How to create a dating profile - using science

Posted by Dr Claire Hill on 20th February 2023

Writing your online dating profile can be a daunting task. Those few hundred words to describe yourself and what you're looking for in a partner could be the make or break of finding a connection with someone. No pressure then! If you're wondering what to write to maximise your chances of finding love, then read on as we explore what science tells us about how to write a good profile.

Writing a dating profile

Photo by Maxim Ilyahov on Unsplash

Before we start, let's remind ourselves what an online dating profile is trying to achieve. Essentially there are two objectives. Firstly, you want to present yourself as appealing to others and secondly, you need to catch the attention of a potential partner1. This second point is crucial, especially when you consider that there are around 20,000 dating profiles on Free Dating. So how do you stand out in a crowd? Originality is key. Research has shown that most dating profiles are generic, cliché-ridden and predictable2. Forget the usual fluff of saying you are kind, love to laugh, travel, go for romantic walks and relax in front of the TV with a glass of wine. This is being said a million times over. Stepping away from this and presenting something original in a dating profile has been found to be associated with being perceived as more intelligent, attractive and funny3. To top it off, originality was also found to be related to the intention to date that person.

But how do you write an original profile? Research has shown that originality in dating profiles is not just from what you say but also from how you say it3. Self-disclosure has been found to be key to originality. This means saying more things about yourself and using concrete language that refers to tangible qualities or characteristics rather than being vague. For example, instead of saying 'I'm sporty', explain exactly what this means for you such as 'I'm into fitness and I like to start my day with a run'.

In terms of how you say things in your profile, originality has been found to come from using more vivid descriptions and language that conjures up imagery3. Use of metaphors is also key. Don't just say you're a great cook, say you're the next Nigella Lawson in the kitchen. Research shows that originality comes from using words, adjectives and adverbs (words that describe a verb) that aren't common.

If trying to be original in your profile feels all a bit much for you, then here's an easy win: Spell check your profile. Studies have shown that online daters rated profiles with language errors as less attractive, less intelligent and were less likely to want to date that person than profiles without spelling or grammar mistakes4. Why? Well, apparently those language errors are off-putting because they suggest a lack of education or interest in putting time and effort into constructing a profile5. A heavy price to pay for not proofreading your work.

I know what you're thinking - surely it doesn't matter what the dating profile says if the profile picture isn't appealing? In fact, research shows that actually both the photo and the written profile shape other's impressions of attractiveness and romantic appeal6. However, there is some evidence to suggest that profile pictures influence men and women differently7. For men, how attractive they found a profile picture was the only thing that predicted their dating intentions, regardless of whether they were looking for a fling or a more long-term relationship. In contrast, dating intentions in women were predicted not by how attractive they found the profile picture, but rather by perceived positive attributes (e.g. kindness and intelligence) of the written profile.

So, take a look back at your profile and see whether science can help you present yourself in the best possible light.


  1. Tong ST, Corriero EF, Wibowo KA, Makki TW, Slatcher RB. Self-presentation and impressions of personality through text-based online dating profiles: A lens model analysis. New Media Soc. 2020; 22 (5):875–895.
  2. Whitty MT. Revealing the 'real' me, searching for the 'actual' you: presentations of self on an internet dating site. Comput Human Behav. 2008; 24(4):1707–1723.
  3. van der Zanden, T., Schouten, A. P., Mos, M. B., & Krahmer, E. J. (2022). Originality in online dating profile texts: How does perceived originality affect impression formation and what makes a text original?. Plos one, 17(10), e0274860.
  4. van der Zanden, T., Schouten, A. P., Mos, M. B., & Krahmer, E. J. (2020). Impression formation on online dating sites: Effects of language errors in profile texts on perceptions of profile owners' attractiveness. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 37(3), 758-778.
  5. Ellison, N., Heino, R., & Gibbs, J. (2006). Managing impressions online: Self-presentation processes in the online dating environment. Journal of computer-mediated communication, 11(2), 415-441.
  6. Fiore, A. T., Taylor, L. S., Mendelsohn, G. A., & Hearst, M. (2008, April). Assessing attractiveness in online dating profiles. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 797-806).
  7. Dai, M., & Robbins, R. (2021). Exploring the influences of profile perceptions and different pick-up lines on dating outcomes on tinder: An online experiment. Computers in human behavior, 117, 106667.