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1. Choose a Service 2. Set Up an Account 3. Write Your ProfileThe Screen Name The Headline The Picture The Vitals The Essay 5. Respond...Or Don’t 6. The Email Dialogue 7. The Phone Call 8. The Date
 

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Step 3: Write Your Profile

The Vitals

The vitals are the multiple choice and short answer questions that query your basic information and preferences, e.g. height, weight, horoscope. This information is used in several ways:

  1. People can see your vitals when they look at your profile.
  2. People will search by certain criteria that include your vitals.
  3. The automated matching algorithms will compare other members’ vitals with your preferences and vice-versa to determine compatibility.

On most sites, it’s not necessary to answer every question. If a question makes you uncomfortable or you don’t have an easy answer for it, skip it. But do pay attention to how your answers affect whether your profile shows up on searches. For example, if you skip the religion question, your profile won’t come up on searches by people who are looking for a specific religion. Finally, don’t be afraid to give tongue-in-cheek answers to some of these questions. If I see a pointless question with a million options, I tend to check all of them, or else I might describe my brown eyes as fiery orange.

Honesty

The internet dating complaint I hear most often is, “everyone lies”. First of all, that’s not true. In fact, I have never been on a date with a woman who obviously lied on her profile, though I’m sure some exaggerated a little. That said, there are a bunch of liars out there, and most people who date online have encountered liars more than once. I would love to say that lying never works. Dishonesty indicates poor character, and it’s a bad basis on which to build a relationship. But I do know of people who have discovered that their new boyfriends or girlfriends lied in their profiles and continued to date them anyway.

So I’m not going to say that liars never win, but I will say that lying is unlikely to pay off. Dishonesty is always a turn off, if not an outright deal breaker.  A friend of mine once dated a guy who listed his area code as 212 (Manhattan) when it was really 718 (Queens). He explained that Manhattanites wouldn’t respond to him if he listed 718. My friend lives in Brooklyn and didn’t mind that the guy wasn’t in Manhattan, but his dishonesty contributed to her sense that he was a shady character, so she blew him off.

Furthermore, if someone cares about whatever it is you’re lying about, he or she is not going to date you anyway. If you’re a 5’8” man, and your date is a 5’9” woman who won’t date shorter guys, she’s not going to date you no matter how charming you are, so why waste your time and her time by pretending you’re 5’10”.

When people lie in their profiles, it’s almost always in the vitals section. I will address the limits of acceptable exaggeration in the sections below.

I am a [man/woman]

If you don’t know how to answer this question, e-dating may not be for you

I seek a [man/woman]

I’m not your therapist. Figure this one out yourself

I'm looking for a [friend/date/relationship/soul mate/good time]

Unless you just want casual relationship, check date and relationship. Soul mate and friend are optional. If you don’t check date, people might think you’re too serious. If you don’t check relationship, people might think you’re not serious enough.

I [have/want/hate] kids

Just be honest, or if you’re not sure whether you want kids, skip the question. If the question is “Do you have kids”, don’t skip it, or people will think that you have kids and are trying to hide it. And if you have kids, then definitely be honest about it.

I am [single/married/divorced]

This is a dumb question. If you’re divorced or separated, I think it’s OK to put single to make sure that you don’t get filtered out of peoples’ searches. If someone is into you, they’ll learn to handle the fact that you’ve been married before.

[TR: I think that being separated is a bigger deal than being divorced, so I would at least indicate that in your profile if not in the checkbox.]

Height

Do not skip this question. Height is probably the single most important question after gender, which is probably why so many people, especially men, lie about it. Rounding up is expected, but I strongly advise you not to exaggerate by more than one inch (that’s two centimeters for you metric types). There is no hiding your height, and people will see that you’re a liar on the first date.

[TR: Guys, women usually try to be considerate of a man’s height when choosing what shoes to wear. If she thinks she’ll tower over you in her three inch heels, she’ll go for the flats. So be respectful of her and she will do the same for you.]

Weight or Build [thin/fit/curvy/average/heavyset/humongous]

You may skip this question, but if so you do, people may assume that you’re overweight. If you’re slender, I recommend that you flaunt the information. This question also creates a lot of liars, especially women. Men and women have a poor concept of what the other gender weighs, so you can get away with exaggerations of 5 to 10 lbs. But don’t go too far unless you enjoy being rejected. If the question is multiple choice, be wary of average and curvy, both of which are ambiguous. Curvy could be an hourglass or a Buddha. Average could be a healthy weight or the weight of an average fat American.

[TR: Also, be realistic about what you’re looking for when you can put in specifics. I don’t know how many guys I’ve see on Nerve who say they’re looking for someone between 5’2” and 5’11” between 95 and 130 pounds. Look for your 5’11” 130-pound girl in the pages of Vogue, not on the internet.]

Date of Birth

Plenty of liars here. A coworker of mine lied about her age by two years. The guy didn’t find out until her fortieth birthday party, a few months after they started dating. He didn’t freak out. TR once discovered after a couple of dates that one of her dates had lied by two years. She stuck with him for a while as well. These anecdotes indicate that you can get away with lying if you don’t look your age. But I still don’t recommend it. It’s such a blatant lie that I, for one, wouldn’t put up with it.

[TR: Even though I stuck with him, I thought he was stupid for doing it. Honestly, those two years were probably a much bigger deal to him than to the people he lied to. The big deal to the people lied to is the lie.]

Religion

Many people don’t like to answer this question, and I don’t blame them. Keep in mind that many people do search for people with specific religions, so if you skip the question, you may not show up in their searches. For instance, if you’re Jewish but skip this question, people who do date Jews exclusively won’t click your profile because they won’t know you’re Jewish.

Job

People often blow off this question, perhaps because they don’t like or aren’t proud of their jobs. But a person’s career is important to me, and I’m disinclined to contact someone who doesn’t list her job, so I recommend answering the question. If you’d rather not answer it directly, you might try to come up with something clever that hints at your job and piques people’s curiosity, e.g. “oracle”, “usurer”, or “I fix things”.

Income

I advise against answering this question because, frankly, it’s crass. That said, there are people out there who are impressed by big salaries, so if you have one, you may get some mileage from publishing it. Just keep in mind that you may also turn off people who are unimpressed by big salaries or the people who flaunt them. And if you don’t have a big salary, there's no reason to answer the question at all.

[TR: I’ve seen people who also put a low salary, which I hate to admit, was a turn-off just because it makes you feel like you’d have to be very conscientious.]

Distance

E-dating sites generally require you to specify your own location and the vicinity in which you’re looking for a date, e.g. within 5 miles, within 25 miles, in a galaxy far, far away. Believe it or not, people do lie about their location, such as the Manhattan imposter I mentioned at the beginning of this section. With regard to the vicinity in which you’re looking, keep in mind that the issue is not only how far you’d travel for a relationship but also how far you’d travel for a blind date. See my comments on long distance e-dating below.

[TR: It depends where they’re from, but when people put in their profiles that they’re open to dating people who live far away, it makes me think that they’re desperate.]