Metro Magazine is the latest publication to point to online dating “consultants” as a burgeoning trend. There are now services out there that will help you write or re-write your online dating profile for a nominal fee. I don’t think I’ve met (or dated for that matter) anyone who has used a service like this and, if I did, I imagine the first date might not go so well.
I’ve seen a good amount of bad online dating profiles. Sometimes these are just unflattering pictures, sometimes the profile is just so typical that I get bored after reading the self summary, sometimes a girl comes across as desperate. But it’s unusual that I’ve come across a profile where I reached the conclusion that it’s the writing and formatting of a profile itself that is turning me off. It’s usually that the girl just isn’t my type.
Granted, most of these online consultants are probably oriented towards men. Generally, women have very little difficulty in getting guys to message them, especially when they live in a major city. For girls, online dating is more of a process of sorting through all the “hey there” one-liner messages they get, messages asking if a girl would be interested in some kinky sex act, and the very small subset of messages from guys who are actually competent at writing a girl a message.
For guys, we live in a very different reality. I tend to get 1-2 unsolicited messages from girls per week. I got more messages when I lived in New York, but I assume that’s due to population differences. I get the feeling that, unless you’re particularly good looking, no guy is going to be approached nearly as much as a girl is online. It’s very traditional for a culture that has leaned increasingly towards gender equality in the dating world over the past decade.
So, for a guy, your profile is really there to bolster your credentials after you have sent a girl a presumably grammatically correct note that highlights or quips about something you found interesting/funny/provocative about their profile. If your message is weak, it’s highly unlikely that (unless you’re extraordinary good looking), your profile is going to redeem you. Having a standout profile helps, but it’s really a secondary measure.
I will concede a few things, though. First, your picture is always important. If your face is 90% acne or you have a goatee, it’s very unlikely that she’s going to message you back. Second, it is possible to have a profile that’s so good that a girl is going to be intrigued enough to message you.
Focusing on that second point, I still think an online consultant is useless. And that’s really just because an intriguing profile is usually a very accurate reflection of your personality. If you don’t have the charm or wit to write a good profile yourself, someone writing one on your behalf is going to be easily contradicted by your writing style in messages and will certainly be belied when she meets you in person.
The key to a good online profile, I think, is to try to come across as fun and honest as possible. Don’t show off, highlight what makes you you and try to make it clear what you think makes you a “catch.” By being “a catch,” I don’t necessarily mean you should list off the items on your resume (your great education and well paying job), those are important and you should mention them. But you should definitely highlight the activities that you like to do that you think would be something you could do when you meet Ms. Right. For example, let’s say you’re an avid golfer. That’s great, and you should mention it, but mention it with an inviting opportunity: “I love golfing on Saturday mornings. But my short game is in need of some serious practice. Want to challenge me to a game of mini-golf? Bring it on.” Or let’s say you’re a huge movie fan: “I love film, whether it’s mainstream or it’s something you can only find in an independent art house. Right now, I’m trying to watch every film in the AFI Top 100. I’m only at number 14, but I could use company as I try to get through the top 30 by the end of the year.” Or you like to cook, “I’m always experimenting in the kitchen. I’ve been meaning to take a cooking class in the next few months so I can actually cook with creme fraiche rather than just have a talent for spelling it.”
The point is that your okcupid profile needs to be honest and reflect your personal voice. But it should also be inviting, that you are probably a person that could be fun to hang out with. Having someone else write these elements is just going to make you look like a liar when you meet someone in person. Also, paying $1500 for professional photos and hair/makeup will probably make you look a bit too posed and plastic. Basically you’ll be the only guy among tens of thousands who is obviously using pro-shot images, that might actually make you stand out in a bad way.
In summary, if you’re considering paying for an online dating consultant, don’t.