That Very First Conversation: How Should It Begin?


I was searching online and came to the most amazing guy. He seemed funny, intelligent, caring, adventurous and romantic, and get a load of this – he loves his family! He seemed like such a gooteh neshumeh ("a good soul"). Maybe he was my soulmate.

But after searching some more, I discovered almost every other man online had the same characteristics, or at least two or three of these same adjectives in their profile.

How much can you really judge someone by how they describe themselves as part of an online dating service? Still, while the system's not foolproof, it does offer some information. You might not be able to determine if you are a perfect match, but you can recognize if you have similar interests, which is at least a starting-off point.

In fact, I think you should view your profile as your first conversation. When you meet someone, what do you want him or her to know about you?

You can list personality traits that describe you. Of course, you can say you like to exercise, go to the beach and that you love spending time with family, but I'm just letting you know that so, apparently, does almost everyone else.

I hate it when a profile reads, "People tell me I'm a nice guy, and that I'm motivated," or "I have been told that I'm a down-to-earth woman." The worst is, "I'm not sure what else to say – I'm just filling up the space because there's a minimum amount of words required." If that's the best you can do, don't expect much in return.

Instead of simply saying that you are nice and motivated, give an example, such as, last year I volunteered with (add name of group) or in my free time I like to bike along Kelly Drive. I like it when men say what they do in their free time besides just "chilling with their friends."

Make sure you have at least six interests in your "about me" section that talk of your hobbies and passions.

People like others who are interesting. I can't tell you how many profiles I have read where a person writes that he or she is passionate, but forgot to write what they are passionate about.

If you collect rocks, dinosaur bones or paper clips, type it into your profile. I used to collect rocks in elementary school, and liked them so much I went to the library and did research about the formation of rocks. Of course, to some, my rock-collecting history could be viewed as dorky, but it surely isn't typical.

I'd even like to view it as quirky, and when I'm searching through hundreds of profiles online, quirky is at the very least eye-catching.

Instead of just typing that you like to read, list some of your favorite books and authors. Instead of saying you are adventurous, say the last crazy thing you did. I jumped more than 30 feet from a cliff in Jamaica into the water, and as a result, my bathing suit became a little too revealing for some eyes. (That might seem interesting to some people!)

Many of us love traveling. Where have you been? I studied in Florence for five months and backpacked through Europe for a month afterward. Rather than revealing a passion for ethnic food, how about mentioning that you love to try new restaurants – even list your favorite takeout item.

The Funny Factor
Now, let's discuss the funny factor.

Don't say that you are funny. Write something funny, and if you can't think of anything, borrow a line from someone else – tell a joke, even.

Saying you're funny doesn't make anyone laugh. But claiming that "despite the progress of the women's movement, women still need a man to kill spiders" gets a smile.

There are lots of funny people out there to quote – think Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Jackie Mason, Jerry Seinfeld. And I bet if you let them know that one of their "borrowed" lines helped you get married, they'd be absolutely thrilled.

If you don't want to do that or you can't think of anything funny to put in your profile, then just leave out the funny factor. I mean, it's a great attribute, but if you really are funny, I'm sure you'll make a date laugh in person.

And here's a conundrum: "I like going out and dancing, but I also like those quiet nights cuddling on the couch."

Don't we all?

Well, maybe you don't like dancing, but I bet you like to get off the couch at least once in a while. It is possible to like staying in and going out, but let's think of a more creative way to express this fact. I love to go out. In fact, I find myself going out even when I'm too tired and should go to bed early (though in a snap can choose to stay home, like when a deadline looms).

If you're nervous about posting the new profile, have a friend or relative do the proofing, and make sure he or she is honest enough to give you a fair assessment.

One last piece of advice for writing your profile: Be positive. I can't stress this enough. It's such a turn-off when someone lists what he or she doesn't like. List what you do like. Even if you are from Philadelphia and would rather be in New York, please keep that off your profile.

I, for one, happen to love Philly, and hope that one day I'll find just the right person to share in my attraction to the City of Brotherly Love.

If you want to share any of your dating triumphs or woes, e-mail: [email protected]


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