Tag Archives: online dating profile


Is that really a dealbreaker?


Online dating is no different to any other way of  searching for a new partner in that you will need to consider, whether consciously or not, what precisely it is that you are looking for.  If you have emerged from a long term relationship at a later stage in life, what you were looking for when you were last single is likely to be quite different now.

If you were sizing up a new person you had met in a bar, or who had been introduced by a mutual friend, you would be considering the attributes you are looking for – the ‘nice to haves’ and which characteristics are non-negotiable – the ‘dealbreakers’. This is equally applicable to online dating however it is something that is much more upfront and will impact both your search criteria and how you respond to those that express interest in you online.  You also need to consider the nice to haves vs dealbreakers in the way you put together your own profile.

The nature of online dating with its questions and criteria, provides this information in a very accessible format and encourages thinking about these attributes before you even respond to, or pursue a person.  This can however, tend to make the process a very scientific one rather than considering the true dynamics of a real relationship.  It also makes us feel like we have the luxury of excluding people very quickly and searching for the most accurate match.   It tends to encourages our ‘nice to haves’ to be confused with ‘dealbreakers’ and we become unnecessarily exclusionary.

What is a nice to have?  Bear in mind that you are not looking for someone that is a carbon copy of you.  They do not need to share ALL of your interests: many of the most successful relationships are based on some shared attributes and interests and some that are not, allowing each person space where they can focus on the pursuits most important to them.  For example – a partnership of a golf enthusiast and a long distance runner allows for a long window each week where 18 holes of golf and a long training run can co-exist perfectly. A high degree of common interests and apparent compatibility is also not a guarantee of success in a long term relationship.

The way the online dating tools facilitate profiling on individuals will tend to encourage you to think of the long list of attributes that you are looking for in a real partner.  Try to suspend judgement on this and read through profiles with a sense of whether the person would be compatible with you rather than applying a mental checklist. Consider whether something you read in a profile and appears off-putting is really an issue or just a difference, and whether it will actually matter in the context of a relationship.  If someone has music interests that are completely the opposite of yours, it may matter if you are a concert-going, music festival enthusiast but likely not if the only time you will be subjected to their taste is the occasional i-pod-supported road trip.

Then work on distilling what really are your non-negotiables or dealbreakers.  Consider the following questions:

  • Is this attribute something that will loom daily in the relationship and present constant strain
  • Is it something that I am fundamentally opposed to
  • Will this put my health or wellbeing at risk

Can the situation change?  Clearly it is folly to try to change a person after you enter a relationship, but declining a smoker who is desperate to quit and could do with your support vs someone who has declared themselves a lifetime smoker could mean you rule out someone else who is compatible with you in every other way.  Resolving a situation where one is yearning to have a child and the partner is opposed is far more complex, and hoping someone will change their mind about this is more perilous.

True dealbreakers are often things like religion, smoking, alcohol use, child-status and long distance relationships. Try to avoid excluding based on nice to have’s eg  food preferences, music preferences, particular suburbs.  Think carefully about preconceived ideas you have about topics such as height, weight, occupation and age.


  •  Do a brain dump on paper of all the things you think are important in a partner
  • Closely look at each and create a short list of your true deal breakers.
  • Ask yourself the ‘are they a deal breaker’ questions above and consider if the situation could change.
  • Actually articulate out loud ‘xx is a dealbreaker BECAUSE and get to the heart of why.  Test the logic of  it with a friend.

It is then simple to apply these when considering a request for contact from someone and reviewing their profile, as well as searching yourself.  You also need to ensure that you have it clear in your own profile.  Don’t be equivocal if it is truly non negotiable – for example don’t be ‘undecided’ about more children if you are truly opposed to having another child.  Its not something you can be opposed on and then hope you can sort it out later.

Getting to the heart of this is key in evaluating a new partner, online or through any other means.

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How to write a great online dating profile

Writing a compelling online dating profile is a make-or-break step. This is your advertisement of what you have to offer amongst all the competing profiles on online dating sites.

Three three key areas to consider when crafting your profile:

  • Know what you are looking for. Although the profile is all about describing what you have to offer, knowing what you WANT is also key.  It allows you to choose the best of your qualities to highlight and answer the questions / criteria that sites use that then determine who will respond to you. You need to look appealing to the kind of person you want to attract, so it all starts with understanding what that person would be like.
  • Decide what you want to convey.  What are the top qualities that reflect you as a person?  Get beyond generic statements to those unique qualities about you that reflect your personality.  Ask your friends (of both sexes) to describe the top three qualities about you that would be attractive to a partner.
  • Decide what  distinguishes you from the thousands of other profiles in your demographic.

Sites often have a catchphrase or headline to be the first thing that the reader sees on your profile.  It’s often easier to come back to that once you have written the body of your profile so you can capture the essence of what you are about.

Make your first sentence compelling to ensure the reader is motivated to read on.  Read it out aloud to see if it stands alone as a hook to encourage someone to respond to you.  Then cover the key points that tell the most about you and finish with a sentence that encourages action on the part of the reader.

‘Do’s’ for writing an online profile

  • Be confident without being boastful.  There is no point being so humble about your qualities that you blend into the pack and appear bland.
  • Be specific. Tell a story about yourself, describe situations that show the reader something about you. Don’t say you like music or travel (doesn’t everybody?), talk about your favourite album and why you love it, or the destination you’ve loved the most or is top of your bucket list and why.
  • Be multidimensional.  Much of your life might revolve around your work and there is no harm in describing what you do, but this person is looking for an understanding of what you enjoy outside of that.
  • What are your goals in life?  What is really important to you?  What are you looking for?  You need to get these points across succinctly in a profile.
  • Be authentic.  Don’t surf the site for the best sounding profiles and emulate those or try to guess what you think a partner would want to hear.  When you first meet it will be obvious if your profile really reflects who you are.  If you are an alpha type looking for another alpha type, ensure your profile is written in a style consistent with that.
  • Check your spelling and grammar.  Have someone else check your spelling and grammar.

‘Don’ts’ for writing an online profile

  •  Negativity.  Don’t write about what you don’t want, focus on what you do.  Don’t allude to a string of prior online dating disasters. Don’t bring the baggage of prior relationships into your profile.
  • Exclusion.  Don’t write in such a way that could unnecessarily exclude people from responding to you.  Sites have ways of ensuring that you can show and apply any dealbreaker criteria easily and filter out those that are not of interest, you don’t need to focus your profile wording on this.
  • Lying / exaggeration.  Attracting someone on this basis is no foundation for a strong ongoing relationship.
  • Don’t be disparaging about online dating. So many profiles say things like ‘I won’t mention we met online’, ‘don’t know how I found myself here’, or something that indicates embarrassment with the process. Again this suggests you feel that there is something vaguely wrong about using this method to meet someone which may be insulting to your reader.
  • Don’t include a long laundry list of accomplishments.  This is not a CV, a linked-in profile or a job interview process.
  • Don’t be a clone.  Avoid phrases which are so generic they really say nothing about you eg ‘nice, smart, easy-going, fun-loving, sweet, down-to-earth, laid-back, just as happy partying as staying in on the couch, love travel/movies/my friends’
  • Don’t be heavy on political / religious views – unless this is truly a dealbreaker.

Recognise that this is not set in stone.  Based on the responses to your first published profile, you will be able to consider whether you have cast the net too widely or too narrowly or if there is something in there that is attracting the wrong type of person and you can revise it accordingly.

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