Published February 01, 2012
Technology has come so far, yet daters in the digital age must make a good first impression with the old-fashioned written word -- at least in online dating.
The art of crafting a great online dating profile is not just about sharing your awesomeness with the world; after all, that's what the rest of the Internet is for. The dating profile is about attracting the one perfect Mr. or Ms. Right and weeding out inferior prospects.
Certain dating criteria are sensitive. For instance, a strong disinclination toward dating people of certain shapes, sizes or colors should be kept under wraps, even though no one would argue that physical attraction is one of the central themes in dating.
Custom dictates that screening for attributes such as looks, weight and height be done obliquely.
If you are looking for someone who resembles a model, you should not come out and list the physical attributes you're looking for, because it makes you seem shallow.
Similarly, if your standards come with an income requisite, the unspoken rule is to keep that to yourself. Love may not be blind in the days of television shows such as "Bridalplasty," but it should be at least wallet-blind, our egalitarian, classless society insists.
Some dating experts even recommend that women avoid asking a man what he does for a living, lest she begin to smell like eau de gold digger.
But are dollar signs such a bad thing? Not necessarily. After all, some say, it's just as easy to fall in love with a rich man or woman as it is a poor one.
Most successful, career-minded people want an ambitious partner who isn't struggling financially, says Leslie Oren, owner of Babygrande PR near Los Angeles and author of "Fine, I'll go online!: The Hollywood Publicist's Guide to Successful Internet Dating."
How do you do that without a line that says, "Six figures or less need not apply?"
It's all in the profile.
"As a successful woman, if you are looking to try to find someone who is as successful as you, if not more so, figuring out a way to be honest about who you are is the most important thing," says Oren.
Crafting the perfect profile is very similar to employing smart marketing or public relations tactics. Daters need to market themselves in the most flattering, yet honest, light possible.
To build a profile that reflects who you are and what you want, carefully craft your interests and speak eruditely about your life, "being very specific in your endeavors and description of yourself," says Oren.
In the same way a very fit person would talk about their interests and activities in order to attract someone similar, being upfront about your success and endeavors paints a portrait of the kind of person you are and the person you're looking for.
If you're high-maintenance, use subtle verbiage to convey that message.
"In that process you can get in there all kinds of personality traits and nuances that will communicate to a prospective date whether they feel you're someone they can take on financially," Oren says.
All well and good, but for some daters, all those exciting interests and life experiences are lost in translation somewhere between their fingers and the Internet -- which is to say, they write ineffective profiles.
Oren's advice is to ditch the touchy-feely talk about emotions and instead, be very specific about who you are while using action-oriented phrases.
She suggests an easy exercise to get your profile rolling. Start by making a list of your best qualities.
"I wrote, 'good sense of humor, sarcastic New York sensibility but not cynical, optimistic, a good friend and affectionate,'" she says. "It could be anything: 'great taste in clothes, I only need three hours of sleep per night,' anything."
Next, find examples of those qualities in action.
"Not in terms of feelings but in terms of what you're actually doing," says Oren.
She gives some examples: "planning a bicycle trip, writing a book and redecorating my living room."
Now, combine the qualities with the activities. "Describe yourself actively," says Oren.
"I'm a good friend and a good listener and right now I have a friend going out of town and I'm dog-sitting for her poodle," she cites as an example.
According to Whitney Casey, relationship expert with Match.com and author of "The Man Plan: Drive Men Wild ... Not Away," the way the profile is formatted can be key as well.
Whitney recommends that women use bullet points to keep men's focus.
"If you give them a list of who you are they can relate to, that's better than a paragraph full of thoughts and ramblings," she says.
Then again, if a high level of literacy is something you prize in a man, you may want to stick with paragraphs.
Whitney emphasizes that keeping it simple and straightforward is the way to score a second look: your career, your hobbies and a couple of your current activities.
Activities can provide a hook for interested prospects to grab onto in the initial e-mail exchange.
"Oh you're running the marathon? So am I. Want to train together?" Casey says.
For men, Whitney recommends writing complete paragraphs -- three paragraphs, comprised of three sentences each.
"Women don't want to see bullet points, lists or one sentence you wrote about yourself. It shows that you don't have any insight and you're not willing to put any time into it," she says.
Start broadly by writing about yourself and your career. Move on to activities and hobbies in the second paragraph and finish up by writing about what you're doing now and what you're looking for in a woman.
Even if your dream date has the head of Benjamin Franklin and a distinctive green hue, leave a little bit to the imagination. No one wants to date a gold digger, but who wouldn't want to date someone whose ambition, intelligence and success match their own?
Begin with clarity about who you are and who you're looking for, and you may be surprised by who shows up.