Like many young people, I’ve used a lot of dating apps over the years.
Some were good, and some weren’t. But I got to know some genuinely interesting people through them.
Last summer, I met a guy through a dating app and was instantly pulled in by his profile. There was something different about him, so when he asked me out, I said yes.
Looking back, the best thing about his profile was that when I met him in person, he was better than I had imagined. In other words, he didn’t exaggerate who he was to get more dates or to impress anyone.
And that impressed me.
I must say, though, that he was a rare gem. Because after swiping through hundreds of profiles, I realized most of them were terrible.
It wasn’t that the guys themselves were terrible — not at all. It was just that they hadn’t set up their profiles well. So if their first picture was awful, as it usually was, I didn’t waste time and just kept swiping.
But you know what? I think that’s sad.
Because even though I’ve never been a huge fan of dating apps in the first place, I do realize they can be a great place to connect with people you wouldn’t meet otherwise.
In fact, I know people who met their significant others through dating sites.
And if you’re introverted like me, being able to look at profiles from the comfort of your couch is a game-changer.
But the downside to apps is that if you don’t set up your profile to your advantage, no one will look at it long enough to get to know you.
You already know how important first impressions are, but I’d say they’re especially important in online dating.
Because all you can share initially are a few pictures and a short bio that can’t possibly show people what you’re really like in person.
And to make it even tougher, you can’t even make the first move with some apps.
So having a great profile can mean the difference between getting a handful of mediocre dates or getting noticed by hundreds of great potential partners.
Which would you prefer?
So, with that in mind, here are some extremely common mistakes I’ve seen over and over — and what you should do instead.
First of all, here are some instant turn-offs:
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Having a poor quality mirror selfie with dirty laundry in the background
If I had a dollar for every crummy mirror selfie I’ve seen on dating sites, I’d be rich.
No, but seriously — having dirty surroundings is not appealing at all.
If you want to get noticed by people who’ll be worth your time, make an effort to post quality pictures that show you’re worth their time, too.
Of course, you don’t have to use professional pictures, but having a clean background with good lighting is a must.
Using pictures of yourself with a cropped-out ex
You don’t have to prove you’ve dated other people before. Really.
Having someone who’s presumably your ex in your dating profile is awkward and it just screams, “I have no self-confidence.”
And yet, I’ve seen it over and over.
The last thing you want is to give the impression that you’re desperate and needy. Focus on posting pictures of just yourself or you and a few friends.
But skip the ex pics — you’ll thank me later.
Posting pictures that look like mug shots
Hopefully, you’re not fresh out of prison. So why try so hard to make people think you are? I find it off-putting when guys post close-up selfies.
Because no matter what you look like, taking pictures from two millimeters from your face isn’t flattering and gives the impression that you’re full of yourself.
And you really don’t want to give that impression.
Just trust me on that one.
Having a stony-faced expression
Life isn’t always easy — I get it.
But having a scowl on your face in your pictures will make it really hard for people to envision you as a happy, fun-loving guy.
Remember — your profile is the only thing a prospective date has to decide whether they’d like to date you or not. So make sure you’re putting your best foot forward.
Of course, no one is happy all the time, but try to choose pictures that reflect a positive attitude.
And speaking of positive attitudes, now let’s examine what you should be including in your profile to maximize your chances of finding a compatible partner:
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Share pictures of yourself doing outdoor activities (if you do, in fact, take part in outdoor activities)
What you want to do is show prospective dates that you have balance in your life — you don’t work all the time, but you also don’t play video games until 4 a.m.
If you share who you are, who you really are, you’ll attract people who like the same kinds of things.
Do you enjoy hiking? Great! Make sure to mention that in your profile so that people can see right off the bat that you two have common interests.
Wear appropriate clothes
What you wear should reflect who you are.
If you work in an office and wear a lot of suits, it wouldn’t hurt to include a picture of you wearing one in your profile.
But don’t make it misleading — don’t wear clothes you don’t usually wear just to impress someone or to make yourself look better.
The key here is to be authentic.
Have a funny (or at least an interesting) bio
And no, writing, “My ex dumped me last night… So here I am again” doesn’t count.
One bio that I loved went something like this: “If you’re looking for someone to pose as your rich partner so you can avoid your parent’s incessant questions about your relationship status, I’m your guy.”
Why did it work?
Well, it made me laugh and it showed me that he didn’t take himself too seriously — and believe me, women love a guy who can be goofy.
So I contacted him, and sure enough, we had a great time.
* * *
Here’s the bottom line: It’s really, really important to be genuine
I know, you’re probably rolling your eyes at this. But listen — people will be able to tell if you’re trying too hard.
I know how tempting it is to make yourself look good by exaggerating — I guess we’ve all been there.
But it always backfires because no one can keep up an act forever. And wouldn’t you prefer to be with someone who values you for who you are instead of for a fake personality?
Remember — you don’t have to look like Brad Pitt to have a winning profile and get a lot of great dates. And the more you put yourself out there, the better you’ll be at it.
So, go update your profile and see how your dating life improves. Good luck!
Previously published on Medium.com.
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