How to write the best online dating profile

Image by the fabulous Stuart F Taylor

I know a lot of the time I tell you what an incompetent shithead I am but recently I realised something. In terms of online dating, my ‘hit rate’ (i.e. my ratio of dates attended to men I have actually liked) since I broke up with my ex is pretty high. By which I mean I have been on a few physical dates after contact on The Apps, and broadly I’ve liked all the men (except one – he didn’t ask me any questions, and that was very annoying). I might find The Apps themselves tedious, and moan about having to go back on them when I find I have a slot on my dance card, but when you examine the raw numbers there’s no getting round it: I am fucking exceptional at dating. Today I am going to share what I think is a key aspect of my dating strategy with you, and pretend I am much cleverer than I actually am by explaining how to write the best online dating profile. Get ready to be wowed.

What does ‘dating success’ look like?

Let’s begin by defining our terms. What do we mean by ‘success’ when it comes to dating? Your measure might be different to mine, but I count a date as successful if I have managed to

a) meet someone good who I’d like to see again

b) without spending too much of my life fielding messages from/buying drinks for/swapping spit with total dickheads

That’s what ‘success’ looks like to me, and below I am going to share my Top Tier A+ Gold Standard Guaranteed Strategy For Writing The Best Online Dating Profile with you so that you too can live this dream.

The most annoying online dating profiles

I suspect there will be angry straight men already mentally drafting the comment they want to leave on this post about how dating is way easier if you’re a straight woman. And they’d be kind of right, but only kind of.

Getting responses on dating sites is easier if you’re a woman. Dating itself is still hard. (And incidentally, if you are sad that you’re a straight man not getting matches, consider expanding your perspective and recognising that if you’re a straight white man you still have a lot of privilege when it comes to dating: you won’t be dismissed or fetishised because of your race, for example. See also if you’re able-bodied, etc etc. Dating, like life, is massively impacted by various intersecting privileges – I’m aware that I’m a straight white woman so I have a lot of it)

Straight women have different problems to straight men when it comes to dating: you might be looking for any response at all, we’re trying to wade through the spam. And these days I find it’s not just spam like ‘guys who message ‘hey’ to every match’, but spam like ‘so many men who have profiles that consist of just one single line of text that tells you nothing about them.’ Seriously!

I am shocked – gobsmacked, disappointed, bemused and astounded – by the number of men on [dating app I’m on right now which I’m not going to name in case you find me] who haven’t bothered to write more than one or two sentences about who they are and what they’re looking for. Of the maybe 20% who write more than a line or two, 90% of those still fail to tell me anything useful.

  • “Looking to explore outside my comfort zone! ;-)”
  • “Keen to push my boundaries!”
  • “Open to anything – I’m just here to explore and see what comes up!”

Come ON, lads! I am not a mindreader. I don’t know what your boundaries or your comfort zone look like unless you tell me. And I’m certainly not going to ‘come up’ if you can’t be bothered to tell me what to expect once I am up there. You might be thinking ‘oh I’ll fill that out later when I have time!’ but sorry, too late: by the time you fill it out I’ve already seen your bare-basics profile and hurled you onto the ‘no’ pile. It’s not personal, and I mean that literally: you’re on the ‘no’ pile because I know NOTHING ABOUT YOU AS A PERSON.

These men sometimes stumble across my profile (which is crammed with info on my interests/likes/dislikes as well as a couple of jokes [more on this later] plus a brief overview of the sort of thing I’m looking for) and message me to say ‘hey!’ or ‘hi!’ or – if they’re stunningly creative – ‘how are you doing today?’.

Oh my GOD! What a waste of a message! Why are you even messaging anyone before you’ve filled out your profile? Baffles me beyond words. You’re leaping into the ‘no’ pile voluntarily before I’ve even had a chance to work out if you belong there! Still, I guess mine is not to reason why, mine is just to work out how to minimise this kind of spammy contact.

For me the problem is not getting responses, it’s finding the diamond in the rough. And although this might sound counterintuitive to straight men who want more messages, I genuinely think that applying the same strategy will help you. So what should you do? You write the best online dating profile to deter as many unsuitable people as possible. 

The best online dating profile is not a sales pitch!

Your profile is not a sales pitch! You’re not getting commission or points for how many people send you messages. If you’re only on The Apps because you crave those sweet sweet phone pings, go say something problematic on Twitter instead.

Your dating profile isn’t a net which you need to cast as wide as possible to ensnare the max number of fish: the best dating profile is there as bait to tempt in the exact fish you want. It’s going to be really hard to catch a lovely fat salmon if your profile also attracts all the neighbourhood bears. You need to make sure that your bait is laser-focused on the specific thing you want a bite from, while deterring all the other creatures that might come sniffing round to waste your time.

We’re line-fishing here, people. So let’s focus.

Exercise 1: (yes, sorry, I forgot to tell you that this blog post comes with BONUS HOMEWORK): Write down three things about yourself that ex-partners or acquaintances have complained about or expressed irritation with, but which you personally want to embrace and enjoy. Perhaps you had an ex who moaned about how much time you spent playing video games, or told you they preferred the ‘natural look’ even though you love playing with make-up. Maybe you don’t bother shaving your armpits, or you swear a lot, or you sing loudly to showtunes while you’re doing the housework (these are three of mine, for what it’s worth). Whatever it is, you’re looking for things about yourself that you love but that some other people will find annoying. Write them down, and get them into your profile immediately. 

The best online dating profiles are not about mass marketing

I want to share a quick marketing analogy with you here, because I think it will be helpful no matter who you are and how you approach dating. This is the sales funnel:

Image of a funnel with the top section widest, and the narrowest section at the bottom - the top level (the wide one) is labelled 'awareness', the next section down in yellow is labelled 'interest', the one below that (smaller still, and blue) is marked 'decision' and the final small section is labelled 'action'

The funnel essentially splits out a person’s journey from ‘not aware of your brand/product in any way’ to ‘eventually buying your product.’ The stages of interest are sometimes labelled differently, but the simplest form of the funnel is usually this one: AIDA – awareness, interest, decision, action. Channeling people down the funnel means losing some at each stage: you might get 100 people in the top of the funnel with a little brand awareness campaign, and of those let’s say fifty are actually interested in what you’re offering. Twenty of those might decide to check it out in detail, and then a final five hand over their card details and buy it.

Awareness, interest, decision, action. This works brilliantly in most sales contexts. I use it all the time at work, because part of making sex blogging pay involves honing my own funnel. I can tell you how many people visit my blog (awareness), then of those how many click through to the sex toys page (interest), of those how many click on the links through to the websites beyond (decision). Using affiliate tracking (if it’s good enough, which it isn’t always) I can also tell you how many people go on to buy a sex toy (action). I get a small cut of the money when people buy through affiliate links, and that money helps me to keep this site afloat.

If I want to make more money, I have a number of options to hone my funnel: I can raise awareness generally (get more people to my site), I could nurture interest (send more people from blog posts to that page, using in-text links like the one in the previous paragraph), or I could nudge people into making the decision (like in the previous para where I told you that you’re helping me stay afloat if you buy through those, or this para where I ask you to please consider bookmarking that page in case you ever want to buy sexy things in future). It’s harder for me to influence the final action, because that will depend on things outside my control – when you click through to the website that sells toys, you’ll be influenced by price, ease of purchase, and a bunch of other things. But by writing reviews about specific toys (BUY THE DOXY BULLET, IT’S THE NUTS) I can point you in directions that I think will make you happy.

Anyway. I’ve told you all of this because I need you to understand the mercenary nature of the funnel when applied in this context. Getting max money out at the end is all about raw fucking NUMBERS. Bringing as many people in at the top, channeling the largest proportion through to the next stage, and ending up with the maximum amount of ‘action’ at the end.

Do you understand why this is a terrible way to view dating?

Dating and the sales funnel

So much dating strategy (from straight men in particular, but not exclusively) focuses on using the ‘mass marketing’ approach to the sales funnel. The idea that if you’re not getting enough action (dates), then the key is to widen the top of the funnel (more awareness – i.e. a profile that appeals to an even broader audience) or focus on getting more people to filter through to become matches (interest – again, this is about being broad, which is why so many people just swipe right on everyone) or make a decision (send/reply to a message – therefore firing off loads of short messages that say ‘hi how are you?’). But again, remember: this is a tool designed to get as many people as possible through to the final stage. Numbers are the goal.

Even the sluttiest of us, the most enjoying-of-casual-sex, the most delightfully open and horny… even we could never hand-on-heart swear that all we are interested in from dating is quantity. While I’m willing to admit that there may be a few (I mean literally a handful of) people in the world who would genuinely fuck anyone and be happy with that, those people are extremely rare. If you’re a straight man thinking ‘yeah I’d fuck ANYONE’ then please walk into your nearest Wetherspoons (or dive bar if you’re not in the UK) and take a look around – if I told you that anyone in there would want to fuck you, who would you pick? It’d be someone, right? You wouldn’t be equally delighted no matter who was first in the queue.

Now do you understand why this is a terrible way to view dating?

Most of us have what pricks would call ‘standards’ but what I’m going to call ‘desires’. Our own desires dictate who we might or might not want to date, and other people’s desires dictate how likely it is that they will sleep with us. Both these things are important, because consent goes two ways.

Exercise 2: think about someone you know who you definitely don’t want to sleep with – it might be a coworker, a friend of a friend, a mate’s husband, whatever. Picture this person in your mind, and then write down one sentence describing yourself that will definitely put that person off. The sentence should be about something positive – something that effectively ‘sells’ you – but that also just happens to work as black-and-yellow ‘danger’ tape to that sort of person. For instance, I am thinking of an ex boyfriend who had a lot of critique about my personal appearance, so I might sell myself with something like my current Twitter bio – ‘East London’s scruffiest slut.’ 

A better way to view dating

Remember at the start when I told you my two goals?

a) meet someone good who I’d like to see again

b) not spend too much of my life having to field messages from/buy drinks for/swap spit with total dickheads

Bringing loads of people in at the top of the funnel might mean I ‘catch’ a good date, but he’s buried in so many other responses that I’m hampered in the second goal: not having to spend too much time fielding dickheads. Every message I get from someone who isn’t good requires admin, thought, and attention. In dating, the further someone progresses down the funnel, the more of my time and attention they take up. So if I’m interested in finding someone GOOD, and I want to do that EFFICIENTLY, my goal is no longer to channel as many as possible down the funnel and into dates, my goal is now to apply filters at each stage to try and weed out the wrong people with minimal effort. I’m focusing not on who’s coming in, but who I’m managing to keep out.

Which brings me to what I personally think is the most important thing about anyone’s dating site profile: jokes.

A good friend of mine, who has done a LOT of dating, once told me that he no longer tells anyone he’s looking for a ‘good’ sense of humour, instead he’s after someone with a ‘compatible’ sense of humour. This is extremely wise, and I have tried to keep it in mind when composing profiles of my own. Not ‘good’ but ‘compatible.’ What is ‘good’ anyway, when it comes to comedy? Comedy is an intensely personal thing, and what you find funny tells me a lot about your personality, your approach to the world, your politics, and so much more. There are people – I swear to God – who will go on dating sites saying they have a ‘good’ sense of humour and then have the bare-faced audacity to recommend I watch Ricky Gervais’ Afterlife. No word of a lie, these people exist. If I were allowed to pick one phrase to ban from dating sites forever it’d be ‘good sense of humour!’


Exercise 3: go find your dating site profile, locate any instance where you say you either have, or are looking for, a ‘good sense of humour.’ Remove that line from your profile and replace it… with a joke! It doesn’t have to be in the format of a joke with setup/punchline like you’d read in a joke book (unless Dad jokes happen to be your style), it can just be a light-hearted comment, a silly observation, a weird innuendo, a bit of dry political snark: whatever. It doesn’t have to win you an Edinburgh comedy award, it just has to be something that genuinely makes you smile. 

I think I’ve got a great sense of humour, and I value it in the people I’m dating. Jokes and banter are at the top of my ‘must-have’ list, tied only with kindness for the key qualities I’m looking for in a lover. But if someone says they have a ‘good sense of humour’ in their profile yet includes not a single fucking joke, then for all I know they’re some tosspot Ricky Gervais fan. Comedy is personal. Jokes tell me a lot about you. It’s not about having a ‘good’ sense of humour, it’s about having a sense of humour that’s compatible with mine.

So go write a joke. Say something funny. Acknowledge the inherent ridiculousness of what we’re doing on this app, and have a bit of a laugh with it. Most importantly, know that in doing that you’re narrowing your funnel – weeding out the people who’ll have seen your joke and rolled their eyes, or failed to understand it, or realised they’d prefer to go toss themselves off to a bigoted Netflix special or something. Narrow your funnel!

Back to the fact that your dating profile is not a mass-marketing pitch: while some may see ‘getting a date’ as success, personally I would not consider any date a success unless the person I was on it with laughed at something I said. If I got so far down the funnel with someone that I was sitting at a table across from them in a pub and they recommended I watch some Ricky Gervais, I’d consider that a huge failure of filtering. Frankly, the fact that I’ve got to ‘messaging’ stage with people who’ve done this is in itself a source of great shame.

Finding someone who wants someone vs finding someone who wants you

You can (I hope) see a theme emerging throughout this post. A post which, alas, appears to be running far longer than I had originally intended it to. I should probably go through and add some SEO keywords like ‘be superawesome at dating’ and ‘write the best online dating profile’ so it at least fulfils the core goal of my blogging funnel (bring in new readers). If you’ve made it this far down, you’ll probably have already got the core message: being exceptional at dating isn’t a case of finding someone who wants someone, it’s a case of finding someone who specifically wants you. With that in mind, we’re going to move on to what lots of people think is the most important part of your profile, but which I personally think is the most tedious slog: photos.

Exercise 4: go into your phone and scroll through the photos you have of yourself from the last couple of years. Pick the three pictures in which you are having the most fun. They might be from particular moments when you were happiest, action-shots of you doing things you love, or just funny selfies you took when hanging out with friends who make your heart sing. Note that we’re after pictures in which you are happy, not pictures in which you look good. Fuck ‘good’, we’re after ‘joy’. Focus on joy and save the ones that make you smile. Don’t nitpick about how many chins you have in this one, or zoom in on the spot you think you have in that. Just allow yourself to remember those times when you were happy, and pick your top 3 from recent years. Got ’em? OK now just sit for a second and consider how you’re feeling. Do you feel happy remembering these times? Do the memories bring a smile to your face? Would you like to have days like this again? If the answer to these questions is yes, then go stick those photos on your profile. 

I hate having to find or take pictures for dating site profiles. I’m not especially photogenic: my face is not symmetrical, my hair’s always a mess, and usually I can’t keep a straight face for long enough for a shutter to click. When I do keep a straight face, I end up with what my ex used to refer to as ‘dead eyes’, as in ‘eyes that make me look dead.’

When I say this to people usually they go ‘oh no no you’re BEAUTIFUL’, because I’m a woman and we’ve been conditioned to believe that women’s value lies in beauty, so kind people think that me acknowledging some basic truths about my appearance is tantamount to saying I am worthless. But I’m NOT worthless! I’m great! My face isn’t symmetrical, because I have a really filthy smile – one that spreads sideways, more dominant on my left cheek than my right, as if I’m smirking at something really dirty. My hair’s always a mess because I’m active and I fidget – running my hands through it while telling stories, shaking it about when I’m dancing, or having people grip it when they fuck me like I’m in trouble. I can’t keep a straight face for long because usually if I’m letting someone take my photo it’s at an event – camping with friends, pub with family, romantic/sexy evening with a lover, and during those times I want to smile and talk because I want to milk as much joy as possible out of the precious time I’m spending with the people I love. I have ‘dead eyes’ in posed photos because people are used to seeing me being lively and active, and it looks odd to see me being stiff and formal and posed.

I’m bad at being in photographs, but I’m great at being alive.

Someone on Twitter put it brilliantly recently when we were discussing this. The account has been deleted now (come join me on Mastodon! And if you’re this person and you’d like proper credit pls do get in touch!) but the gist of their point was that sometimes the people who are most beautiful in photos look odd in real life, and vice versa: “humans are not meant to live in stills.”

Am I the only person for whom ‘picking photos where I’m happy’ will work as a dating site strategy? I doubt it. If you’re someone who’s astonishingly beautiful and your top priority is to find your aesthetic match, then you might do well to ignore my advice for this section. But I’d hazard a guess that those people are in the minority. Most of us wouldn’t say our best attribute is that we tick all of the boxes on society’s list of ‘what makes a person conventionally attractive’, and even if we tick most of them, we probably still value other qualities (compatible humour, hobbies, interests, politics, kindness) at least a little higher than looks.

What’s more, if we haul this back to our core goal of finding someone good without wasting too much time on incompatible dickheads, I think it becomes even clearer why we should be showing off our happiest times rather than our prettiest angle: the person we want to attract has to be someone who actually fancies us in real life! Although it annoys me how much people seem to care about looks when it comes to matches, I have now started to accept that other people are just more visually-inclined than I am. And if other people are visually inclined, then the best thing I can do to narrow my filter is to show them as realistic a picture of myself as possible. Wonky smile, messy hair, shabby clothes and all. If I make it into the pub with someone on a first date, I don’t want him to be thinking ‘blimey, she’s nothing like her pictures!’ I want him to be either pleased or ambivalent about the way I look when I turn up. If he doesn’t like me scruffy then he doesn’t fucking like me.

For this same reason, these days I also don’t tend to put much effort into dressing up for a first date. I slap on a bit of makeup and pick my least worn jeans, but broadly I wear what could be described as ‘the nicest of my normal clothes that also happen to be clean.’ If my date and I have a good time and they want to say ‘yes’ to a second, I want to know that they’re saying ‘yes’ in the full knowledge that I’m not an especially well-groomed person. That’s an even lower section of the funnel, though: the first-date-to-second one. We’re trying to write the best online dating profile here, so ignore it for now.

For now, because this guide is getting LONG, I’m going to wrap up with one more consideration when you’re drafting your best online dating profile: your call to action.

Your call to action

Finally I come to a section designed to do the thing that most other dating advice is targeted at: getting you more messages. Hooray! The reason I’ve left it till last is because by now you should hopefully have drastically reduced laser-targeted your audience, and have only a few people hovering over your profile considering whether to click the ‘message this hottie’ button. All these people should be roughly the sort of people you fancy, and they should also be the kind of people who’d get on well with you. They like your jokes, they think your pictures look fun, and they’re ready to take you out for a pint/coffee/bowl of nachos over which you can check whether you click in real life.

So these are the people who you really do want a message from. How do you get it? A call to action.

A ‘call to action‘ is a shitbag sales/marketing term for ‘sentence/phrase that tells people to Do The Thing.’ It might be ‘buy now!’ on a product website or ‘subscribe for awesome deals!’ on one of those irritating pop-ups that makes you input your email address before you get to view the content, or a passive-aggressive hint that you should join their Patreon because they worked really hard on it and would love it to see a return. [Note: I deliberately don’t use some of the more obnoxious marketing techniques here on the blog because I don’t want to piss off site users, and that is why I am rich in readers but poor in money – support me on Patreon if you found this guide helpful]

Your call-to-action on a dating site is sometimes helpfully prompted by the site itself: OK Cupid (which I hope we can all agree is a pile of shit these days) has a section in profiles with the heading ‘you should message me if…’ – that is a nudge to include some calls-to-action.

The best calls-to-action are ones which are a) explicit b) enticing to the right people and c) almost impossible for those people to not reply to.

Here’s an example of a good call-to-action:

  • You should message me if you can recommend ska bands I might not have heard of! – Targeted to exactly the kind of person they hope to meet, and gives them an opportunity to do what most people love doing, which is share recommendations for stuff they enjoy. LOVE IT.

An even better one:

  • The best pub in this city is X, because it has the greatest beer garden of all time. Know of a better one? Hit me up, let’s go! – Includes a hint of challenge, as well as a perfect idea for your first date. Immediately I’m wondering if I’d like to have a beer with this person in the nicest beer garden in the city.

A few other lovely ones:

  • My starter word in Wordle is SWEAR, what’s yours? – Absolutely fucking genius. Means people can shoot off a one-word message and immediately start a dialogue. Plus, people who are still doing Wordle will ALL have opinions on a) whether you should have a starter word at all and b) what the best ones are.
  • Punk died in 1996: discuss. – I messaged a guy who I wouldn’t otherwise have spoken to because he had something like this in his profile and I immediately had an OPINION.
  • I spend a lot of time thinking about that Queen song: is one year of love really better than a lifetime alone? Keeps me awake at night: please weigh in. – Again, fun topic of conversation/starter-for-10. You could take your answer in a variety of directions – music, their relationship history, your philosophical takes on the concept of love… lovely. But the downside here is that any response must necessarily be quite expansive, so only use this kind of thing if you want to hook a philosopher.

A couple of these I have nicked (and edited slightly) from profiles I’ve stumbled across recently. Others are just ones that I think I’d respond to. I reckon they work beautifully as calls-to-action because they invite the reader to consider their answer, and they give a specific and direct reason to message. BUT THAT’S JUST ME! You might think these calls-to-action suck, and that’s BRILLIANT. If you think they suck, pick one that is more ‘you’. Think of the kind of message you’d like to receive from the sort of person you fancy, and nudge towards that.

Personally, I don’t currently include a call to action on my profile, because I find I have best luck on dating sites when I message guys first, so I’m not really ever looking to receive messages, unless they’re really good ones. But it’s way easier for me to message guys first if they’ve included something like this in their own profile. If you want to receive messages, including something that sparks a discussion and gives a simple ‘hook’ for someone to hang their first message off makes it supremely easy for them to quickly get in touch rather than bookmark you for later.

Avoid getting ‘saved for later’

This is absolutely crucial, given how dating apps tend to work these days: you never ever want to be saved for later. 

The way that many dating apps work is by swipe: you see a profile, you swipe left or right (or you ‘like’ it or whatever) and then if you match you can message that person. If you don’t get many matches, the following might come as a shock to you, so brace yourself but… the way some people (especially those who receive a lot of messages/get a lot of matches) use apps is by going through and swiping a load of people, often thinking ‘ooh they’re nice’ and either telling themselves they’ll send a message later or waiting for the other person to message them first. This is one of the reasons why it feels so deeply cringe and offputting when men on OK Cupid include ‘I don’t pay to see likes – if you want to chat, MESSAGE ME!!!’ on their profiles. It’s not that people are ‘liking’ you in the hope that you’ll message them, they’re just liking to stick you on the ‘maybe’ pile. If you’re getting likes but not messages, it isn’t because the likers are staring hopefully at their phones in case you happen to have paid for that level of sub: it’s because your profile is ‘pretty decent but not quite compelling enough to make them initiate first contact.’

Sometimes the reason people like but don’t message is because they’re time-poor or shy – unsure how to compose the perfect starter message, or choosing to wait till they have a bit more time to compose something perfect. Sometimes it’s because, hey, when you are confronted with abundance there’s less urgency to take specific action to grasp any individual opportunity.

Or, as Rayne Fisher-Quann puts it in this piece for i-D:

“we begin to see people as nothing but a collection of pros and cons, flipping through brain-melting numbers of Facetuned hotties in search of a mythical one-true-person who will meet all our needs instantly, requiring no effort or compromise.”

If you want to be something more than just another match – interesting but not-quite-perfect and therefore languishing in the ‘maybe’ pile till you’re forgotten – include something on your profile that gives them not just permission but an explicit call-to-action: message NOW. Right now! Answer this question. Respond. Get in touch! Here’s a hook on which to hang your very first message!

You want people to give you a chance? Give them an opportunity!

Do you have the best online dating profile yet?

Obviously I don’t expect this to change anyone’s lives. Although I have aggressively and cheekily keyworded it for ‘best online dating profile’, and am bragging about my own success, there’s not really a guaranteed way to help you find the people you like. There is just an ocean of fish and a bunch of random twats like me giving you advice on how to hold your rod if you want to capture the right ones.

No doubt cynics among will be thinking ‘ah but GOTN, you’ve only told us how to write the best online dating profile if we specifically want to attract someone like you!’… and you’d be 100% correct. This is my strategy for writing the best online dating profile, because the kind of people I want to meet are ones that have a compatible sense of humour, don’t set too much store by looks, and are willing to put themselves out there and share detailed info about who they are before they invite me for a drink.

If you’re different? Great! If you’ve read this entire guide and reckon that your own profile needs to look radically different to what I’ve suggested, then go do that – with my absolute blessing and congratulations. The key thing I want you to take away from this is that writing a good online dating profile is not about appealing to as many people as possible: it’s about appealing to the specific people who you’ll have successful dates with. That might mean you fill your profile with a big long list of bands you like (if you want to meet a fellow music geek with opinions), or aggressively shirty messages about all the things you HATE people doing on dating sites (if you’ve got a kink for misanthropy). It might mean you pepper it with emojis or references to obscure memes or Jordan Peterson quotes… whatever.

The point is that the best online dating profile isn’t one which acts like a huge scoop at the top of a sales funnel, drawing in everyone who sees it: it’s one that shows off exactly who you are, filters out all the people who won’t like what they see, and makes it easy for the absolute best of the best to get in touch.

The best online dating profile is not a sales pitch: it’s a screening tool.



  • I’m not on dating sites or looking, but this entire article makes me want to do so … mainly to see if I can be as good as it as you!
    But to be honest the phrase “honing my own funnel” gives me the feels 😆 (shame you’re straight)
    Great post. Great advice and I think there will be more people wanting to try and catch you on there now too.

  • rld says:

    ahhhh! this is so brilliant. really thought provoking. my dating profile starts by saying experienced lifestyle dommé looking for a submissive man to be my primary partner in a female led relationship and ends by saying no teenagers, twenty-somethings, or neophytes – send me a message if you think you’re worthy of the honour to serve me. every time i get a ping from a twenty-something i start by saying i see you’re in your twenties, you must think you have something really special to offer if you’ve ignored the instruction on my profile. many of them leave the conversation after that and it would feel disappointing but reading your piece has made me realise that their reaction is actually a blessing. if a guy is put off by a forthright challenge like that then he would absolutely not be able to keep up with me. it also have 1200+ likes that i cannot see because i do not pay for a membership and have been tempted recently to pay and go through them but your piece also made me realise that my call to action is specific (and simple!) so those who do not do it are all men who do not know how to do as they’re told which is especially undesirable considering i am looking for a submissive man. thank you so much for this very generous article. ❤️

  • Jon says:

    I’m currently off dating sites (though I’ll definitely save this if / when I go back because it’s a really good article, thank you) but when I was on them the best screening tool I had was a simple question: “What’s your favourite Dinosaur?” it started as a joke because I had no idea what to write but it became really useful for tracking if someone else was on my wavelength. The most successful matches I had came from people who answered that question.

  • c says:

    I met my wife ten years ago because I added a throwaway line to my dating profile with an extremely controversial take on Star Trek captains. It enraged her enough that she had to immediately message me to flame me. :)

    • Girl on the net says:

      This comment is perfect in every way. Thank you. I am so so glad you angry nerds found each other, and I am going to send it to two angry nerds I know who I think bonded over very similar things <3

  • Goddessdeeva says:

    Mine says under perfect date: You come round, we fuck, you go home.

  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    Should be responding to the blog post, but kind of want to respond to both the comments above instead…
    Jon, what’s the correct answer to the favourite dinosaur question? (If it isn’t Stegosaurus, we would not get on.)
    And rld: as a thirtysomething submissive man, I kind of want a link to your dating profile now… :D

    On the subject more generally: I totally agree with putting something in your profile near the start that anyone decent should pay attention to (like ‘only message me if…’) and then if they ignore that, that’s a red flag straight away. Of course it won’t stop horny idiots and assholes from messaging you, but makes weeding them out easier. (And for what it’s worth, some of us guys have to put up with messages from horny idiot men as well, on Fetlife at least… whether your profile says you’re interested in them or not!)

    Now to think about giving the mainstream sites another go again. But hmm, how can I write something that alienates all the right people…

    • Girl on the net says:

      “how can I write something that alienates all the right people…” is SUCH a good way to put it! Sorry you have to put up with that on Fetlife, it’s tedious to have to wade through all that just to find the people you actually want to meet. And yeah, there’s no way to guarantee you won’t get messages from random dickheads who haven’t read your profile, but any amount of pruning does make it easier to see the gems =) Thank you for joining in – it’s always lovely to see you here!

  • Tlh says:

    I met my husband with the comment “I care about grammar. If you don’t know the difference between there, their and they’re or your and you’re, don’t write me.” He says he saw it and thought “I have to meet this woman.”

  • TwoStrokeGuy says:

    Very useful post. However, as a straight men I’d like to add a few bits. I did have a time in my life when I’d have fucked anyone (twice my age – no problem; twice my weight – I fuck her in missionary; lives 2 hours drive away and I don’t even own a car – I’ll get by).That bar analogy doesn’t really work, because choosing from multiple women just doesn’t happen for guys like me. However, I do agree that even guys like me should have ‘standards’. After my self esteem went up from absolute zero to tiny bit, I stopped forcing to fill the “slots on my dance card” – there are really nice prostitutes around here if I want to have sex.

    My second point: for straight men (especially for vertically challenged straight men) nobody reads their profile. So all the wisdom mentioned in the post should go into the introduction message and in selecting the women whom to send the introduction. Read their profile (if don’t have anything useful there, just skip those women), if seems interesting, amend the introduction (not only the name, but answer the question if there’s one on the profile, etc.) and send it. Use “spearing” instead of “phising” (it’s uncomfortable to use criminal terms in dating advice).

    Playing the numbers game (“sending the introduction to as much women as possible, see who responds”) is only useful if there’s limitless time to spend on this.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Hmmm, OK a few bits:

      “for straight men (especially for vertically challenged straight men) nobody reads their profile.” – this isn’t true. I read people’s profiles, it’s right there in the first big section. The same is true of all the women I know, as far as I know.

      In terms of the ‘vertically challenged’ bit – I fully get that it is upsetting for short guys to be dismissed because of their height, but you’re reinforcing societal norms here in a way that doesn’t do them any favours. As a tall woman, I get similar issues but from the other side (although in my case, it’s usually shorter men rejecting me, or dating me then making upsetting comments about my height). The answer to this (for me) is to make it clear in my profile that I’m tall, that way shorter men who are going to be uncomfortable dating a woman who is nearly 6 foot can easily filter themselves out without messaging.

      If people are going to reject you based on your height, then so be it: there’s a way to filter/hone your funnel right there! A man taking your advice in this section would likely receive far fewer messages, because your advice is predicated on men having to be the ones who *send*, which runs counter to what I’m trying to do, which is encourage everyone to be up front about the things that matter in order to help them get the best people viewing/liking/responding to their profile.

      “That bar analogy doesn’t really work, because choosing from multiple women just doesn’t happen for guys like me.” It’s a thought experiment, not an invitation. I don’t expect anyone (women included) to be able to walk into a bar and shag anyone they like. My point is that preferences come into play: you might consider yourself to not be picky, but you’d still have a vague idea that you’d prefer to have sex with [X woman] than [Y woman] based on your desires. The fact that you mention both age and weight in your comment implies to me that you have preferences in these areas, or you wouldn’t have included them as examples to illustrate your point that ‘I’d have fucked anyone’.

      I’m quite uncomfortable with the way you talk about women here, as if they’re sex toys for you to try out and have a go on. You speak of the women you meet on dating sites as if they are, essentially, free sex workers, and that’s not something that speaks well to your attitude towards women in general (sex workers included): you’re considering only what you can *get* and not what you *offer*.

      You’re also repeating the really frustrating ‘mass marketing’ advice that this guide is trying to nudge people away from: your message *shouldn’t* be something you can copy/paste to multiple people, because you should be messaging the people you’re interested in based on the things in their profile that interest you. Sending a generic introduction to a bunch of different people (even if you do try to tailor it with a unique question or… lol… literally just paste in their *name* like you’re doing an Excel MailMerge) is the exact opposite of what I’m encouraging people to do.

  • TwoStrokeGuy says:

    I was actually registered once on a dating site for 3 months and not a single women looked at my profile. I’m not exaggerating. I think we’re in a very different cultural environment. I accept that where you live and the women you know do look at men’s profile, but where I’m living, women just do not make the first move. After all, they get so many messages, I don’t blame them not to look around when there are always 10 guys in their mailboxes. I live in a very backwards society, I think.

    Unfortunately I wasn’t clear – I do not encourage senseless mass marketing. I do agree with you on how to write a profile, I’m just saying that for straight guys (at least in my neck of the woods) it’s not enough to put this into the profile, because literally nobody reads it – put it into the introduction message. I looked at thousands and thousands of profiles, never saw anything close to the “call-to-action” stuff you wrote here. There are some women (maybe 5%) who actually write something useful on their profiles. If what they wrote is not only useful, but they seem to be clever, fun, their stated preferences do not rule me out, then I wrote to these women. Last time I was on a dating site, I sent maybe 10-15 such messages in a month, because it took time to craft these messages and there were no more women out there who might be compatible with me – I hope we can agree that it’s not a mass. I ended up marrying the woman who got my last message, so I think I was pretty successful :-)

  • Rob says:

    Another phrase I feel should be added to the “nope, do not” list is “love to laugh”. That’s an instant pass for me because who doesn’t like laughing? It’s such a nothing phrase and speaks to a lack of imagination in my eyes.
    (Of course, this does act as a filter for people such as myself, so maybe it is working as intended for them? hmmm…)

    I keep going to write more, but every time it starts to feel less like I’ve a point, more like a therapy session. The cliff notes would probably be that as a 42 year old white cis man I’ve had zero luck on dating apps and sites, but I’m ok with that. If anything this post reenforces my belief that my profile(s) have been sound, so thanks for that :)

    There was an old joke made by a friend once who said “I’m sure there is a girl out there for you somewhere. Unfortunately, I think ‘out there’ might be measured in light years” – 20 years later it seems he might have been right ;)
    Hey, maybe I should include that joke… :D

    • Girl on the net says:

      Haha oh YES! Love to laugh is a classic. Likewise ‘I like going out and staying in’, and ‘hanging with my friends.’ I’m so sorry that apps haven’t worked for you, but I’m glad that you’re staying true to yourself!

  • lurpak marketing board says:

    I liked “If ive swiped right I want to have sex with you – now its up to you to not fuck it up” .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.