Online Dating Profile Writing Tips
The online dating industry is booming as millions turn to the internet to find love. But composing a profile that makes you sound fascinating and unique is harder than it sounds.
In the process, millions of people will try to summarise their characters in just a few paragraphs. But anyone who browses a few profiles will quickly become very familiar with a handful of phrases.
“I’m new to this, so here goes”
This betrays its author’s discomfort about using an internet dating site, says William Doherty, professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota.
For him, it shows that there is still a stigma to online dating.
“When people are in a setting where they feel there’s some stigma, they like to talk as if they are unfamiliar with it,” he says.
“I love laughing”
Dating coach Laurie Davis loves laughing at this generic assertion. She is paid to rewrite people’s dating profiles and this is one of the phrases she sees – and urges her clients to ditch – time and time again.
“Doesn’t everyone love laughing?” she says. “They are trying to show that they are fun and that they have a light-hearted side, but it means nothing.”
Other meaningless phrases, she says, include: “I’m a glass half-full kind of person.” Then there’s: “I try to see the best in every situation.” But it’s highly unlikely that someone looking to attract a mate would ever say: “I try to see the worst in every situation.”
Davis says the problem with phrases like these is that they don’t help with the main purpose of the profile – they’re not “prompts” that act as conversation-starters.
“You can’t start a conversation by saying, ‘I see you love laughing. I love laughing too.’ If you love comedy shows, though, that’s a conversation-starter,” she says.
“I like going out and staying in”
The anonymous “single mother on the edge”, who writes that she would “take a vow of celibacy” if she saw this phrase one more time. “Why do perfectly intelligent people write that?” she asks.
Covering too many bases is a particular bugbear of Ben England. The 28-year-old marketing director was only online for one month before he found his girlfriend. But he had enough time to be irked by descriptions in profiles that were consciously trying to please everyone.
“I am Looking for my partner in crime”
This is an attempt to be light-hearted, says Doherty. “It’s not heavy, it’s saying ‘I’m a normal person, I’m interesting, I’m low-key – I don’t have all these deep needs that are going to bother you.’ It’s a way of saying, ‘Hey, I’m a jolly fellow’ but there aren’t a lot of ways of saying that.”
It keeps popping up because most people have a limited vocabulary for expressing what they want romantically, he adds.
“I’m here for some good banter”
“They are saying, ‘I don’t need anything deep,'” says Doherty. “I’m having fun – so to say ‘I’m not desperate, I’m low-key, I’m safe.'”
“It’s all a way to say I’m not going to be a burden to you, to push too hard to get serious too fast.”
“My friends say I’m”
Lists of descriptors such as smart, attractive, romantic, thoughtful, trustworthy, sexy, passionate, fearless, honest or friendly are labelled “empty adjectives” by dating coach Erika Ettin.
The problem is that these words “can’t be proven until someone gets to know you”.
“This is where the concept of ‘show, don’t tell’ really comes into play. For example, rather than saying that you’re funny, say something that you find funny.”
“A list of adjectives doesn’t mean very much,” says Davis. People may say they’re funny, but how? Is that humour going to resonate with a potential partner? People say they’re kind but unless they demonstrate that, it’s meaningless. “It’s better to show it in actions,” Davis explains.
Davis also takes issue with starting sentences with “My friends say…”
“That doesn’t speak very confidently of you,” she says. “It seems like you’re not comfortable about yourself.”