Click & Tell: Your Profile Is The First Step

A couple months ago, I came home from work one evening and suddenly decided to sign up for online dating. Without telling or consulting anyone—I didn’t want to lose my nerve—I hastily chose a screen name, uploaded the first picture I found, and wrote some random blurbs. In my refrigerator one will find…beer, milk, eggs, and jelly. Twenty-five years from now I see myself…having a few wrinkles, mostly from laughing.

Looking back, I realize I probably should have had a friend edit my profile, filter my personality, and help me pick a photo, but I got 40 “winks” in the first 30 days, so I figured I couldn’t have done that bad a job. Then Leslie Oren, author of Fine, I’ll Go Online!: The Hollywood Publicist’s Guide to Successful Internet Dating, took a look.“There are too many references to drinking/drinking beer/beer,” Leslie told me. “Maybe ‘drinking at a dive-y bar’ shouldn’t be listed as the first thing among your favorite things; maybe ‘beer’ shouldn’t be listed first among the things in your refrigerator.” Ouch. I definitely don’t spend all of my time drinking, or even consider it a primary interest, but I had been trying to answer the questions honestly. I really did have beer, milk, eggs, and jelly in my refrigerator at the time. And by saying that I like hanging out with friends at dive bars, I was trying to let guys know that I’m not a high-maintenance, pink martini kind of girl. “When you show booze or cigarettes, you run the risk of others interpreting you a certain way: ‘Oh, she’s a cool chick, or trying to show she’s a cool chick, or a boho chick, or anti-establishment,’” Leslie said.

No one had ever pegged me as anti-establishment in my entire life. Then, a guy sent me an e-mail saying that he was trying to shed his “Charlie Sheen in the ‘90s bad boy image” and that my photo (me at a friend’s birthday party, Stella in hand) made me a questionable prospect. I decided that Leslie might have been right.

But how do you write a profile that is “the best possible version of your authentic self,” as Leslie writes in her book? “Be specific and take advantage of your unique qualities,” Leslie told me. “You have a great quirky intellectual quality, and I would love to see you exploit that. There also seems to be a lot of joy and optimism in your life—you love to laugh, so what are the things that make you laugh out loud? You don’t seem like a vain person, which leads me to believe you are more interested in social and intellectual pursuits. What are they? What things have you tried recently?” So, I got all existential and spent a few minutes answering the question, “Who am I?” I never thought I’d have to go down the road of self-discovery just to write my online dating profile.

I’m trying out Leslie’s advice. I deleted the two mentions of beer, changed my photo, and got really specific. (The last great book I read…I am trying to get through War and Peace. I haven’t come to the conclusion that it’s “great” yet, but I’m only on page 175.) I included my love of French fries, vintage shopping, reading the Sunday paper in the park, and Labrador retrievers. I’m not sure whether I’ve attracted anyone new, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt. Plus, my interest in brewed beverages must still be coming through—I’m meeting a guy for Belgian beer tonight.