Be Vindaloo, not Wonder Bread
A couple of years ago I found myself single again after an 18 year marriage. As I started dating again, I made mistakes. I’m sharing what I learned so you can avoid those problems.
One of the things I discovered through trial and error was how to create a dating profile that got me responses from men I actually wanted.
What most dating profiles look like
Go to any dating site, read the profiles, and what do you see?
“I love the Foo Fighters, Thai food and romantic walks on the beach.” It’s all generic and non-offensive.
I put the same type of thing on my profile. For example, I wrote that I like to read. Then I wondered why I kept attracting incompatible men.
The light bulb comes on
Several years ago, I was at the Tattered Cover in Denver. I sat at a table sipping a latte while I leafed through Civil War histories. A cute guy asked if the other seat was taken. It wasn’t. I smiled at him and went back to my book.
He said, “Pardon me, but do you like McPherson?”
So we talked about Civil War historians. He told me about a battlefield he visited and offered to buy me another latte. I told him I was married.
He was a good sport — he got my coffee anyway, and we exchanged emails. A few weeks later I invited him to dinner and he met my husband. I made a new friend. If I hadn’t been married it might have been more…
The key to this exchange — we didn’t exchange pleasantries about the weather. We shared a mutual interest. We were passionate about similar things. That made him a member of my tribe.
You want to find your tribe online
This is what you want to replicate online. You want to find people who are passionate about the things you are. Your mutual interests and shared passions are more important than looks. When I was surfing for love online, I did look at the photos but I focused far more on what people said.
Even for a one-night stand, you want someone who “gets” you. If you are into being spanked, for example, you’re going to enjoy sex more with a 6 who will thrash you than with an 8 who won’t.
To attract your tribe, take the time to create a profile that emphasizes what’s unique about you.
Start with your photos
You want 2–4 pictures. At a minimum, you should have a head shot and a body shot. They need to be recent and they need to be honest.
If you are overweight, own it, don’t hide it. Take your body shot on a day that you feel good about yourself. Your self-confidence will come through.
Do NOT take a selfie in the bathroom mirror. Instead, have a friend who actually likes you and knows what they are doing take a few shots from different angles. Wear attractive but comfortable clothes and use lighting and angles to highlight your best features.
You can also add a couple of photos that depict you in a unique way. For example, maybe you play the harp in an orchestra, or belly dance, or run marathons. If you have decent pictures that show your passions, go ahead and add them.
Focus on what makes you special and unique.
If you love Sibelius, read manga, think Leela and Fry are the perfect couple or spend weekends doing Civil War reenactments — put it down. Whenever possible, avoid generic descriptions in favor of specifics.
Let me give you a concrete example. Let’s say your profile currently says “I love dogs, enjoy traveling and I’m a skilled cook.”
That sounds great, right? But, guess what, it’s really generic and puts you in the same bucket with a ton of other people. Now read the two profiles below.
Profile A: “I volunteer at my local animal shelter and love to travel. My most exciting trip was to the Pyramids in Giza. Cooking is another passion. For a friend’s birthday I made lasagne with home-made biscotti for dessert.”
Profile B: “I’m training my German Shepherd for Shutzhund. We enjoy road trips— last summer we visited the world’s largest ball of twine. Another passion is cooking. I made a paleo Thanksgiving feast this year.”
What do these two profiles have in common? They give you a much better glimpse into the personality of the writer. While most people will find the generic profile mildly attractive, they will have a much stronger reaction to the specific ones. Someone might be intrigued and very attracted to Profile A, for example, and repelled by Profile B, or vice versa.
And that’s a good thing. You don’t want to be the Wonder Bread for everyone’s ho hum sandwich, you want to be Vindaloo curry. Most people don’t like Vindaloo. It’s too hot and spicy for them. But the people who like Vindaloo love it. They crave it. They are passionate about it.
That’s what you want. You don’t want to date thousands of people who find you sorta nice, you want to attract the rare few who will be head over heels for you, and for whom you will be just as passionate.
Don’t necessarily shy away from the negatives
When you own your quirks, this may include potentially negative stuff.
Obviously, don’t use your profile to vent. But it’s OK to put something negative out there if you think it’s important a potential date knows about it.
For example, on my profile, I mentioned at the end that I had cancer. I figured if someone had read that far and liked what they saw, if they were the right person, my being a cancer survivor would not turn them off and I didn’t want to waste my time with someone who’d dump me because of it.
Use your own judgment about this, but remember, you don’t need to be embarrassed or ashamed of the life experiences that have shaped you.
Now that you’ve spent some time crafting an online profile that represents your uniqueness, make sure to use it.
In other words, if someone contacts you and it’s pretty obvious they didn’t bother to read your profile — don’t waste your time with them. And make sure that you also read profiles. Don’t let someone’s looks be your prime concern. Instead, focus on his (or her) interests, personality, etc. Remember, your tribe might come in all shapes and sizes!
The most important thing is to find those rare few individuals that click with you. Even if your new profile only gets you one response, if it’s the right one, then it’s done it’s job. In online dating, as in so much of life, it’s quality over quantity every time.