You can be the most sparkly, magnetic person, but if your dating app profile doesn’t reflect that, it’s not going to get you much traction online.
Finding a quality partner on apps like Hinge, Bumble and Tinder is possible, but it isn’t easy, partly because so many singles make what dating coach Blaine Anderson called “match-repelling mistakes” when creating their profiles.
We asked Anderson and other dating experts to share the most common pitfalls to avoid when creating a dating app profile and what you can do to make yours more appealing.
Mistake No. 1: Not including enough information in your profile.
On dating apps, there’s no denying your pictures are an important part of the equation — they’re the first thing potential matches see. But that doesn’t mean you can just neglect the rest of your profile. The written stuff matters more than you might think.
“Keeping a fun, creative or insightful bio on your profile is a great way to display your personality,” dating expert Maria Sullivan, vice president of Dating.com, told HuffPost. “Bios and responses to prompts should be well thought-out and original to grab the attention of potential matches.”
Your profile should contain fun details or interesting tidbits that potential matches can use to strike up a good conversation with you.
“Give the other person something to message you about,” dating and relationship coach Meg Rector told HuffPost. “‘Message me if you want to learn (fill in the blank with a hobby or skill you’d love to share)’ or ‘Ask me about the time I (fill in the blank with a good story).’”
Once your profile is complete, don’t just set it and forget it, said dating expert and matchmaker Jasmine Diaz of the Diaz Dating Group. Continue to tweak it from time to time as you have new experiences, change and grow.
“Include your hobbies, goals, and witty sense of humor,” Diaz said. “A great profile is the secret to great dates.”
Mistake No. 2: Being too negative.
Your profile is a snapshot of you, an opportunity to share the things you love and what makes you you. It shouldn’t be a place to rattle off all of the things you dislike or do not want in a partner. Phrases like, ”‘Don’t contact me if you don’t like pets,’ ‘If you like Trump, don’t even bother,’ and ‘If you don’t have a job, it’s a no,’” give off negative energy, Diaz said.
“Instead of wasting your precious characters on everything you don’t want, describe what you do want,” she said. “To find a compatible match, you must articulate what you value, but those values cannot align if they are not stated.”
OkCupid dating coach Damona Hoffman echoed a similar point, noting that profiles with the “don’t message me if” phrasing tend to get fewer matches.
“Keep it positive and inviting,” said Hoffman, host of the “Dates and Mates” podcast. “You can sort the messages in the DMs or swipe left if you aren’t into what they have to offer.”
Mistake No. 3: Including details that are inaccurate or misleading.
Naturally, you want to make your profile attractive to others — but it can’t be at the expense of honesty. The most important thing you can do with your profile is be genuine, Sullivan said. And keep in mind: A potential partner is bound to catch you in the lie eventually.
“Including inaccurate but more appealing height, age, location or occupation might seem like a way to better attract potential matches but could end up leaving you at a disadvantage when the truth comes out,” Sullivan said. “My advice is to keep your responses truthful, as you don’t want to create a false sense of who you are or struggle to perpetuate a lie.”
Mistake No. 4: Using old or misleading photos.
Again, the desire to put your best foot forward is understandable. Just be sure the pictures you’re choosing are an accurate reflection of who you are today — not the person you were 10 years ago.
“Be sure to include a close-up of your face, a full body shot, a picture of you doing something you love, and a photo of you with friends or family,” Rector said. “Pictures are an important part of a dating profile, so let the pictures tell the story of who you are and what you love.”
Mistake No. 5: Having too many group shots — and not enough solo shots.
When you post too many big group pictures, potential matches have to do the work of figuring out which person is you. A couple group shots are fine, but they shouldn’t make up the bulk of your photos.
“Group photos can leave matches searching faces to figure out whose profile they’re looking at, potentially leading to confusion and frustration and leading them to give up on your profile and to look and see who’s next,” Sullivan said.
As Hoffman said, you should be the star of your own profile — not your bestie, your pet or your favorite relative.
“Make sure it’s clear who you are and get your match’s eye to focus on you and not your cute friend, your dog or your granny’s smile,” she said.
Mistake No. 6: Choosing unflattering photos.
People are surprisingly bad at identifying good photos of themselves, Anderson said.
Among the 1,000+ clients she’s worked with, she found there isn’t a whole lot of overlap between the photos people think are good and the ones that are “objectively good from a ‘other users will swipe right on this’ perspective,” she said.
“To avoid accidentally littering your profile with unflattering photos, seek out a trustworthy friend — or a pro! — for feedback, and give their suggestions a shot,” Anderson said.
Online dating coach Joshua Pompey of Next Evolution Matchmaking cited another common mistake among the clients he works with: Not paying attention to what’s in the background of their photos. Avoid shots that show your messy room and those mirror selfies you took in the bathroom. And don’t forget to crop out any odd or distracting items that make an appearance.
“Many times, the background of your photo will reveal just as much about you as what you look like, so always be conscious of this,” he said.
Mistake No. 7: “Telling” rather than “showing.”
Remember when your middle school writing teacher taught you “show don’t tell?” The same principle applies to your dating app profile. For example, it’s better to show that you’re funny — by sharing an amusing story or detail — than it is to tell matches you’re funny by stating it in your profile, Anderson said.
“Stating that you’re funny may be true, but it’s abstract, which makes it hard to grasp,” Anderson said. “Sharing the story that makes people laugh — aka ‘showing’ — is tangible, and therefore more intriguing and inspiring.”
To make your profile more show-y and less tell-y, look over what you’ve written with an editor’s eye.
“Take a critical eye to your written bio and prompts, and replace generalizations or abstract claims with stories and granular details,” she said. “For example, don’t just ‘tell’ that you love to cook — show it by sharing details about your favorite dish to prepare.”
Mistake No. 8: Taking your profile’s performance too personally.
When you’re not getting the matches you want, “it’s easy to attribute your lack of success to factors outside of your control — ‘I’m not attractive enough’ or ‘people like me can’t get matches’ — and give up on dating apps,” Anderson said.
But in her experience, creating a strong profile is pretty formulaic. And there’s a good chance that the root problem has more to do with what you’re including — or not including — in your profile, than anything about who you are as a person.
Try to adopt a growth mindset with this process, Anderson suggested. Instead of throwing in the towel when things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped, use it as an opportunity to experiment with your profile. What can you tweak that will better capture who you are in an engaging way?
“You may be surprised by how dramatically your results can improve by changing out a single photo or line of text,” Anderson said.