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Writing is hard. Writing about yourself: even harder. Which makes online dating profiles both daunting to write and, let’s just say … lackluster to read. So how do you stand out in the crowd? As the founder of online-dating-profile makeover company Profile Polish, I’ve written thousands of profiles — so I can tell you how: by avoiding these all-too-common pitfalls.
Online dating clichés extend far beyond the idioms you’ve heard before, like “I’ll sweep you off your feet.” They include lazy phrasing, vague descriptions, and anything that sounds like it could be a classified personal from the ‘80s. Could what you’ve written apply to (or appear in the profile of) at least 60 percent of online daters? Then it’s a cliché.
- “I’m looking for a best friend/ a partner in crime/my better half.”
- “On a Friday night, I’m either going out with friends or staying in drinking wine/reading/watching Netflix.” (Newsflash: Everyone is either going out or staying in. This says nothing about you.)
- “I love to travel.”
- “I am up for anything/will try anything once/live life to the fullest.”
Think about it: A person already has an idea about the type of match that he or she is looking for, much in the same way that you do. So when you spend half of your profile rambling on about the the type of person that you’re looking for — “I want a guy who’s smart, caring, and close with his family,” “I like tall guys and won’t date anyone who plays video games,” and so on — a match never gets to learn about the person that they most wanted to get to know about: you.
It’s too easy to fall into the trap of just listing your hobbies, interests, activities, qualities, whatever(!), without giving any additional information. But while “I like to travel, snowboard, and watch sports,” is somewhat informative, it’s also pretty robotic. And while a match might be able to come up with a good message with the given information, it’s more likely he or she will end up stumped on what to say.
Instead of just cataloging what you do, add some personality! Don’t be afraid to admit a quirk or two, make a goofy joke, or tell the endearingly embarrassing story about a time you were traveling/snowboarding/watching sports. And the more detail, the better. Hint: No one gets bored if they’re laughing.
Negativity makes you seem close-minded — and who wants to go out with someone who’s not open to new ideas and experiences? Plus, what you do like is far more telling about you as a person than what you don’t. If you catch yourself using words such as “don’t,” “can’t,” “never,” “hate,” “dislike,” “not,” or “except,” rethink including that information.
Readers are skimming — they just are — and in order to keep them interested, you need to keep hitting them with new information! This means that if you mention your love for travel once, you should get it all out in that one spot, and that one spot alone. (Listing “my passport” under “Things I Could Never Do Without” is a definite repeat). So group all mentions of a single topic together, and use that space to really expand on what you wrote about (remember, details!). Then, you can introduce new, exciting, telling information about yourself in each prompt and keep a match engaged.