Life Advice



Erika Ettin: Why writing your dating profile to attract a certain type may backfire

Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

Sometimes writing your online dating profile feels like you’re trying to crack a code. How do you encapsulate that you’re outgoing but equally content with a Saturday night reading a good book, or that you’re interesting but not to the level of being intimidating?

It’s a challenge to capture your entire personality in a few short paragraphs — in fact, it’s outright impossible. But what often happens is people write their profile to attract a certain kind of person, highlighting certain elements of themselves and excluding other traits completely. Here’s the thing: That can easily backfire. Why? Because you never know what the person reading your profile is looking for.

For example, let’s say a woman who is highly cultured and successful wants to attract a similarly cultured and successful partner in a man. She may write her bio with this in mind, listing hobbies and interests such as going to the opera, watching ballet performances and visiting museums. But when that cultured man reads her profile, he might pass, hoping to find someone who would be up for a casual road trip on the weekends. The woman might actually have that as an interest (or be more than willing to try it!), but she only presented herself one way in an effort to “game” the dating scene.

Or say there’s a man who wants to present himself as outdoorsy, sharing photos of himself camping and hiking. And while those are activities he enjoys, he would rather stay at a five-star hotel with a top-rated spa than an RV on vacation. See how that could become confusing down the road when it comes to the type of partner he’s attracting?

Not only are you limiting the number of people interested in your profile, but you’re cutting out a whole lot of people who might surprise you. Maybe your “type” has always been an Ivy League-educated, clean-cut person, but the surf instructor with tattoos might actually be a better connection. (After all, if you’re single, maybe your usual “type” isn’t the right match after all.)


In online dating, the No. 1 rule is to always be truthful, especially when it comes to yourself. Just like you should not use outdated or highly filtered photos in your profile, you also don’t want to create a false persona in hopes of attracting a certain type of person. More often than not, the real story will eventually come out and the results will be disappointing for both you and your potential match.

So what should you do? Be yourself … always.

Your profile, both the photos and the bio, should be a reflection of who you really are. In fact, some of your quirks — maybe you’re not the best navigator in a new city (aka you are known for getting lost), or you have a tendency to leave home with your freshly brewed coffee still on the kitchen counter — are some of the most relatable elements that make your profile stand out from the seas of seemingly identical bios. By including the hobbies you truly enjoy and the things you really find of interest, you’ll attract the people who want to get to know the real you … not one side of your personality or your aspirational self.

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