself, the better the chance people will find something about you, however minor, that turns them off. Leaving some of the details up to the imagination gives people a reason to get in touch with you: so they can learn more.
Give people just enough to be interested in getting to know you better, but not so much that they feel like they’ve already met you, dated you, and broken up with you for being so shitty at drinking juice.
When putting together an online profile, there’s a temptation to exaggerate to make yourself seem as date-worthy as possible. But sooner or later, whatever fibs you tell in your profile will probably backfire on you.
Don’t say you’re interested in things that you really don’t enjoy just so you can seem more well-rounded. If you took a road trip to Canada once and hated it, don’t say that you “love to travel.” If you get your news from The Daily Show, don’t say you “love politics” or “have a good sense of humor.”
It should also go without saying that you shouldn’t lie about your physical attributes. Remember, if all goes well, you’re going to meet these people. A first date isn’t likely to produce a second one if they show up expecting a date with a tall drink of water and are confronted instead with a bridge troll hunched over on a bar stool.
Nobody wants to go on a date with someone whose profile is nothing but them bitching about their past dating experiences.
Saying stuff like “Don’t waste my time” or “No crazy people need apply — I have enough experience to last me a lifetime” sends a not-so-subtle message that not only have you had bad experiences in the past, but you’re more than a little bitter about them. And fairly or not, it also makes people question why you’ve had so many bad experiences; as the saying goes, “If you ran into an asshole in the morning, you met an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.”
Also, saying “Don’t message me if you’re crazy” isn’t going to do anything to deter actual crazy people from messaging you. If they’re crazy, odds are they don’t know it, and if they do know it, they’re probably crazy enough to say “Ah, what the hell?” and message you anyway.
So whether you’ve already had a ton of dates with the wrong kinds of people or you just haven’t had many dates at all, give your profile another look to see if you’re making any of these mistakes.