The Psychology of the Dating Profile

November 13, 2020
Online Dating Profiles

Every dating site - whether it's a casual hookup platform or a long-term matchmaking service - will ask you to create a personal profile.

I can feel the anxiety already; it's like having to write an advert about yourself. The stakes here are high!

  • What if I try to come off as confident, but seem arrogant?
  • How will I feel if 1,000's of people view my profile, but nobody messages me?
  • What can I possibly say in a few sentences to convey the sort of person I am?

It's not an easy task for anybody. The worst possible thing to do is leave it all blank (aside from the mandatory fields), or shrug it off and put anything, resigning yourself to the idea that your dating journey won't be successful before it's even begun.

Let's stop right there.

Don't let the pressure of getting it perfect dull your shine!

Here are our top tips for writing a brilliant dating profile, without agonising over every little detail.

1. The Profile Photo

Go for a photo of your face. Make it clear, up to date, and don't post a picture with your dog, Mum, bestie or kids - a dating profile is about YOU!

It's easy to start agonising over the photo; and yes, it is the first impression anybody will have of you.

But - it's one photo. Most dating sites allow you to upload lots of shots, so go for a portrait, a candid shot if you can (natural photos always show our personalities best!), and save images relaying your lifestyle and hobbies for the gallery.

  • DON'T go for a heavily filtered, unrealistic image.
  • DO ask a friend to take a new photo if you don't have any current ones.
  • DON'T use a full body photo, or include friends - your face is plenty and more visible!
  • DO use natural light for a more flattering effect, and take a new photo in the morning when you're fresh.
  • DON'T post a pic from a drunken night out or wearing fancy dress.

2. How to Show Your Personality

The key word here is 'show'. There are so many generic terms, which become meaningless, so it's less about writing award-winning prose, and more about using the various features to explain what sort of person you are, and who you'd like to meet. 

Photos or videos are a great option. If you love sports, music, art, pets, whatever it might be, you can include a picture in your gallery, or upload a video featuring some of your favourite things to engage with singles that share your passions.

Don't ever be tempted to write bullet points about yourself - it sounds out-dated, and like a personal ad you'd see in the back of the newspaper in 1996.

Terms like GSOH just don't cut it! If you're funny (or like a little humour) use that in your text, rather than telling dating site members you are funny and expecting them to think of you as a light-hearted, humorous person immediately.

Images capture a great deal of your personality, so while it's a great idea to state what's most important to you, dating profiles give you a range of media, so make sure to use them all.

  • DON'T write lists of your personality traits - use your text and photos to show them.
  • DO write about what your aspirations are for a new relationship.
  • DON'T rely solely on text to create a killer profile, use all the features available.
  • DO use videos - asking questions or telling a short story can say much more in 30 seconds than the best-written paragraph.
  • DON'T agonise about whether your profile is funny enough, sexy enough, flirty enough. Concentrate on letting members know what you're all about, and if you match with someone compatible you'll have plenty of time to expand on it.

3. Use Spell Check

It sounds trivial, but try to spellcheck your profile, or check it for repetitions before you post it. That doesn't mean to say that you're less likely to find a date if you aren't word-perfect, but a sloppy profile doesn't come across well and might appear careless. 

We often repeat ourselves when asked similar questions, which many dating profiles do, so it's well worth taking a few minutes to read through what you've written, and make sure you're using the space wisely.

If you're really struggling with what to say, or to get a grasp about how you'd describe yourself, ask a friend to give you two sentences that sum you up - that is a great starting point. It's often a lot easier to listen to a subjective opinion when we've got only a few words to capture the attention of the person of our dreams hopefully!

4. Concentrate on Character, Not Image

This really matters; so many matchmaking platforms ask you about your 'criteria' or 'preferences' like you're making a shopping list of requirements.

I find this focus takes away from the emotional aspect of finding a partner and can feel cold and uninviting. 

Therefore, I'd recommend NEVER making your dating profile about appearance, but rather focus on what sort of person you'd like to meet, what qualities resonate with your own, and what characteristics are most valuable to you.

Here's a quick example:

Image Focused

Hi, I'm Lauren! I want to meet a guy aged 30 - 38 who is over 6' tall, earns over £40,000 per year, has an athletic build, and prefer dark hair and brown eyes. I am 5"4, weigh 60 kg, run my own business and have long blonde hair, so I'd like to date someone who will make a good match.

Character Focused

Hi, I'm Lauren! I am passionate about fitness and sports, and love spending time watching movies, but am also focused on building my business and hope to make it a success one day! I'd like to meet a guy who is equally driven to develop himself, shares my love of healthy living, and wants to build and grow alongside me.

See the difference? One is superficial and almost dismissive of quality and character that are the key things you should be focusing on.

That doesn't mean to say that physical attraction isn't essential - but that it shouldn't be the cornerstone of your dating profile.

5. Always Keep it Positive

Online dating has lost the stigma it once had and is one of the most popular ways for couples these days to meet. Still, I see a lot of dating profiles that are a little snippy, probably in an attempt to be a bit cynical, or perhaps trying to avoid any hint of arrogance.

It doesn't work - and any mention of your ex is an ABSOLUTE no-no!

Using phrases like 'I want to meet someone who won't mess me about like my last girlfriend', or 'I'm not interested in time wasters' comes across as bitter, so keep it chipper and stay on the bright side of your personality.

The same goes for aiming for a pity vote. If you say you've tried online dating for years and haven't met anybody, or that you're not expecting any messages, it comes across as defeatist, and probably means you need to spend a bit of time thinking about your dating profile!

Take it with a pinch of salt - you can spend hours on your profile, stressing about every detail, but in reality, it is the whole picture that makes a difference.

Be authentic, be real, use plenty of images, and write about those things most important to you - and you're well on your way to making a success of your dating adventures!

Lauren Edwards-Fowle
Lauren is a freelance writer passionate about how we develop rewarding experiences, and overcoming the barriers we face to living our best lives. Lauren writes regularly about the modern world of dating, relationships, parenthood, and social dynamics.