Oy! You haven't written your online dating profile yet? As bubbe would say, "You're not getting any younger, sweetheart!" This is before the requisite cheek-pinch, of course, and a nice chat about "your figure."
To help you plan accordingly and give you tangible, useful advice, we recruited Erika Ettin, founder of A Little Nudge and JDate's leading online dating expert, for this edition of the Chai List, and she graciously agreed to bless our readers with her wisdom.
So, whenever you're ready to take the leap and either subscribe to or update your online dating profile, causing every Jewish mother around the world to yell "Hallelujah!" here are 18 tips for your Jewish online dating profile.
1. Make sure your photos are representative of you, especially the first one.
Better to have someone meet you in person thinking, "He/she is much better-looking than the photos!" rather than "Those photos were a lie … or taken five years ago!" On that note, also include a full-body shot of yourself. When people don't have enough information (i.e. what you look like below the neck), they assume things, and often they assume the worst.
2. Less is more when it comes to photos.
People will look for the one bad photo (um … the one after all four glasses of wine on Passover?) and decide to write you off, not write you a message because of it. Three to five photos are recommended.
3. Have at least one clear "face" photo
If you couldn't tell, photos are really important. Blurry photos do not help anyone else, and they do hurt you. They make people wonder if you're hiding something.
4. Be by yourself in the shot
Don't make me list the reasons for this one! Okay …
a. Don't give someone the opportunity to compare you to the other people in your own picture
b. Don't try to show that you're social -- we know you're social
c. We might think it's your ex … or current significant other
5. Have one photo doing something interesting
Many people have no idea what to say in the initial email, so give them something to comment on, or "message bait." Ideas: you in your Queen Esther costume, you making a delicious loaf of challah, you doing underwater basket-weaving.
6. Take your time writing your profile
Many people think that writing an online dating profile is a one-time job, and they rarely change it based on its success (or lack thereof). They also try to write it as quickly as humanly possible. But this is one thing that you really should spend your time on. You are putting yourself out there for the world to see, so put your best foot forward! And don't forget to proofread. If someone uses "your" incorrectly, I don't assume carelessness; I assume stupidity. And you're (probably) not stupid!
7. In your profile, provide a bold introduction
Try not to bore someone to sleep a la last year's Kol Nidre sermon, or sound just like everyone else. Make the first line memorable and interesting.
8. End your profile on a positive note
"Need not apply" need not be in your vocabulary. If you're looking for someone Jewish, that's great! Don't, however, tell people not to bother contacting you if they're not. Plain and simple, it's rude. You can make your preferences known in other ways, either in the check-box questions that most sites ask or by saying something positive instead of negative: "I'm looking for the soup to my matzah ball."
9. Do NOT write a novel
Anything over three paragraphs on a "traditional" online dating site like JDate is much too long. And on the apps (i.e. JSwipe), short and sweet -- and quirky -- is the key.
Example: Things I'm good at: remembering which direction to light the menorah, making matzah pizza from scratch, inventing games during previously mentioned boring sermons and writing ridiculous JSwipe profiles
10. Stand out from the crowd
If the stranger sitting next to you on the L might have been able to write the same exact profile, then it is too generic, and it's time to spice it up. On that note, avoid what I like to call "empty adjectives" such as "smart," "funny," "attractive," and "loyal" that are subjective and cannot be proven until someone gets to know you.
11. Make sure you're realistic, not idealistic
Your profile should be representative of you today, not the you in your head, who we know is a rock star.
12. If Judaism is important to you, then say it
People ask all the time, if I say this thing that's really important to me (religion, children, etc.), will it scare people off? Sure it will! But those people are meant to be turned off. You'll be turning on the ones who agree with your values and/or appreciate your honesty in what you're looking for.
13. Niche sites are great
Are you looking for someone Jewish, and only someone Jewish? Why would you not join JDate then? That's not to say plenty of other sites don't have quality MOTs, but if something is a deal-breaker for you, then go to the place where it's one less thing to screen for.
Also, just for giggles, here's a fun fact: JDate's parent company is called Spark Networks, which also owns Christian Mingle. Last year, Spark sued JSwipe for its use of the "J." Then in October, Spark bought out JSwipe for a whopping $7 million.
14. Remember that online dating is not represented by any one bad (or good) date
Don't quit online dating after one bad date. First, that person is just that -- one person. And every bad date is a good story. (I have one about how I inadvertently went out with the same person twice … six years apart!)
15. For success, you also have to message people
Writing a great online dating profile is only half the battle. (Sorry!) The other half is being proactive, and we do that through searching and messaging people we like.
16. Get to the date
Don't forget that the point of online dating is to get to the in-person meeting. Do this sooner rather than later. No one is looking for a pen pal, and people have short attention spans. Once you reach out to someone or mutually like someone, schedule the date within the week, if possible.
17. Be polite
Use the manners your nice Jewish mother taught you. Be prompt, say please and thank you, and smile.
18. Have fun!
People sometimes forget that dating should be fun. You have to date to get into a relationship, so try to enjoy the act of meeting new people along the way.
Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, the preeminent online dating coach in the U.S., and "the new voice of online dating." A Little Nudge has been profiled on NPR, the Washington Post, WUSA9, and AskMen.com. Erika is also JDate's leading expert, has been a featured columnist on Philly.com, and her weekly column syndicated through the Chicago Tribune. Her book, Love at First Site (available on Amazon), has also received high acclaim.