So you’re back on the apps and ready to find the love of your life? Good for you! Turns out, creating a profile that actually feels like you, but is also relatable, a little coy and definitely conveys your smarts is much harder than it seems. Especially if you want to stand out from the rest of the eligible guys and/or gals on OkCupid, Hinge, Bumble or whatever app you prefer.
I’m a dating coach and author of The Love Gap: A Radical Plan to Win in Life & Love, a guide that helps modern singles figure out the confusing dating landscape. I’ve guided countless singles through apps and worked with them to create profiles that will actually attract attention from prospective partners. Here are my online dating profile tips that will help you find the right matches.
How to Build a Strong Profile
1. Fill out your profile…completely!
A lot of people leave their profile incomplete, which is wild because it’s the only way strangers can get to know you. Don’t adopt a defeatist attitude before you even start, thinking, “Why should I spend my time on this when it’s unlikely to work?” Remember, that pessimistic outlook will serve as your first impression on a dating app and it’s never attractive to match with someone who already thinks your connection is going nowhere. And if you’re too lazy to fill in your job and hometown—let alone add in a fun fact about yourself—please, get off the app. I tell my clients to swipe left on people who cannot be bothered to fill out a profile; would you want someone to bring that lack of effort to your relationship?
2. Use the categorical info to your advantage.
Online dating is not about attracting the most people; it’s about attracting the right people for you. So, if you can add information on categories including religion, political affiliation, desire to have kids or level of education, you should. You’re wasting your own time and your match’s time by omitting key information that might be relevant in your search or their search for a partner.
3. Write an amazing bio.
The vast majority of your written bio should focus on you. What does that mean? Well, you can talk about your job if you’re passionate about it, as well as what you like to do, where you like to travel and where you see your life in the next few years. But focus on your passions, not your problems. Read over your profile before posting it and ask yourself: ‘Would I want to be a part of this person’s life?’ If the answer is ‘no,’ redraft.
4. Use identifiers that also say something about you.
Including identifiers that other people will easily understand can be very helpful. I’m a big proponent for listing your Myers-Briggs type, astrological sign, enneagram, love language, ideological profile, and so on. These can become a great little ice breaker—even if you add in your favorite pop culture fact (how you’ve seen the entire Lord of the Rings series 15 times) or a personal principle (you absolutely have to eat three pickles with a cheeseburger), and others could get a strong sense of your personality as a result.
5. Don’t post a laundry list of turn-ons and turn-offs.
Don’t use precious bio space to detail a long, boring list of things you’re looking for in a partner. For one, it makes you seem demanding and on top of that, research shows us the vast majority of people don’t know what we want in a partner. If you want to list a few traits that would excite you, sure. But it should be one sentence maximum in your entire profile.
6. End your profile on a question.
My super-simple icebreaker, a message-me-now hack is to end on a question or a suggestion. For the longest time, mine was, “Tell me something you think I wouldn’t know.” This honestly led to some amazingly creative and fun facts from my matches. Another great question would be, “If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would it be and why?” I’ve always felt that quality conversations happening early on the app have the power to translate into better, deeper conversations off-app.
How to Choose the Right Photos
7. Don’t use all selfies.
This move can make you seem a little conceited, which is never the best first impression. You should be in every one of your photos, but it’s better if your pictures highlight activities and locations, not just your face (beautiful as it is!).
8. If you do need to take a selfie, make sure it’s clear.
One or two selfies is okay, as long as your photos are well-lit. For your best bet, try snapping a pic outside late in the afternoon. Hold the phone an arm’s length from your face, and either angle the camera straight in front of you or shoot from slightly above—don’t take your photo from an upward angle, so you see a lot of chin first.
9. Show some skin if you’d like, but not in every photo.
I’d suggest not flaunting your body too much; you want to attract people who will focus on your profile as a whole, not just your physical appearance. A bikini photo on your favorite beach in Spain? That shows you love to travel and going to the beach. Six shameless mirror snaps in your skimpiest swimsuit? Not so much.
10. Always include one shot of your face and one full-body pic.
While dating is not strictly physical, the attraction is still important. You want people to have a good sense of your current appearance, so give them a few options to get familiar with you.
11. Choose pictures that highlight you and your life.
If travel is important to you and you have great shots from your food tour of Japan, include those. If you’re athletic, include a shot of a recent tennis match or a pic of yourself during softball practice. Make sure your photos have something to say about who you are because they can also be excellent conversation-starters.
12. Avoid using generic photos.
The online dating community is saturated with images of girls with pouty lips or guys holding fish. To stand out from the crowd, avoid these tropes! Show off your personality through photos that are unique to you and your life.
How to set the right filters
13. Know which filters are deal-breakers, and which you can adjust.
Be realistic with yourself. Sure, it’s great to cast a wide net but if you’d truly never date anyone as young as 25 or as old as 55, then shrink your age range. If you know you don’t have the time to date someone who lives an hour away, don’t set your distance filter so far.
14. Set advanced filters for your dealbreakers
If you’ve been struggling to find someone extremely into fitness, or if you really want to date someone within your religion, you can filter for that on a lot of apps, including Bumble and Hinge. Again, it’s tempting to cast the net as wide as possible, but I’ve seen so many people break up with someone they could have filtered out (and avoided dating for three months). Seriously, just use your advanced filters!