10 Smart Profile Fixes

Want to get more winks and emails? Make sure your online listing doesn’t contain one of these common mistakes.

by Katherine Dykstra

f your profile isn’t pulling as many responses as you’d like, consider making these simple swaps. We’ve gathered expert advice on ways to quickly make your profile grab more interest and increase the attention you get online. Here, what to edit out:

1. Anything that’s too self-complimentary
It can be tempting to toot your own horn or stress you’re quite the catch to stand out
Show your good points without sounding pompous.
from the crowd, but doing so will only convince people of one thing: your enormous ego. “I’m always turned off by those people that put, ‘I’m hot,’ or ‘You won’t find a better date than me,’” says Jenn Andrlik of Omaha, NE. “It makes me immediately think, is there enough room in this relationship for you, me, and your ego?”

Instead, try this: Show your good points without sounding pompous: Nix subjective evaluations such as “I’m very attractive/intelligent/funny” and instead do your best to illustrate those same points, says Evan Marc Katz, the author of I Can’t Believe I’m Buying This Book: A Commonsense Guide to Successful Internet Dating and the CEO of E-Cyrano. “Your picture, if it’s good, will let people know that you’re attractive,” he says. “And good grammar and spelling will indicate that you’re intelligent. Your humor will come across in your essays. Show us, don’t tell us.”

2. Exhaustive lists of, well, anything
Listing every hobby you have, job you’ve held, or country you’ve ever traveled to might seem like a great way to give people a sense of who you are. But lists have a way of making people’s eyes glaze over, and ultimately paint you as a bit of a bore.

Instead, try this: Focus on no more than two or three favorites and include, specifically, why you like them. For example, “I always come back from an early-morning hike around a lake feeling calm and centered.” This will give prospective dates a much better sense of your personality than all of your vacations and hobbies combined.

3. Mass shout-outs
General greetings like “Hey, ladies!” or “Hiya, guys” make it sound like you’re addressing a crowd. And though, technically, you are, it can feel a bit impersonal — and off-putting — to any one person who’s reading your profile.

Instead, try this: To make your profile sound more personal, consider starting with a simple “Hello,” if you use any greeting at all (it’s really not vital) and using lots of “you” and “your” statements so that readers will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them, suggests Toni Coleman, a Virginia-based psychotherapist and dating coach. To draw them in even further, ask questions. “Asking questions sparks conversation,” explains Kathryn Lord, founder of Your Romance Coach. For example: “Are you an adventuresome eater? Bring on the ethnic food! My current favorite is Ethiopian. What’s yours?”

4. Clichés
“I work hard and play hard." “I’m happy to go out or just chill at home.” “I’m looking for a best friend, lover, and partner in crime.” Yup, you and everybody else. Because everyone uses them, clichés like these pretty much say nothing about you as an individual, or worse, warns Coleman: “They scream no imagination, no originality, no effort.”

Instead, try this: “If you’ve heard the line before, don’t use it,” says Julie Ferman, “Cupid’s Coach” and author of Marketing Yourself for Romance. You want to stand out, not blend in, so say those sentiments your own way. If you are as comfortable in a black dress as you are in jeans, for example, try something like “Tomboy and sports enthusiast moonlighting as a girlie girl who’s into opera, fine dining and dancing under the stars.”

5. Negativity
So you’re sick of being single, hate your ex, or can’t stand the Dave Matthews Band. Save your snarky comments for after you’ve gotten to know your date (and know them well, we might add) or else risk getting pegged a total downer by anyone who reads your profile. Same goes for stipulations about whom you won’t date, i.e., “No one under five feet or over 200 pounds need apply!” You may think you’re setting up a filter so that only the good prospects get through, but hostile statements like these tend to scare off those who do fit your criteria.

Instead, try this: Quick negative fix? “Check your profile for any negatives and flip them into positives,” says Ferman. “Rather than saying, ‘I hate whiners,’ say, ‘I love being with positive, optimistic people.”

6. Self-conscious explanations why you’re online
No doubt you’ve seen ’em: “I’m only here out of curiosity,” “I’m just doing this for giggles,”
Everyone knows why you’re online: To date.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this; I never have trouble meeting people.” If your profile contains any of these phrases, it’s time to re-spin things. Pretty much everyone and their brother has tried online dating at this point, so there’s no need to be embarrassed—and admitting you are isn’t exactly complimentary to the people reading your profile.

Instead, try this: Everyone knows why you’re online: To date. So skip the explanations and apologies and launch right into what kind of date you’re looking for, whether that’s someone who’ll help you explore your city’s cuisine scene or who’ll be up for adventures like mountain biking or scuba diving. Now you’re getting somewhere!

7. Adjectives
Smart. Kind. Warm. Funny. Honest. Ambitious. Sound like anyone you know? How about everyone you know? And that’s a problem. “If you’re writing a profile, you have one job and that is to sound different than everybody else,” says Katz.

Instead, try this: Turn your adjectives into anecdotes. “Rather than saying ‘I’m fun,’ say something like, ‘My favorite role at a party? Hostess!’” suggests Ferman. Instead of “I’m kind,” say, “I spend my Saturdays volunteering at the local animal shelter.” Actions will speak louder than words, and win you plenty of admirers.

8. A long checklist of what you want in a mate
We’re not saying you shouldn’t have standards, but a mile-long list of soul mate must-haves in terms of height, hair color, salary, and other qualities will make even the most eligible online daters steer clear. Even if they fit your requirements to a tee, they’ll assume you’re too demanding.

Instead, try this: Focusing on your top three desires—“I’m looking for an outdoorsman who’s hooked on pop culture and isn’t afraid to cry during sappy movies”—will draw the right crowd without painting you as hard to please. Also, stay away from the third person in your “looking for” section—i.e., she will have this, he should have that. “It sounds like you’re ordering a product versus trying to meet a person,” says Liz Kelly, dating coach and author of Smart Man Hunting.

9. Emoticons and abbreviations
Online daters tend to tack on things like smiley faces, :-), or “lol” (laughing out loud) to their profile to emphasize emotions that they feel might not be coming through loud and clear. Only problem is, some online daters cringe at the sight of these flourishes. These symbols strike certain people as lazy or insecure, as if you’re unsure your joke stands on its own, so you’re adding a laugh track.

Instead, try this: If you’re tempted to use an emoticon or online shorthand at any point, ask yourself “What am I trying to express?” Then go back and try to explain that with words. If, for example, you were about to type a smiley face to convey you’re happy about your recent decision to start your own home business, say why you’re so enthusiastic instead: “I get to call the shots now—in my pajamas, no less!”

10. Anything sexual
You may think it’ll come across as sassy and cute to say, “You won’t believe how creative I can get with a scarf in bed,” but online, comments like this can sound pretty creepy. Relationship-minded prospects will assume you’re on the prowl just for sex and will probably steer clear; meanwhile you’ll probably just receive responses from people gung-ho to get down and dirty.

Instead, try this: Flirt a little instead. Try lines like “Nothing makes me go ‘Yum!’ like a man who can cook" or “Tango lessons, anyone? Never tried it, but I bet you dinner I’ll be dipping you like a pro in an hour.” Make your banter sound sexy without getting X-rated, and you will attract suitors — the right ones — in droves.

Katherine Dykstra is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in The New York Post, Time Out New York, Fodor’s travel guides and Redbook.
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