Many women like to get done up and do a professional “makeover” shoot with a photographer for their online dating profile. When taken too far, that in itself can create unrealistic expectations and then disappointment when the woman actually turns up on the date. However, there’s nothing inherently wrong with it. I always advise women to include some everyday shots in their image collection, to give a broader idea of what people should expect to see, but there’s nothing wrong with showing your best side and creating a bit of a buzz.
But imagine if instead of the hair and makeup artist working with a woman to make her look her best, the photographer went and got a supermodel to pose instead, took the photos and then had the woman upload those photos and say they were hers. Obviously a stupid idea – once she turns up, it’ll be obvious she’s not the person her date wanted to meet.
Yet when it comes to giving people dating profile advice, this is often what people expect to get. When you’re helping someone write their dating profile, there’s nothing that stops you from starting with a completely blank slate, and some people are so insecure in themselves, they’re perfectly happy for you to create a whole new persona for them. Sure, you do your best to interview the person so that you’re working from something real, but too many people seem so keen to get to the first date, they forget their ultimate goal is somewhat beyond that point. All’s fair in love, war and getting people to meet you in person.
When online dating advice works
Writing about yourself is hard work and it’s not even about whether or not you have a way with words. I write for a living and I guarantee you I hate writing about myself just as much as you probably hate writing about yourself.
There are plenty of great people out there who just need help expressing their finer qualities in their online dating profile. We’re taught from a young age that talking about your good qualities is boasting and boasting is bad. In the UK in particular, being understated and self-deprecating is the norm even when applying for a job! So sometimes all a person needs is a little help in realising they’re actually a decent catch and that it’s OK to present themselves in a way that actually does them justice. For these people, online dating advice is just about learning to work with the limitations of the system, so they can get a first date and take it from there.
Superficial advice can only get you so far
Here’s an extreme example of the other kind of people: a guy’s set up a profile on a dating site, where he’s announced he’s not interested in dating “fat chicks” and is only interested in dating fit white women. He then goes on to express his anger at women who expect men to pay for them on the first date at some length. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he doesn’t get much interest in his profile, because he’s come across as cheap, mean-spirited, racist and judgmental.
It’s very easy to fix a profile like that – you simply take out all the nasty racist, miserly stuff and the guy suddenly looks a million times better. But the problem is, the guy’s still the same. Once he starts talking to women online or (assuming he’s kept his mouth shut long enough) goes to meet them, the deception will be clear. He’s not likely to get past the first date. Apart from the fact that many dating sites won’t tolerate profiles that use racist or abusive terminology, this guy would have almost been better off keeping his profile as is. He might have found himself a fellow racist to call his own.
The reality is, many people are perfectly capable of accurately representing themselves online. The woman who’s so mistrustful of men because of bad past experience she fills her profile with warnings that would put off any man, the guy so insecure about some trivial thing he makes such a big deal of it on his profile and turns it into a self-fulfilling prophecy, and, of course, or body-shaming racist from above – these are all real people showing their real selves. The problem is not the profile. The problem is the limiting attitudes and beliefs these people hold.
Changing the dating profile to reflect a new, improved person is a quick fix. As much as people like quick fixes, they usually don’t work.
If there is something in your profile that’s putting people off contacting you or responding to you, you need to first see whether it’s down to the constraints of the medium or a sign of a serious block. For example – a dry, sarcastic sense of humour can often be misunderstood online, making some people seem meaner or negative, when they’re actually perfectly cheery and normal.
On the other hand, if you have a negative attitude or belief towards dating, people, women, men, etc. that’s made its way to your dating profile, you will need to go deeper in order to change it. Counselling, therapy (yes, I realise these are so far behind in the UK compared to, say, the US, but they do help) or even reading and acting on advice in a self help book can all work. If your dating profile is making promises you can’t deliver, this is where you should be looking for help.
For the love of god, though, please avoid any form of dating advice that’s not designed to make you more confident and turn you into your best self. I’m so over pick up artists going on about “game” and women’s self help books going on about “rules” to make men want you. Once you stop seeing people as people and start seeing them as pawns in some sort of game where you “score”, you’re well into asshole country, I’m afraid. Playing stupid childish games won’t make up for any insecurities, negative beliefs or character flaws you might have either.