How Do You Overlook Bad Online Profiles?

Hi Evan,

As a result of reading Finding the One Online and following your advice blog I’ve become a much more savvy online dater. I have an engaging profile, attractive current pics and a positive attitude. But, the more skilled I’ve gotten at playing the online dating game the more frustrated I’ve become with the shoddy profiles that men post. I’ve changed but men haven’t. I’m still dealing with the same short, shallow, generic profiles and blurry, taken-in-the-bathroom photos. But now I have far less patience for these than I used to. I try to give guys the benefit of the doubt. I remind myself that these men haven’t had the benefit of coaching and are doing the best they know how. But, I still find myself incredibly frustrated and far more critical and dismissive. I don’t expect men to change, so how can I adjust my attitude so that I can be a more effective online dater?


Dear Cassie,

Ah, the curse of knowing too much, being too smart, and placing ahead of the curve.

Nope, can’t say I’m familiar with it – but some dead Greek guy once observed that “an unexamined life is not worth living”.

If this is the case, you can surely kill off most everyone on

…by letting your perception of these men dictate your feelings about online dating, you’re the one who loses.

The thing to remember is that perception is not reality, and by letting your perception of these men dictate your feelings about online dating, you’re the one who loses.

So let’s reframe:

A few months ago, a bright, creative, well-intentioned woman – let’s call her “Cassie” – has just about had it with online dating.

Her best dating prospect disappeared into thin air, and the only two emails she’s gotten this week came from fat men 25 years older who live two states away.

Yep, Cassie’s hit bottom, and she knows that SOMETHING has to change. And if she is, in fact, the main attraction in Loserville, there has to be something she can do to change her ZIP code to a more desirable, upscale location.

She goes back to this blog she’s been reading for a few years – some pretentious, know-it-all-guy with three names –  and while he seems to know what he’s talking about, she’s always resisted paying for his advice.

Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?

…the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

But Cassie is bright. She knows that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. To continue on this online dating path the same way would be the height of insanity.

She finally breaks down and invests in this blogger’s program, Finding the One Online (a handsome 7 CD set, 180 page transcript, and 35 page workbook!).

It’s delivered to her within 3-5 business days, she downloads it on her iPod and listens to it in the car. And, much to her surprise, the material is really interesting – and much more thorough than anything he’s ever discussed on his blog.

Soon, Cassie has revamped her generic old profile, swapped out her photos for some active, smiling, updated pics, and has a much more proactive positive attitude about the whole endeavor. And, sure enough, men are paying attention.

The only problem is that she still feels like the mayor of Loserville.

She knows it’s irrational to feel this way – since, clearly, these men haven’t had any coaching. But she can’t help herself. The webcam photos, the “work hard/play hard” guys, the ones who cut and paste form letters with their phone numbers… it’s all too much. “How can I be less critical and dismissive?” she wonders aloud.

Here’s what you’re missing, Cassie.

3 months ago, YOU were the average woman… You’re living proof that amazing people can be really average-to-poor online daters.

You had old pictures.

You had a generic profile, filled with adjectives.

3 months ago, YOU were the average woman.

You had a bland way of emailing men.

You had a distorted perception of how online dating really worked.

Now imagine a guy like me sees your old pictures and generic profile…

Should I get angry that you haven’t marketed yourself better?

Should I dismiss you because you didn’t have anything original to say?

Should I get frustrated that my online dating “skill set” is superior to yours?

I think the answer is always “no”. Because you’re living proof that amazing people can be really average-to-poor online daters. And if you’d want a smart and savvy guy to give you a shot three months ago, it’s probably in your best interests to be a little more generous to the have-nots of

It’s a truism that I bring up all the time with private clients when they ask me for coaching, but think that the big problem is EVERYBODY ELSE.

I’ll say something like, “I totally get why you’re frustrated. All your observations about men and online dating are 100% true. But you know who’s going to be the same after 12 weeks of coaching? Men. So if men are the only problem here, we’re screwed. Literally the ONLY things we can change are how you’re approaching and understanding men, dating, and relationships. We can’t change men.”

Literally the ONLY things we can change are how you’re approaching and understanding men, dating, and relationships. We can’t change men.

Most of my clients get it very quickly.

So, I’ll completely defend you, Cassie, when you observe that 85% of men’s profiles are subpar. But I would also point out to you that, before you did Finding the One Online, yours was probably pretty average, too.

I can tell you that my wife’s profile was pretty average, too. She has a great personality, but isn’t really much of a writer. Nor did she quite understand why adjectives are such a bad idea for a profile.

From all I’ve observed after 10 years in the online dating business, I can tell you for certain that:

The best profiles are not necessarily indicative of the best people. They’re just the best writers/marketers who understand how to stand out and differentiate themselves. Is there a correlation between a great profile and a smart guy? Yes. But don’t assume that men who don’t have great profiles aren’t smart. It’s simply not true.

Similarly, there are millions of men who have short, generic profiles simply because they filled it out in five minutes and wouldn’t know what to do without considerable coaching.

They are not bad men. Or stupid men. Or uninterested-in-relationships men.

They’re just men, who are struggling, like you, to find an attractive person who ALSO has a measure of substance.

So please don’t get upset, Cassie, that collectively, men have a huge blind spot when it comes to online dating. Make the best of the situation by taking a chance on some of these average guys – and staying detached from the outcome.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

But if you quit – after all you’ve learned – I guarantee you that your Finding the One Online skills will not pay off.

Who knows, your future spouse might be the average guy you’re passing up right now…

To learn more about Finding the One Online, please click here:

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  1. 1

    Hi Evan,
    What a great eye opener for all of us with great online profiles, sorting through the misspelled, fuzzy, and bland profiles of men on the online dating sites. It’s important to be open to possibility, and I sometimes need a reminder that there could be a lot more underneath the surface (or not, but you’ll never know unless you get to know him!).

  2. 2

    Can’t argue with anything you say, Evan.   As a matter of fact, I looked at a well-written, no photo profile just yesterday.  But I was completely turned off by it.  One, the poster-in-question kept saying how easy on the eyes he is, but there was no picture.  He overdid it in discussing his acting career, as if to say, “women you must all love me because I’m an actor”.  And then there was the in-depth section about what he likes to do in the bedroom.  While I completely understand men are sexual creatures, it was just a little much to be springing on women you don’t know.  I’m sure that there will be plenty of issue taken with my assessment, and that’s fine.  It is, after all, in the eye of the beholder.

  3. 3
    Parker Lee |

    wow good stuff Marc! Reading your stuff is inspirational, you’ve definitely nailed down your market.  I think I’m just going to forward all my woman readership to your advice.

  4. 4

    @ Starthrower68
    I’d be turned off by that as well.  Sounds like it was too much over selling, which leaves the negative impression of a bad salesman trying to sell you a lemon. 

  5. 5

    Starthrower, I would define what you saw as a below-average profile! Full of issues.

    The ‘average’ profiles I’ve seen are just full of cliches, slightly boring, an error or two (nothing overboard though). While I wish they’d taken more care with their first impression, if I find him attractive  and he doesn’t have any dealbreakers/red flags, I’ll give him chance.

  6. 6

    When I was doing Match, I knew pretty much from the beginning that if I held men to the same standard as my profile I’d be pretty much dateless –  after all, when I was active I had TWO degrees in creative writing and was getting a PhD in rhetoric.  I am pretty sure my very first profile ever said something about preferring anecdotes to adjectives.
    So I made the best profile I knew how, responded nicely to almost every email that I received (as long as it wasn’t sexually inappropriate), tried to draw a more interesting self out of guys who contacted me via email and the telephone, went out with lots of guys outside my comfort zone, and tried to enjoy myself.  I ended up meeting my soulmate on MySpace not Match, but the skill set was so automatic by then that I didn’t even have to think about it.
    Online dating rocks!  My ex assistant at work is newly single and I am giving her some tips (she just joined Match) 🙂  She’s having super fun, too…

  7. 7

    Unfortunately, I can’t agree with most of this. Here is the thing: a person capable of the most elementary reasoning would realize that the purpose of an online profile is to attract. Nor would a quality man send form  letters to a hundred women at once. And an individual who sees it fit to write in text-speak will not turn out to be a closeted intellectual in reality. And if a man has nothing of substance to say in his profile, no amount of banter will elicit a meaningful conversation out of him.
    And this, unfortunately, I know from experience. I have this type of personality – I give people too much of the benefit of the doubt. If you give everyone a chance, all it will result in is burnout. And btw, the kicker is, never once have I encountered an exception. Never once was I happy I gave someone unimpressive a chance because he turned out to be so fantastic once I got to know him. If your gut is telling you there is nothing there worthy of your interest, listen to it.

    1. 7.1

      I have to agree with Juju! in my experience as well, there are no closeted men of substance who lack communication skills, especially in online dating. I’m with JuJu on sticking to a certain standard when reading profiles.

  8. 8
    April Braswell

    Hi Evan,
    I so agree and appreciate your positive attitude about dating and about how, truly, the only area where we have power and control is to change ourselves and not anyone else.  That is such a healthy attitude and approach.  Sometimes we have become too sophisticated ourselves with being so Social Media and Web 2.0 savvy.  lol indeed.
    I also really like how you neither denigrate men or women.  Some singles I hear really knock the opposite sex.  While may all feel that way for 5 minutes a week, put that aside, right?  How would being negative about the ones we want to be dating ever be truly attractive, after all.
    And thank you for pointing out that online dating profiles can be great and that they are in a manner, just marketing.  They are still not 100% reflective of that person.
    Keep up all the great blogging you do.  It is always beneficial and you are very generous with your expertise.
    Happy Dating and Relationships,
    April Braswell

  9. 9

    I do see what you are saying, JuJu.  I went out with a lot of people (not as many as EMK, but easily 75-100 guys) off of Match, and only a handful made it more than 3 dates.  Only 2 made it 3 months, and I don’t think anyone ever made it longer than that.  But I think those would be the odds regardless of where you met people – and I’d rather have gone through that many guys in 3.5 years before finding “the one” than 15 or 20 years, wouldn’t you?

  10. 11

    Womens’ profiles are just as bad as mens’; they have the same cliches.  I don’t personally send form letters, but I can see how some guys could find some of these womens’ profiles hard to personalize a letter to her (if she’s got attractive pics but I can’t say something personal because she’s got nothing in her profile to respond to, I generally won’t bother writing at all).

  11. 12

    Well I guess Evan has taken away my excuse to refuse to look at the “Nice guy with an edge” profiles…..

  12. 13

    you know- I’m not crazy about cliches and adjectives (if I see one more ‘work hard/play hard’ line I’m going to scream)- but still- I’ll consider the profile if there are no spelling mistakes. Spelling mistakes are the one thing I can’t STAND! I understand typos- I make them myself when posting on the blog. But these guys have the opportunity to double-check their profile for typos- edit, etc. So, all these men I see with college degrees spell like first-graders- that’s just not cool.

    The other shady area- pics of the guy talking on a cell phone, or posing for the camera with a cell phone on his ear. Ummm…..what’s that about? Is that just really pretentious, or am I being super judgmental here? I’d like to know, just for my own benefit. 🙂

  13. 14

    Honey, I am not saying that one should drop online dating entirely (where would such a drastic step leave us? :-)), but that one should be very careful who they expend their energy on.
    Sayanta, in my experience, a photo with some object on or near the face (sunglasses, hat, etc.) has always been a ruse to cover up some defect or present their shape of head/face in a more favorable proportion.
    Taking photos with a cell phone could be indicative of self-esteem issues, so I wouldn’t say that you are necessarily wrong to try to read anything into it. However, if this is only one photo out of several provided, and the rest of them are okay, I think you can safely let it go.

  14. 15
    Karl R

    JuJu said: (#7)
    “a person capable of the most elementary reasoning would realize that the purpose of an online profile is to attract.”

    A person who says, “I’m intelligent and have a great sense of humor,” is trying to attract others. That person just hasn’t clicked to the fact that every other person is using the same adjectives to describe themselves.

    JuJu said: (#7)
    “Nor would a quality man send form  letters to a hundred women at once.”

    Try being the average guy (or slightly above average). You send out a brief email to 5 women, and you mention something specific in each one’s profile. You get no responses. You try with 10 more women. You get two “No thanks,” and no response from the other eight women.

    A lot of men conclude that they need to cast a wider net … so they email 100 women. When they switch from quality to quantity, they don’t have the time to send out anything besides a form email.

    JuJu said: (#7)
    “if a man has nothing of substance to say in his profile, no amount of banter will elicit a meaningful conversation out of him.”

    I could easily say, “JuJu couldn’t possibly have a sense of humor. I’ve been reading her blog posts for years, and she hasn’t made me laugh once.”

    Seriously. And you’ve had a lot more space to express yourself than the 4,000 characters available on

    Of course, the obvious response is that you’re not trying to be funny in this blog, therefore, your writing here is not representative of your sense of humor.

    In a profile you have 4,000 characters to try to give someone an idea of who you are as a person. Your post (#7) is just a little short of 1,000 characters. So I have 4 to 5 times that space to tell you everything important about myself.

    It took me about three months of rewrites to take my profile from a little above average to being something that was easily in the top 1%. I didn’t get any better at witty banter during that time, but I got a lot better at embedding that bantering style into my profile.

    Honey said: (#6)
    “When I was doing Match, I knew pretty much from the beginning that if I held men to the same standard as my profile I’d be pretty much dateless”

    I think you have the right attitude.

    And this principle applies to a lot more than profiles. If I insisted that my dates be my intellectual equals, I’d rule out 80% of the women I’ve dated. If I insisted that my dates be as energetic, I’d rule out about 90%. If I insisted that my dates be my equal on the dance floor, I’d rule out all but one. My girlfriend can carry on an intelligent conversation, she can dance, and she can keep up with me the majority of the time. More importantly, she’s a wonderful human being.

    In the end, you’re dating a person, not a profile. If you put too much weight on the profile, you’ll limit your dating pool to Evan’s client base.

  15. 16

    @ Karl R – Yes, and it’s important to note that not holding men to the standards of my profile didn’t mean I absolved them of being held to my standards as a human being.  If I learned anything spending 12 years and $100K going to school to study writing and teaching college students in a variety of capacities for the last 10 years, it’s that you cannot possibly expect most people to enjoy writing – and how can you set yourself off to your best advantage using a tool that you fear and/or despise and/or haven’t mastered?

  16. 17

    Honey, your last line (#16) is a really good point that I’m afraid I tend to overlook- since I write myself, and find such great joy in it I guess I assume everyone will be the same. ;-p

  17. 18

    @ sayanta, if my decade of teaching college students didn’t help me figure that out, every awkward conversation I’ve had on a plane while on my way to an academic conference certainly has driven it home 😉

  18. 19

    In my experiences with online dating, almost all of the guys I really liked had the most boring, generic profiles with lame pictures of themselves.  To be honest, there was something about that where it ended up being they were the most cool, fun, down to earth ones.  I am not talking about totally cheesy, weird profiles, stupid pick up lines, inappropriate, TMI, red flag profiles.  I am talking more about your general cut and paste jobs and I enjoy working out and travel and football write ups.

    I found in many cases those were the kind of guys that were great in person who yes had real personalities.  Just that writing and crafting perfect profiles wasn’t their thing. In fact, I was almost turned off by the guys that were all showy and smooth at this. 

    I don’t thing this is true in all cases by any means, and it’s definitely a stereotype – but I think my PERCEPTION of that was that the manly cool guys are just more straight to the point and were too busy playing sports and out doing guy active things and be too busy to be crafting perfect emails and writing cheesy profiles. 

    And the kind of guy who did would be one more in touch with his “feelings” and feel insecure enough that he would have to really work to sell himself – and also have too much time on his hands to be spending on this thing.

    I know, I know – the conclusions you draw from a profile that can be completely off base.  But i actually did find guys on there that I KNEW – that were definite catches that I would have completely overlooked from their dumb, generic profiles that I knew in real life were pretty cool, funny, confident, and very successful guys. 

    My advice would be to rule out the ones that really strike you as weird, inappropriate, super cheesy, overtly cocky, or some big red flag. But the ones that are just sort of boring or copy/pasted feeling are worth learning more.

    Honestly – my biggest problem when I was online was that people could craft entire personalities that they just were not.  Online chemistry truly means nothing in person. I think it’s even worse when someone markets themselves in such an appealing way but it’s just not who they are.  Better to find the guy who is warm, friendly and funny in person with a tad of guy cluelessness but without the huge ego or desperation to have written six pages on why he’s such an amazing catch.

  19. 20


    What you say makes sense; I admit though, that I tend to scrutinze some errors of syntax/spelling/grammar and such errors closely because I’ve been hit up by enough Nigerian internet scammers that I might scrutinize it too closely.  Of course if you’ve have seen enough of such things, you learn to see patterns in those scammer profiles.  There is always something about the picture and the profile that is just “off” for lack of a better term and while I can’t explain it, you can usually pick out the scammer profiles from the ones who just aren’t the best spellers and writers.

  20. 21

    Hmmm…I have had disappointing dates with men who could write, even!
    I guess when looking at the profile I look at the whole package: looks, writing, shared interests/values, trying to find some points of connection.  If their photo is them in front of the TV in a sweatshirt, they are overweight, cannot express themselves even in an e-mail, let alone having a profile that’s not full of, “live life to the fullest,” it’s true: I don’t see the point of pursuing that.
    What’s interesting to me is that I have gotten many compliments on my writing and profiles, i.e., “refreshing,” “interesting,” “well-written,” etc.  And then I go read theirs…ummm…don’t you want to spruce yours up a little bit?  Nope, they like their sweats in front of the TV style!

  21. 22

    Moon, I know precisely what you are talking about. I personally never got the following kind of letter, because I guess my profiles command respect (I mean, this would never have occurred to me   had I not heard /seen the very disrespectful replies some women I know get in response to their profiles), but this one intelligent and interesting woman said some guys actually write to her, “sounds interesting… write more”. Like she is there to friggin’ entertain them or something.

  22. 23
    Indian Internet Dating

    I find so many, maybe 90% of profiles online which are so poorly maintained. Spelling errors, grammer seen nowhere, pics or celebrity inserted into profile,  sometimes foreign language used and all that! It’s a complete turn off…why put a profile when cannot maintain it. I always get impressed with natural self-pic profile. You need not be extra-good looking but at least you show what you are and not hide behind some dummy ideas

  23. 24

    I just read these posts and then checked my match email.  I just got a new message which says “hi how are you”.  Not even a question mark at the end of the sentence.  Personally the spelling issue has never been a huge deal to me, it’s something I’m prepared to overlook but if the best you can do for a first email is “Hi how are you” then the lack of a question mark just adds insult to injury!
    And the thing is that this guy is apparently a doctor!?

  24. 25

    Indian Internet Dating-

    I feel your pain- are you on Shaadi, by any chance? The thing with Indian guys is that a lot of them are here on permits/work visas- and English isn’t their first language, hence the spelling errors, the Hindi mixed in with English, etc.

    I repeat all this to myself when I’m looking at their profile, but I know what you’re saying- it’s still a MAJOR turnoff. I mean, surely they could get a friend whose first language is English to look over their profile, right?


    what you’re saying has happened to me too. The guy might be a doctor whose first language isn’t English. But at the same time, since he’s practicing medicine here, he must have a decent command of the language, I assume.

    Honestly, when I’m thinking about it- the ‘hi how are you’ and poor profiles kind of imply that the guy’s not really taking the whole profile thing seriously, right?

    Also-  don’t know if this is judgmentalism again, but if a guy says something like “I never thought I’d be online,” or “I’m just doing this because friend/parent made me” I think of it as a red flag- as in the guy’s too negative, insecure, etc. What do you think, is my assumption correct?

  25. 26

    Sayanta,  I think you’re assumption is correct. At least in my opinion. When a guy writes something like that in his profile, my first thought is, “Get over yourself.” I know it doesn’t make them bad people, but if you’re so ashamed (or think you’re better than, or whatever) of online dating, don’t do it. It rubs me the wrong way when I see that in a man’s profile.

    Also, I don’t even respond to the “hi how are you” emails. In my opinion, it’s not the appropriate first email to send. I’ve tried responding to those guys to give them a chance and they are the worst people to try and make conversation with. It’s like pulling teeth to get them to answer with more than one or two words at a time. I think “hi how are you” is literally all their brains can come up with.

  26. 27

    Okay, Karl, now that I have a little more time (btw, you made me laugh :-D):
    A person who says, “I’m intelligent and have a great sense of humor,” is trying to attract others. That person just hasn’t clicked to the fact that every other person is using the same adjectives to describe themselves.
    The problem here is hardly in using adjectives. The problem is, once again, an inability to reason. If you are so intelligent and have a great sense of humor, the way to show it is not to proclaim this about yourself, but write something intelligent and humorous. I never understood, for instance, why women (I think this is especially true of women) would, in addition to posting their pics, say in their profile how beautiful they are (especially since I almost never agreed with their assessment ;-)). I mean, the information is  presented to us visually right there. We, the audience, shall be the judge of their looks. It is most preposterous to write these things about oneself (especially when one is aiming to attract).
    Try being the average guy (or slightly above average).
    I am not interested in the average guy by definition. 🙂
    What I meant, however, is that a quality man would simply not find that many women he’d be interested in on a website. A quality man has a much above-average intelligence, he has standards. He could find, maybe, five women he can see himself writing to, but he would never find fifty potential matches.
    As for the entire substance argument – first, your analogy doesn’t actually apply, precisely because I am not trying to be funny in my comments here, but a human being with any rational thought does try to sound intriguing in their online profiles. Seriously, what does the fact that so many people do not put the slightest effort into an online profile say about them? That they are incapable of said rational thought? How else would you explain spelling mistakes or the absence of photos (or photos that don’t actually show what a person looks like)? I mean, these are the people I should give a chance to? Why?
    And by “substance” I didn’t mean the ability to write well, but what Sofka and Patti are describing above.

  27. 28

    Sayanta, there are too many things that are wrong with this statement (“I never thought I’d be online”), so no, you are not being overly judgmental.

  28. 29

    I highlighted Karl’s words in blue, but it’s not showing up for some reason. 😐
    Hope you’ll all be able to figure out what’s what.

  29. 30

    Sayanta – I would agree that the whole “I never thought I’d end up on a site like this” thing is definitely off putting but I suppose it’s something I would be prepared to overlook if the guy wrote a nice email or if the rest of his profile made him look interesting.  To be fair though that has happened rarely!
    I suppose it just depends how much choice you have.  If the choice for me is between going on a date with a guy that doesn’t sound amazing but doesn’t sound unbearable or sitting in front of the TV I’d be inclined to give the guy a try anyway.  If it’s a choice between the guy and a great night out with my friends though then the guy won’t get a look in!  What I don’t get is the people that would prefer to stay in sitting in front of the TV instead of meeting a so-so guy.  What have you got to lose except a few hours of television and a fairly negligible sum of money!?

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