I used an online dating site for the first time in 2007, after my first long term relationship ended. Like a criminal, I entered the forbidden land of match.com and with trembling fingers I created an almost barren profile, which, to my surprise, attracted more male interest than if I’d stepped into a night club in a short skirt and a generous cleavage. When I actually typed in my credit card details in exchange for 3 months membership for the first time I felt as if I had just called a sex line and paid for someone to tell me how much I turned them on. But once the initial apprehension wore off and I actually got to met people in the flesh, online dating became something I was progressively less embarrassed of. But despite a few years of experience under my belt, when I started The Love Project in 2013, I realised that there was more to online dating that met the eye. Through trial and error, I learnt that it takes a great profile to attract the right audience, ie the kind of man you want to be in a relationship with.
‘Try to be all things to all people, and you may just wind up being nothing much to hardly anyone,’ said evangelist Mark Rutland. I had certainly tried too hard to tick too many boxes and, as a result, I wasn’t getting the kind of attention I was hoping for.
I’ve read so many online dating profiles which start with ‘I don’t like to talk about myself but I’ll give this a go…’ followed by a list of activities any given human performs on a daily basis, like eating, drinking and socialising. Others, such as myself, competed in listing more extravagant travel destinations, adrenaline fuelled extreme sports attempts and more indie films than a hipster’s playlist of unheard of Scandinavian bands. And yes, I suppose it’s as difficult to turn yourself into a novella when you’re barely a haiku, as it is to narrow yourself down to a few paragraphs when you’re more of an Encyclopaedia Britannica, but nobody said that writing a good online profile was a simple task. A great advertising campaign seems effortless but behind it lie months of research, discarded alternative routes and a large team of people with disturbed sleeping patterns. Why would an online dating profile be any different, why would it not require the same kind of investment?
Lucklily, I had my marketing experience by my side and I knew what had to be done. I needn’t worry about whether I should leave the flying trapeze or abseiling out of my list of favourite activities (especially since I am afraid of heights!). Flying trapeze once didn’t make me who I was. Neither was the indoor dodgeball semi-tournament I’d once been part of. Neither was the surfing trip I took three years before and never tried to catch a wave since. Neither was the mountain trek in Ethiopia. Neither was running a half-marathon. These things were important in showing that I was an adventurous and light spirit, but just listing them was a useless exercise. Without a common thread, they looked like a Picasso painting: a bunch of mismatched elements thrown in together. What I had to do was to turn my profile into Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa: the perfectly balanced construction, the imperceptible smile, the perfect posture, the right light, the painting that seems to be giving enough detail for contemplation, but it certainly doesn’t give it all away.
There are three things to keep in mind when working on your online dating profile:
1. Choose a good picture, slightly from the side, in which your eyes and your smile can be seen. Below is the image I used for my online dating profile (taken by my good friend Teresa Geer of Teresa Madeline Photography)
2. Keep it down to three paragraphs in which you tell at least one story or reveal something quirky. Stay away from general statements and lists (unless it’s the list of your favourite cheeses or foreign idioms that sound funny when translated into English!)
3. Make sure it’s a true reflection of who you are and not just random sentences to fill the space.
And most importantly, have fun with it! If you want to know more about my online dating adventures, I’ll reveal it all in the upcoming book ‘The Love Project’. In the meantime, start your own Love Project this year!