3 Most Important Tips for Online Dating Profiles

When I first encountered my now-fiancé on OkCupid, I honestly thought his profile was a prank– that one of my friends had tailored a fictional Mr. Right just for me and messaged me from the account. I almost sent a message back demanding fake-account confession, but I’m glad I didn’t. Instead, I asked him if he wanted to hang out some time. We fell in love, got engaged, and started a lovesick life together as a family.

Our luck using online dating sites wasn’t automatic. We both put a lot of work into making solid dating profiles that shared several traits in common. Every successful couple we know who has met through online dating (four married couples and counting) also had the right kind of profile to attract viable suitors. Here are our three most important tips for setting up your online dating profile.

1. Be honest, but don’t over-share.

Before meeting, both my fiancé and I had some baggage and skeletons in the closet (who doesn’t?). I saw profiles where people were overly upfront about their misfortunes: “I have herpes” was planted boldly on one profile I saw. I also saw profiles where people championed themselves as perfect and didn’t acknowledge any of flaws or failures. I ignored both of these types of people on online dating sites. My partner messaged me (and vice versa) because we both acknowledged our flaws in passing without over-sharing personal information.

If you’re interested in using online dating, I’d advise you to be honest, but not too specific, about anything that might be a serious problem in your relationship. If you have an STD, you might mention, “I’ve got some health problems that we may need to discuss at some point.” If you’ve got a chronic mental health disorder, say, “I can be pretty moody.” A criminal background? “I made some really stupid mistakes when I was younger.” All the gory details of your past can come up after you’ve been on a few dates, but you need to be honest (but not too specific) early on.

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2. Upload your most real pictures, not your most attractive pictures.

The photo I uploaded to OkCupid, initially, was the prettiest picture I had of myself– in heels and pearls and makeup, and wearing the only dress I have that makes me look like I’ve got a very feminine physique. In retrospect, I regret this, because it attracted attention from the types of people I’m not interested in, and it misrepresented me. While it might have been the prettiest picture I had of myself, it’s not the one that really showed who I am– and that actually hurt my chances of online dating success far more than it helped it.

Instead of uploading your most attractive photo, share a picture of yourself looking like you. Anyone who’s actually right for you will be attracted to a picture that looks the way you look every day– even when that means that you’re wearing your baggy jeans and your mussed hair and your favorite t-shirt. Pick a photo that really expresses who you are, not one that simply makes you look good.

3. Be thorough.

There was one factor that made it clear to me that my fiancé and I were a perfect match: our profiles were nearly identical, and they were both very detailed. We were both very thorough and specific about what we wanted and didn’t want in a partner, from feelings about monogamy and sexuality, to preferences in art and religion. I would have never known that we were such a perfect match if the only thing his profile said was “I like to read and laugh,” and he certainly wouldn’t have known to contact me if all I said was, “I’m a writer and a mom.” It was all the tiny details that sealed the deal between us.

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Your online dating profile should be very, very thorough in its explanation of who you are, what your personality is like, and how you feel about core subjects like sex, religion, and politics. It should also be clear about what you’re looking for, whether that’s a one-night stand, a serious relationship, a family life, or a weekend girlfriend. When someone sees your profile, she should be able to tell quickly if the two of you share the same goals and compatibilities.

I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t taken the time to join OkCupid and pursue online dating. I might have never found the remarkable person who is now my fiancé, and I wouldn’t have the happy life we now share as a family. By making the right choices in setting up our profiles, we paved the road toward a fulfilling relationship. By making your online dating profile the best it can be, you can find exactly who (and what) you need and want in a relationship.