I Asked Critics How to Fix My Friend's Sloppy Dating Profile
“When women see the word ‘sex’ on a dating profile, it's automatic alarm bells.”
Images courtesy of author.
This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
A few weeks back my friend Mike Amory posted a screengrab on social media. He’d been rejected on OKCupid. The woman who rejected him didn’t ghost. There weren’t polite excuses or harsh words. Instead, she sent a message. The message explained that while she wasn’t interested romantically, she thought Mike seemed nice and she wanted to offer some helpful tips on how he could improve his profile. While this wasn’t a fit, the advice might mean a better connection with the next person.
“I was genuinely curious about what she thought!” Mike said when I asked him about it. “Online dating is really silly and I admired the bluntness-tinged mentoring she offered. I was so disappointed when I tried to respond and saw she unmatched me. Apparently, she thought better of it.”
Mike is a stand-up comic and an editor at a popular satire website for which I occasionally contribute. His comedy is esoteric, self-effacing, and brutally honest. While that writing style has earned him viral success, it hasn't worked out as well in the world of Tinder and OkCupid. The comedian has been on a few dates, but nothing that’s amounted to a lasting relationship. Which is one of the reasons Mike was willing to take advice about his profile from an online stranger.
I found Mike’s post hilarious in a disastrous sort of way. He was insistent that the girl was being kind and offering a favor. But even if the woman’s intentions were good, I thought the whole thing was cluelessly cruel. How arrogant did this person have to be to reject my friend then offer him pointers? Was the offer the beginning to an elaborate catfish or some poorly written rom com? Who does that happen to? Still—like any good pal—my initial reaction was to brutally mock Mike, blasting him for achieving a whole new level of romantic failure. But when I browsed through my buddy’s profile, I changed my mind.
Mike's an intelligent and sensitive guy. In his profile he's extremely forthcoming about his challenges with mental health and how that's shaped his worldview. The honesty is kind of sweet, if extremely intense, but the basics of why he'd be a good partner are all there. Maybe all Mike actually needed was a few pointers.
Instead of ribbing my friend, I decided to do something better. With Mike's permission, I assembled a superteam of dating experts, including a style guru, a sex columnist, a relationship expert, and a dominatrix to judge Mike’s profile and offer him advice on what he could improve. You can find Mike’s full profile here. Read what they had to say below.
Peter Nguyen, Professional Stylist
I asked female friends of mine to look at Mike’s pictures and profile and what their first impressions are. And the impressions were pretty universal: he looks like he smells, he looks like he doesn't have a job, and they would guess he still lives at home. The uncomfortable truth is that we judge everything by how it looks first. My job as a stylist is to help control that initial snap judgment, not in an inauthentic way, but to help their outside match their inside. Something I teach my clients looking to improve their style for dating is this concept of The ROI (Return on Investment) of Self-Improvement. The quicker and easier the fix, the smaller the impact it'll have on your life. Harder fix? Bigger impact. Here are some recommendations I would start with for Mike.
Small ROI (quick fixes he can do this weekend)
- A haircut and putting product in his hair every day/combing it to avoid that "I just woke up" look.
- Improving his selfies. Mike tends to take selfies dead on or at lower angles which isn't flattering
- Clean up his beard. The neckbeard look accentuates his larger neck and also makes him look sloppy. In combination with the hair and clothes it’s a huge factor as to why many of women I showed his pics to said he looked like he doesn't smell good.
- Switch to button-up shirts instead of wearing so many form fitting tees. For my larger clients, collared shirts frame your neck better and are flattering compared to tees which hug your body and folds you don't want to call attention to.
Medium ROI (fixes that might take one to three months)
- Revamp your wardrobe to more classic styles and solid colors. It's clear Mike has a lot of "geeky" interests, which is totally cool. But you don't have to wear your geekiness on your sleeve all the time.
- Get someone to take new photos of his new hair and style—either friends or a professional photographer. Women can get away with selfies, but as a man you need to get someone else to take photos of you. I know, it's unfair, but men earn more money. Life is unfair in a lot of ways.
- Rewriting his profile to paint a picture of what it would be like to date him. I read Mike’s profile four or five times and I honestly still don't get much of a sense of what it would be like to hang out with him. It's clear that he's funny with the few jokes he's thrown in, but we have to imagine crafting a profile to attract that kind of women he wants to attract.
Big ROI (long term fix—six months+)
- Losing weight. Another one of those uncomfortable truths I tell my clients: the biggest "style" hack you can make is getting in better shape. You'll look better with and without clothes. It'll be easier to shop. Your confidence will improve. Your hormones and sex drive will improve. People will find you more attractive. As a guy who's lost 70 lbs himself, I have first-hand experience on how life changing it can be even beyond dating.
So, people tell you that you're intense. Geez. What do they say behind your back? Even if this is true, it's definitely not something I would lead with in a dating profile. Besides, the first thing you list—being "passionate about what you believe in" is basically the positive spin on that. And then you immediately backpedal. I'm passionate. OK, OK, you're right... I'm just an intense probably murderer.
And why are we using the worst picture of yourself for the main profile pic? You look sad and bored. Literally, you look cute in every OTHER picture. But, as long as we're critiquing the photos, you need at least one that is either taken by a half decent photographer with a half decent camera, OR that shows a slightly more cleaned up version of yourself. I get your aesthetic. But please, let's see your hair not looking insane in just one of these shots.
Mike, let's get real. You're 27, and looking for women 21-28. Red flag. You're "willing" to date girls (and yes, they are basically still girls) as young as 21, but only one year older? Jesus. Change it to 25-35. NOW.
First of all, Mike seems like a fun, witty guy who has a great head of hair. I like that his humor and sincerity come through his profile. My first suggestion would be to eliminate any mention of Pengy. Unfortunately, there's nothing sexy about grownups that have stuffed animals on their bed. In my experience, it's always best to let people get to know you before you introduce childhood toys and/or left of center hobbies (says the woman spends much of her time photographing a G.I Joe).
Secondly: is there anywhere to crop out Waifu in the satirical headline photo? I'm not sure everyone is going to get the joke. Mike's hair is incredible and he looks cute in that photo and the focus should be on that. Next, I'd eliminate the why yes, I'm available for sex photo. I know it's supposed to be funny, but a) low angles aren't flattering for anyone and b) when women see the word "sex" on a dating profile—even if it's just in jest—it's automatic alarm bells. Same goes for mentions of dark times. Instead, I'd talk about overcoming adversity and/or challenges. While I love that Mike is so sincere and open, you should always, always keep your language positive.
Lastly, the photo with the white plastic (?) hood (bug suit?) and the light saber needs to go. I'm not sure what's happening in that photo and I'm not sure I want to know.
Michael Orlando, Producer
Mike seems like a super sweet guy and not only because we share the most common North American name possible. His profile appears to be very genuine and from the heart. All this information would be great and interesting while actually sitting down for the first date. But you got to get in the room first. I feel like Mike would be better served on an app that required less information, but could still showcase his personality (like Hinge, for example). I would lose the whole section about the stuffed animals. Maybe let that be an adorable thing that gets discovered later... and as shitty as this sounds, at least one photo that presents the most confident version of him. Doesn't have to be in a suit or a posed headshot. But wearing something nice, that he is confident and comfortable in. It could be solo or with friends. I think the key is to get Mike in the room, and then let him take it from there. But you've got to get past the first screening.
Lane Moore, Host of Tinder Live/Author of How to Be Alone
I've hosted my comedy show Tinder Live for five years now, and toured the country with it, so I've seen more shitty profiles than probably anyone on Earth. I started offering a feature on my Patreon page where I'll help you make your dating app profile actually great because I really think so many men are good dudes but they have no idea how bad their profiles come off. It's mind-blowing how bad some of the profiles, even guy friends of mine, have. For starters, please fill out your bio. It's nuts the number of dudes who put NOTHING... but OK honestly, Mike’s profile is great? He’s really thoughtful and put a lot of time into it. I have no notes, but who is this person that sent you that message?!
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This article originally appeared on VICE CA.