Note: This is the second of a series of posts I am writing about online dating.  If you missed the first one, be sure to check out it before reading this one.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the rules that apply to offline dating is equally applicable to online dating.  Just because meeting people online is different and more efficient, doesn’t mean that it is governed by a new set of rules of engagement.  For that reason, first impression is just as critical even if the medium of exchange is casual.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, it is worthwhile to mention that men are more visual whereas women are more verbal.  That is not to say men are not attracted to women who write well or that women are not attracted to nice looking gentlemen.  But as a rule of thumb, women are more attracted to men who have a way with their words, while men tend to gravitate towards women they find good looking.

Having said, that, I’ve confirmed the following with my small sample of friends: more often than not, the way a woman judges whether a profile is worth the pursue is how much information she can gather from the words on the page.  In general, the more the merrier.  So if you have a choice of writing one paragraph versus four, write four. But simply having more words won’t cut it.  The point is how well can a guy convey who he is in the space he was allotted to talk about himself, not how verbose he needs to be to get his points across.

Rather than talk about it, I thought I would show an example of a rich profile (note the number of words as well as the language this person used to describe himself — every word is deeply meaningful):

“Life for me is all about balance, being open-minded and trying everything once. You’re just as likely to find me at the theater, symphony or opera as at a crowded live show up front with ear plugs in. You might see me sipping Pinot at a gallery downtown, and then run into me gawking at fire-spewing art cars on the playa at Burning Man.

“I relish the comforts of home, but have been known to travel for months at a time with only my backpack, my camera, and antimalarial pills. I’m mostly a city boy, but love skiing off steeps, diving into bodies of water, and feeling sand on my skin.

“I can be cynical and sarcastic with the best of them, but those who know me well think of me as a romantic idealist with a soft gooey center. I can be independent and reflective, but have a wild side that comes out to play hard when the mood strikes.”

On the other hand, here is a profile that is sorely lacking in substance:

“i’m a pretty well-rounded guy – smart, athletic, and artistic. i’m into the outdoors. i can re-model a house.

i try to be conscious of how i live my life and how i treat people. i try to spread happiness when i can.”

The difference between the two profiles is how concrete a picture they each painted.  The first profile provided visuals using words; instead of just describing who he is with adjectives, he painted the kind of person he is with what he likes to do.  After reading the profile, I immediately got a sense of who he is without ever meeting him.  On the other hand, the second profile not only used very few words to describe himself, his description is hardly memorable or differentiating from most of the profiles out there.

Another aspect of first impression is how you choose to present yourself.  I’ve seen too many pictures of men drinking beer in wild party settings.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with posting pictures like that, but know that those kinds of pictures are mostly attractive to people who are like that themselves.  If that’s the kind of person you hope to attract, then by all means.  Since I am not a party girl myself, I tend to stay away from profiles blasted with party photos.  It’s simply not my cup of tea!

Finally, if the online dating sites allow you to choose your handle name, choose the name wisely.  Avoid words that convey pretentiousness or larger than life sentiment unless, of course, you are trying to attract people who like those qualities in a mate.  For example, calling yourself a “Prince” or a “SuperStar” is a big no-no, as is describing yourself as “sexy”, “freak” or “angry”.

Have more to add?  Please post them in the comment section!

If you missed my other posts on online dating, be sure to check them out:

Part I – Online Dating 101: Your Expectation
Part III – Online Dating 101: Your Opening Email
Part IV – Online Dating 101: Your First Meeting