writing tips (from an author) on how to craft an online dating profile

QUESTION FROM A GREEK TRAGEDY READER: I’ve been trying to meet someone for the past 5 years, in and out of semi-serious "relationshits" (as you call them). Sometimes he breaks it off, sometimes I do. Nothing dramatic, really, just not feelin’ it. And when I do feel it, I become, what I believe you called “a caged animal.” Very anxious. BUT, I’m working on it with a therapist. I can’t exactly make a list of what I’m looking for because I believe even I don’t know what I’m looking for exactly. I mean, sometimes we think we know what we want, but we get it and realize, nah, this doesn’t work either. Anyway, I took a hiatus from dating, removed my online profile, but now I’m trying again, a New Year’s resolution. Any advice on how I should fill out my online profile? I loved the one you included in Straight Up And Dirty, and wish I knew you in person so you could help write mine. Any direction would be beyond appreciation.

straight up advice

It’s true. You could craft a list of everything you’re looking for, dream big, ask for it all, construct the perfect Weird Science of a significant other, have them show up just in time for Valentine’s Day, want you back, and then you realize, "Wait, that Stephanie chick was right. The problem with Mr. Great on Paper is that you don’t fcuk paper."

Still, I genuinely believe you still should make a list, dream big, then prioritize it. Figure out exactly what you’re looking for, and modify that list as you go. It’s a place to start. I also believe in magic, and naming it, simply putting it out there makes you move in the direction of want. Writing it, saying it, naming it, throws it out into the universe, so maybe you’ll actually find it. Otherwise, it’s hiding in you, and you don’t know which way’s up.

avoid describing your ideal date or including your favorite movie
That said, I understand that people want to be original and can’t always find a way to say it. What these people need are *telling* original prompts. That’s really the key. The problem is these dating web sites believe they’re offering their clients original prompts, suggesting you write about your favorite DVDs or include your favorite COLOR! Because your favorite color will let a man know all he needs to know about you.
You might be better served including everything you don’t want people to know about you. That is, cut to the chase. Then end your issue list with, "I’ve just saved us months of polite, now let’s meet already!" This has to be a better angle than, "describe your ideal date."

let ’em peek under your bed
I’d rather read a list of the items under his bed. A woman would be better off listing the contents of her handbag than describing how important working out is to her. Wouldn’t it be far more revealing (and alluring) to read about the items she always carries in her gym bag? “The iPod with the workout mix of girly songs I probably couldn’t pay you to listen to (there are earphones for a reason),” whatever she’s reading currently: “It’s this new book by my favorite author Stephanie Klein.” Ha. You get the idea. In writing it’s called "SHOW DON’T TELL."

don’t describe what you’re looking for: describe what you’re willing to live with
Here’s another one. So often single women are asked, "So what is it you’re looking for in a guy?" It’s the wrong fcuking question. The question I’d ask (the question a friend once asked me) is, of all the deadly sins, with which one are you willing to spend ’til death do you part? No one is perfect, so make a list of what you’re willing to put up with!
With all the "be your most authentic self" talk in the zeitgeist, with an emphasis on staying true to who you really are (whatever that even means, really… because aren’t we a lot of things?), I think we’re getting lost in ourselves. "Who we are" includes the part of us that wants to make a good impression and does care what others think. Still, I have to believe that the best way to connect with people online is to be upfront without being cliché; show who you are, and ask yourself what you’re willing to put up with, while sharing what someone else will have to put up with when he chooses you.


go ahead, ask

If you have questions or need advice on anything from where to eat to how to get over the bastard, just email your question to my advice email address. Nope, I’m not a shrink, but since people keep asking for my opinion, I might as well share it and air it, so everyone else can weigh in too.



  1. Also you might want to try researching the competition. Search on the parameters that would yeild your own profile and see what the other ladies have written. It will spark some creatitivity to set yourself apart.

  2. I once wrote, “I’m awful. Immature, overly emotional, self-absorbed, with sky-high expectations of other people.” On and on I went, being completely truthful and off-putting. I got asked out dozens of times.

  3. “THINK about why the questions being asked are being asked. It’s not a legal deposition. It’s an opportunity to let people know about you. * Stop saying “I never know what to write here.” It’s not a chat. * When it asks for your favorite books/music/movies, don’t say “Far too many to list.” * When asked for “Things you couldn’t live without,” don’t put in “oxygen” or “food.” When I read profiles like that, I just roll my eyes and think “This person is not smart enough to realize why she is filling out the form.””

  4. Write *something*. Skipping a bunch of the questions makes you look like a spambot or a Nigerian/Russian scammer.

  5. I love the advice you give. Please answer the one I sent you! I need help (really want to avoid having to date again!)

  6. You need to write about YOU. Not what you think chicks want to hear, but real facts about you…what do you like? What are you seeking in a partner? What life goals do you have? What kinds of things have you accomplished?

    Keep it positive and upbeat…remember, you're trying to sell yourself. They don't want to hear about your past bad relationships, the baggage you are carrying around, or that you don't want to hear from game players, liars, etc (who does? that kind of thing is pretty much a given).

  7. “Put yourself out there!” I hear it far too often, being single and all. But this post struck me differently. I NEVER thought of it the way you wrote it: to think of what I’m willing to put up with. I think it’s brilliant. Thanks for blogging, Klein.

  8. I’ve been in a long standing relationship and have just now reentered the dating world again after years away from it. This post, whether you know it or not, wasn’t just for the person who wrote you asking for advice. It was for me too. Thank you.

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