BY CANDY PARKER
Statistics indicate that approximately 70 percent of singles have tried an online dating service and that 20 percent of current committed relationships were initiated online. With figures like that, chances are that if you’re a single lesbian you’ve at least contemplated joining an online dating site — don’t even try to deny it.
While there are several potentially intimidating aspects inherent in putting oneself out there, one facet of online dating that stops many women in their tracks — or dooms them to failure from the start — is the initial set-up of an online dating profile. Some find having to describe themselves and what they’re looking for in a partner a daunting challenge while others seem to forget that less is more when it comes to sharing yourself with a total stranger.
To assist in overcoming these preliminary challenges, I present the following helpful hints.
1. Username or loser name?
Yes, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but putting a little thought into your username can go a long way. First, it’s probably not a good idea to create a handle similar to your real name. Incorporating your first name is probably fine, but steer clear of including revealing last name or birth date information. SueSmith04231972 might give the disingenuous types a jump start on hacking your life. Do yourself a favor and don’t make it so easy for them.
Equally frowned upon are any usernames which are overtly sexual in nature. Sure, ultimately you want to find that special someone with whom to unbridle your pent up passion, but featuring “69,” “naughty” or similarly sexual references in your user name may result in more responses from Ms. Right Now than Ms. Right.
Try creating a name that hints at your personality or interests or otherwise sets you apart from the teeming sea of singles, yet is sufficiently tasteful so as to leave a little to the imagination.
2. A picture is worth a thousand words
Profiles with photos are infinitesimally more likely to be viewed, so unless your livelihood or general well-being would be gravely impacted by uploading a photo or five, please do so. You say you can’t find a decent photo? Well, none of us are Angelina Jolie so get over it.
When deciding which photo(s) to use, there are some basic rules. First, be sure that the viewer can easily discern which person you are in the photo. This seems obvious, but I’ve seen a number of profiles featuring just one scant photo and that a group shot, no less. Group photos are fine, if you’ve first introduced yourself via a clear solo shot, but next to useless otherwise. The exception is if the other people in the photo are men. Typically, unless you’re a hardcore butch or your male companions are drag queens, those browsing can sort it out.
After that, be sure you’re smiling — or at least not looking like you’re attending a funeral — in your primary photo. While it’s amusing to note the irony when HappyGrrl16’s photo looks like it was taken at the precise moment she learned that her beloved pet had died, in the end the Debbie Downer image will deter potential dates.
Next, nothing shouts, “I don’t have any friends,” like a cell phone self-portrait taken in the reflection of a bathroom mirror. Unless you’re preparing for a role as a lesbian recluse and refuse to break character, have a friend take some pictures for you.
Finally, again in keeping with the “leave something to the imagination” theme touched on previously, save the sprawled-on-the-bed-with-a-come-hither-look photos for that special someone. Leave it to Justin Timberlake to bring the sexy back and stick with shots that convey your personality and interests.
2. Actions speak louder than words, but…
…words are virtually all you have in the virtual world so make them count. Many dating sites require that new users share a minimal few words in order to establish the dating profile. This is where many lose heart with the process. Just remember, no one knows you better than you do and start writing.
Don’t make the mistake of perfunctorily adding text like, “I don’t know what to say, but I’ll come back and fill this in later.” Half-ass it much, do you? Anyone who’s serious about meeting a potential partner should take the requisite 10 minutes to impart a little information here.
While it may be tempting to go the way of the cliche, try to avoid references to walks that involve the clasping of hands on a beach or allusions to fireside cuddling. Neither one is all it’s cracked up to be or addresses what you like to do during the spring or autumn months or otherwise shares anything with the reader other than the fact that you’ve watched a chick flick or two too many.
Instead, try to write about the things that make you uniquely you. What are your most positive attributes? What’s the most challenging undertaking you’ve conquered thus far in life? What makes you smile, what makes you laugh and what will involuntarily cause soda to shoot through your nostrils? What activities do you enjoy? What’s your dream vacation? Do you participate in any volunteer or community service activities? What did you want to be when you grew up? What type of partner are you when in a relationship? The possibilities are limited only by your imagination, and you do have one; just allow yourself to tap into it.
Note that the recommendations above focus on what you do like rather than what you don’t like — it’s important to keep things positive.
Also note that the suggestions do not involve sharing a laundry list of specific characteristics you require in a mate. “I don’t want any liars or cheaters or people who aren’t over their ex,” only serves to warn the reader that you’re fresh out of a relationship with someone who lied, and/or cheated and/or who wasn’t over her ex. Danger, Will Robinson, danger!
Even if your heart was put through a wood chipper or you place little faith in finding “the one” online, if you’re going through the trouble of setting up a profile you might as well give yourself the best shot at doing so. As my grandmother used to say, “You draw more flies with honey than vinegar,” so pour on the sweet and tuck that sour away for a while.
4. Spell-check is a girl’s best friend
Congratulations. You’ve concocted the perfect user name, posted a few flattering photos and composed a distinctive and attention-grabbing profile. But before you hit “submit for approval” don’t forget to go that one extra step required in putting your best foot forward and run a grammar / spell-check on that masterpiece.
Sure, it shouldn’t matter if a typo or two slips in, but you only get one chance to make a first impression as they say, and sloppy is as sloppy does. A typo-filled narrative says one of two things — “I didn’t advance past the first grade,” or “This little online dating endeavor isn’t really worth my time and attention.” Either way, it’s not the message you want to send.
So there you have it, ladies. You’re armed and dangerous; single and ready to mingle.
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