The Art of Creating an Online Dating Profile

Online dating has a reputation for being shallow and harsh. Yet, the odds are against a traditional and non-technological beginning. According to a Stanford sociologist, online dating has become the most common way that Americans are meeting their romantic partners.

Online dating may set us up to be superficial, especially if we are bypassing the few seconds it takes to dig a little deeper and read someone’s profile or write one for ourselves. I will swipe left to anyone who does not have a bio in their dating profile, full stop. I don’t care how ridiculously good looking you are. I want someone who is intrigued by who I am as a person and not someone who wants to take me on a date solely because they like my face.

The first signs of grey hair and wrinkles have reminded me that looks fade, baby. They fade for all of us. I want someone who sees the beauty of my heart, is fascinated by my mind, and curious about how I became who I am today. I believe that this person deserves to have that same level of adoration and respect from me.

It can feel vulnerable and scary to put your heart into your bio. It can also be hard to know where to start and overwhelming to begin. First and foremost, it is important to just be you, and you know you better than me. Take what serves you and leave the rest. There is no hard and fast formula to the perfect profile but below are three ideas to get you started.


What are your values?

I often see people leading with their interests or job on their online dating profile, and although I think this can be a great conversation starter, it sheds very little light into prospective compatibility. Interests are important and can ensure you will be able to participate in mutually desired activities. If it is all I know, however, I know very little about whether or not we will get along.

While having different interests or carers can open up a realm of possibilities for new experiences and learning, having different values can set the stage for later conflict. I have often found going on a date with someone who has drastically different values to feel akin to going out with someone from a different planet. It is almost as if we see the world through such different lenses that it is hard to imagine a world in which we build a life together.

Instead of:

  • I love hiking, travelling, and craft beer. Coffee enthusiast.
  • I am a Business Development Manager working for a local technology startup. Currently pursuing my MBA.

What about:

  • I value openness, compassion, and the little things and life, and will therefore try to make eye contact and smile at those I walk by on the street. Yes, I am one of those people.
  • My curiosity, love of learning, and inability to sit still is what led me to spend half of my 20s travelling the world and immersing myself in different cultures. More recently, I have turned to local museums, books, and walks in my neighbourhood to travel without getting on a plane.

Get clear on what it is that you want

Let’s first get clear on what exactly a dating app is used for. It is used to facilitate connection. Typically, the end of the app is when we decide to connect with the person outside of the app, whether that means in person, over the phone, or through video chat.

I’ve seen many folks on dating apps who are extremely clear on what they do not want. It seems to have an undercurrent of energy that screams “I am fed up with people trying to get me to be a means to their end.”

Instead of stating what you don’t want, or what your “end goal” is, can you focus on what it is you are hoping for in a connection? Whether that connection be for two hours, two months, or a lifetime, the quality and type of connection is something that leaves space for a realm of possibility between two people.

Instead of:

  • If you are looking for a hookup, swipe left. Not into playing games.
  • Not looking for anything serious, just want to keep it casual.

What about:

  • I am looking for the kind of conversation that you lose yourself in. Let’s fall into an existential and philosophical rabbit hole and stay up way past our bedtimes.
  • One of my favourite things to do is laugh and one of the ways I do this is my ensuring I don’t take myself too seriously. There is a strong chance we won’t get along if you do.

What are you like as a person?

Knowing oneself can be a lifelong journey, but if you can be honest about the kind of person you are it gives others a chance to be honest about whether or not there is potential compatibility between you.

As an absolute personality test nerd myself, I will often put my Myers Briggs Personality Type, INFP, in my profile. I find to be a great conversation starter for those who are also into this kind of categorization of self. You can take the free test here and google MBTI compatibility if you are interested. I’ve personally found the compatibility chart to be spot on and an accurate predictor of whether or not I will click with someone.

Even if you aren’t interested in being put into a box, the test can provide you with some great adjectives for your profile. “I am a dreamy idealist,” “bold and imaginative,” or “quiet and mystical” are all from descriptions of the different types — check those out here for inspiration.


Putting it all together

I wanted to conclude with an example that brings together all of the above elements in a creative and unique way. This is the profile that captured my attention nearly two years ago and as I am now living with this human, I can say the profile was an accurate peek into who they are.

Reasonably bright but good-natured fella with a taste for art, social justice, badly-planned expeditions and the fringe-weird, born no more than a century too late and on the right continent. I have a loud laugh and calm manner, drive a beat-up pickup, wear my hair as it is, and sleep in late on weekends. I see these as non-issues. Things I appreciate, in no particular order: cranes and trains, newspapers, cheap night at the gallery/museum, big dogs, benches, specialized tools, academic libraries, abandoned places, places lost from maps, midcentury design, paint and paintings, radical science, radical politics, NPR, NFB, TED, BBC, PBS, and sometimes CBC.

The art of writing a dating profile isn’t to craft a profile that tells people what they want to hear, it is to tell them who you are. We all deserve to be accepted by our partners, and an honest dating profile may be the first step in finding someone who accepts us in our entirety.

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