Profile Solutions For The Less-Than-Perfect

Worried that your “flaws” will make people steer clear of your profile? Hardly—here’s how to be honest while presenting yourself in the best possible light.

By Laura Gilbert

ost singles are self-conscious about at least one aspect of themselves or their lives: “No one will want to date me if they know I _____,” we moan. And with online dating, confessing these flaws becomes even more tricky. Should you stay mum until you’ve met and hope it won’t be a big deal, or get it all out in the open so dates won’t feel deceived? Luckily, experts say there is a middle ground—a way to spin certain sensitive spots so you’re neither lying to prospective dates nor giving them cause for concern. Here’s how to present six common “shortcomings” in the best light—even as selling points—in your profile.

Problem #1: You’re unemployed
Even though many us will struggle with joblessness at some point in our lives, it’s still not something we want to advertise to possible long-term mates. That’s why most experts say it’s fine to go ahead and write what you do for a living (“forklift driver,” “PR specialist,” or “national emergency management field”), even if you aren’t necessarily doing
Unemployed? In today’s unpredictable economy, it’s unlikely to be a deal-breaker.
it at the moment. “When you start actually communicating with a person, you can explain that you’re freelance or were laid off recently,” says Nancy Slotnick, author of Turn Your Cablight On: Get Your Dream Man in 6 Months or Less. In today’s unpredictable economy, it’s unlikely to be a deal-breaker, as long as you’re still willing to get the check now and then.

Problem #2: You’re divorced
So, you’ve clicked the “divorced” box in your profile and are now tempted to explain in your personal essay why you’re still a good catch, not “damaged goods.” The surprising advice? Don’t bother. That’s right, even if your “ex was psychotic,” you’ve “had a lot of counseling and are ready to love again,” or you “still believe in commitment,” leave it out. “The biggest faux pas a divorcee can make is talking about his or her ex,” says Slotnick. Divorce is hardly unusual among singles today. Most people who see that you’ve been married before can guess that you learned plenty from the experience and know all the better what you want in a partner. But going into details, even if you think they make you look good, makes it seem like you’re just not ready to move forward, warns Slotnick.

Problem #3: You’re a single parent
Sure, there will always be people who think twice about getting involved with someone juggling all the responsibility of single parenting. You will only feed their fears by saying things like, “My kids come first, take it or leave it.” Instead, let people know that you’re proud of being a parent—it can only reflect well on you. Joe Tracy, publisher of Online Dating Magazine, recommends saying something like, “I’m the mother of an adorable two-year-old girl who means the world to me.” “When people see that you’re happy and feel ‘blessed’ by your circumstance, it gives them a positive impression about your status,” he explains.

Problem #4: You work really long hours
So you’re looking to date, but you want potential sweethearts to know upfront that your career can make scheduling tough. While it’s considerate of you to be honest about the time commitment you’re willing to make to a partner, sounding too inaccessible can come across as standoffish. “You want to mention it in a way that convinces the other
Divorce is hardly unusual among singles today, so you don’t need to explain it.
person it’s a good thing,” says Laurie Puhn, J.D., author of Instant Persuasion: How to Change Your Words to Change Your Life. Instead of saying anything that hints at workaholism, try phrases like “I work hard, and I enjoy my job,” “I’m ambitious and focused,” and “I travel for business and love going to new places to appreciate the cultural differences.” “Anyone who reads that will be impressed,” Puhn says. By making your passion for work a quality worth bragging about—rather than one that requires a warning label—you’ll actually attract more people than you might have if you didn’t say anything about it at all.

Problem #5: You’ve overweight, short, bald, or otherwise less than model-esque
Plenty of online daters worry whether a few extra pounds, less-than-impressive height, or baldness is going to hurt their relationship prospects. According to experts, you can address your “issue” head on in your personal essay. “Use humor, by saying ‘longitudinally challenged’ or ‘I’m the perfect weight in kilos but am still working on getting the U.S. metric system down,’” suggests Michael Lasky, author of Online Dating for Dummies. This lets other folks online know that you’re comfortable with who you are—which most people find more attractive than a full head of hair or a size-six label. If you’re not comfortable joking, then just post an accurate picture and let other people see who you really are—you are bound to get replies from those who are interested in you just the way you are...

Problem #6: You’ve got a serious health condition or disability
While being deaf, diabetic, or in a wheelchair are probably things best to reveal to prospective daters in your profile, that doesn’t mean you have to make it sound like a limitation. The trick? Describe your condition in the context of something you love doing, so that your readers picture you as someone with interests—not a health problem. Try lines like: “Being in a wheelchair doesn’t stop me from traveling, which is a passion of mine,” or “I’m deaf but that doesn’t mean I don’t swing dance regularly on Saturday nights…” The goal is to make your disability read like a footnote in your rich, fascinating day-to-day life (which, after all, it is).

New York City freelance writer Laura Gilbert has written for Health, Stuff, Maxim, The Knot, and other publications.
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