So you’ve downloaded a dating app. You’ve picked your best photos, you’ve set your preferences, and now you have the hardest part ahead of you: writing a good bio. If you’re like most guys, you’ve probably googled “best tinder bio” or “how to write a good dating app bio” and read a lot of contradictory advice. Some people say you should be yourself, others say show your best side. Do you talk about your hobbies, or share your favorite books and movies? Or maybe you should just say something funny and try to make her laugh, after all, you only have a few lines to make an impression.
There are three reasons this is a bad idea.
First problem, trying to be funny in a first interaction is hard.
The other person doesn’t know your sense of humor yet. It’s even worse when that first interaction is text-only, as she’s reading your profile. Subtle humor doesn’t always come across as a joke, and over the top comedy can seem offensive or crude. Even if you come up with a killer joke, that leads us to problem number two.
Second problem, every other guy is trying to be funny.
If even one or two other guys have the same joke as you, it becomes a total flop. You’ve probably seen the same phrases crop up in profile after profile, things like “fluent in sarcasm” or “looking for the perfect flirt to roast ratio” and after a while, they become sufficient reason to swipe left even if you’re interested in the rest of the profile. This is the reason you should never use canned lines or jokes you find online, even if people say they “always work” you can be sure other guys use google too and they’ve found the same stuff.
Third problem, trying to stand out by being funny is more likely to make you blend in.
While yes, every girl loves a guy that can make her laugh, that’s not what she’s looking for when she’s scanning profiles to decide how to swipe. She’s looking for more important qualities. We already know she’s looking to see if you’re attractive in your pictures, but if it’s not humor, what qualities in your bio make a woman swipe right?
The short answer is authenticity and a compelling invitation. Let’s talk about both.
Authenticity is a word that gets tossed around a lot. In this context, authenticity means talking about the things that truly matter most to you, and that you’re a little nervous to share. For example, let’s consider the way you mention your job in your profile.
I used to work in the tabletop roleplaying game industry, and if you don’t know what that is, it means I’d play Dungeons & Dragons all day and then write books about playing D&D all night. It was a very nerdy career, and I didn’t want to put that on my bio in a way that would alienate girls who had never played. When I had “I get paid to play Dungeons & Dragons” as the lead to my bio, I got a lot of swipes from nerdy girls and… nothing else. Worse, these girls weren’t particularly good matches for me, we just had a common interest. So I decided to take a step back and put the reason behind my job in my profile instead.
My new bio opened with “I’m passionate about human connection.” Because the reason I got excited about work every day was the people I’d meet and the social aspect of playing a game together. That line worked like gangbusters, and I’d consistently get messages saying “I’m passionate about human connection too!”
The tricky part is that to get a line like that, you first have to answer the question “Why do I do the work that I do?” Most men haven’t thought that deeply about it.
Is your job something you’re really good at, and you enjoy leveraging your talents? “I’ve spent years honing my skills and I’m very lucky to have a job that lets me use all of them.”
What if your job is just a job, and you’re only working to pay your bills? You can either talk about the job you want to have in the future, “I’m on a path to being…” or “Every day I get closer to my goal of…” and then put your goal job there, or you can talk about how your job lets you pursue your hobbies and do the fun things you enjoy most by saying, “I value work/life balance, and I always make time after work to…” and list your most important hobbies.
You should also talk about why you do the hobbies you do. “When I play guitar, I get lost in the music and it always put me in a great mood” is very different from “I take guitar practice very seriously because I want to perform for 1,000 people one day.”
Find your reason. Share your reason. Enjoy the matches you get.
So that’s authenticity. The other thing women swipe right on is a compelling invitation. What is an invitation, and what makes it compelling?
In short, your invitation is what you’re telling women to expect when they date you. Now contrary to what you see on most advice websites, you shouldn’t try to promise excitement and adventure if that’s not the kind of life you want to live. You need to answer the question, “What do I most want to do with my girlfriend?”
Besides the obvious.
Are you looking for someone to watch the latest TV shows with? Are you looking for a hiking buddy like everyone else in California apparently is? Do you want someone to play video games with?
It can be tempting to put down everything you want, but you’ll have much better luck focusing on one or two points of compatibility and letting the rest develop organically. You can either phrase this as a direct invitation like, “If your dream weekend is hiking on Saturday and playing board games on Sunday, swipe right.” Or as by simply painting a picture of your life so she can imagine herself joining in, for example, “I go on a hike most weekends, but I always get back in time to see my friends for board games on Sunday night.”
Travel is a frequent invitation, and it’s a good one if travel is important to you. If you’re including travel, you should include the rough frequency you want to take trips. “If I go more than 3 months without taking a big trip, I feel stuck. There’s so much to see out there!”
So how do you decide what to focus on? In an interview with Sam Yagan, founder of OKCupid, he shared that data from OKCupid users who had found long term relationships using the app indicated there are three main questions that are good predictors of compatibility. They are:
- Do you enjoy horror movies?
- Have you traveled alone in a foreign country for fun?
- Have you ever wanted to chuck it all and live on a sailboat?
Remember that strong opinions are the most important to share on a dating profile. So if you love scary movies, that’s a good one to mention. If you absolutely can’t stand them, you should put that. If you feel okay about horror movies, leave it off.
Traveling alone in a foreign country for fun (not out of necessity or for work) suggests a high level of self-confidence and independence. Again, if that’s something you feel strongly about and love doing, put it on your profile.
Finally, the last question is a weird one, but it basically gets at how rooted you feel in your lifestyle and location. Some people like to be very stable, others want to move around a lot. If you aren’t using OKCupid, you could put “Sometimes I think about chucking it all to live on a sailboat” if that’s true to how you feel, and it will help you find similarly wanderlust inclined matches.
To be clear, there’s no right or wrong answer here. The data from OKCupid showed that people who had the same answers for these three questions were more likely to be compatible than couples who disagreed. The reason to put these clearly on your profile is to attract matches who feel the same way.
All of this gets at the core thing your profile needs to do: polarize.
Expect to hear me say that a lot. Polarizing simply means that people who see it either love it or hate it. There are no lukewarm reactions. Having a polarizing profile in online dating is incredibly important, because it means incompatible people swipe left and you don’t have to waste your time with them, and the most compatible people are excited to swipe right and match with you, so you’re starting with a spark already there.
The problem that a lot of us run into is we polarize in the wrong way. We put in a ton of references to our favorite TV shows, we talk about food like it’s our whole life, and we pretend our social life is something it isn’t because we want to seem cool.
Aside from those three questions recommended by OKCupid, you want to polarize people based on what matters most to you. Do you want a partner that shares your political or religious beliefs? Put them in your profile. Ask for what you need.
The more directly, confidently, and expressively you state your needs, the easier it will be to find someone who is happy to meet them.
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