I know that I’m dating myself here by referencing an older dating platform. I haven’t been on Match for about a decade now. Although it’s been a while, I think back fondly on our time together and all it taught me about advertising. Yes, advertising. Allow me to explain.
If you remove that “happily ever after stuff” and even take away the finding love aspect, your online dating profile is just another advertisement (If you can’t tell yet, I’m not what you would call a diehard romantic). Just like any other ad, you are trying to grab the viewer’s attention amongst the vast hordes of other ads to convince them to invest a bit more time in yours. When you drill down to it, that’s all it is.
When I first started on the Match site (we had an on-and-off relationship for years), I was in my mid-twenties. Guys my age were always repeating movie quotes (is that still a thing?). So, I picked out one my favorite movies and based my profile on that. Sometimes, I’d have my profile header be “She’s a predator posing as a housepet.” Other times, I’d replace my entire description and just have, “All right, if the applicant is young, tell him he’s too young. Old, too old. Fat, too fat. If the applicant then waits for three days without food, shelter, or encouragement he may then enter and begin his training.” I intentionally picked out quotes that fit the purposes of my dating profile but were also easily recognizable. Guys would eagerly message me saying they loved Fight Club and thus the connection would begin. I baited the trap and it delivered. (Hmmmm… maybe I was a being a bit too honest about that predatory bit.) Instead of just answering the over-used first date “what’s your favorite movie?” question, I found a fun and playful way to integrate it into my profile.
Now let’s compare this to some of the profiles I’ve seen. Before I start reviewing a selected few, let’s not get judge-y about this. We all have our own personal weaknesses and strengths. For example, I have absolutely no sense of direction. But I happen to enjoy telling my little stories and selling myself (in a non lady-of-the-night way). Some people don’t have this natural knack. That’s why I use a GPS and others can read leaderships hacks columns like this one. At the end of the day, hopefully we all end up where we wanted to go by seeking out directions.
Back to analyzing dating profiles. A profile’s description I read frequently goes along the lines of, “I never thought I would sign up for this app, but my friends told me to sign up.” Look, Chad, none of us thought we would end up here. It’s not like when you’re little, you tell yourself that you’re going to create your dating profile and then you’ll find the one. But here we are. So, while I totally encourage the existential analysis of your current situation, your profile description is not the place for it. Bemoaning your current single status does nothing to engage me as a potential match. It is kind of bumming me out.
Other profiles end with the classic line, “Don’t be drama.” I’m going to hard pass on that guy. I haven’t even met you and you’re telling me what I shouldn’t be? Also, this statement wreaks of baggage. It makes me suspect this man of instigating drama, while simultaneously being completely ignorant of that fact. The gentleman doth protest too much.
When you’re meeting someone new – whether it is online dating, a job interview, or even everyday networking – consider how you’re advertising yourself. Are you saying whatever comes to your mind and focusing solely on your experiences and feelings? Or are you taking a moment to consider how best to approach this person or audience. By becoming more purposeful about engaging others in a way they’ll find meaningful and significant, you’re more likely to create authentic connections that lead to genuine relationships.
Jacquelyn Adams, an IEEE Senior member, is a nationally-recognized leader in employee learning and development. Jacquelyn is the CEO and Founder of Ristole, a consulting business that transforms corporations through engaging employee training. Find more of her Lessons on Leadership columns here.