Writing an online profile is tough. I know – I’ve done it myself! I’m a writer and even I wasn’t sure what to say. Even years later, when I look back on my old profile, I’m surprised at how bland it sounds.
You probably know what I’m talking about. How many profiles have you read where people try to describe themselves, but you don’t really get a sense for who they are? After a while, they all start to sound the same. Admittedly, trying to describe the unique person you are in just a couple of paragraphs isn’t easy. But I say, don’t. When you craft your online dating profile, instead of telling people who you are, show them.
Show, Don’t Tell
One fundamental of good writing is “show, don’t tell.” For example, if you’re writing a story about an extremely talkative character, instead of stating how talkative he is, you could show him conversing with other characters and using long, descriptive dialogue where he barely draws a breath. Showing is far more interesting than telling. The same goes for your online dating profile – instead of describing your traits, show us who you are by talking about the things that matter most to you.
Here are a few examples:
1. Telling: “I love to eat.” (Boring)
Showing: “I’m not picky about food and will eat anything from a burger and fries to raw fish with seaweed. Think Joey from Friends.” (Funny and descriptive, this gives us a better idea of who this person is)
2. Telling: “I’m an old-fashioned girl.” (What does that mean?)
Showing: “I observe Shabbat every week.” or “Call me old-fashioned, but my dream is to stay at home and raise a bunch of happy kids, just like my mom did.” (These show old-fashioned or traditional values)
3. Telling: “I love to travel.” (Generic)
Showing: “I spent a month backpacking in Costa Rica last year.” or “I take a Caribbean cruise every year to fight off the winter doldrums.” (Interesting, and each shows us something different)
4. Telling: “My friends and family mean a lot to me.” (Most people feel this way)
Showing: “I come from a big family. We still eat dinner at Mom’s every Sunday, no matter what.” or “I’ve known my best friend since grade school and we tell each other everything.” (These give us a much better idea of this person’s specific values)
5. Telling: “I really enjoy reading, especially science fiction.” (Tells us a little something)
Showing: “I’m an avid reader. I don’t own a television and will devour an entire book in a few days. I own a huge library of books (I’ll never buy an e-reader) and am a big fan of Harlan Ellison and Connie Willis.” (Shows us much more)
In other words, try to avoid describing yourself and focus more on talking about your life, interests, and passions. This is much more exciting to read and tells people so much more about you!
Don’t worry if you’ve made the “show, don’t tell” mistake in your online dating profile. We all have. It’s something even writers struggle with, much less those who aren’t used to writing. But if you make a few changes to show people who you are through descriptive details, you’ll stand out and increase the odds of attracting your kind of people.