There are so many reasons why people might have a hard time finding love — many people lead busy lives, or make a living working from home, which makes it difficult for them to meet new people. Perhaps you just have a hard time approaching people and striking up conversations.
Enter online dating. As of 2016, about 15 percent of American adults have said that they are now using or have used mobile dating apps or online dating sites. This means that more and more, people are turning to online dating services to meet people and potentially start long, meaningful relationships. Before all of that can happen, however, you’ll need to put together your dating profile. Here are some things you may want to consider when doing that.
A picture’s worth a thousand words
It might sound clichéd, but the photos you include in your dating profile can tell a potential partner a lot about you.
According to Caroline Ellis, chief operations officer at dating app Bumble, your first photo should be your favorite current photo of yourself, and it should be “the most representable and approachable version of you.” She also told me that you should try and show off your personality, life, and interests. For example, she says, “If you love the outdoors, show a photo of you rock climbing. If you love the beach, going out, reading a good book at [a] coffee shop, show this through your photos.”
Once you feel like you’ve established who you are, Ellis says that you can share images of your loved ones in your later photos. However, she also told me that they “caution against showing someone who could potentially look like your significant other (a sibling, cousin, or friend).”
Is there such a thing as too many photos?
Now that you’ve chosen what photos you want to post to your dating profile, how many photos are too many?
Matt Phifer, dating and relationships therapist, told me that you should have at least five photos to capture all of the things listed above. He also advises including a full body photo. “Even if you are insecure about your body, when your date meets you, they’re going to see what you look like head to toe, so you might as well make sure that they’re attracted to the entire package.”
“Anything more than 10 is trying too hard,” according to Dr. Erica Martinez, a clinical psychologist in Miami, Fla., at Envision Wellness.
What are you looking for?
Choosing photos can be fairly simple, but there are more serious things you need to consider before you start filling out your dating profile bio.
The number one mistake people make with online dating, according to Phifer, is putting too much focus in what they don’t want in a person rather than what they do want. For example, he says that instead of saying, “I don’t want a guy who is lazy that doesn’t have ambition,” placing emphasis on the negative, it is more constructive to say something like, “I want a guy who is goal-oriented and goes after what he wants.” Although the first statement might be true, you want your bio to come across as positive to anyone reading it. He explained that focusing on qualities that you do want allows the reader to feel like “Hey, that describes me!” And this is more attractive to the type of person you just described.
Filling out your bio
Some people I spoke to who have or have had online dating profiles said that it was difficult to sit down and create a bio. “It’s just hard to sit there and talk about yourself, hoping that people will be attracted to what they read,” one of them said. “It definitely felt really strange.”
What you’re looking for, in terms of a relationship — whether it be more casual or serious — will set the tone for your profile. “A casual dater’s profile reads differently from someone that’s looking for a long-term relationship,” says Dr. Martinez. “Avoiding snark, sarcasm, profanity, and too many innuendos are good general rules.” She told me that puns and plays on words are great ways to showcase your humor. So try to sprinkle these in, just like you would in conversation.
Phifer agrees, and says that you should avoid anything that is negative or sounds bitter in your profile. However, he does say that it’s really important to just be yourself. “Putting ‘LOL’ after anything makes anything sound like a joke,” he says. But “if they share your sense of humor they will get it. If they don’t and they perceive it as trying too hard — who cares!”
How open should you be?
You’re an open book in real life, so you should be just as open on your dating profile, right? There are differing opinions, so it may boil down to what you’re comfortable with sharing.
Ellis says that Bumble users with the most matches “mirror an exact correlation to how filled out their profile is.” She recommends having a full bio with Spotify integration to increase your chances of success. For example, someone I spoke to says that she was attracted to her current partner’s dating profile because he had included some obscure bands that she really liked, and it made her curious about what else they had in common.
Being open might mean sharing personal things about yourself. Dr. Martinez says that a quick mention of your goals or alluding to your dreams will do the trick. “Don’t go into too much detail about either on the profile — save that conversation for later on,” she told me. However, according to Phifer, “you should be very open about passions, dreams and goals” because what you share on your profile could be the sorts of important values that can attract the right person into your life.
Honesty is the best policy
Although deciding whether or not you should share a lot or a little about yourself in your dating profile bio should be a personal choice, based on how comfortable you are, everyone agrees that no matter what you decide to share, it should always be truthful.
Embellishing your dating profile to look better is “absolutely not okay,” according to Phifer. “It can lead to trouble down the road if the date turns into something more and they find out the truth. ALWAYS be authentic.” This includes things and traits that you may not be sure how people will respond to. He emphasizes that being authentic to who you are is always a plus. For example, if you’re a bit of a potty-mouth, Phifer told me that “yes, some might get offended by it, but the ones who are not will be more accepting of it in real life.”
Digging a little deeper
If you’ve decided to take the step and really share a lot about yourself in your dating profile, whether or not you should include your religious and political beliefs — two often controversial topics — could be a difficult decision to make. Some people are afraid of the judgement they may encounter, especially in an online space, if they share their spiritual beliefs and political stance. However, it’s important to recognize that people who judge you based on these qualities are likely not the people you want to start relationships with.
If religious or political beliefs are something you hold in high value, Phifer says that you absolutely should include it in your dating profile. “You want to attract people with similar values and interests,” so putting those values and interests out there will ensure that like-minded individuals will know what you’re about.
Taking a close look
Once you’ve created a dating profile that you think you’re happy with, it might be a good idea to go through a bit of an editing process before you put it all out there.
The ideal situation is that someone you are attracted to will respond to your dating profile and that you’ll have a casual or serious relationship, depending on what you’re looking for. However, if you’re unsure about what you’re about to publish, having a friend proofread your bio could be a good idea. Someone who supports you and will be honest with you should be able to tell you if your profile is missing anything. Phifer says that there are also many examples online that you can get pointers from, if you want to ensure that your profile is online dating-ready.
When you create a dating profile, whatever you’re looking for, you’re likely to have expectations about what you want the outcome of this process to be. That’s why Phifer says that “BEFORE you create a profile, make a list of everything you are looking for in a potential partner.” He told me that you should be very specific, down to looks and physical features. “Then, make sure that the top 10 features you are looking for are written in your profile.”
It can be very easy to feel disappointed if things aren’t working out just as you want, so if you’re really trying to improve you chances, Dr. Martinez says that she always recommends Amy Webb’s Data: A Love Story to her clients that want to “up their online dating game.”
Most importantly, Phifer told me that patience is a crucial quality you need during this process: “Practice infinite patience, and try to have a ‘let’s just see what happens’ mindset.” That way, your main objective is to have fun, and if you happen to meet someone, then great!
Finding love is possible
Trying to find someone to have a relationship with isn’t always easy, whether you’re trying to meet people online or not. However, you need to always remember that everything happens in its own time, so you should try not be discouraged if the process is taking longer than you had hoped it would.
It may be difficult sometimes, but you should really try to enjoy the process and have fun. “It sounds simple, but when you have a good attitude and are having fun in life, you become more attractive to the world,” says Phifer. “Also, like attracts like, so you need to make sure that you are the type of person that you are looking to meet.”
So get out there, be true to yourself, and let the journey of finding a partner be an enjoyable one. Good luck!