How to Create an Online Dating Profile

Whether you're skeptical or excited about dating apps, these tips will help you get started.

Reentering the dating scene after being in a long-term relationship is hard enough already. But reentering the dating scene and returning to a reinvented, digital-forward landscape that gives "putting yourself out there" a whole new meaning, is another kind of challenging. That's the challenge that Alyssa Dineen—NYC-based editor, stylist, and art director—had to face when she, at age 41, found herself divorced and online dating for the first time.

Dineen, who met her ex-husband before cell phones were a thing, says the concept of online dating was unfamiliar territory to her at the time. "For me, it was a major learning curve, like for a lot of middle-aged divorced people," she says. "So I had to figure it all out kind of on my own, because I didn't really have any friends that were in the same boat yet." But after a series of first dates and plenty of swiping, Dineen did figure it out—and she's now using her online dating experiences (as well as her background in fashion, photo, and editing) to help others navigate the modern dating world.

In addition to writing the book The Art of Online Dating: Style Your Most Authentic Self and Cultivate a Mindful Dating Life, Dineen also created Style My Profile, a profile styling service for online daters, and offers coaching to clients from ages 20 to 80. To get some of her insight on the modern dating scene, we asked Dineen for advice on the very first step of online dating: creating a profile. Keep reading for her tips on how to create an online dating profile and how get comfortable putting yourself out there digitally.

How to Create an Online Dating Profile

01 of 06

Move past the stigma.

If you've turned your nose up at the idea of online dating before, you wouldn't be alone. Dineen, after her divorce, said she too was skeptical. "Like most people, I really thought that I was going to just meet people in real life and through work and on shoots and people would set me up with divorced friends—and that really didn't happen," she says. Although she went on one set-up date post-divorce, Dineen says she quickly realized that it would be "slow-going" if she depended entirely on in-person meetings and set-ups from friends. So, she headed to the apps, which, in today's digital world, are a widely acceptable, universal, and completely valid way to find love and romance. "[Online dating is] just so much less stigmatized than it was at one point," Dineen says. "And now pretty much everybody online dates at some point."

So, if you've been hesitant to get on the apps, do yourself a favor by releasing any stigma you feel and just allowing yourself to go for it.

02 of 06

Get reacquainted with yourself first.

Before you even open up a dating app or website, there's another important step to take first, Dineen says. This step involves taking the time to get know yourself and what you really want. This is especially important if you've recently gotten out of a long relationship. "When you're a couple and you're with the same person for a long time, you have a certain way that you view yourself," Dineen says. "And once you get out of that relationship and you're single, you really start to see yourself in different ways." For Dineen, part of rediscovering herself involved doing a "major closet purge" and figuring out what her style was and what would make her feel most confident as a newly single mom reentering the dating scene.

03 of 06

Stay authentic to who you are and what you want.

Once you get comfortable with yourself, you can put more thought into who you'll be comfortable dating. Dineen recommends journaling about the question—"Who do I want in my life and who is going to make me feel good about myself?"—in order to get clear on your desires. Then, when you're putting yourself out there, "make sure that you're not trying to pretend you're someone else to attract this fictitious person that you think is right for you," she says. The much better approach, Dineen says, is "just really honing in on what it is that's really important to you and showing up as authentically as you can."

04 of 06

Use your bio to show off your individuality.

Now, on to the actual profile building. One of the most important tips for writing a bio, Dineen says, is trying to think outside the box, because, from her experience, a lot of bios end up looking pretty much the same. "Everybody writes that they're loyal, kind, or funny, or all three, and it starts to just lose any meaning because everybody apparently thinks that they're loyal, kind, and funny," she explains. So, when helping clients come up with bios that will make them stand out from crowd, she asks them to make a list in response to the following questions: "What ways would you describe yourself?", "What ways would friends or family describe you?", and "What's the quirkiest thing about you?"

Once you have that list, you can start to compile a bio that is unique to you. (Just remember to cross out the words "loyal," "kind," and "funny," Dineen advises.)

05 of 06

Emphasize your openness to dating.

One of the main things your online dating profile should communicate—aside from aspects of your personality and who you are—is that you're open to meeting and dating people. Taking shortcuts or being lazy when creating your profile, like leaving your bio blank or making it extra short, can send the wrong message to potential matches, making it seem like you're not interested in pursuing a relationship.

Another profile characteristic that can send the wrong message is focusing too much on your family or kids and not enough on yourself. "Everyone asks me, 'Should I include pictures of me with my kids?'" Dineen says. "And I usually say, 'I think it's fine to include one, but no more than that,' because you want to give off the message that you are available to date." If every photo on your profile includes your kids, especially younger kids, "that doesn't exactly say, 'I'm ready to date, I have free nights,'" Dineen adds.

06 of 06

Use high-quality photos.

A photo is worth a thousand words, and the images on your online dating profile will communicate a lot about who you are and what you want others to know about you. Below are Dineen's dos and don'ts for dating profile pictures.

Do: Include a headshot.

A high-quality, shoulders-up photo of yourself should be the first image on your profile, Dineen says. "You really need to show your full face, no sunglasses, no hat, no shadows across your face, something really clear," she adds.

Don't: Use photos from your car or bathroom.

This is a common category of photos, especially for men, on dating apps, Dineen says, but it's time to expire the bathroom/car selfie for good. These photos can come off as low-effort and just, honestly, kind of confusing too.

Do: Include an activity shot.

"I usually tell people to include one active or activity kind of shot, like something that you like to do, whether it's a hobby or a sport or whatever it is, just something where you're doing something out and about," Dineen says.

Do: Include a social shot.

Especially if your profile says you like to spend time out with friends, it's good to back that up with some fun, social photos of you having a good time out of the house. "If you're kinda dressed up and you're out to dinner and you, you're feeling good, that's a good time to have someone take some photos of you," Dineen says.

Don't: Include a bunch of selfies.

A good selfie is all about practice, Dineen says. While younger generations have grown up learning how to find the right lighting, get their best angles, and take great selfies, it's not something that comes as naturally for people who didn't grow up with smartphones. "Unless you've taken, I usually say at least 200 selfies of yourself, don't include it yet," Dineen says. It's better, in that case, to use your favorite photos that someone else has taken of you.

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