The Art of Self-Disclosure in your Dating Profile
If you’ve been seeking a partner in the last decade, you’ve probably heard and had your own “war stories” from online dating, with the battle scars to prove it. But for as many cautionary tales there are about meeting people online, how else could you find an available dating pool of thousands? Today I want to show you some common mistakes you can avoid online, and some uncommon strategies to help you meet more of the people who are right for you. I’ll offer a concrete assist for 2 common concerns, and in #3, answer a question you may not have even thought to ask:
How do I attract the right kind of mate for me?
1) Turn your “facts” into stories.
Take this sentence from a client of mine: I grew up on a small farm in the Central Valley. What does this fact tell us about her? Not as much as she assumed it did.
If a fact shaped you, reflects something essential about you, show us how –
otherwise delete it. Your specifics will disqualify you for some people, but they’ll pull others in closer.
This is a good thing. You are not in a popularity contest, despite the fact that dating can bring back feelings you haven’t had since junior year. Here’s some dating math you probably didn’t learn in high school: 5 or 55 bad matches still = 0. I’m in favor of aiming a pointed arrow, and against casting a wide net.
So, instead of: I grew up on a small farm….the story of that might be:
I woke at dawn everyday to grab eggs from beneath the hens, and do the milking, barely in time to catch the bus to school. The rest of the day I spent in small rebellions, itching for the chance to turn myself into a city girl. Happily I have, and now aim my rebellions at larger things.
Or maybe it was like this:
A proud 4-H girl, I won ribbons for my pygmy goats, and got a taste for hard work and competition. I still like the glory of a job well done, and wouldn’t mind doing it on a farm again.
Same fact, two completely different people – who are likely to, and should attract different kinds of suitors. The ideal mate for Rebel with a Cause is not the same one longing for a Type A personality w/ (implied) more traditional values. Save yourself time at the start, and make it clear who you are.
How do I spark their interest?
2) Be specific and use sensate detail.
You’re painting a picture of your life that is an invitation, for the right person to enter.
Create a more compelling image, and richer interactions from the start.
For example, you could say, “I love to read.” But you’d still be hard to pick out from the crowd.
Besides, this kind of broad sentiment encourages an equally broad response:
“What do you like to read?“
You’ve both been here before – in person this would probably feel like a slow start… someone peeking at their watch/phone, temperature reading: lukewarm. Second date? Not likely, unless something shifts. Neither one of you is taking your best shot here. No one is getting to be their best self.
Instead, let’s give you more definition, so he gets to picture you in action.
“I read outside on my deck – under a sun umbrella or a blanket depending on the fog.
Lately I’m obsessed with historical fiction about regular folks (I’m done w/ monarchs for the moment). This month I got to hang out with Scottish Highlanders, an abolitionist and Cuban rum runners.”
You’ve supplied your now curious reader with a cornucopia of follow up questions, all of which lead to a more revealing and stimulating exchange. It’s easy to imagine him wanting to know:
- So you’re done w/ monarchs – what happened?
- Wow, I think I see a common thread through those three topics….Here’s what I’m imagining…
- Sounds like you’re a dedicated to reading outside – what’s your rainy day plan? Would a lit fireplace be enough to bring you inside? ….(bear-skin rug, champagne, old James Bond movies, anyone?)
You’ve already offered enough entry points into your habits, values and passions to make for all kinds of entertaining banter, and create a relatively quick, deep connection with the right person.
He already sees you as one-of-a-kind.
How do I establish the expectation of an emotionally honest relationship?
3) Dare to be explicit about what you want and need in a partner from the beginning. Focus on character and temperament, not their resume.(Remember, they want to be loved for who they are too, not just what they’ve done.)
Besides, there’s this confounding thing about uniqueness – if they’ve had experience X, the result could be Y…but it also might be Q or P or something else entirely.
So go directly for the result you’re after. Here’s what I mean:
Let’s say you want an educated partner. It’s probably not the diploma you long to see hanging from your wall.
So, you could mention “an advanced degree”. But why not use a sentence to say what you think that means, the experience of being together that you’re looking for, like “an original and well-fed mind. A man who loves to talk about ideas.”
Or maybe you associate higher education with “someone who’s secure enough in their achievements to be flexible. I like a man who can take leadership in some situations, and also loves being teammates with me.”
Clients who write profiles like these, tell me about feedback they get – in initial emails, in early dating, and with their eventual partners. Here’s a sampling of the reactions:
- You stood out from the rest.
- It seemed like you knew who you were and what you wanted. It was refreshing – you sounded confident. Finally I was gonna get to talk to an adult.
- I got such a strong feeling about you, like we were already having this really interesting conversation – I wanted to know more.
- I loved how open you were – your profile let me come in for a close-up. Seemed like a good sign about how close we could be in person.
Remember, you YOU you are the greatest gift you bring your partner.
Let your profile be a place to practice bringing yourself fully to the moment, and to them.
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