Making the most of your online dating profile

Hopefully, the photo you have selected for your profile is 1) recent, 2) clear, 3) flattering but accurate and 4) depicts the real you. In other words, when you meet an on-line connection in person, (s)he should be able to recognize you from your picture. For heaven’s sake, don’t make a drastic change in your appearance just before meeting someone, like growing a beard or changing your hair colour. If a woman is expecting to meet a silver fox, she will be taken aback by a patent leather pompadour. By the same token, if you’ve gained a few pounds since your picture was taken, make that clear before meeting or, better still, update your photo.

Now that you’re satisfied that you’ve chosen the right shot, it’s time to express yourself in words. There are a few things to keep in mind when composing your profile, some of which are essential, others of which should be kept under wraps until you’ve made a personal connection (and maybe not even then).

Since this site is designed for those of us who have passed the half-century mark, anyone reading about you can probably infer that this is not your first time around the block, so you should state your status honestly, but briefly. In other words, if you’ve been married as often as Elizabeth Taylor, labeling yourself “divorced” is sufficient for now. Few people, of either sex, are captivated by potential partners who consider divorce to be a hobby. Be truthful about your age, too. After all, if you’re sixty, wouldn’t you rather have people admire your youthful looks than to think you’ve lived a hard life if you tell them you’re only fifty?

The same goes for other aspects of your written profile: better to downplay than exaggerate. After all, anyone would rather be pleasantly surprised than miserably disappointed at a first meeting. Additionally, be as honest with and about yourself as you can. This means that even if you were captain of your rugby team forty years ago, describing yourself as “athletic” today might not be as accurate as you wish it were. And ladies, even if you’re only a metre and a half tall, don’t say you’re “petite”, if you weigh fourteen stone. Your self-description should be as current as your picture, so the phrase “I used to be…” is not pertinent at the moment. Of course, if you are a former Member of Parliament or were once the Ambassador to Lithuania, it might be worth mentioning (although, if you are, what are you doing on an Internet dating site?). In other words, unless something in your past makes you truly unique, going into details in your profile is unnecessary. Save the big guns for a face-to-face encounter.

More important than the actual words in your profile is the tone in which you write them. If you’re feeling depressed and sorry for yourself, this is not the time to express those emotions. Desperation is not attractive, except to predators. Assume that everyone has a sad story to tell; after all, nobody can live this long without encountering some tragedy along the way. In view of this, save the unhappy details for a personal exchange and don’t expose your vulnerability to anyone who can read. Keep in mind that there are always con men (and women) who scour personal information for the express purpose of finding those needy people who are easy prey.

In short, keep your profile upbeat and cheerful, reveal just enough about yourself to be interesting to the kind of person you’re seeking and, above all, remember that the watchword is “safety first”.

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