If you’re single and over 40, it’s almost impossible to find love. That is, if you’re not on an online dating site AND you’re not posting a profile that stands out.
I know, I know, you probably hate online dating. But, if you’re not dating online, are you dating at all? Are you getting set you up with anyone compatible (not the, “You’re a guy and she’s a girl” setup)? How often do you meet potential dates at parties or social gatherings?
Did you say never? I thought so. Like it or not, online dating is one of the best ways to find love after 40. But, most people are not big fans.
You join a dating site, and you’re contacted by a bunch of strange people, or you connect with people with potential who don’t follow through, or people who talk about cancer and bladder problems and sex before you’ve even met. And then you quit, because online dating sucks.
Sure, there are crazy and sick people online. There are married people posing as singles. But there are also fabulous people online. Online dating is where the majority of people over 40 find true love. You probably know a few couples who met online.
The problem is, most people don’t date online effectively.
They post profiles and photos that turn people off instead of on. It’s bad enough when someone posts photos that are unflattering, out-of-focus, or scanned from a driver’s license (No kidding. I actually saw a few of these online. I don’t know about you, but nothing turns me on like a blurry photo with an imprint of your state stamped over your face).
Outstanding photos are the most significant part of your online dating profile. And if he/she likes your pictures, they’re going to want to learn more about you by reading your essay.
The ineffective profile essay
If your essay is filled with clichés, isn’t specific enough, or paints a negative picture, you will lose the opportunity to connect with someone who might be awesome. That’s why I’m sharing what works and what doesn’t in online profile essays. A few small tweaks can make the difference between ‘no way’ and ‘I’d like to get to know HER better’.
What’s Wrong With These Online Dating Profiles?
Following are three actual online profile essays I found on dating sites. I’ve illustrated what’s wrong and how to improve them.
- Divorced man, 50-years-old
Before: im easy going, down to earth. enjoy hanging out drinking coffee driving
What’s wrong? Yep, that was his entire profile essay. Because this dude is not a wordsmith, we don’t know much about him except that he writes run-on sentences and doesn’t like apostrophes. He says nothing specific about himself except that he likes coffee (how unique!), hanging out (how exciting!) and driving (wow!). Words like ‘easygoing’ and ‘down-to-earth’ don’t tell us very much.
Here’s how he might add a few details to showcase what makes him unique.
After: I love traveling without a map or GPS to destinations unknown in my red Fiat convertible, top down, a cup of iced Columbian roast in my cup holder, and ACDC blasting from my speakers.
Note: While this is not a complete essay, it does set the tone. He comes across as an adventurous guy who likes rock and roll. The right woman will be drawn to those qualities. Especially if he writes about 100 more words about his life and what he brings to a relationship.
- Divorced man, 53-years-old
Before: Loves Sushi, Yankees and laying out by the pool in no particular order…Passionate about my family, reading good books, traveling and animals.
What’s wrong? Well, to his credit, this essay has complete sentences (yay!) and is less generic. But it still says very little about him. I’ve added specific details, such as what type of books he reads and what he likes to eat. The following is a much more effective opening to an essay.
After: On summer weekends, you’ll find me lying on a blanket at my beach house in Fire Island, reading the latest James Patterson novel. In the winter, I ski in Vail or hike in the Berkshires most weekends. The best part is that cup of hot cocoa at the end of the day, warming up by the fire next to…you?
I usually eat organic, but my guilty pleasure is a hot dog and fries at Yankee stadium. I love barbecuing steak for my three grown kids when they’re all home from college. And I look forward to having a woman with whom to share all of life’s pleasures.
- Divorced woman, 47-years-old
Before: I am single, confident, and comfortable with my current life, and I’d like to share it with someone else as well. I would like to meet a man who knows how to treat a woman. My career is important to me. But I do believe everything in life should be balanced and in moderation. My family and friends are important to me and I enjoy spending time with them. My ideal match is someone who enjoys life, family and friends, is socially responsible, enjoys the little things in life and loves to laugh.
What’s wrong? She says she’s single. I would hope so, if she’s on an online dating site. Don’t say things that are cliché, non-specific, or obvious. She says she’s confident. In essays, it’s important to show, not tell. Say something that displays her confidence.
She says she’d like to meet a man who knows how to treat a woman. This can come across as demanding. A big turnoff. She says her career is important to her. If she says WHY she loves her job, that gives a man more insight into her values. You get the picture—be specific, interesting, and set yourself apart by stating what makes you unique.
After: I know what music I like, but please don’t ask me the names of any songs. I enjoy reading fiction, like the dating profiles of some people on OKCupid, and books by Alice Hoffman. My daily exercise includes a morning run and walking my Alaskan Husky (or does he walk me? It’s debatable). If you’re a dog lover, you’ll get extra points!
I love my work as an interior designer, because I get to help people fall in love with their homes. I work hard, but there’s nothing like taking time off to chill. On the weekends, I enjoy a bike ride in Central Park or grabbing a burger and fries in SOHO.
I inherited my mom’s green eyes and my grandmother’s ability to cook a delicious Hungarian stew. I can prepare chicken ten different ways and hardly ever use recipes. My friends come to me for advice, my kids come to me for spending money, and if you play your cards right, you’ll be invited to dinner at my place. Chicken Parmesan, and Pink Floyd playing in the background…or was that The Who?
Don’t you get a better sense of who this woman is? You know she has a sense of humor without her telling you that she’s funny. You see why she likes her job. This is much more effective than her previous essay, isn’t it?
Your online dating profile is one of the first impressions you make on a dating site. So, if you’re tired of attracting the wrong people and you want better results, write a profile essay that showcases your most unique traits. Then, you’d better get out your spreadsheet to keep track of all your dates!
Are you dating online? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience. Please share below.
P.S. Single women over 40: If you are struggling with online dating and would like to meet quality men online—without the frustration—I invite you to join my upcoming course, Find Love Online After 40. It starts on January 17th. And the first 5 who join will get a free 1/2 hour consult with me. Hurry, seats are going quickly!
Photo: Flickr/Don Hankins