Were you to try online dating as few as ten years ago, you may have done so quietly, in secret. You may have only told your closest friends of your forays into finding love on the internet. Nowadays, however, it feels like nearly everyone dates online, and a tremendous amount of people have met their significant others through online dating. Whether you are happily coupled or still looking for love, this article will be of interest to you: First we will explore trends and statistics related to online dating, then we’ll have a look at what you should do to make a stellar online dating profile. Finally, we will also discuss a few very important points about online dating/digital life and boundaries when coupled, and why these topics are crucial to discuss and make decisions about when writing your prenup.
Related read: Real women say why they are in favor of prenups.
As of October 2019, 48% of 18-29 year olds had tried online dating, as had 38% of 30-49 year olds. As one might expect, the percentage decreases with age, but even 13% of people over 65 years old have used a dating site or app. Although we have all heard lots of horror stories about online dating (you might even have some of your own), 57% of users ranked their overall experience as positive. When we factor in educational background, people who are more educated are significantly more likely to report having had a positive experience with online dating. And, a majority of users overall said that it was at a minimum ‘somewhat easy’ to find potentially compatible partners (Vogels, 2020).
When we consider what information daters cited as important to see in a potential match’s profile, you might be surprised to learn that only 8% of men and 22% of women needed to see a potential partner’s height (an oft-discussed factor) listed in their profile. What people really did want to see (in order of importance) were photos of the person, information about the type of relationship they’re looking for, whether or not they have kids, and information about their hobbies and interests. Alongside height, religious beliefs, ethnic background, occupation, and political views were less important (Vogels, 2020).
Having a global pandemic to make our lives dramatically more virtual than before also led to a major uptick in online dating. 31% of millennials reported using online dating sites much more when surveyed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, while 26% used them ‘somewhat more’ (Statista, 2021).
If you’re interested in trying online dating or if you’re already there but want to increase the amount and quality of your matches, read on for some profile tips.
Related: How to bring up a prenup without upsetting your partner.
How to Make Your Online Dating Profile Stand Out
Most profiles are generic and boring, and a surprising number of people remain blissfully (and matchlessly) unaware of the faux pas rampant in their profiles. Let’s take a look at what you should and shouldn’t do in your profile in order to attract high-quality matches.
1. Write a bio
If I had a penny for every time someone said “but no one ever reads those things”…well, you know the rest. But guess what? It’s not true. Many people do read online dating profiles–especially women. Your biography is extremely important if you’re looking for anything beyond a hookup. Put just as much intention into your bio as you do into selecting the right photos to upload.
2. Add an anecdote
Include an anecdote that mentions what a previous partner appreciated about dating you. That doesn’t have to be the main point of the anecdote, but you should try in a subtle way to help the reader imagine some of the benefits they might reap from dating you (Hoehn, 2016). For example:
After university, I went to massage school for a brief stint. It’s not my career
but it is something I practice on friends sometimes, and take pride in doing
well. My ex-boyfriend was allergic to eggs, so whenever he would get sick
from accidentally eating something with eggs, I would rub reflexology points
on his feet that are correlated with stomach symptoms. He always felt better
within a few minutes!
3. Have the right types of photos
First: It’s very important to smile fully and genuinely in a minimum of one photo. Even if you don’t like the way you look when you’re smiling, research shows that people who post photos with genuine smiles are perceived as more likable and get more matches (Hoehn, 2016).
Second: You want your photos to show your personality. A good photo should tell a story. To that end, there are five main types of photos every profile should have:
1.) The face-ie: You need a clear photo of your face, close up enough for potential matches to know what your face really looks like. This is usually the best choice for your main image. If you’re a woman, smile and look straight into the camera. If you’re a man, don’t smile but absolutely don’t scowl. Photos of men looking slightly away from the camera and not smiling perform well (Hoehn, 2016). If you want to see how people rate your photos in terms of attractiveness, trustworthiness, and intelligence, try photo feeler. It’s recommended to put each of your photos through this site before uploading them to your dating profile.
2.) Style shot: This is a picture showing your personality as you express it through your personal sense of style. Wear an outfit in which you really feel like yourself; this photo should capture something about who you are as a person (Hoehn, 2016). If you like to be playful, make a silly face. Strike a pose that shows off your charm in a way that is you-niquely you.
3.) Action shot: Upload a photo showing you absorbed in an activity you really love (Hoehn, 2016). It can be anything–playing a board game, ice skating, or facilitating a trivia night.
4.) Friend-ie: You want potential matches to know that you have friends. Your profile needs one group shot of you having fun with your friends (Hoehn, 2016).
5.) Full body shot: It’s important to people on online dating sites to know roughly what to expect from the body of a potential match. You don’t need to (and shouldn’t really) post anything revealing. However your body looks, own it–confidence is sexy (Hoehn, 2016). A full-body photo with a full smile goes a long way.
A photo is two-dimensional, but after someone finishes looking through your photos, you should feel more three-dimensional to them. Make yourself come alive through your profile. Personality and uniqueness are the foundation of attraction in an online dating profile. Boring, run-of-the-mill photos will not get you far, no matter how good-looking you might be (Hoehn, 2016).
- Re-defining the adjective
You may be tempted to write “I am kind, genuine, and adventurous.” This is a.) vague and b.) not unique; lists of adjectives do not grab the reader’s attention. Many people know this, and will instead write something like “I’m generous; I share what I have and I give money to charity.” Congratulations, you just defined ‘generosity!’ This is called ‘re-defining the adjective’. Don’t do it. Instead, tell a funny or interesting story that showcases the trait you want to mention, instead. For example, if you want to say you’re adventurous, think more about what that really means to you, specifically. Instead of writing ‘I’m adventurous, write something like this:
Once when I was having trouble deciding on a travel destination, I printed a map of
Europe and Asia, stuck it to my door, blindfolded myself, spun in circles, and then
stabbed the map with a pencil. Next, I went on couchsurfing to find a host, and that’s
how I ended up making friends with a cool local poet in Lecce, Italy!
If you feel you must mention an adjective or two, make sure you follow them up with specific examples.
2. Photos not to have
-Photos without you in them: It really is cool that you went to the Taj Mahal and also that you took a baller picture of the sunset over a tropical beach. And we’re sure your dog really is the cutest! However, if you’re not in the photo, the photo does not belong in your dating profile and is not likely to do anything to attract a match (Hoehn, 2016).
-Inaccurate photos: The photos need to be recent. Three years old is the absolute maximum, and if your looks have changed substantially since then, photos should be more recent. Also, you know how once in awhile you get an uncannily flattering photo that just…doesn’t really look like you? Don’t use that one. If a date expects you to look better than you really do, they’ll likely be disappointed and unlikely to arrange a second date (Hoehn, 2016).
-Bad quality photos: Seeing dark, grainy, or blurry photos in a dating profile is kind of the visual equivalent of reading a book rife with spelling and grammar errors (Hoehn, 2016).
-Women: No cleavage selfies, duck face, or heavily filtered selfies. And for a bikini shot, proceed with caution and consider what kinds of matches you hope to attract (Hoehn, 2016).
-Men: No car, bathroom, or gym selfies. For shirtless photos, proceed with extreme caution–research actually shows that more often than not shirtless photos deter potential matches. However, if the photo is of you doing an activity you love and it’s an activity in which one kind of needs to be shirtless (like windsurfing), it might be ok. As long as the shirtlessness is clearly not the entire point of the photo (Hoehn, 2016). But, keep in mind that 66% of women think that shirtless photos in a dating profile are a sign of immaturity and lack of self-awareness, 76% said they would not consider a man with shirtless photos for a serious relationship, and 15% said they would be open to a hookup (assuming they like the way the guy looks) (Really Rather, 2021).
Maybe you don’t want to date Trump voters, or perhaps you feel really annoyed by the new-age spirituality movement. However, your dating profile is not the right place to air your grievances. Your profile should say what you do want, without mentioning what you don’t want. How many matches do you think people get whose profiles say something like “no drama, please, I’ve had enough of that already”? Negativity in a profile is not attractive, hands down (Hoen, 2016).
Related: Need some entertainment? Read all about famous celebrity prenups here.
Online Dating and Prenups
With the rise of online dating as well as social media comes a whole host of new issues for couples to consider surrounding what their boundaries are in terms of how they relate to the online world when in a relationship. Is swiping in a dating app cheating? What about if you don’t ever write to or reply to any of your matches? What about if you’re only swiping left on everyone, and just seeing what’s out there for grins and giggles? What about if you follow attractive strangers on social media for the sole purpose of looking at them (especially if the point of their profile is just for sex appeal, eg. models?) How serious are transgressions of your agreed-upon boundaries in these areas? These are all questions to consider when you discuss what infidelity means to the two of you, specifically, in your unique relationship.
Even if these issues don’t seem relevant right now, they could be in the future–especially as our world becomes increasingly digitalized at an accelerating pace. What you decide with regards to how you will show up online as a person who is in a committed relationship is important. These are provisions you might consider including in a lifestyle clause in your prenup, even if they don’t seem relevant to your relationship right now. It’s better to have clear expectations than to unintentionally hurt one another over something that wasn’t clear, and damage your relationship in the process. (If that happens, you might be writing your next online dating profile sooner than you think!) Your prenup is a place to really explore what you want your life as a married couple to look like–from many different angles…so don’t leave anything out!
Hoehn, L. 2016. You Probably Shouldn’t Write That: Tips and Tricks for Creating an Online Dating Profile that Doesn’t Suck. Running Press: Philadelphia, PA.
Really Rather. 2021. What Women REALLY Think of Guys Who Post Shirtless Photos on Dating Apps. Retrieved from: https://www.reallyrather.com/what-women-really-think-of-guys-who-post-shirtless-photos-on-dating-apps/
Statista. 2021. Share of Millennial dating app users in the United States who are using online dating apps or services now more or less amid the coronavirus pandemic as of April 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1114398/millennial-online-dating-usage-during-covid-pandemic/
Vogels, E. 2020. 10 Facts About Americans and Online Dating. Retrieved from: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/02/06/10-facts-about-americans-and-online-dating/