First Impressions

On Match.com, I’m mysterE32. On JDate, I was nyfunnyguy32 until I switched to mysterE32 and then, LuckAndTiming. Say what you will about my chosen monikers, but they do not sound identical to everybody else. MysterE is a play on words using, obviously, the word “mystery” and my first initial. I actually get compliments on it from time to time. Nyfunnyguy wouldn’t be a very good name if I were living in New York, but, to a strange woman in Los Angeles, an East Coast guy who writes comedy is a good place to start a conversation. Even when I was once identified by my username at a Santa Monica bar, “Hey, Nyfunnyguy!”, it reaffirmed one crucial, if embarrassing thing – my advertising had been effective. I doubt she would have said “Hey, Mike1234″ if that were my name.

Things like usernames and headlines are a thorn in the side of a lot of online daters. I mean, no one really cares about this stuff, do they? For the most part, the answer is no. Unless it’s egregiously bad or – more rarely – exceptionally good. A good username can actually start a conversation – I started talking with a BePatientImBlond for that very reason. I’ve assisted other clients (who shall remain user-nameless), and have not only gotten them great feedback on their profiles, but kudos on their usernames as well.

As I’ve counseled regarding profiles and photos, browse through a few dozen pages of members and count how many usernames stand out. Ask yourself why. Generally, it’s because there’s no thought or creativity employed in choosing one. I’m asking you to go the extra mile and do both. Choose a subject that’s dear to you. Doesn’t have to say everything about you, or really anything about you. Just something fun. Spin it around in your head, hold it up to the light from different angles. Sooner or later, something is going to pop. That something is going to be your username. The best ones are usually double entendres or plays on words; taking the familiar and making it different. Like mysterE, for example. Whatever you suggest, there is a punny, if not funny, answer.

Bowling? LuckyStrike.
Dancing? Two2Tango.
City planning? UrbanMiff.

Oh, come on! Of course you’re going to write to UrbanMiff! Hell, I think I’m gonna use that name myself.

Usernames are surprisingly important, not because they’re dealbreakers, but because they’re literally your IDENTITY on a website. And why would anyone want to be TopekaTim when he can be JayhawksRock?

Headlines aren’t on every site, but, like the very boldface type that makes you pick up a tabloid when you’re standing on the grocery checkout line, they do have an impact on your decision to look within. All things remaining equal, if the photo is average, are you telling me that you’re NOT going to look at someone who made you laugh using just one line? To the shallow end of the pool you go! The rest of us are gonna brainstorm some headlines over here.

Remember, your job is to be appealing to those who get the joke but not unappealing to those who don’t get it. If Star Wars-insider references are your thing and you’re casting for the part of your geek-lover, go out on a limb. Return of the Judy is probably more effective than The Evil-Ex Strikes Back.

Keeping it light is always better than going heavy. Saying something meaningless is more effective than plumbing the depths of your soul. Using an adjective should, frankly, get you kicked off of the site. Unless you’re doing it as a joke, like my personal favorite headline: “Funny guy with killer body and money to burn seeks woman who doesn’t believe everything she reads.” It works only because so many people say it seriously, “Down to earth man with good job seeks cool girl for love and laughter.” Get me a bucket. I’m gonna vomit. Better to stay away from who you are, away from what you’re looking for. If they want to know that, they can read your brilliant essays. Better to say something goofy in your headline like “Order Now While Supplies Last!” which can elicit a smile and a deeper peek into your profile.

Do headlines matter? I don’t know. But why not add a witty headline to the list of ways in which someone can be impressed by you?

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Esther Kustanowitz

    I’m a little disturbed by UrbanMiff, but can’t exactly explain why.

    To add to what you’ve already said about headlines, I’d urge all online daters to be aware of how many words of that first sentence appear in the initial screen (pre-click); because if you get to the funny/catchy part only on the screen that needs to be clicked to be viewed, there are many people who are probably going to miss it.

    Even Evan’s line would suffer because of that; on Jdate, it would likely read;

    “Funny guy with killer…”

    …and online daters can only hope that is an adjective that modifies body or comedy or something else, and that it’s not a comment about his roommate.

  2. 2
    shruti

    I thought exactly the same thing when i read the blog.. Its difficult to write a funny user name or profile headline in limited words.. And almost impossible in the situation where only half of it can be viewed the funny part gets left out..Its no help really when you actually have to click to see it..

    But even with these disadvantages i used a funny line as my profile headline and i saw that the few people who would view my profile and forget about it contacted me to talk to me about the username…

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