How Not To Write Your Online Dating Profile


So, I recently had the opportunity to see some online dating profiles from a site other than Catholic Match. As a CatholicMatch Institute contributor, this is “manna from heaven” for me, because now, when I’m writing about things people do (and mistakes people make) in online dating, I can point to these anonymous examples without singling out anybody here, or sending readers scurrying into the CatholicMatch profiles to see who wrote it.

And oh boy, did I ever find a lot of examples.

I want to start with one of my biggest pet peeves, the one wherein the profile attempts to tell the profile reader something that the profile reader would be better off discovering by him or herself.

Case in point: people who use their profile to tell prospective dates how good-looking they are. I see lots and lots of violations in this regard. But my favorite was found in the “things I can’t live without” category. One gentleman wrote: “A mirror to see how sexy I am.”

Gee, what a charmer.

See, here’s the problem. Your profile, if you have any proficiency in online dating at all, will prominently feature a picture, (or even several) of you, preferably. The idea is that anybody who is interested in getting to know you better will look at those pictures, and will decide for him or herself whether he or she thinks you are attractive.

Here’s a “mixed message” you don’t want to happen: Your profile says that you think you’re beautiful. Or highly attractive. Or so sexy that you can’t bear to be away from your own reflection. But a potential date looks at a photo of that very same visage and says “Really?  I’m not seeing it.”

Now you don’t just look unattractive. You look a little foolish, too.

I saw another profile of a gentleman who tried to get around the whole photo issue by refusing to post a photo “because I wish to be judged on more than my physical appearance” and then went on to describe his own visage in glowing terms. The message he gave is: “I’m so beautiful that if you see me, the radiance will overshadow my other traits. I must protect you from my attractiveness until the time is right.”

An update says he later relented and posted his picture, because so many people pointed out the ridiculousness of what he was doing.

But, you say, I posted a picture, and I AM attractive! It’s so obvious, everyone will agree. Still, do you think it’s in any way helpful to point it out?  Your profile is your chance to discuss what you think is important—about yourself, about the person you’re looking for, and about the world at large. You don’t have a whole lot of words to do that in. Pointing out your own physical attractiveness doesn’t make you any more attractive, but it does tell the world that you think it’s a big deal, and a big part of what you feel you have to offer the world.

There’s a country song called “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful,” and it sums up the kind of woman I think a lot of men are looking for, and conversely the kind of man a lot of women are looking for. Physical attractiveness is nice, of course. But what’s even more attractive is somebody who isn’t aware of it, who doesn’t make a big deal out of it, who focuses on living in the world and loving other people instead of obsessing over his or her own beauty.

My four-year-old niece walked into the bedroom one night, wearing pajamas that said “Pretty Girl,” and declared “It says Pwetty Gail ‘cause I’m PWETTY!” Very cute behavior for a four year old. Not so pretty at 24, or 34, or 44 or beyond.

And so—in my humble opinion—whether you’re attractive or not, saying you’re attractive in your profile description makes you less attractive to potential dates. It says that you’re vain. It implies a certain narcissistic streak. I don’t know, there may be people out there looking for narcissists. If that’s the kind of person you’re looking for, go for it.

Otherwise, my advise would be to post a picture, talk about the traits the picture doesn’t show, and leave the beauty to the eyes of the beholder.


For more tips to improve your profile, read our FREE Online Dating Guide For Catholics.



  1. Ann-1392938 January 12, 2017 Reply

    I am afraid to join thinking if I want to cancel it will be difficult,has this been the case for any of you?

  2. Loney-1265382 July 3, 2016 Reply

    Then there are the women that state that they want to travel and mention a number of places. When the cost is calculated only a VERY rich man could afford them. There are more of these “gold-diggers” on Catholic match than expected. I nix them immediately. Then there are the ones that make a point of showing that they love their dog (cat) (horse) more than they are capable of loving their man. Another turn-off are those that insist that they will live only near (THEIR) family.
    I also seriously wonder about the faith of those that reject some of the basic catholic teachings, BVM, Eucharist, pre (extra) marital sex, sanctity of life.

  3. Steven-1330740 May 30, 2016 Reply

    This is a funny article. Well said Mrs. Bonacci!

  4. Joan-351524 October 8, 2015 Reply

    Personally I am instantly unimpressed when someone simply tells me how much they love my photo, nothing else. That always tells me they’re aren’t really interested. I try to be gracious though and thank them, if I respond at all. Yes I mostly get that on a particular secular site.

  5. Michael-369664 May 13, 2015 Reply

    I have been sent many matches on CM, and over half do not half a picture, any picture of themselves! Why are they doing that? These are all women 50 plus, so they do know the rules as it were. If I have no clue what you look like, why would I ever want to contact you? It is self-defeating behavior to an extreme degree.

  6. Caroline-1059950 February 14, 2014 Reply

    Please be careful with photos, I had a very bad experience on another site and am still very concerned that person has a downloaded a. picture of me.

  7. Siobhan-971078 February 1, 2014 Reply

    I do think its important to have a picture – it would make me nervous to reply to someone whos face I cannot see as I think you can read alot from a their picture, especially if you can see their eyes. But in generally the demeanor of the person and their attitute to life comes across and also that they are not too afraid to share. You can be attracted to a person in general – they don’t necessary have to be standard good looking but you need to feel at ease with someones profile pictures to communicate. With regard to not being on the website if you don’t go to mass every week – I wouldn’t agree as regular mass goers don’t necessarily make a better person and from my experience alot of good (and attractive) people don’t go to mass regularily so don’t block people if they are not as religious as you as they may be very spiritual but not as ritualistic – I am a regular mass goer having said that but that’s for my own reasons not because I feel I must.

  8. Paul-1049651 January 21, 2014 Reply

    As to the guy who wrote “I’m so beautiful that if you see me, the radiance will overshadow my other traits. I must protect you from my attractiveness until the time is right” (and no, it wasn’t me): the author of this column doesn’t seem to have considered the possibility that the guy was trying to be funny. I’d bet dollars to Tim Horton donuts that this was a lame attempt at irony rather than irrepressible narcissism.
    As for saying “my friends say I am….”, well, no accounting for tastes, but I find that more charming than saying “I am kind, compassionate,”, etc. It’s like a curtsey — completely artificial, but engaging nonetheless….

    • MaryBeth-278310 January 22, 2014 Reply

      Actually, you would owe me donuts, or dollars, whichever you were betting. Believe it or not, I am quite certain he was serious. He was quite earnest about it.

  9. Paula-943738 January 21, 2014 Reply

    Isn’t it interesting that the “narcissistic” self-proclaimed beautiful people don’t post any pictures of themselves? Haha

  10. Rilene-783542 January 21, 2014 Reply

    I think it is wonderful that the “A mirror to see how sexy I am” man wrote that. Fantastic! Please, if your are that self-involved, I would like to know that right up front so I can say “next!” Please don’t discourage this kind of profile! We all need as much warning as possible.

  11. Frank-780947 January 21, 2014 Reply

    I haven’t posted a picture becauseof what I do for a living. DId it once……and received e-mails from people in 9 different countries; as well as 13 American states. I quickly concluded there were a bunch of “gold diggers” on this site. Sad, but true.

    • Veronica-146135 January 22, 2014 Reply

      Frank, had to go look at your profile out of curiosity. Do women approach you upon reading your opinion of your appearance?
      Truly curious.

      • Frank-780947 January 22, 2014 Reply

        Veronica….not sure what you mean….but I’ll try to explain. I’m have a doctorate…..the type that treats patients. In my private practice; as soon as someone found out I wasn’t married… front desk staff would be inudated with questions and comments; literally on their first visit; without hardly knowing me.

        As far as CM is concerned; I initially posted a profile here 4 years ago. I guess I was naive; because I posted a picture; and was truthful about what I did for a living. Honestly; I received e-mails from 9 countries and 13 states. I could understand someone in a close by state; but not across the country; and certainly not foreigners. I’ve dealt with gold-diggers via my office. I figured the same applied here. Fortunately; I ignored their requests.

        At this stage of my life; my hope is to meet someone at church. Unfortunately; I’ve rarely run into too many singles at Mass; and I’ve been attending weekly all my life.

        • Veronica-146135 January 22, 2014 Reply

          Frank, I absolutely believe there are plenty of gold- diggers out there, and understand why you would be cautious about posting your photo. I just can’t comprehend any woman messaging a guy who says his appearance is way above average. Again, not being critical, I just don’t get it. I would much prefer a guy just state that his face is public, so pics by request only. To me, any guy who says he is attractive becomes instantly unattractive. Looks are only skin deep. ..I prefer beauty of the soul any day.

    • Teresa-1318033 December 7, 2016 Reply

      Frank, It may not be all about money. It may be the admirable qualities a person has who chooses to be a physician and successfully completes the task. It may be because it means you are intelligent. It may be for a LOT of reasons. Being financially secure is appealing, but unless you are a surgeon, you are probably not rolling in dough! (Ha ha). And how does a photo tell anyone what you do for a living?

  12. Josh-1025422 January 21, 2014 Reply

    Besides how some people talk about their beauty, some like to talk about how-how-how Holy they are and their catholic faith in very long-long paragraphs. That’s what I don’t like when I view and read a profile and I feel that it should be short and simple to sale yourself as a human being and to live everyday as catholic but not try to force somebody to agree what you think they should be, when looking for your life long friend and husband/wife.

  13. Elodia-982734 January 20, 2014 Reply

    I am from the Dallas/Ft Worth area- WHY do I keep getting matches from all other states except DFW area?

  14. Mark-687718 January 20, 2014 Reply

    Good article! I have two pet peeves when viewing CM profiles:
    1. Photos of just landscapes, no people – if I want to see photos of Rome or Vienna, I can just Google them.
    2. Profiles of women who are decidedly un-Catholic. If someone states, as I recently saw in one particular profile, that her mass attendance is “Never” and is 0 for 7 in agreement with the Church’s teachings, why why why would you come to a Catholic dating site in hopes of finding a good match? How can this lead to anything other than a clash of ideologies and values?

  15. Rosemary-975214 January 20, 2014 Reply

    William, I have had men on this site say things like Mary Beth mentioned and ask inappropriate questions such as “Do you have long legs? I’m a leg man” and ask for a phone number right away even though they are not supposed to. Nothing surprises me.

  16. William-607613 January 20, 2014 Reply

    Mary Beth,

    Is this site you are referring to another religious-focused site (like CM) or simply a secular dating site? You don’t say, but the distinction is as important as night and day.

    If it is from a secular site, then there is nothing there that quite frankly, should surprise anyone. I am willing to bet that I can visit women’s profiles on such a site and come up with similar versions of narcissism, shallow behavior, and a complete misunderstanding about what the intangible qualities of a potential spouse are. There is no need to look at dating sites to see the extent of the collapse of what was once a culture that held itself to certain behavioral norms.

    If it is from a site where the membership purports to hold itself up to some sort of moral code, well, then you’ve made a point with your column.

  17. Michele-978184 January 19, 2014 Reply

    cool pink hair! I highlighted pink into mine in little bits… no pic sorry hehe

  18. Maria-1022025 January 19, 2014 Reply

    Loved reading this!!

    Great post!

  19. Aaron-566660 January 19, 2014 Reply

    Honestly anything cliche should be left out not just saying your attractive(eye of the beholder?), but, things like “I don’t know how to talk about myself”, or “I like long walks on the beach(who doesn’t? If you ask yourself this and the answer is no one it doesn’t need to be in the profile)… The point of the profile is show what makes you unique not to quote cliches…

    Also one thing I don’t understand is when I see a person’s profile and every single picture has them and 5 friends.. I have no idea which person you are in those photos so remember to post at least one or two photos of just you.

  20. Carmel-622850 January 19, 2014 Reply

    It is amazing to how some people are so focused on their possessions and looks.
    One of my peeves and sadly my generation are the culprits. “my friends say I look ten or more years younger” Really, is that necessary? Im looking at a picture and wondering when the photo was taken? Was it ten fifteen years ago?
    Battery is low, don’t have time to post my biggest peeve.

  21. Janna-10421 January 19, 2014 Reply

    On a similar track, quite a few profiles state how much younger they look than their age/picture/brother etc. This still reverts back to the same premise and is distracting from reading more substantive items posted in the profile.
    Tell us your dreams, your challenges, things you’ve overcome, what brings you joy, why you are on this website vs others… the “inside” stuff that may distinguish you from someone who likes popcorn, movies, beach-walks…(nothing against the beach, being from SD 🙂 )

  22. Sara-979131 January 19, 2014 Reply

    I enjoyed reading this article.

    What about a profile in which someone writes, “My friends say I am (insert here a litany of positive qualities)…”?
    Sort of the opposite of narcissism in a way, but causes me to likewise wonder why the person writing the profile doesn’t own these attributes. In a way it’s false humility to not just simply state, “I am a good listener, athletic, attractive etc…”

    I find it absolutely fascinating how we choose to present ourselves in these limited formats of “profiles”. Reminds me of a weird way how Frans Hals (great Dutch painter) had only few pigments to work with in his era- his was a very limited palette, yet he wrought jewels of paintings by this meager palette.

    • MaryBeth-278310 January 21, 2014 Reply

      Oh yes. “My friend say” is one of my favorite cop-outs. it’s like bragging, one step removed. “I’m wouldn’t say it about myself, but since my FRIENDS say it I’m happy to repeat it!” Fail.

    • Caroline-1059950 February 14, 2014 Reply

      I am sorry but men do seem to only be initially interested in looks. I can’t put a picture on line after major issues from a man on another site who downloaded my picture and it didn’t end well. Trust me.

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