The main benefit of dating websites is that they’re incredibly targeted. You can search for exactly what you want in a mate. It’s like a giant game of red rover.

“Red rover, Red rover. Would Jewish women 25-35 who like baseball and don’t smoke come over?”

Of course, to find exactly what you’re looking for, you have to be honest. Yes, that’s right – you’re not perfect for everyone. I know it’s a terrible thing to realize. I’ll give you a minute to recover.

The vast majority of us grew up fairly unpopular. That’s how it works – there are two or three popular kids at each school, five to ten hangers on, and then a big pile of the rest of us. Fear not, being part of the rest-of-us-pile is what gave you a personality. I pray that my kids will not be popular. I’d rather spend my Saturday nights reminding my son how wonderful his life will be after graduation than bailing him out of jail.

Because of our rest-of-us-pile upbringing, we have been trained to want as many dates as possible. We had so few options when we were young and awkward that by the time we’re older and actually desirable, we want to make up for everything we allegedly lost out on; except most of what we “lost out on” wasn’t something to lose.

Think of Yom Kippur, and how hungry you are after the fast. The first few years, you pig out the second you hear the shofar. But after a few years of getting sick from eating too much, you remember that it’s best to have a bagel and be done with it.

I’ve seen some JDate profiles designed to elicit as many first dates as possible. They are generic, probably due to a fear of turning anyone off, lest the dating pool be cut down by a few drops. So you found a way to maximize how many first dates you can get. I don’t see the point – unless you’re writing your sociology dissertation on awkward conversation.

One date with a deep connection is better than ten dates with little to no compatibility: on your heart, your schedule and your wallet.

If the goal is to find someone you’re truly compatible with, you need to be honest about who you are. There’s a great line in Annie Hall where a couple is asked why they’re happy. She says, “I’m very shallow and empty and I have no ideas and nothing interesting to say.” He responds, “And I’m exactly the same way.”

Despite being relatively worthless, they found each other through honesty. But, enough about Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag.

So how do you find your match? Be honest – both with your potential mate, and yourself. If you don’t like dogs, talk about why. If you are a political activist, discuss your party affiliation. And if you’re a New Jersey Nets fan, well, write that and maybe you’ll get sympathy.

Don’t write that you’re smart. If you were, you’d be smart enough to know not to say something that egotistical. Don’t write that you’re funny – funny people are funny enough to simply be funny. When you write those kinds of things, you’re saying that you’re only smart and funny in comparison to the boring friends you surround yourself with. But, enough about Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag.

As a writer, I understand I have a slight advantage on dating websites. It’s the same advantage lawyers have when they get a speeding ticket and realtors have when selling a house. Though right now, I don’t think anyone has an advantage when selling a house.

But anyone can be a writer when it comes to finding your match. Because you don’t have to be creative or suspenseful or rhyme – you just have to be honest. And someone will be attracted to that.

I know some of you are reading this and thinking how hard it is to tell the world about yourself in such a small space. And you’re doing that while updating your Twitter status 140 characters at a time.

So take your time when crafting a profile, and be confident about who you really are. Ask friends to read it over and see if it accurately describes you and what you’re looking for. But don’t change to trick someone into dating you – you’ll revert back to the real you in a few months, and have to start all over.

If you’re honest, there might be fewer people to play with; but the game will be way more fun.

Steve Hofstetter is an internationally touring comedian who has been seen on VH1, ESPN, and Comedy Central®, but you’re more likely to have seen him on the last Barbara Walters Special.

*Comedy Central is a registered trademark of Comedy Partners, a wholly-owned division of Viacom Inc.’s MTV Networks.

  1. Love it! I have had so many wasted dates with people that were nothing like their profile. Hopefully people listen to this!

  2. Steve you are absolutely right!
    Also absolutely lucky to find the right woman on the website!
    A lot of people on JDate are misrepresenting themselves, some are trying to get over the fact that they are on JDate all month long. Then it’s time to renew, it’s a vicious cycle.
    Lots of people are recent immigrants and don’t have mastery of the language.
    I think the reason for so many generic profiles is that people don’t really know what they want, hence you see a lot of “I’ll know it when I see it” in the profiles.
    Good luck to us all.

  3. Blessed be the writers of dull profiles, for they shall inherit the….er…well actually I’m not sure WHAT they inherit but it sure as beans ain’t me! In fact, writers of dull profiles tend to inherit few but the dull or those who may be seduced into responding to an email due to a stunning photo or some suggestion that the profiled person has a bank balance second only to Bill Gates. And who wants someone superficial or a gold digger anyway?

    I certainly agree with Steve regarding the need for integrity when it comes to self descriptions and yes, there is no shortage of untruthfully penned profiles.

    I also agree with Victoria above, that there are many generic profiles but where I differ in my opinion is that this “vanilla” approach to profile writing is not soley due to people not having a clear idea of what they want but more so that they have not made an effort when writing their profile which is curious really; after all, few people go on a first date, unwashed and wearing clothes snatched from the bottom of the laundry hamper. If asked why they make an effort with their appearance, people invariably answer that first impressions count. Now, do we not get our first impressions even earlier, when we read a person’s profile? Of course we do, so it’s all a bit silly to have a sparsely furnished profile and then wonder at its inability to draw interest.

    Having said that, when I get an email from a man whose profile took him at most 1.5 minutes to write, I think the only things I can learn about him other than his gender and age are that he is unlikely to put much effort into sustaining an emotionally mature relationship. On the upside, this certainly makes my life easier as far as sorting the sheep from the goats…no offence intended to livestock!

    As an act of consummate altruism on my part (ahem..)I also include in my profile, the types of emails unlikely to elicit a response; these being miniscule emails saying only “Hi”, emails that are generic, emails that clearly show the man has not read my profile, emails that are unsigned (that’s just plain rude), emails that using SMS speak as in.. “hi, I am gr8. how R u?”, emails that are trawling for carnal encounters, emails that require psychic intervention to be understood “wassup hot babe i lik animuls two wanna catchup?” and emails written by those so young I’d be better employed as their nanny than their lover.

    Now, I figure, if after having read my profile, the guy has not yet run screaming to the hills in abject terror,well that says something! Even more so, if they indicate there’s a good reason to start a friendship….and not merely that we possess different sets of gonads.

    As I said..”Blessed be the…..”


  4. Jackie, I’m with you all the way. I haven’t had the nerve to spell out the criteria that will eliminate the wordless wonders from consideration in my profile, but have been rather–let’s call it instructive–with men who have emailed or attempted chat with nothing to say.

    Men, ladies want to be courted. Through words. It helps if you know some. If, as Dr. Ruth wisely asserts, our brain is our biggest sex organ, you need to know how to engage us between the ears. Words and deeds consistent with your words will help.

    To be fair, I have noticed that CEOs tend to be very terse on paper. If you can get past the direct style, maybe you’ll find a heart and, one hopes, a brain. Be careful: the raw number of written words can be somewhat misleading. I’ve met more than one Peter Pan and dilitante who lived in his mother’s basement well past age 35 and expressed himself beautifully–perfecting the art of online wooing knowing that he would ultimately be found out (and found wanting).

    So I’d take quality over quantity, truth over fiction, and personal over generic any day. You don’t have to be a great writer. You should show that you care enough to make an effort and are comfortable enough with yourself to be straightforward. Ask any woman on jdate: honesty and trustworthiness are hot!

  5. Long Time No See

    I actually just finished my profile and stated clearly what I hate about dogs.

    All before clicking on your familiar face. Still trolling the college circuit?

  6. If I read one more profile where a girl says, a) she loves to travel, b) she likes going out, but likes staying in and watching a movie too, or c) she is fun loving…

  7. Alex, exactly. Girls, if you want us to respond in a way that indicates we’ve read your profile, then can you please also write something non-generic? Otherwise, you sound superficial and that’s the kind of response you’ll attract.

  8. Superficial?? Beneath the thin glossy veneer lies a core whose nature is yet to be determined. You don’t know anyone until you’ve shared a bag of salt with him/ her……

  9. Very nice point. I haven’t looked at any profiles of men. But I’m always astonished when I read a woman’s profile, and she has written a grand total of one sentence. To me, that says [1] I really am unable to express myself, or [2] I am unwilling to express myself, or [3] I really don’t give a crap about JDate, and am willing to make only a minimal effort. None of these three are remotely attractive or interesting. (Note: I don’t make any of the above assumptions when the the woman’s profile indicates that English is not her native language.)

  10. And if I read one more profle of a woman who says “I love to laugh”, I think I’ll cry! Like, she’d rather go through life hating to laugh? Oh please ladies!

  11. Dutch Treat should be the order of the day on the first meeting, because many girls want

    and expect you to pay for a lavish meal.

  12. Dutch Treat should be the order of the day on the first date.

  13. I like your column, Steve, and think it’s helpful.

    And since you’ve got the ear of many Jdaters I have an idea for a future column because I think many men (and possibly women) suffer from this annoying dating habit, which is asking the question, “So, what do you do for fun?”

    What’s annoying about this question is it begs a laundry list of hobbies, as if that can tell you about someone. I think a better bet is to just have a conversation. When you’re chatting, then the things you like to do naturally come up.

    I’ve even had a guy ask what kind of extra curriculers I did in high school! Who remembers?

    I think that sometimes guys, especially the shyer ones or ones with not great social skills, think they can find everything out about a woman by giving her a verbal questionnaire and, unfortunately, this is not only not the case, it makes for a very dull conversation. The only way to get to know someone is to get to know someone. And it starts with some nice chit-chat.

    Am I right, people?

  14. Let’s try and keep in perspective that a majority of us (not me of course) are really not that interesting and have rather mundane lives. If people were honest there profiles would read like this. Hi, I’ve got a job that I’m not too happy about,try to exercise before bathing suit season because I’m soft around the middle, I’m really not that funny or rich or that interesting but I know that if I find a hot, kind, smart, funny woman who doesn’t bug me during sporting events….than I’m the man for you”. let’s be honest, honesty is not always the best policy. Embellish, excite, be creative. Be everything you normally are not. Maybe “you” will rub off on “you”.

  15. I dare anyone to call my “About Me” section in my profile ordinary, generic, or afraid to turn people off! I would have to say that about 1/3 of JDate ladies hate me, 1/3 think I’m funny, 1/3 feel I’m a breath of fresh air, and 1/3 don’t even read profiles. OK – probably 1/3 too many. I do however really believe what I wrote. No, I’m not mean, obnoxious, etc., etc. I am, however, honest, interesting, creative, ocassionally lazy, fun, etc., etc. I think I envoke a reaction in people. Good or bad reaction, I think it’s all good. Even bad press is press – if you know what I’m saying. Check it out. Let me know what you think…


  16. Good article, Steve ….

    …may I add my sentiments….turn-offs

    …… when I see a man in the desert saying his idea of a perfect first date is a walk on the beach, I think, he must have read in a book ar magazine article that this was a good response and he hasn’t figured out that THERE IS NO BEACH HERE …. it’s a DESERT!!

    …… I am totally turned off by men who ignore the “relationships” page and leave everything blank.. In my mind, these are either men who are unwilling to share their thoughts or who have no verbal skills at all

    … men who point out that they “look 10 years younger than their actual age” …. hey… I’m looking at your picture… I’ll decide how young or old you look…. what ? am I blind?

    ….men who don’t post a picture at all…. I usually think most of these guys are married or living with someone and don’t want anyone to know they’re on jdate….

    …. and the biggest offence? … men who in the “about me” paragraph .. write ” I’ll tell you later” ……. what.???.. these guys think they are so handsome that women are going to fall all over them without any info at all?…..get over yourselves… are NOT George Clooney

  17. Steve:

    First off, thanks for the article, however, “be honest” and “be yourself” are the cornerstones of every single advice guru on dating and relationships. And anyone who hasn’t figured that out by now – well, that might be the real issue behind their dating dilemmas. If you are going to write an article, why don’t we take Abigail’s advice and talk about tips for on a date? Maybe she can explain what “The only way to get to know someone is to get to know someone” means? Apparently asking what someone likes to do in their spare time doesn’t qualify. She prefers some “nice chit chat”. What else would you call talking about hobbies and school? I suppose you break the ice on a first date by discussing the situation in Haiti or health care reform? Those introductory conversations can be awkward, yes, but it is a necessary part of the process. How else do you start to get to know someone but by discussing the foundational elements of their life such as work, hobbies, education, pets, etc.? Then that leads to other topics hopefully. If not, you have your answer as to how the date is going. So the next time someone decides to write one of these articles that promise the secret to finding and keeping a partner, on or off line, maybe we could move on to the secret of how these “writers” keep getting these jobs?

  18. Regardig honesty… I think you ought to have stayed away from quoting Woody Allen. I have heard from friends that he viciously pursues his property rights he earned by the inherent copyright for his one-liners. He is immensely quotable. Yet you don’t see him quoted in the press at all. He sues them, I believe, those who quote him. The guy is like a G-d in this sense. “I am a mean and jealous G-d.”

    I think a real man makes his own jokes, and does not eat quiche, unless it’s kosher kish with Kashka.

    Anyhow, talking about honest…I am always open even in letters, I have no shame, and I hide no dirt. I am actually disgustingly honest, and I drove more women away by telling them what exact other brand of perfume they ought to wear, than any car jokey at Rimbauld’s drives a long shot at the seventh hole.

  19. DF – I think you missed Steve’s point. It’s not about being honest with your prospective partner. It’s about being honest with yourself (and being self aware). It’s digging deeper than the standard “I like fun!” we see on here so often. Unlike people like those who wrote “the rules” or that awful woman from Millionaire Matchmaker, Steve’s advice landed him in a happy marriage – so I’d trust his credentials.

  20. i liked jackie’s a lot except she wrote, “that sure as beans ain’t me!” okay, that “beans” reference would have closed the deal for me immediately, and not in a good way. also, didn’t care for “ain’t,” ironic or not, or aesthetic or not. so, nice try jackie. you almost had me. the person i really like is CrazyGolan. although your name sounds like some israeli nut with an uzi trying to pick off syrian sheep hearders from atop the Golan Heights. or is it just me. i don’t think i’m a member any more. i probably will reinstate soon. my profile probably turned a lot of prospective women off who otherwise would have ended up disliking me on strictly different grounds. maybe one reason i went for irony rather than honesty – aside from being good at it (i’m a writer) – is that there are so few female profiles out there even deserving of honestly. plus, i personally prefer a humorous profile to an honest, or, worse, earnest one, any day. says a lot more about the person. so, like i said, i haven’t rejoined jdate yet, but…jdate people, don’t worry, i will. in the meantime, google “screenwriter dedidication movie billy crudup mandy moore tom wilkinson.” that should get you my name. then, facebook should do the rest. but, i am going to rejoin jdate, cause actually, who cares if someone likes me, i want to know that i’m going to like them. and, i even have some…whatever…idiosyncrasies in my preferences about women. they have to have a better-than-average knowledge of the holocaust. they must like albert brooks. yukio mishima a huge pluse. philosophy a huge plus. theists can apply but you don’t have a prayer. and, the really weird one, physically, i definitely lean toward the soft, curvy, womanly side. i didn’t pick that. it picked me. and, i DON’T BELIEVE on going dutch if it’s anywhere near a date that could have a future. but, if you can’t stand each other, i think being cheap is morally preferable to being a gentleman. oh, last thing, to the writer of the initial article, about how it’s always better to tell the truth. what about “The Wild Duck?” and, if anyone knew it was a reference to one of ibsen’s plays, try to contact me. – david broberg

  21. So true and refreshing. I’m hoping more of us who joined the website site would stop and read Steve’s comments. Why can’t we just be ourselves??? Life would be so much easier. Yes!

  22. If you really want to find love, you have to know who you are and love yourself first. If you can’t do that and be honest with yourself, you will never be in a successful long-term relationship.

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