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Only Rumors - Online Dating Tips For Men

First, an apology:  This is only my opinion, and if you are not targeting women like me, not all of these tips might be applicable.  I am offering them here so that you can think about the effect that your photos and profile may have on your potential dates and make more informed choices.

Second, another apology:  I am sending this page out as a link to friends who would NEVER make some of the stupid mistakes I have listed.  I am only listing these mistakes because I have seen them on some men's profiles and my friends might share this page with strangers I don't know.

Third, last apology:  I have written this page assuming my audience is men interested in dating women.  If you know me, feel free to suggest edits so I can make this more inclusive.  Else, please translate for yourself personally to whatever configuration you are.

Most of the Online Dating Tips below are aimed for men with profiles on the OKCupid site.  A few of the tips are specifically applicable to other online sites, also.

Online Dating Presentation


A minimum is two photos:  at least one clear head-shot portrait and at least one full-body shot (with clothes on).  Both these photos should be current.  You can add the others over time.

Portrait photo tips:  Your primary profile photo should be your current portrait.  It must have been taken within the last year and should show your current facial hair configuration.  If you are bald or partially bald, make sure that at least one of your photos shows your bare head.  If you display facial hair today and have a photo in which you are clean-shaven, include one of those, too.  Women like to see what men are hiding under their beards and under their hats.  The portrait is best if it contains a natural (not forced) smile... best if you look like you are relaxed and enjoying yourself.

Good backgrounds:  trees, water, mountains, the inside of an interesting building (gallery, library), interesting or special restaurants, a room at home with interesting furniture or paintings, a pretty porch or patio, a park, a tank in the aquarium.  If you are an artist or craftsman of some kind, you standing or sitting next to or interacting with something you are creating or have created is a great background!

Bad backgrounds:  selfie taken in bathroom mirror, cheap hotel room, a bar, a bed.

Good things to include in photos:  Any physical skill that you have and enjoy (physical accomplishment is sexy) - you juggling, or on a bicycle, or a skateboard, or playing ping-pong, or dancing.  Anything that shows good coordination or muscle training.  Any talent that you have:  if you play a musical instrument, show that.  Anything you do with a significant portion of your time that you might want to share with your date/partner(s): yes, including playing wii or gardening.  Including your pet in your photo is a good idea, although it may also eliminate potential dates with allergies or phobias.

Bad things to including in photos:  your underage children (unless you are trolling for pedifiles), your dog licking your face (unless you are looking for a date into beastiality), lots of alcohol and references to it in your profile (unless you want your date to be more interested in the alcohol than in you).  Displaying the fish you caught in every photo or your primary photo - it has become too cliche´.

Clothing:  In general, it is a good idea to show yourself in the clothes you prefer to wear every day because you want to set reasonable expectations.  In a photo it is especially important that the color of your shirt does not detract from the color of your skin.  If you aren't certain about that, ask a female friend!  When you include more photos, try to vary your attire and your settings.  If you show yourself in formal wear, pick a background that hints at what activities stipulate that for you (the theatre, a wedding).  If you like dressing up in costumes, include a photo that shows you in costume.  If there is some kind of dress that is unusual that is part of your "style" make sure you include a photo displaying that (a collar, a kilt, suspenders). 

Consider that your clothes and how you present yourself (gestures) tell your potential date more about you than just your looks and physique.  Men use clothing to make "fashion statements" just as much as women do!  Consider the effect these clothing items may have on potential dates viewing them in your photos:  camouflage wear, tie-dye, sports jersey, hoody, cowboy hat, baseball cap....  Not all of these are good or bad, but all of them will make an impression on your potential date.  For example, when I see a sports jersey, I think the statement is:  "If you don't love sports as much as I do, it's a deal breaker."

Personality:  Try to get photos that give hints about your personality.  If you are goofy, have one goofy photo; if you are playful, a photo that shows off your playful side.  If you are relaxed, have a friend take a photo of you while you are relaxing.  If you are focused, maybe have a photo of you while you are really into writing computer code for a project (or whatever it is you do when you are focused).

Kinks or fetishes:  If you have them, a photo that hints at them might be helpful.  Avoid being too graphic or explicit.

Other people:  Never include photos of underage children.  Never include identifiable photos of anyone (who is not famous) without his/her permission.  If there are other people in your photos be sure your potential date can identify which one is you.  Having photos of your ex-spouse may indicate to your potential date that you are not ready to move on.  If poly, having photos that include current partner(s) makes more sense (make sure to get their consent)!

Data in your Profile

Fill out as much of the pre-supplied basic profile questions as you possibly can, before writing your personal summary.  This way you can avoid a lengthy summary with duplicate information.  Keep in mind that your potential dates may create searches specifying those criteria and a no-response answer will keep you out of their results.

If you are on a dating site that includes an "Interest" or a "Favorites" section, put everything relevant in there to keep your written summary short.  Things to include in interests:  types of pets you have, places you like to visit, activities you like to do, projects you are working on, favorite books, favorite movies, favorite foods.

Personal Summary

Length of your Personal Summary:  More than 8 paragraghs is probably too much for your potential date to absorb in one skim reading.  If you are specifically targeting dates with long attention spans, 6 paragraphs is long enough to weed out those with short attention spans.  Less than 10 sentences and you appear haphazard and lazy.  Four to six sentences per paragrah for easy reading.

Grammar and Spelling:  No one will rule you out for good spelling and grammar.  Some potential dates may rule you out for spelling or grammatical mistakes.  Again, it is best to do what is natural for you and not set up unrealistic expectations, so if your normal style is close to perfect, maybe spellcheck but leave the one dangling participial.  One very common grammatical error I have seen in profiles is the use of the word "that" where "who" would be correct.  Example:  "A woman that knows herself...."

Good Content:  The purpose of your profile is to reveal yourself and entice potential dates to message you, meet you, or respond when you message them.

Ask yourself - if I wanted to date someone like me, what information would be essential and enticing?  This is called "perspective taking".  Imagine that a person exists who would totally be interested in you if she knew you.  Start by making a list of the things about yourself that would entice her to meet you.

Now that you have the list, eliminate the stuff that is already in your data sections, unless there is something important about it that you want to emphasize.  Take that list and write most of it into clear, concise sentences.  Select one to three items from your list try to write those into short humor or examples or stories from your past so that your ideal date can get a good sense of who you.  Remember to include information about what you will find attractive about her.

If there are specific qualities (physical, personality, etc) that you find attractive in a partner, you could list your "turn ons" or find an evocative way to communicate those. 

You could describe in detail some nonsexual fantasy activity that you imagine the two of you doing together, especially if it is something that you want to make happen in real life.  Make sure to include the details about her that excite you.  Example: 
"You look so good in your cycling outfit (with your deep brown eyes peering out from under your helmet) as we take the bicycles off my car rack and set them on the trail.  It is early in the morning and we are preparing for our first 15 mile ride together.  You impressed me with your list of essential items to take along.  You cleverly suggested we break for a picnic at the half way mark.  I admire that you are a skilled cyclist." 
Whatever your fantasy is, include some details about dress and/or appearance, preparation, activity, schedule, progression.

Bad Content:  Generic statements about true love.  It tells nothing about you and nothing about what you want from your date.  Addressing your readers as if they are an audience of eager suitors:  "Howdie, Ladies".  It feels impersonal and a little disrespectful.  Something about your photos or your description of yourself has caught a woman's eye.  She wants to believe she found a jewel that others have missed or overlooked.  If she is emotionally healthy, or unless you are very rich and famous and that is what interests her about you, she does not want to have to beat off crowds just to meet you. 

Avoid selling your attributes by referencing your own opinion of yourself.  Don't say you are a "good person".  Anyone can say that; and it is up to HER to decide if she thinks you are.  Similarly, avoid saying "my friends would describe me as a good person". 

Bragging beyond what you can deliver, lies, and important omissions should be avoided.  You don't have to divulge all of your relationship or health history in your profile, some of that can be saved for when you meet in person... BUT don't indicate you want a relationship if you want NSA sex; don't pretend you are a Doctor if you are an LPN; don't indicate you run marathons if the last time you did was more than 3 years ago.

Exclude superfluous information.  Do not list every book you have ever read, or every movie you have ever seen, or every TV program you watch; just list the ones that will tip her off about something that makes you unique.

Being too self-effacing is also a turn-off.  Confidence is sexy.  Humor that reveals your vulnerability is good, but not in excess.

Avoid making a long list of characteristics you don't like in women; or mentioning any characteristic that is a turn-off in such a way that indicates you expect or anticipate that most women share this trait.

Sexually explicit content is bad form and could get you removed from the site.  If you have particular sexual needs, find a G-rated way to hint and save the details for after your 3rd written message or for your in-person meeting.


Unless all you want is sexting, the purpose of messaging is to set up a time and place to meet.  If someone contacts you and you don't find her photos or profile appealing, don't respond.  You can also "hide" or "block" from further contact.

Recommendations are that you have a short exchange of messages and then set up a meeting.  How many messages?  The shortest number of messages it takes to set up a meeting, preferably no more than 5 messages from each of you, the fewer the better.  Invite her, but definitely do not pressure her!

With messaging, knowledge is power!  The more you have examined her profile and answers to questions or surveys, the better you can avoid a mis-message.

Here are the most common reasons you might not get a response:
  • She finds you unattractive.  This might be you, or just bad photos.
  • Something in your profile is unappealing to her - no way to know unless she volunteers it.
  • She is not answering anyone, it isn't you.

The Good Introductory Message

If you are writing the introductory message, it should be about 120 to 250 words.  Here is what it should contain: 
Your Name
At least your first name in your first message.  At the bottom of your message, sign with your real first name.  This is about making her feel safe.  Dating is a more dangerous activity for women than it is for men.  About a third of all murders of women are carried out by men with whom she had sex (or refused to have sex), that is, husbands, ex-husbands, lovers, etc.  Most women looking for dates will not agree to meet a man until she has his full name and runs a search on him to find out if he looks safe.  Looking safe includes components like having friends in common, having a stable job, having a public profile.
Specific references from her profile
Make her feel noticed.  Tell her what impressed you about her profile and how you think you might match some of what she is looking for.
Your Intentions
Tell her that you would like to meet her.  This goes just before your name, at the end of your message.
Make her smile
Tell a joke that you think she might like based on her profile and preferences.  Or reveal something vulnerable and endearing about yourself.

The Bad Introductory Message

The bad introductory message is a future-killer.  One bad message, and it is possible the woman will hide or block you so that future messages will not be received.
Too short
Less than 80 words says you are lazy and not willing to put in an effort.  It says "Don't ever expect much from me."  Not an attractive message.
Sexually explicit
Unless HER profile is sexually explicit, don't put that in your messages.  Follow her lead on this one.
I Read Your Profile
Do NOT tell her you read her profile.  Instead reference specific items from her profile and it will be obvious that you did.
You are beautiful
Scammers frequently begin their emails by telling a woman how beautiful she is. 
Too long
Very unusual for an introductory message, but it says "I am infatuated with myself".  I love my own words more than I respect your time.

Follow-up Messages and Phone Call

The primary purpose of follow-up messages and phone calls is to secure a time and place for meeting in person.  The other thing follow-up messages are good for is setting expectations.  For example, if there there is something weird, quirky, unusual about you that might not come across in your photos or profile but that anyone will notice the first time they meet you, consider informing her in advance.  Maybe you are habitually ten minutes late to everything, or you have severe allergies, or a movement disorder, or a hearing impairment.

If you have determined that you want to meet the woman with whom you are corresponding, then it is your job to remove obstacles to that meeting.  Here are the usual obstacles:
  • She doesn't feel safe yet.  If you don't have her full name yet, she doesn't feel safe.  Have you given her your full name?  Email address?  Phone number?  Have you let her hear your voice on the phone?
  • She is afraid she won't be attracted to you.  Have you indicated that you would enjoy meeting "just to meet"?  Have you kept your messaging brief so as not to build up unrealistic expections?
  • She doesn't want to meet.  Nothing you should do about this.  Accept a "no" for "no".

First Meeting

First meetings should be brief, an hour, or two at the most.  Coffee, or a lunch.  Stay sober.  Don't let yourself get trapped into spending a lot of time together in case it doesn't work out.  If it does work out, it leaves you both wanting more. 

Created:  April 20, 2017
Updated:  April 24, 2017