Planning Your Online Dating Profile

Dating Profile

First, determine what you really want in a relationship. If you do not know what is important to you and what you are looking for in a dating relationship, how are you going to recognize your perfect match when you meet him or her? You’ll get more responses from people who are looking for the same thing you are, whether you want to settle down with a long-term relationship or just want an e-mail romance.

Second, spend some time and actually set up a personal profile. Then as you go to the online dating websites you will know just what you want to say and how to say it.

Honesty is the best policy. When you go to one of the dating sites, they will ask you your height, weight, religion, income and lots of personal questions. Perhaps you are not as thin, tall or make as much money as you want to. Maybe you have not been to church or a temple or mosque in thirty years. Maybe you are afraid that if you tell them your mother is living with you (or even more embarrassing, that you are still living with your mother) no one will want you.

This is not the time to explore your fantasies of being a different person than you are. Women tend to lie about their weight or age, while men tend to lie about their income, level of baldness and athletic condition. Teenagers pretend to be older than they are.

However, if you start out lying, you will be caught, eventually. If you want to shave a few pounds off, or use an older picture that’s your choice. Nevertheless, confess once you think the person might be more than a one-time romance. Do not bait and switch; it’s the surest way to end a promising relationship.

The best thing about the Internet is also the most dangerous. What you are inside gets a chance to shine without getting overpowered by outward appearance. But, the cues we use in life; body language, dress, personal hygiene, tone of voice—that helps us judge the truth of a person’s statements—are lost in cyberspace. Just keep in mind that the photo posted may be five years old and heavily doctored up with a graphics program showing them thin, with hair or it may even be someone else’s picture!

When it’s time to make your own profile, you’ll start with some basic information. Are you a man or a woman? Are you looking to meet a man or a woman? What age range are you interested in? Where do you live? (Some sites just ask for a zip code, while others may allow you to choose from a list of cities.) This is generally the same information you provide to perform a simple search or “browse.”

Basic profile information may also include your birth date and a valid e-mail address. Site administrators will communicate with you through this address, and some sites allow messages from users to be sent to your e-mail anonymously. When they send you a message, it is routed through the site’s system and redirected to your e-mail without the other user ever seeing your address. Some sites use their own internal messaging system. If you’re especially concerned about privacy, it’s easy enough to create a free e-mail account somewhere and use it solely for your online dating contacts.

Indicating your physical attributes is one of the steps. Height, weight, hair and eye color and body type are common pieces of data, while some sites ask about body piercing and tattoos. At this point, the process becomes increasingly detailed. Interests and activities, favorite sports, authors, music or movies, how you like to spend weekends—these topics are all fair game. More personal questions might involve whether or not you have children, whether or not you want children, your religious beliefs and your political views. Pets, occupation, income and living situation are usually on the list as well.

Then, you’ll be asked to answer many of these same questions a second time, but instead of indicating your own traits, you’ll be describing your ideal date. The site will then use this information and the information you provided about yourself to find suitable matches that you might want to contact. Most sites will also allow you to write about yourself in a more freeform manner—a chance to get across more of your personality than a series of pull-down lists can offer.

Posting your photo is another important step. Most sites report a huge increase in responses to ads that have photos posted. There will usually be guidelines as to what sorts of photo you can post, and there might be an approval process before it actually gets posted. In general, avoid posting revealing photos, don’t post photos with people other than yourself in them and don’t post glossy, glamour photos. Although you want to look your best, try and make sure the photo is accurate to how you currently look. If you’re 35, your high school yearbook photo isn’t a good choice. If you just recently went blond, try to get a photo showing you as a blond.

There’s one last rule that needs to be mentioned, and it’s an important one: Don’t put personal identification information in your profile. This includes your address, phone number, social security number, full name or place of employment. You might meet people on the site that you’ll want to share some of that information with down the line, but it should never be public knowledge

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By Mark Creighton

Mark Creighton is a seasoned relationship specialist and expert with a rich background in psychology and counseling. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and went on to complete his Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Southern California (USC). Mark’s passion for understanding human behavior and relationships led him to pursue further education, and he holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Stanford University.

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