We get so wrapped up in specs, hardware, rumors and the like, that it can be tough to remember that tech is here to serve us, not the other way around. Case in point: I was chatting with some friends recently when I realized that most of those pals were in relationships with people they met on the internet. Seems like everyone is getting in on the act – even celebrities like “Dancing with the Stars” judge Carrie Ann Inaba, who told Access Hollywood recently that she met fiance Jesse Sloan on eHarmony.
Online dating has become positively mainstream, and it may even have new wings, thanks to mobile apps, social networking and geo-location features.
If you’re interested in giving it a whirl and creating your very own profile, you’ll want to make sure to have the basics covered. Here are some tips that can help:
Be Authentic…: If Minecraft is more your speed, as opposed to weekend jaunts to Monte Carlo, then do yourself and your future romantic interest a favor — don’t be a poser. If, however, you always wanted to be a world-traveling jetsetter and realize that life is too short to keep putting it off, feel free to say that. But unless you enjoy wasting everyone’s time, don’t lie in your profile. People will always find out in the end. Plus, why would you want someone who’s clearly looking for someone else anyway?
Also, a sense of humor never hurts. If someone doesn’t share your love of barbs or that wicked sensibility, it’s best that you know that up front anyway. And if they do find it funny, that can be pretty charming. But stop short of insulting anyone. Nothing wrong with a sharp wit, but putting down others can be a seriously big turn-off. (You hear me, fanboys? Kidding… sort of.)
…But Don’t Be “Too Authentic”: There’s such a thing as TMI (“too much information”). There’s no reason on Earth why a mama’s boy should explain that, if he could find someone just half as good as his mother, he’d be happy. (Oy.) Or why a she-geek should out herself as someone who hates dating and usually prefers stuff “with batteries.” (No lie, in researching this piece, I actually spotted this bizarro morsel on someone’s profile.) To be blunt, this is nothing more than self-sabotage. If you have idiosyncrasies — who doesn’t? — you want to let them unfold gradually… not let out all your “crazy” in one shot for all the dating world to see.
Don’t Use Outdated Photos: Maybe you were a smokin’-hot babe when you were 18. And sure, maybe that Spring Break pic shows off every ripple in your washboard abs… from 20 pounds ago. But what good does that do you now? The point is to meet someone interesting who likes and accepts the real-world you — not get a date, shock the hell out of them and have them flee from the premises. Besides, you want someone who’s interested in who you are, not who you used to be, so just put it out there. (Oh, and that Spring Break pic? Unless you’re still a partier who shotguns upside down at frat parties and seeks someone who finds that attractive, just leave that off the profile, k?)
More On Photos: Put that Glamour Shot, or the freaky Halloween pic, away… preferably under six inches of dirt in the backyard. If you didn’t get the hint from the tip above, just use a nice-looking photo of what you look like normally. Glamour Shots look like you tried too hard, Halloween pics aren’t funny or charming — it looks like you’re hiding something, or are maybe too much of a doofus to know what’s appropriate here. Same goes for family portraiture, snaps of you behind a big tree, photos of you looking like a pimp with bodacious bodies huddled around, “bathroom” self-portraits (which seem to be rampant for some reason), etc… None of that stuff makes you look good to the opposite sex.
Don’t Write a Novel In Your About Me Description: You don’t want to come off as someone who’s unbelievably fascinated in yourself. (That is sooo unappealing.) But you don’t want to skimp here either. That could make you seem awkward and insecure, at best — and maybe even superficial, at worst, by letting your pic say everything about you. As a guideline, stick to two medium-sized paragraphs (or maybe three, if they’re short).
Use Action Words: Resume writers know this tip, and a dating profile is practically the same as a CV. A lot of passive verbs will make you seem like a passive person, and can make for a boring read. So use action verbs to spice things up and make the profile feel more dynamic.
Consider Keywords: When creating an online profile, put yourself in the shoes of the person you’d want to meet. Think about the type of search words they might use to find someone like you. For example, if your profile is peppered with “keg parties” and “police raid”… well, you’ve got a problem — actually, you might have several. But for these purposes, don’t put in salacious details and then wonder why that church-going girl/boy-next-door hasn’t found you yet. Try for descriptors like “Outdoorsy,” “introspective,” “social,” or other words that can lead them to you.
Final Thought: Your photo and profile make up the first impression that potential candidates will have of you. So think about what you’re saying about yourself here. Also know that a good profile should be 85 percent about you, and 15 percent about describing the type of person you’re looking for. Don’t shortchange this section either — the way you describe what you want can sometimes say a lot about you. And it will help others identify if they’re a match.
Have you met a significant other using technology? How did you do it? Was it via online dating, a messageboard-thread-turned-real-life romance? Social gaming or MMOs? Other? Tell us your story! Or if you have your own words of advice, share them in the comments section.