That’s What He Said: The Do’s and Don’ts of Online Dating Profiles


Last week I shared some (valuable?) pointers on how to spruce up your online dating profile (all together now: “Don’t. Be. Cat. Lady.”). And because I like to beat a dead horse from time to time (i.e. balance things out), I decided we should let the fellas weigh in, since after all, they are the ones who are on the receiving end of said online efforts. A little Mars/Venus action, if you will. Let me tell you, these eager gentlemen were coughing up the goods. There are a lot of gems in here, so I’m just gonna let you get right to it. Ladies, take note (and chuckle a little along the way).

On to the (telling) responses…

Dale, 28, Honolulu (yessir, we’re getting outside the contiguous 48 on this one):

What attracts you to a woman's profile? 

Attraction is a multifaceted topic, the pictures are expected. It's like a great book, people say you shouldn't judge it by its cover but it happens constantly. However, if there's no lengthy profile to give me a glimpse into your personality, I'll assume you have the depth of a children's book...lots of pictures, few words.

Positives: A variety of interests, openness (tolerance of anything different), having an active and healthy lifestyle, a sense of humor, and a willingness to try new things or explore new places.

What are some major turn-offs and deal-breakers in a profile?

Lacking a grasp of your primary language: if you appear illiterate, I'll assume you're incompetent. Overly proactive pictures: if you or your profile looks like I'm supposed to pay you for your time, like a lady of the night, I'll attempt in vain to regain that lost moment of time I wasted looking at you. Which leads me to the last major deal-breaker. We're in the 21st century, women have expected equality across the board but a guy's expected to be gentlemanly and pay for everything? If I don't, I'm considered cheap and inherently unsuccessful. If a lady says she's not a cheap date she can look for another schmuck. If she doesn't at least offer to pay for her half, especially on a first date, I'll chop it up as a lost cause and probably not ask for a second date.

Greene, 35, Miami:

When I read through your profile I am looking for something to comment on that will show you that I at least took the time to read through it. If your profile is so ridiculously bland with nothing to hold on to... don't be surprised if you get messages like "hi."  Try and be compelling... write passionately about things you are passionate about. Tap into what is special about you and put that in your profile. Advice I give guys but probably works for girls too: Not too long, make it fun, tell them what you want.

Profile mistakes that are a turn off (but you can get away with anything if you are cute enough): Appearing boring, bragging, seeming needy or desperate, using clichés, grammar and spelling mistakes, complaining. Pro tips: Never start a sentence with "My friends say I'm..."  That is stealth bragging; and change it up every couple of weeks.

[In which he discusses pictures] Pictures are the most important to guys.  If you post 10 photos I will look for the worst one and assume that's what you look like. If you feel like you have a weight problem I won't be fooled (again) by the headshot-only photos. I have become an expert at inspecting the tricep area of a girl's arm to predict overall fitness. If you don't like the way you look, do something about it... don't misrepresent yourself.

[And some insight into the wink vs message functionality] I have read several profiles where women condemn the "wink" functionality. They say something like "be a man, write me an email."  Well here's the problem with that... You probably respond to about 10% of the emails you get (and with good reason). If I wink at you and you wink back then I know the odds of getting a reply to an email that I took the time to write are a lot higher. Don't hate on a wink!

[In conclusion] In my opinion we all have rights when it comes to online dating. I have the right to abruptly terminate a date if you have somehow misrepresented yourself. I met up with a girl who literally had a 10-year-old photo of her as a cheerleader. What??? Really??? I'm out of here!!!

Hamlet, 31, San Francisco:

What attracts you to a woman's profile?

Photos are the most important aspect of a profile because they determine my binary "yes, I want to know more" or "no, let's move along." Any guy who denies the primary importance of a photo is probably lying. I won't reach out to, or respond to, a girl who doesn't have at least one (and preferably more) photo. And if I don't have at least a minimum level of attraction to a girl based on her photo, then I'm not going to make any more effort to communicate either.

Despite the importance of photos, they're still just gatekeepers. To get beyond that, there needs to be something more substantial. My dating philosophy is that there are five traits that must meet a minimum standard: attractiveness, intelligence, kindness, sociability, and independence. Beyond that, I honestly don't care a lot about what a girl says or what her interests are because I don't believe that it matters for long-term happiness. If I'm looking for a fling or short-term romance, then some specific mutual interests are nice, but otherwise I view differences in interests as opportunities to learn and expand my comfort zone.

What are some major turn-offs and deal-breakers in a profile?

#1, #2, and #3 in importance are having multiple recent pictures. Anyone can look good in one cherry-picked photo from 10 years ago, and I think this applies to both men and women. Photos with groups of friends (where you can't tell which girl is the one on the site) are also brutal. Case in point: I went out with a girl who was beautiful but never smiled in her photos. I decided to bite the bullet and take her out and found out why she never smiled - she was missing half of her teeth!

Other deal-breakers in profiles are ones that seem way too perfect (I assume she's a "professional"), ones that expose a massive "list" of qualifications required for potential suitors, and any that give any hint of being disingenuous/high-maintenance/etc. I figure if a person can't make a good impression in a manufactured and infinitely reviewable setting, then it's time to move along.

Alright, dears. You've heard what they had to say. Now, get after it in the comments.