Online dating profile: Hardest. Writing. Ever.

upright_young_ladyMy online dating ads have been by turns playful, sassy, serious, sentimental, challenging, coy, defensive, or straightforward depending on my mood or recent experiences. They’ve included my interests, activities, values, date ideas, philosophies, hopes and dreams, and personality test results.

I’ve tried hard to write the ad that best represents the multifaceted, complex, engaged, awesome person that is me.

But it turns out that the best ad actually reflects the people I want to meet.

~ ♥ ~

I’d followed the advice of trusted friends. I’d read up on writing a good profile. I’d applied “personal branding” techniques from work. I’d even read other women’s profiles, noting what they prioritized in their limited space and what kinds of photos they used. (I totally overthink these things.) In the wake of a steady stream of spammers, scammers and fakes, I asked for help again.

My cycling buddy came through. “If you can imagine the kind of man you want to meet and interact with, in detail, and then write your profile specifically to him, that will probably be your most effective message,” he advised. Plus a more cynical reminder: “If you don’t deliver what they need for themselves…they will consider you either unworthy, or an outright threat.”

Of course! I needed to focus on the customer. I took a fast remedial course in marketing basics. (I told you I overthink these things.) Here’s what I did next.

~ ♥ ~

Step 1: Market research — determine the needs of your customers. I read highly-matched men’s profiles more closely to discover what they sought. I pestered my heterosexual male friends. I even quizzed correspondents and dates (poor fellows). So here it is, ladies: the top things men are looking for.

1. Sex

2. Sex

3. Sex

4. Sex — OK fine, this could be the top 10 items on the list, but we’ll stop here.

And in no particular order:

5. Physical chemistry (again with the sex)

6. Kindness

7. Affection

8. Trust

9. The ability to carry on a conversation (intelligence)

10. Someone with a life and engaged with the world at large; someone participatory, not passive

11. Someone to cook for them

12. Fairness (especially financial)

13. Authenticity (honest, real, someone who looks like their picture).

I was surprised that physical attributes and shared interests seemed to carry less importance than I’d assumed.

~ ♥ ~

Step 2. Analyze competitive advantages. How can I meet those wants better than anyone else? What am I in a unique position to provide? What’s my value proposition — how will a man benefit from dating me?

Happily, I score pretty high on most of those qualities (cooking, not so much), so I emphasized the most mentioned things I already value and deliver on: sex, kindness, affection, smarts, fairness and authenticity. For example, many men say they’re a great kisser, so I mentioned kissing. I used the keyword “sapiosexual” to match men attracted to smart women. I’m not the only woman with these qualities…but when combined with my particular enthusiasms and activities, it became a recipe for the signature dish that is me.

It felt weird, yet authentic, to use the same keyword-matching strategies I used when applying for jobs. I only promise what I deliver.

~ ♥ ~

Step 3. Measure results. QA testers agreed the improved ad connects the dots between my personality and desired qualities. It’s shorter, to encourage an initial conversation, not reveal all. There are fewer reasons to rule me out right away. It’s a work in progress, but then again, so am I.

Did it work? Yes! I have new, better matches and conversations. (And a date.)

~ ♥ ~

Lest it seem too coldly calculating, pondering men’s needs fostered a great deal more empathy for the good guys: they want many things women want (is this really a surprise?). I found men with depth and heart, not just one-dimensional sex maniacs. My faith in mankind began to be restored. I saw how women need to earn men’s trust too. I re-evaluated my stance on several things to be more flexible and open.

It made it easier for Romantic Me to step out from behind Practical Me, reach out, and respond with more authenticity, and with more vulnerability too: the most precious and fragile gift.

~ ♥ ~