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Is your online dating profile in a slump?

Posted by Karyn Polewaczyk  September 18, 2013 01:30 PM

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According to StatisticBrain.com, 40 million people in the U.S. have tried online dating, a staggering number when you consider that there are only 54 million single adults living here to begin with—and that the kingpin of dating sites, Match.com, isn’t even of legal age to buy a pretty lady a drink at a bar.

But unlike approaching strangers in real life, the first impression you give online often comes from a cursory glance at a self-crafted roundup that acts as a summary of who you are, what you’ve got, and yes, what you look like, neatly packaged and ripe for picking by potential suitors. And if your profile bombs, odds are, those proverbial drinks, or winks, probably won’t be headed your way.

Enter It’s A Date!, a service dedicated to taking your online dating experience from blah to wow! founded by publishing veteran Deborah Sloan, where professional writers and interviewers will swoop in and save your profile from nasty habits like running on (and on) about your dog or using an outdated selfie that reeks of 2001. And yes, creative types: you, too, might need a helping hand, since, as Sloan points out, “Writing about yourself can be hard.”

If you feel like your online dating experience has been less than satisfying, or if you're feeling intrigued, keep reading to learn more about how It’s a Date! works, the number one thing you should avoid talking about online or offline, and how to put your best foot forward on the Internet.

2012-12-26 13.06.06.jpg (Photo courtesy of Deborah Sloan)

What’s one of the first questions someone asks you about It’s A Date!?

“How does it work?” or “What happens?” I walk our clients through everything step-by-step and make sure they’re comfortable interviewing with people they’ve never met. It’s pretty basic. A lot of the time, they’ll say they’re not sure what to say [when the questions are asked], so I’ll step in as their cheerleader. We’re trained to not talk about ourselves; it’s not polite. Yet opening up and carefully shaping that information is what’s going to help make a better online dating profile. Beyond that, we’ll get our clients set up with life coaches, help pick out their photos, help decide which dating site is best for them. We make sure each client loves their profile. I follow up with every client to make sure they’re satisfied, but I often never hear from them again—they’re happy and confident with what we’ve provided to them.

One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard about online dating is that someone might seem great on paper (or in their profile), but not so great in person. How do you approach that?

Your online profile will help you attract other people, so you should take it as seriously as anything else you’d prepare for, like a job interview. For example, you’d be working hard on your resumé, maybe call a recruiter for some coaching. What do you do before the big day? You’d get a haircut or have your hair styled, you’d pick out clean clothes, make sure you’re on time. You’d practice your elevator speech. You’d aim to land that job.

As relaxed as you want to be before a date—especially a first date—you’ve got to approach it the same way. It’s disappointing when you go on a date and see that the other person hasn’t taken the time and energy needed to present their best self. As far as someone being, say, not a great conversationalist: one thing I’ve heard from clients is that their profile helps ease their nerves when speaking with someone they’ve just met. Depending on what a particular client needs, we’ll break out certain pieces [of their profile]. People should go into their dates prepared to talk about things. There will be moments of silence and nervousness, of course, but try to keep a few bulleted things in your pocket. And please make sure you’re not just talking about yourself the whole time.

Would you suggest someone practice going on a date, then?

I do. It’s not something you necessarily need to practice with a friend; you can almost coach yourself with self-talk. When I give a speech, for example, I go over it and run it through my head several times before it’s time to do the real thing. Another way someone can ease the pressure is to do some homework. If you’re going to meet for a drink at a bar, check out the menu online. It seems trite, but small details can make us nervous and throw us off. It’s an easy way to keep yourself relaxed.

The number one profile killer is…?

Talking too much about past relationships. Yes, you want to mention you’ve been in a relationship to show you’re capable of having another one, but don’t talk in detail about exes or previous lovers. It’s a total bummer for the person who’s reading it. Same goes for when you’re on the actual date: don’t talk about exes, period. It’s okay to talk about children if you’re a parent, but cap it at a couple lines, max. Some people are uncomfortable talking about jobs with the current state of the economy. I guess the overall message is, don’t go overboard talking about just one thing.

Name your top five reasons why someone should give online dating a try.

1. If you’re thinking about it, you’re dateless—or you’re not getting the right dates. Whatever you’re doing at the moment likely isn’t working.
2. If you’re shy, it’s great. A lot of people, especially if they’re just starting out with online dating, don’t know where to start. You can try it anonymously, and you can do everything within the privacy of your own home. Eventually, sharing gets easier.
3. Online dating is just for that: dating. Not everyone at a bar or club is there to meet people.
4. It works. That’s not to say that other things don’t work. But it can be very hard to meet people while out and about. Many of us know of success stories where people have met online.
5. We’re in the midst of back-to-school season. It’s a fresh start, and a chance to try something new. Think of it like this: you weren’t the same person between 4th and 5th grades. You’re not the same person now as you were last year. You’ve had new experiences. It’s a time to look at what you’ve been doing and see where you can make improvements. You’d take a deep breath before you get on the schoolbus. You can take a deep breath before you create a profile. You’ll find that, just like in school, you’ll probably wind up making some new friends.

For more information or to schedule a free consultation with It's a Date!, visit their site.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About this blog

Karyn Polewaczyk lives and writes in Boston, and believes that heading out into that good night, like any adventure, begins with the first step. Let's Go Out is a conversation about dating and nightlife in our notoriously chilly city, with first-hand tips from the trenches. Karyn's writing, which focuses largely on women's lifestyle topics, has appeared in the Weekly Dig, Jezebel, xoJane, Northshore Magazine and More.com, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @KarynPolewaczyk.

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