Friday, November 20, 2009

Describing Yourself in an Online Profile

A Little about Yourself. Three sentences is too short. It says: I am not verbal and have trouble communicating. Or, I have no insight into myself. Or, I’m lazy and expect you to do all the work in this relationship. Or, I’m just here to get laid. On the other hand, using up all the space allowed on the site for describing yourself is too long. It says: I am self-involved and never shut up.

As to the content of your self-description:

Do not include physical descriptors of yourself. Your photo is there (right?). Describing yourself physically comes off as narcissistic. Or gay--at least that’s what I assume about a guy who writes about how fabulous his ass is.

When describing your personality don’t speak in vague generalities or simply give a list of adjectives about yourself. Adjectives are largely meaningless. Think about your best friend. If you wanted me to know what he was really like, would you tell me he was nice, funny and smart, or would you tell me a story about him? (Probably both.) Talking about what you’re passionate about, even if it’s not what a woman is passionate about, is infectious and makes you sound interesting, warm and positive. Include something quirky that you love--something you wouldn’t necessarily expect someone to list as a passion. Like bacon. Include interesting particulars about a band or a book you love. Or describe a typical weekend so she can get a sense of the culture of your life. Mention a weird thing you want to do--like experience a sensory deprivation tank before you die--not like sky diving (so cliché). A list of interesting jobs you’ve held (if you have) can be intriguing as well. Give her something to respond to. So many profiles I've seen say the same things every other profile says: "I'm a nice guy, have a job I love, enjoy dining out and hiking. I'm looking for the right woman but couldn't say what that is--I don't want to limit myself to a type." Boooring. Think about how many profiles she's reading. You need to stand out. Being really good-looking or making a lot of money will not (for most women) make you stand out. It's what you write that counts.

Don’t mention your ex-girlfriends or ex-wives. This reads as "I'm not over her."

Avoid negatives. Don't say what you *don't* like doing or what you are not (unless you can be funny about it). Negativity reads as stuck in the mud, pessimistic, depressed, etc.

Don’t brag. Don’t mention having a super cool house, or your trip to Aruba, unless you’re sure that it isn’t coming off as bragging. If you’re passionate about travel, make your passion the focus--not a list of all the expensive places you’ve been. Never use the cheesy device of “people have said about me… .” So obviously bragging: I mean, I wouldn’t say I was really hot, the smartest person in the area and the wittiest guy at a party, but my friends say it is so--even though I am really humble and wouldn’t presume to say it about myself, but it must be true. Ugh.

Being funny in your profile is great as long as you actually are funny. Trying and not succeeding is the worst while being successful will double the number of women who email you. I once saw an ad where the man wrote in the ethnicity box: “take a wild guess.” His photo was posted so, yes, it was obvious. It struck me as funny. Not sure why. When I write it here it doesn’t sound so funny. But it was.

Do not mention sex. Yes, some men really do this in their ads. I never dated any of them. Neither have any of my friends.

Spell check! Grammar check! You want a smart girl? Capitalize where needed, don’t have typos, and don’t use the objective form of a personal pronoun when the subjective is called for. And, for God’s sake, *paragraph* when needed. If you’re writing enough that a woman can get a sense of you, that’s a very large block of text and is daunting to read if formatted as all one paragraph.

Up on Tuesday: Describing the Woman You're Looking For

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