Ever notice how people tend to say the exact same stuff in online dating profiles?
Seriously, if it isn’t the same tired chorus of “I don’t want to play games” or “friends first”, then it’s what I unaffectionately refer to as “Comma Chameleon Syndrome”. This is where someone (man or woman, really) proceeds to spew forth a comma-delimited list of literally everything he or she can think of to describe him or herself. Typically, when considered as a whole, the list paints a picture of that person as pretty much whomever you’d like for them to be. Like a chameleon, this person’s “true colors” are clearly (or is that “unclearly?) subject to change.
So why is it that everyone seems to follow such a generic “formula” for writing a profile? Seriously…virtually nobody stands out from the crowd, even though instinctively most of us know doing so can dramatically increase online dating success.
Well, the simple fact that the exercise is called a “narrative” in online-dating speak (I’ve even seen a dating site or two refer to it as an “essay”…crazy) tends to put people in the same frame of mind as they were back in elementary school. And when a writing task is approached more as an “assignment” than a creative expression, what tends to result is very much like unto what you see on the typical online dating “essay”, huh?
I believe there’s a secondary issue that compounds this state of affairs even further. Namely, the instructions to the online dater on how to fill out the “narrative” section are wrong-headed.
On one of the most popular dating sites, for example, the only description for the section when confronted with filling it out reads “About me and who I’m looking for”.
My theory is that-again, like what we were all taught back in grade school-people simply do what they’re told.
We’ve all been trained to “follow directions” and to “be objective” when it comes to writing assignments. And for Heaven’s sake, one simply must follow proper paragraph structure and whatever. If your school experience was anything like mine, you’d otherwise be hit with “VAGUE” and “INEFFECTIVE” scrawled in red ink all over your “essay” when it was returned to you.
So then, what do we do on those profiles of ours?
We write a litany of things that describe us. And then we write a litany of things to describe some third-party whom we are allegedly “looking for”, as if we’ve lost our puppy and are making posters to wallpaper the neighborhood with.
If your head, you already know that talking about yourself (especially in list form) is B-O-R-I-N-G to MOTOS (Members Of The Opposite Sex) when you’re out on dates. Guess what? Nothing’s different in this context.
And who is going to be inspired by a generic list of bullet points when it comes to “who you’re looking for?”
Once you begin to see exactly why we tend to write such boring profiles, you can quickly determine the solution: Break the blasted rules.
That’s right, instead of blind obedience to the given format, why not try rephrasing the objective in a whole new way?
Instead of “About me”, try thinking of the concept as: “What sets me apart as especially attractive” or even, “Why you will be attracted to me”. I particularly like the second option because it’s positioned in the second person. When you have a particular person in mind whom you are addressing, the free-form section of your profile can’t help but improve.
And that goes double when it comes time to rephrase “Who I’m looking for”. Have a particular person in mind-even dare I say someone whose profile interests you quite a bit-and write to that person. Put “one-itis” phobia on the shelf for now and treat this as an objective exercise designed to get you results. Then, write to the thought of “What your life will be like after we meet”, or “What the person I’m wild about is really like.” Lookit, you can rest assured that the finished product in such case, when written out, will be more inspiring and hella more positive than a list of traits or “dos and don’ts”, right?
So that’s a simple but highly-effective strategy for combating “generic” profiles. Although somewhat obvious when you think about it, almost nobody deviates from “following directions”. Be a trail-blazer and watch your responses increase noticeably.
But what of the related issue about writing our narratives as if we’re composing a 6th grade theme-paper? I’ve got that issue covered in a way that will blow your socks off…next time.