Erika Ettin: How do I write a profile that attracts the person I’m looking for?

Tribune Content Agency

This is a question I get all the time: “How do I write a profile that attracts the person I’m looking for?”

My answer may surprise you: You don’t.

Often, when clients come to me wanting/needing a new online dating profile, they say they want to write in such a way that targets their preferred audience. Even this morning, a woman looking for a rugged man asked if she should put things in her profile like target shooting, skydiving and fly-fishing.

Does she even do — or want to do — any of these things?

I had to explain to her that while she might be looking to be with a man who enjoys these kinds of activities, she can’t contort herself into someone she thinks he’ll like. And this is for two reasons:

1. It’s not authentic.

2. We have no idea what the person she’s looking for is looking for! (This is the more important reason.)

Yes, one man who is into camping might want a woman to join him on his bear-sighting adventures. But another has his buddies for that role and prefers a woman who is more into other activities like opera or theater. (I am just using these as examples, of course.)

When you write your online dating profile, the key is to make sure you come across as yourself, not a version of yourself you think someone wants to see. Do not write to try to appeal to the exact person you’re looking for. And also, do not write a profile that’s universally appealing (in other words, don’t water yourself down so as to try to appeal to the masses).

Everyone has their own quirks and idiosyncrasies that make them special. Instead of trying to conform to societal expectations or some expectation of what someone might like or might not, embrace your unique personality traits in your profile. This will help you attract people who may not necessarily have those same interests, but who will appreciate and embrace your individuality. That’s what will make you appealing — not a mirror of the person you’re looking for.

For example, I have a lot of female clients who mention to me that they like art, and then they follow that with, “No man will care that I like art.”

First, that’s simply not true.

And second, why would you want to hide an important interest of yours because you think it wouldn’t be seen as “good enough” or “interesting enough” to a potential partner?

Instead, embrace it. Mention your favorite artists or describe an exhibition that left a lasting impression on you. Share your thoughts on the creative process or how art inspires you. Passion for something will often trump common interests.

Another client just the other day told me she loves fresh tulips and always has them out in the entryway of her home. She refused to put this in her profile, saying it was too trivial or wouldn’t attract anyone. I disagree. It’s something that’s important to her, so it’s worth sharing in the profile.

Short anecdotes can also be powerful tools to engage readers and give them a glimpse into your life. As they say: Show, don’t tell. Let’s say you’re an avid traveler. Instead of listing all the countries you’ve visited (or worse, the emoji flags that people can’t recognize), share an interesting travel experience or describe a place that had an impact on you.

The goal is not to cater to everyone’s preferences (because we don’t know what they are!) or pretend to be someone you’re not. When writing a profile, prioritize authenticity over trying to fit a specific mold. Share your genuine interests, values and personality traits. By being true to yourself, you increase the likelihood of attracting someone who appreciates you for who you are.