Usernames - Take A Closer Look

One woman takes a closer look at how, in the world of online dating, a moniker can make a great first impression… or ruin one.

By Mackenzie Dawson

“MrNosferatu has winked at you!”

Whenever I get a notification email
Upbeat usernames always work best.
from, it’s a bit like getting an unexpected package in the mail. It’s fun, and it adds a bit of much-needed intrigue to my day. Until I click on the profile, I’m free to daydream about the person on the other end of the wink.

Could it be a blue-eyed guy with a quirky sense of humor? Or perhaps it’s exactly the kind of positive, ambitious guy I’ve been looking for? What about my 8th-grade boyfriend—is he looking to reconnect?

Nope, not so much.

Today, it’s MrNosferatu. Now, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with MrNosferatu’s profile—he seems nice, has a solid job, cute pictures, and no visible scars. But there’s a stumbling block for me, and I can’t seem to get past it: His username is another term for Dracula.

As in a centuries-old chap with a penchant for neck biting. Likes: Darkness, Transylvania. Dislikes: Crosses, Holy water.

I imagine our first date. We’d go to an Italian restaurant (with lots of garlic items on the menu), and I’d carry a pointed stick in my little black tote, in case he tried to get, er, fresh after dinner.

Oh, MrNosferatu. Dating is enough of a challenge without trying to figure out if your dinner partner is a member of the Undead!

I decided not to return his wink. A few days pass, and I got emails from several cute guys with normal, friendly usernames. I responded to them. And then I got a wink from BreakYourHeart. And then another one from Baggage4U. Thanks, but no thanks…

What’s in a username? A whole lot, as it turns out. And if these two guys are to be believed, they’re serving up heartbreak and emotional baggage in spades. Good times!

I don’t want to make it seem like guys are the only ones making these username mistakes; women are just as guilty. And if some of the gentlemen above could be accused of not thinking about their username enough, then maybe some of the ladies are, well, pondering it to the point of sheer madness.

I’ve certainly had my fair share of long conversations with girlfriends, discussing which usernames would make the best impression. What would he think if he saw that in his inbox? Will he be turned off if I have this as my username? Will he get the joke? Will he not think it’s funny?

After careful consideration, a close friend of mine chose ZestyLemon as her handle,
Avoid any terms that sound high-maintenance.
because she thought it summed up her cheerful, sassy personality. Then she had second thoughts. Was it silly? Would men who didn’t like lemons not respond? I gently suggested that she might be overthinking it. ZestyLemon was good, I said. Keep it. Another friend is a huge Bill Murray fan. She chose WhatAboutBob as her user name—only, she mistyped and ended up with WhatAboutBoob. It happened a year ago, but we’re still teasing her about it. So many names—and only one chance to make a first online impression. What’s a dater to do?

Focus yourself first
First off, remember what the purpose of all of this is. You’re trying to find someone with whom you can connect. Your username and picture are the first things that people see, so think about what that name conveys to people who don’t know you. “Choosing a suitable name tells the world how you want to be seen. Consider your intentions: What kind of people do you want to attract?” asks Kristina Grish, author of The Joy of Text: Dating, Mating and Techno-Relating. “A name like Twiglet or KitKat sends a playful message, while Erininpajamas implies you work at home (or not at all).”

That’s not to say that you have to stick to more literal names and avoid cleverness altogether—quite the contrary. Consider having some fun wordplay with your name or initials—Grish references a friend of hers named Alia, who lives in California and chose the catchy CAliafornia as her handle. In just 11 letters, Alia manages to convey that she’s fun, witty, and proud to be a West Coaster.

Or you could choose something that indicates what your job is—VetGuy or WriterGirl indicate that you’re comfortable with your profession.

Just say no to negativity
And keep it positive. “I would stay away from any words that are negative in nature, like lonely and desperate. Even if you are, find something positive or fun to use,” says Bev Bacon, dating expert and author of Meet Me… Don’t Delete Me! “Women who use anything that remotely sounds high-maintenance may want to reconsider using another username—most men are allergic to high-maintenance anything!” So keep away from words like diva, princess and the like, and you should be good to go.

Get a second opinion
Have fun with your moniker, and if you find yourself in a bind, bounce the idea off friends (a friend of the gender you’re trying to attract is best!). Ask them what they’d think if that username showed up in their inbox—and what the name suggests to them.

And whatever you do, keep away from the Dracula references.

Mackenzie Dawson is the deputy features editor at The New York Post. She has written articles on trends and relationships for Cosmopolitan, Gotham, Parenting, and Marie Claire.
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