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Everything you should (and shouldn't) put in your online dating profile

Here’s what I've learned about online dating profiles from personal experience

As a recovering online dating addict, I've combed through many, many profiles. I've also met a lot of guys who've told me what turned them off in a profile. Here's some of what I learned.

1. Your profile is not War and Peace

People respond to quick, catchy bites of information. My boyfriend "liked" my profile on OK Cupid in part (I hope only in part) because it was short.

Some profiles drone on, cataloguing the dater's list of favorite (lengthy) literary quotes, philosophies of life, brands of toothpaste, etc. Just because the site asks for your favorite books doesn't mean you should list every book you've loved since you were twelve. Same with your favorite YouTube links. Put in a few that show your favorite music, but a long list looks like an assignment. If a guy's profile has a long list of links featuring him personally, beware, you may have found a narcissist.

A good profile invites you to find out more, not think "this person can't shut up."

2. Don't mention past relationships

I've seen profiles that begin "well, my last partner and I broke up, so here I am again…" Or personal history sections that list several, failed relationships plus a dusting of rancor. Don't do this: you sound like you are unwanted, leftover meatloaf.

This is online dating land. Our past relationships, should we need to mention them, were all really positive and we touch upon them only briefly without details. We do not reel off a list of our prior, drug-addicted, unemployable beaus at our initial meet ups. It's like a job interview; we don't get to say that our prior jobs all sucked. Or that they were great in bed.

3. Be specific and avoid clichés

Several guys have asked why women feel the need to say “I look great in a bikini and an evening dress.” It sounds like an audition to be a TV spokesmodel or the date of a jet-setter. Odds are, your date will be a regular fellow and your first meet up will be for coffee. You won't get to the swimsuit or gown stage until later. And by then, he will find you so charming that, to him, you look great in anything.

Avoid generic statements like "I love sunsets and kittens." Talk about specific things you do like. In my profile, I said that I'm a cinephile who likes Fellini movies. This attracted other pretentious pseudo-intellectuals like me. And I got invited to movies that I actually wanted to see.

Although we are in trite-and-vapid land, be yourself! If you like 'vettes and bbq, say so. You're more likely to find a guy who does, too.

4. But don't go too specific in your list of wants

Some guys have complained to me that women’s online profiles have requested very specific traits in a guy. He must be "between 6 feet and 6 feet two, with blue eyes, broad shoulders, muscles like you get from lacrosse but not from weight lifting, super successful, etc."

If you really need this, please provide a laundry list describing a Ken doll with a hedge fund, but you won't get responses from the guys who don't meet this criteria. You're limiting yourself too much.

5. Post great photos consistent with your profile

People go to photos first. One guy friend was confused by a woman whose profile said she wanted to be taken seriously as an intellectual, but her photos were all scantily clad. On a site where I didn’t have a full body photo, several guys demanded one before they'd meet me. Of course, I wanted to ask them for certified copies of their IQ tests, but that’s another story

Have questions on creating an online dating profile? Ask in the comments below!

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