Hi. I’m a generic human who can’t express myself in a medium where the delete key is an option, let alone in a live conversation. Wanna go out?

See, it wouldn’t work in the off-line world either.

During my online dating days (read: from the moment I got Internet until the moment I met my wife), the vast majority of profiles I saw were nonspecific and hastily thrown together. Granted, the first profiles I came across were on Compuserve. Generic was an upgrade.

But we’re long past the days of “a/s/l?” (That’s “age/sex/location?” for anyone that met the Internet after 1998). Now we’re in the days of JDate, where we can actually capture ourselves in paragraph form. And yet many of us consistently fail to do so. Instead of being a window into a person, the average profile reads like a car commercial. You can’t really tell one from the other but, if the picture is shiny enough, you’ll give it a test drive.

I’m going to assume, for the purposes of this column, that you’re reading this to find love and not just notch up your bedpost. If notches are your thing, you can just create a profile that says you’re a fighter pilot or a world-class gymnast or a fighter pilot who is a world-class gymnast.

“Sorry baby, I’d love to go out again, but the Air Force needs me to save the Olympics.”

If you’re looking for someone who’ll love you, you have to come across as, well, you. You should be the best version of yourself, but you still need to be yourself. The first step is to be concise. People looking through hundreds of profiles don’t read novels. They skim. Rather than giving them the option of picking out the best parts of your profile, do it for them. Omit things like “I hope I meet someone great” – who is on JDate to meet someone terrible?

When you’re asked the checklist of what kinds of activities you do, don’t check every one you’ve ever tried or would consider trying maybe someday. Check off a few that actually happen. Yes, you went bowling for your friend’s 5th birthday party. That doesn’t mean it should be on the list. It could distract from your real hobbies, or attract a bowler, only to disappoint them when they find out you rarely rent footwear.

Never lead with your job. If your job defines you as a person, you might want to consider abandoning dating people and instead settling down with your stapler. Lead with the personality trait that most defines you. Don’t know what that is? Ask your friends to describe you in a few words. Take the most common answer and that’s who you are. If the most common answer is “workaholic,” good luck with Mrs. Swingline.

Your picture needs to look genuine. Never pose in front of a white wall, and avoid overly airbrushed professional headshots (I’m looking at you, waiters). Put up something candid that reflects your personality. And while we all want to look pretty, the photo should still resemble YOU. Everyone has a picture of themselves taken at the perfect angle. I’ve seen pictures of Big Foot and the Lochness Monster – it doesn’t mean they really exist.

Girls, no pictures with guys. Guys, no pictures with your mother.

“This is the man who has wanted to date me since we were 12. He’ll console me when we fight.”

“No problem. This is the woman you’ll never live up to. Pick you up at 8?”

A bad screen name can be a turn off. Your school, your job, and your city are not what define you. The title of a book should reflect what’s inside, not where it happened to be published. Avoid creepy, even if you’re kidding – like “MommasBoy” or “GetInTheVan.” I’d recommend something interesting and clever. How about “DesperatelySeekingJewsan”?

Avoid cliché. Do you live life to its fullest? Do you not sweat the details? Can you stay in and watch a movie OR dress up for a night on the town? Great, that describes everyone ever. Your profile should be about what makes you different, not what makes you the same.

And most of all, own your thoughts and beliefs. Don’t ever write “I don’t know why I’m doing this.” If you do something while you don’t know why you’re doing it, you’re not that bright.

Of course, maybe there are people interested in dating someone on the dim side. I hear there’s a fighter pilot en route to London who is looking for love.

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.

One Comment
  1. Thanks Steve that was some good advice and I’m glad I read the article. I updated my profile right after reading this. Hopefully it will get results!

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