Ten Things to Know About
Writing Your Online Profile

Lots of dating sites give you vague general information about writing your profile. Problem is, most of that advice is too general to be effective, and most of it is common sense anyway. Here's more practical advice you can use to write an online profile that will really express yourself and make you stand out from the crowd.

10. Be yourself

This is probably the most frequently cited piece of advice. But what does it really mean? Your profile should strike a balance between expressing your essence and showing how you are unique. When writing your profile, imagine you are talking to one person. It may be tempting to try to be all things to all people so as to cast a wider net, but that will tend to backfire by making you look scattered, shallow, or uninteresting.

9. Describe how you are unique

Sure, you like Italian food. Guess what? So does just about every other person on this planet. Instead of saying that you like Italian food, describe what dish you like in particular, and how you like it prepared. Okay, you like sports. Big deal. Most people like some combination of baseball, football, basketball, and hockey. How about mentioning the offbeat sports that you enjoy watching or participating in, like rollerblading, fencing, or frisbee golf?

8. Don't be afraid to get a little personal

Online profiles can come across as cold and distant but you can add depth and character by describing something personal. Just don't get too sappy or deep, otherwise you risk coming across as an emo loser. For example, you could briefly talk about how you love canoeing because you used to do it every weekend with your uncle who was a powerful influence on you growing up. Or you could talk about how you really enjoy garlic because the smell reminds you of growing up in New Jersey.

7. Avoid cliches

If you read other people's profiles you'll quickly realize that they tend to be variations on a theme. Everybody seems to like moonlit walks on the beach. They all like hanging out, kicking back, and enjoying a good time. We all enjoy everything from pizza and beer with our friends to a nice meal in an intimate, fancy restaurant with that special person. Who doesn't? When you write things like this in your profile you're not just stating the obvious, you're categorizing yourself you as just one of the mass of average, not very interesting, and even somewhat boring people.

6. Avoid describing what you're NOT looking for in a mate

Everybody dislikes playing games. Everybody dislikes people who are shallow. Everybody dislikes "players." There's no need to mention any of these things. If you do, you come across as being insecure or damaged by past relationships.

5. Don't spend too much time describing who you're looking for

If you've written your profile well, you will tend to attract people who you will find attractive. Sure, if certain things are important you can state them explicitly, but it's better for them to be stated implicitly, otherwise you come across as picky and demanding. For example, if you want kids presumably you're seeking somebody who wants kids, too. It's better to say simply, "I want to have kids," rather than "I want to have kids and am looking for somebody who wants to have kids, too." Why be redundant? Another example: if you're a physically active person, just say so and you'll attract athletic people. If somebody responds who is not active, you will be able to quickly determine they're a couch potato by looking at their profile. If somebody isn't able to determine what you're looking for by reading your profile and figuring it out, chances are you don't want to date them anyway.

4. Be positive

Negative people come across as losers, and the world of online dating is filled with losers--or at least plenty of people whose negative profiles makes them appear to be losers.

3. Check your spelling

Your profile is like your resume: just as a potential employer will trash your resume for having poor spelling, an online profile that is riddled with spelling errors (or poor grammar or punctuation) will make you come across as a bit of a moron. If you're not the best writer, ask a friend to look it over for you.

2. Don't be afraid to change your profile

No profile is perfect. If you're not getting enough responses, try rewriting parts of it, or even scrapping the whole thing and starting over.

1. Don't write things that will turn off potential dates

There are certain things that you might be tempted to write about but which raise big red "loser" flags in the minds of people who read them. Tops on this list of taboo topics are the following. Guys: don't write about sex. Girls: don't write about your cats.