New research shows what words, pictures, and actions are most effective in finding love.
When it comes to online dating, the dating profile is the entryway towards opening the door for a potential match. The profile has the potential to reveal much about us — sometimes more than we might be aware. Not only does your dating profile need to present you in your best light, but your social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.) need to reflect your best self as well. Getting it right is tricky, and for some creating profiles becomes so nerve-wracking that even the most confident singles can end up avoiding it altogether.
Thankfully, dating sites have recently produced a wealth of researched data about how to create a successful dating profile. Knowing what we can do is often the first step in being able to take action.
Here are nine top tips to put your best dating foot forward.
Many dating websites have collected data on the most successful words used in the dating profiles. EHarmony conducted the most recent study of 1,200 successful dating profiles, and distilled the 10 best and worst words to use in attracting a mate. The results make good sense, and here are some highlights.
- Describe yourself by highlighting your happiness, humor, and fun side. In attractiveness studies, happiness consistently ranks high on the list, so it was not surprising to see that being described as funny was a plus. According to the Daily Mail analysis, funny was listed as the 6th most important word for both genders. Women and men who describe themselves using the words funny, optimistic, creative, and passionate were more successful at getting profile clicks. Women specifically were more successful in attracting men when they describe themselves with words like funny, outgoing, happy, spontaneous, and passionate. So, go ahead and channel your most playful side into your dating profile.
- Select wording indicative of security and independence. Both genders found mates attractive who described themselves as ambitious. For women, men describing themselves as intelligent ranked in their top ten, and for men, women listed as hard-working ranked in their top ten. That both genders are drawn to words having to do with success, independence, and ambition squares with my experience that people are searching for relationships with people who can stand on their own two feet. While from time to time we can lean on our mate, and enjoy being leaned on by them, relationships thrive when each person can be independent, not codependent. Navigating life’s responsibilities and obligations will be a big part of your life with a partner, so don't be shy — to offer a glimpse into how you do this already in your own life.
- Use words about attachment and love. Within each gender’s top three words were those in line with agreeableness, kindness, compassion, and thoughtfulness. Women are most drawn to men who describe themselves as perceptive, warm, and thoughtful. Men are most drawn to women who describe themselves as sweet, thoughtful, and easy-going, even outranking physical fitness. PlentyOfFish mined data from 1.2 million profiles and found that the words love and friend were among the 5 most popular words used by singles who left the dating site in a relationship. Importantly, these attributes likely signal a partner’s capacity to forge a successful relationship. Our shared need for attachment — our deep desire to feel connected, supported, and love — is foundational to our search for a mate, so consider using these words to describe yourself in your profile.
- Avoid words that could signal dependency or neediness. Just as we are drawn to independence, so too are we turned off its quintessential opposite: neediness and dependency. In fact, many singles fear a relationship where they might feel burdened by their partner. Instead, we seek partners whose character traits will benefit us, not drain us. Surprisingly, the study shows that among the 10 least successful words shared by both genders are: Modest, respectful, and good listener. While these attributes can be quite useful to a harmonious relationship, they unwittingly signal dependence, so consider leaving them out of your dating profile. Pictures Are Worth 1000 Words…Pictures are a central part of your online presence, and often convey more information than words. Studies show that we take in visual information exponentially faster than we do text or verbal content. Visual content is also on the rise across all digital platforms, and posting pictures and videos has never been easier. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s something not to strategically plan.
- Select a smiling, face-forward profile picture. Your online dating profile pictures are crucial. The most important consideration is to use the best one of you smiling directly at the camera. WIRED conducted a study of the most popular profiles from OkCupid and Match.com, and found that the most successful pictures involve looking straight at the camera and smiling with your teeth showing.
- Monitor your social media photos. Take the time to look carefully at your online pictures and videos, and ask yourself what kind of information your picture or video might be conveying — not just to the people you know, but the people you don’t know but would like to know. When posting pictures of you with the opposite sex, be conservative. Make sure to keep pictures platonic, and to a minimum. Women do not want to see men with lots of other women, nor do men want to see women with lots of other men. It does not read as attractive — rather, it reads as suspicious. Potential mates will not just wonder who the other people are, but wonder what you are trying to say about yourself by posting those pictures. You don’t want to send a message that you are a professional dater; instead, you want to send the message that you are available, discreet, and if things work out down the line, willing to commit. Actions Speak Loudest Still As much as we take in words and pictures about someone, when it comes to dating, the old adage still holds that actions speak louder than words. Remember that pictures and words are static, and therefore your online and in-person actions convey more about you.
- Interact on social media in a real way. Be yourself on social media. If you like to engage with others on social media portals, be sure to focus on the interaction aspect, not just posting. Like, share, and comment on your friends posts regularly, demonstrating your perceptiveness, kindness, and sense of humor or playfulness. How you interact online sends important information about you, and your capacity to be a friend, and ultimately a good partner. Look to build and maintain relationships through your social media, flexing your relationship abilities. Your future partner might get to know your social media profile before they get to know you in person, so make sure to take the time and effort to put your best foot forward. If you are in the market to meet a partner, taking the time to optimize your social media profile is time well-invested. That having been said, many people prefer to not engage on social media, or to engage at a minimum. Whatever your level, stick to posting and interacting in real ways which truly represent you, even if that means not using social media much at all. You can even discuss in your dating profile about the level of social media with which you engage.
- Walk the walk. With all the emphasis on getting your profile optimized for dating success, don’t forget that the most important part of dating is actually going out on the dates. None of us can be fun, interesting, and ambitious all the time, but do look at these dates as opportunities to be the best you you can be, and demonstrate to your date the things you say you are in your profile! Listen to your date when they speak and set out to learn about them. Demonstrate that you care, and find ways to have fun together.
- Get help if you need it. There are loads of resources out there, and taking some time to get educated about best practices is worthwhile. Laurie Davis, the eFlirt Expert, writer of Love at First Click, provides superb insights about online dating. Readable and informative, this book fills a need in the ever-expanding forum of online socializing. There are also dating coaches who offer hands-on help, such as The Professional Wingman, providing individualized assistance as well as no-nonsense online dating tips.
Dating, like life, means taking action in order to make things happen. Each one has to do their part to meet someone special. Putting effort into making the most of your online dating profile and social media usage are surefire ways to build momentum in dating. Taking small steps online, and ultimately getting out there, are the keys to dating. With every small step, you put your dating anxiety into action and move closer to your goal of finding true love.