Sunday, September 13, 2009

Have a Relationship, With The Internet

~ This article appears on Where did My Neurons Go?, and imports directly into Facebook. Comments welcome in both locations. ~

I recently helped a single friend create her online dating profile. It was fun, and I remembered learning the hard way, many years ago. Back then, I would get depressed from lack of responses! I didn't know there was nothing wrong with me. I was simply uneducated about the realities of profile-making.

The amount of effort you put into your profile says a lot. If believe you are unattractive, or feel negatively about your chances, you could subconsciously sabotage your profile and then your worst fears will naturally be confirmed.

Making your profile as good as you can will not only make you feel good, but will generate better responses. A good profile reminds you that you are attractive in many ways. (You are!) At worst, spending the few hours it takes to set it up well is just a good exercise in self-knowledge. This is your marketing material, so don't shortchange yourself!

I thought I'd share some of the lessons I've learned. Feel free to share yours through comments!
  • Lesson #1 - Get a great profile picture.
    Would you look at a profile with no picture? If so, stop being so naive! Some estimate that 75% of people ignore profiles without pictures. I estimate that it's closer to 105%. I wouldn't waste my time searching for people whom I may or may not find unattractive. Why waste yours?

  • Lesson #2 - Use several great pictures.
    Everyone can find or take flattering pictures of themselves (read: your facebook photos). There is no excuse for pictures that aren't clear. Have at least one picture that has you smiling, one of you with others, one of you doing something fun/interesting/hilarious, and one with your entire body, with clothes of course! Your own photo collection has both good and bad photos. Do NOT use the bad ones. Its better to have fewer pictures than to have a bad one.

  • Lesson #3 - Don't forget the pictures.

  • Lesson #4 - DON'T FORGET THE PICTURES! Seriously!

  • Lesson #5 - Be truthful.
    Making stuff up can cause trouble later on and also attract people who aren't into the real you. Its unwise to leave out important items, like the fact that you have children. Being upfront about big things is an opportunity to skip people who are uncomfortable with your life, and to encourage people for whom those things are irrelevant, or even actively sought. The internet is trying to help you filter people quickly. So help others filter you -- you already do it to them. Still, being truthful doesn't mean to avoid creating a little mystery since many details don't need to be shared. Just make sure that your true self is represented.

  • Lesson #6 - Be interesting.
    Share some of your unique quirks and interests. If you are worried about being judged, then learn to accept yourself. Being comfortable with yourself is always attractive. Everyone has quirks -- if you don't, then maybe you are in denial. Sure, this lesson isn't really just about online dating, but it still applies.

  • Lesson #7 - Be funny.
    Your unique sense of humour is important, so definitely toss some in. For example, when asked to describe herself with three adjectives, my friend's third adjective was "teal". Hilarious, and intriguing. Its a colour. What!? Exactly. Don't you want to know why? Of course you do. If you think you are too serious to have jokes in your profile, then lighten up. People enjoy laughing.

  • Lesson #8 - Keep your profile the right length.
    A very short profile says little about you. It might suggest to others that you are afraid, or lazy, or possibly self-conscious. Provide some detail to create a fuller image of yourself. Conversely, a very long profile can suggest that you don't know where to stop, that you have poor judgement, or that you are trying too hard. People want to evaluate quickly, so don't tell your life story -- they will probaly gloss over it anyway. Its important to strike a balance. A friend in the demographic you are seeking is often a good source of feedback.

  • Lesson #9 - Don't take anything personally.
    Most people don't even know you. There may not be the best matches for you on your particular site. There can be many reasons for not getting the results you want. Blaming yourself is illogical, because you typically have no idea what the true reasons are. Imagine some plausible reasons for any disappointments, and you will eventually stop being so disappointed. The only thing you can control is your profile, and sometimes even that gets censored by the system!

  • Lesson #10 - Make sure you stand out.
    Your pictures, your profile and your messages should be uniquely you. But you also need to make sure its not the same drivel everyone else uses. Ways to get educated: (a) Do some recon on the competition - browse your own demographic (b) Get feedback from a friend (c) Sign up a second account as someone who is your ideal match, use a very attractive picture, and a sparse profile, then sit back and read all the stupid mail you get from others -- it will be enlightening. Think of it as an experiment, which isn't misleading if you don't contact anyone. Be careful not to fall in love with the person you just created.

To go a little farther, many people try to explain the same things: They're a nice person. They are fun to hang out with. They like long walks on the beach. They enjoy hanging out with friends. They like watching movies. That describes everyone!

Set yourself apart and don't write boring words. Think about how your ideal match filters most profiles because they are all so similar. That's only because the others haven't read this article yet. Now use your advantage and get out there!


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