Oh, the all-important online dating profile.
If you’re like me, the first time you approached one of those blank templates on Match or OKCupid or JDate or wherever, you flashed back to college admissions essays.
“Am I well rounded enough to enrich the student body?” you asked yourself at 17 or 18. But, more importantly,“Will they like me? Will they? Huh huh?”
And all of a sudden, as you contemplated your singlehood and your partner-worthiness, you felt this strange mix of adolescent insecurity and raw need to see what the accepted ones actually wrote.
Because, assuming it isn’t actually all about posting hot photos (and, I assure you, it really isn’t) then it’s pretty damn important what you say about yourself, right?
Yes, it is important. BUT, have you considered that what you don’t say is just as important?
Lemme tell you a little story.
A friend of mine, “Rachel,” felt uncomfortable (as in, slightly mystified and deeply bored) with the whole online dating setup. All of those stilted, procedural “Nice profile—I’m interested.” emails back and forth, she explained to me, just to set up one stinkin’ date.
During which, odds are, she’ll meet a nice guy with a good job who’s just…sort of bland. And [yawn] was it really worth the missed gym workout?
What Rachel really loves and thrives on is the dance of flirtation. The kind of flirtation you experience while striking up conversation with that man with the mischievous smile whose eyes caught yours from across the room. And that is even more enjoyable when the guy buys you that drink and obviously sees you for the salty, sultry vixen that you are.
I’ve seen Rachel in action at a Christmas party and a couple of happy hours. She’s good. Very salty. Very sultry.
So, as we talked, the question became…
How to capture all of that fun, charisma, and flirt-vitation in a profile?
And, the way I see it, that’s the magic that comes more from what you don’t say than what you do. The blanks to be filled in–the curved, open parentheses you leave, daring a bold banter-partner to come and masterfully enter. (Forgive me. I can’t resist a little grade-A-cheezy innuendo. I write these columns on Fridays, and my mind is sooo in the gutter by the end of the week).
How do you say important things—and at the same time deliberately NOT say important things–about yourself?
No, not trying to pose fakey-wise Yoda-like enigmas. I’m practical–and not a bit zen when it comes to the prospect of meeting awesome men.
I think you can do it in many different ways—and I think we all do it in conversation all the time. But here’s the easiest, funnest way (in my humble opinion).
Are you ready?
Just dive right in and tell a story.
No long-winded, self-explanatory intro. No boring context. Just. Tell. A. Story.
What kind of story?
Seriously, it can be about anything that you feel reveals a snapshot of your lovely self. You get full artistic license, sweetheart. You make up the rules. I’d suggest it be light in tone—lordy, not some weighty epiphany. And please, for pity’s sake, not a dirge over the death of your dachshund.
Oh, and (I’m sorry, but it must be said) NOT about your kids and how you’re the proud parent of an honor roll student. [Involuntary dry heave. Fifty lashes with a coffee-stained manila report card envelope.]
How about an early childhood memory and why it often comes back to you when you are facing a big decision?
Or how you met the person who became your closest friend?
Or how you conquered your fear of heights?
Or the all-important thing you forgot at the very last moment.
Avoid topics that might come across as manipulative sympathy plays or Humanitarian of the Year nomination essays. In other words, no after-my-chemo meditations or revelations about your scholarship fund to help inner-city kids. Blech.
Don’t announce what the story is supposed to show about you. “Ahem. Now I shall share a story about how I grew as a person through adversity.” That’s just…awkward.
Simply tell a story.
Let the story speak for itself. Weave in some descriptive detail that shows you pay attention to stuff and appreciate the world around you.
And, I guarantee you, it’ll create some nice openers for flirtation. (Along with the inevitable doltish responses that are like, “Huh? Why’d you tell that dumb story when all I want is to imagine you with your clothes off.”)
What Rachel did…
So, Rachel decided to tell about inviting her whole, giant Italian extended family to come to her master’s degree ceremony. And then how she realized at the last minute that she’d left her cap and gown at home. And the Sicilian grandma is muttering loudly in Italian, and the father thinks it’s some sort of conspiracy to keep his daughter from graduating, and the mother is weeping. And Rachel just sort of…runs across the street and has a drink in the bar. Because what else is she going to do at that point, anyway?
Flurry of emails…
Ruggedly Handsome & Literate Profile-Reader: I laughed over your story about forgetting your cap and gown before the graduation ceremony. You do that sort of thing a lot?
Rachel: Yeah, I forget things all the time. I tend to daydream a lot.
RHLP: Really? Such as….
Rachel: Oh, just a very vivid imagination to go with all the degrees I earned but never walked for. Let’s leave it at that for now, shall we?
RHLP: I think we should talk more about your vivid imagination in person.
Rachel: I know, right?
Want some help telling your story? Yup, that’s what I’m best at. Your words and experiences, my coaching. Just like the cool high school English teacher whose red pen made you a better person. Check out my Dating Profile Resource page over at my blog, www.cupidslaboratory.com.