Back in the old days of dating, before the Internet, you pretty much knew what you were getting. You knew exactly what your date looked like because, well, you were looking at them. You were pretty confident that they were not in Ghana trying to run a credit card scam or they weren’t a 12 year-old boy looking to play a prank—everything was right up front. And you could just put on some nice clothes, smile a lot, and try not to say anything stupid, and it would probably be a good date.
With online dating, that predictable dating world has been turned upside down. Now you’re creating a profile in the hopes of attracting some faceless person in an undisclosed location who may or may not have sent you a picture, real or otherwise, and who may or may not be telling you the truth about anything they are writing about. Unfortunately, there are a few ways to royally mess up that online profile. Fortunately, most of those ways are preventable.
Choosing the Wrong Picture
In any online profile, the eyes are automatically drawn to the picture. If your picture is the shirtless bathroom shot or the goofy one of you with the foam finger on one hand and a spilling beer in the other at a ballgame, you’re probably not making an ideal first impression. You’ve got to choose the right picture for your profile.
Profile pictures are best when they feature you smiling, happy, and confident. For this reason, the vacation picture is usually a nice choice, showing you in some sunny region, as happy as anyone is ever likely to see you. You should avoid the pictures where you’re just waking up, drunk, and acting goofy, and especially pictures with your kids or other family members who may not want to be part of your dating profile.
Sharing Too Much Information
There are two ways to share too much information (TMI) in a dating profile. There’s sharing too much information because it jeopardizes personal safety, and there’s sharing too much information because nobody else on the planet wants to know that about you. Either type of sharing should be avoided in a dating profile.
For safety, you should avoid listing details like your real name, the names of family members (especially kids), your job, and the exact place you live. Some people take it a step further and give only vague indications of the area in which they live, the type of work they do, and what they look like. Some people take it a little too far and don’t reveal their gender, the state that they live in, or whether or not they are, in fact, actually human.
To avoid the other kind of TMI, just ask yourself “Would a normal person be sharing this information?” Remember, we’re not talking about you here; we’re talking about a normal person. While the particular type of infection you had in a very personal area may be fascinating to someone writing a medical journal, the only effect it will likely have on a potential date is to make them say “Ewwww.” Save the information about your medical history, bathroom habits, and the really adorable thing your cat did for an actual date; preferably date number 13 or 14.
Focusing Too Much on Sex
Okay, is it really possible to focus too much on sex in an online profile? Sex sells, right? Well, unless you’re a woman who is standing on the dock waiting for the fleet to come in or a guy who prowls the bars at 2:00 a.m. looking for girls who are too drunk to say no, focusing too much on sex in your profile might just give people the wrong impression.
Flirting is flirting, whether you do it online or in person. You want to show a little bit of your sexual appetite, just to pique their interest, but not so much as to make people think you’re easy. It is all about the chase, after all. For women, the goal is to appear sexy without looking desperate; for men, the goal is to look virile without looking potentially viral.
Trying Too Hard to Be Funny
Some people are genuinely funny, both in person and in their dating profile. Most people are not. If you’ve never had someone tell you that you’re the funniest person they’ve ever met or had someone actually fall down laughing at something you’ve said, written, or done, you’re not funny enough to write a funny dating profile. It will be lame―trust us.
Online dating has changed the way people approach the whole idea of dating, and the online profile has become one of the most valuable tools people use to attract a mate. When creating an online profile, it’s important to avoid classic mistakes like choosing the wrong photo, sharing too many intimate details, or trying to be funny when you’re not. If you can prevent these simple blunders, your profile will present you in the best light and hopefully attract slightly fewer creeps and scam artists.