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. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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!?

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!?

  11. 31
    Blog Moderator

    @JuJu – Sorry, the blue didn’t come through on my end. Try quotes next time. If it’s hard to understand, I’ll go back later and add some. 🙂

  12. 32

    just thought of another photo issue ;-p

    Has anyone ever come across these? Pictures of guys that are cropped from the side, but you see long hair, and it’s obvious he’s cheek-to-cheek with some girl. Of all the pics these guys could have posted, it’s interesting that they posted those. It seems to smack of what I  wrote   above- the “As you can tell from my pics, I have no problem meeting women, so I don’t REALLY need to be online, but here I am” ‘tude.

  13. 33

    I agree with Juju.   I have always regretted not following my gut when it comes to being judgmental about a profile.   Usually people with generic profiles turn out to be generic people.   I am too quirky for most generic people; and most generic people are too boring for me.
    When I was doing online dating, a profile didn’t have to completely blow me away with its awesomeness, but it had to at least make me interested in meeting the person.
    Sofka: I went on a LOT of online dates before I met my boyfriend.   I disagree that a night out with a mediocre date is better than staying home.   I love to go out and socialize, but it’s easy to burn out on mediocre dates.   And down time can be a rare commodity for me!

  14. 34

    Sayanta, I have the same reaction to those pics. Also, I don’t like it when the guy flat out says, “I have no problem meeting women.” I want to tell him that if he can meet women so easily, do it and leave online dating to the rest of us who don’t have such luck.

  15. 35

    Sayanta, I’ve even seen pictures of men with women that they didn’t bother to crop. This is a huge faux pas on their part, completely counterproductive to achieving their purpose.
    I am not a fan of professionally taken photos (it’s just that a bit too often they are completely misrepresentative of what a person actually looks like), but at least one should have the good sense to post of a picture in which one is alone.

  16. 36
    Karl R

    JuJu asked: (#27)
    “How else would you explain spelling mistakes or the absence of photos (or photos that don’t actually show what a person looks like)?”
    sayanta said: (#32)
    “Pictures of guys that are cropped from the side, but you see long hair, and it’s obvious he’s cheek-to-cheek with some girl. Of all the pics these guys could have posted, it’s interesting that they posted those.”

    A lot of people don’t get photos taken specifically to use on dating sites (particularly before they start using dating sites). They  use whatever photos they have on hand.

    When I decided to try online dating, I had only one or two photos of myself that were less than  3 years old, and they were group photos. I’m not narcissistic enough to collect a lot of pictures of myself.

    Unlike most people, I was patient enough to postpone trying online dating until I could get a friend to take some pictures of me with her digital camera. In my experience, you should take 10 to 20 pictures for every one that you want to post with your profile.

    Though I have to add my favorite category of  pictures: for some people, every picture of theirs was taken in a bar or club …  and they’re holding a drink in their hand in every picture. Most of these people say they drink “occasionally.”

  17. 37

    @25 & @ 32 sayanta
    I was once perusing through yahoo personals and on one guy’s title/subject line it said “willing to lie about how we met.” LoL! If that doesn’t scream ashamed, I don’t know what else would. I also have issues with guys who post pics up with other girls or had the girl cut off. I see it more of a “player” type thing though.
    I’ll be honest. When I did my online profile, I thought I was being interesting. But now that I think about it, it’s pretty average. I’m a horrible writer and even worse in articulating my thoughts. Not good with words for sure. The guy I ended up going out with? His profile was just ok too. Plus I couldn’t really tell how he was going to look in person by his pictures. They were old and he looked like two different people 😛 Just never know till you actually go on that date! I think a better indicator of how a person is, is when you start doing email correspondence. You get a better idea.

  18. 38

    LK #33: “I love to go out and socialize, but it’s easy to burn out on mediocre dates.”
    Agreed, it’s extremely taxing to tell the story of your life over and over again, and most of the time to people who turn out to be entirely inconsequential. When I dated a lot, I actually felt like creating a website about myself and instructing everyone who is interested to read it before contacting me. 🙂

  19. 39


    You might be onto something with that website idea- maybe you should patent that- sounds like the future to me. 🙂

  20. 40

    Re: #’s 38 & 39

    Yeah. Certainly sounds like a pro-active way of marketing oneself. 🙂

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