Swipe right if you agree that online dating can feel overwhelming at times. If you’ve spent time in the apps, you know the stress over swiping and dating profile curation — and that’s before you’ve expended any energy on a match with a real connection. Even in just a few months, it’s common to feel discouraged and burnout with online dating. There’s a myth circulating that dating is just a numbers game: the more dates you go on, the more likely you are to find your perfect match. Dating apps have certainly benefited from this myth, perpetuating the dream that if you just keep swiping, you’ll be in a happy relationship in no time. Dating should be more than just a numbers game and more than just the stress associated with swiping and swiping. Online dating can be a wonderful opportunity to tell your story and go on dates with people who can genuinely connect with authentic you and the most important things to you. Your dating profile is the key to telling that engaging story. 

Swipe better, not longer

Before you even sign up for a dating app, knowing the size of the pool you’ll be swimming in is helpful. Roughly 30% of U.S. adults have used a dating site or app. And although some certainly have negative experiences with dating apps, the majority (57%) describe an overall positive or very positive experience. We want to help you get into that majority.

The key, according to this recent data, is not over-swiping. Over-swiping can lead to overwhelm with the seemingly unlimited options and can turn into a an almost addictive behavior that appears to boost confidence and hope, but doesn’t actually lead to more successful matches and ends with an increase in pessimism. 

Another 2019 study connected these same concerns to what they coined as “rejection mindset.” They explain, “When people notice that they are rejecting more and more profiles, their dissatisfaction with the dating pool increases and they become very pessimistic about their chances of finding a partner online.”

Your profile is the most impactful place to show who you are

Before you jump head-first into swiping, it’s helpful to articulate who you are and what you want in a partner. Your online dating profile is the best place you can do this. Your profile represents who you are and what you’re looking for. 

Build a profile that tells a story about the real you, not just the version you think others will like the most. And let’s be clear — getting fewer matches is a good thing. You’re disqualifying people who aren’t a good fit for you. This way, you’re protecting your time and your heart. 

If you think this sounds harder and more vulnerable, it may be. But it will also get you closer to where you want to be. Here are our top tips for how to build a dating profile that is engaging, authentic, and made to draw in precisely who you’re hoping to attract. 

Tell an authentic story about yourself 

As dating coach Lily Womble says in her podcast, The Date Brazen, “Just be real. You are uniquely qualified for the love of your life.” App users commonly misrepresent themselves in big and small ways because they don’t want to limit their dating pool. But remember, you are for the few, not the many. Don’t be afraid to show traits and interests unique to you. This includes your quirky, silly, smart, nerdy, and adventurous parts. This way, you’ll find someone you genuinely connect with and who you can be your authentic self.

Identify and embrace your dating desires

When it comes to fleshing out your dating profile, it’s helpful to reflect on the kind of person you’re looking for, the person you want to attract. Lily Womble describes these dating desires as “essence-based preferences,” where your dating checklist (age, height, location, education, career, kids, religion) meets your core values (spiritual, family-oriented, cares about social justice, etc.) and the personality traits you are looking for (compassionate, extroverted, open-minded, and beyond). 

Womble explains, “This is not to create a snapshot of your perfect person, but to create an impressionist painting.” You don’t want to get caught up in eliminating potential matches because they don’t check off all of your boxes, but you do want to be intentional about who you think you’ll connect best with. Reflect deeply on why you have these preferences and how they could enrich your partnership. Could someone who doesn’t fit these checklist items on paper still meet your core desires? Consider sharing some of your most essential dating desires throughout your profile.  

Be positive and creative with your communication

Being honest and clear about what you’re looking for is essential. This clarity can show up in your dating goals, “I’m seeking a serious relationship,” or your essence-based preferences, “I’m looking for someone who can connect with my passion for music.” It’s even more necessary to use positive language when you’re describing these things. Instead of using the brief online dating profile space to state everything you despise about people, dating, or former partners, share the traits you admire and enjoy most and the activities you want to enjoy with your partner. Also, employ creativity to tell your story and the match you’re looking for. Rather than saying that you love to travel and are looking for someone well-traveled, choose a few photos from a recent trip or share a short story from one of your significant travel experiences. 

Choose your photos purposefully 

The photos you include in your profile tell your story. You want to find images that capture who you are and what you’re about. Include recent photos where you’re smiling and showing off your personality and photos that highlight your hobbies, passions, and other important aspects of your life. If live music, mountain biking, comic books, or Disney is your thing, find a creative way to display it with a photo on your profile. You only get so many words to use in your profile, so use your photos to augment your story. 

While group photos are ok, ensure you’re the star of every image on your dating profile, and minimize the number of selfies you use. If you include selfies, try to include an interesting background that communicates something unique about you. If you don’t have the right photos for your profile, ask some friends to help you curate a few that help tell your story. 

Be specific and engaging with your bio and prompts

You want your profile to pop for those who may have been swiping mindlessly. Be sure you’re intentional with everything you write, striving to add depth and opportunities to connect and engage with your story. People fall in love with someone by learning the details, not broad strokes. Research shows people are more attracted to rare attitudes and interests than the common. 

You want enough content in your profile to inspire engaging conversation and connection. For example, you can share more than just your love of fitness, but how Krav Maga helped empower you to do and be something you never knew you could be. Or how you don’t just love to read, but you love to connect with characters and gain new insights into yourself and our world through books. When you avoid general cliches, you create intrigue and real opportunities for others to engage with you. 

So you have a fantastic dating profile; what’s next? 

It’s clear from the research that dating takes work. Being open and vulnerable on the internet can be exhausting. We encourage you to trust the process. Stay open to finding someone unexpected and go on real-life dates with your matches. Paul Eastwick, an associate professor of psychology and relationship researcher at the University of California at Davis, states that the longer you communicate solely online, the more likely you are to lose interest after finally meeting due to building up unrealistic expectations. Remember to set boundaries around when you’re exclusively swiping and messaging and hold your essence-based preferences closely but not rigidly. You want to save your energy for meeting up with a match who could become your significant other. 

Need more support or guidance? 

We love relationships and relationship seekers here at In Session Psych. We can help you better connect with yourself and your story, explore how conscious dating can empower you, and help you to process and heal when dating and relationships go wrong. Reach out today for more information and connect with a therapist.

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