6 Boomer Profile Mistakes—Avoided

“My Yorkie completes me.” “I prefer young partners.” And other things you should never, ever say in your profile.

By Sarah Elizabeth Richards

o you’re trying online dating after years of being off the market? Your online profile is such a great way to show you’re more than a pretty picture or witty headline. The problem is that sometimes we unknowingly reveal too much to soon, making our prospective sweeties cringe and press “delete.” How do you know what not to share? Here are the top pitfalls to avoid:

Mistake #1: Waxing poetic about the dog, cat, and kids
You may think you’re showing your sensitive side by going on and on about how much you love
Always be honest about your age.
your family and pets. But you may be turning off someone who wants to be number-one in your life. “When a woman writes how much she ‘loves animals,’ it can translate to: ‘a lot more than a guy,’” says Jeff, 51, an author in Chapel Hill, NC.

While it’s fine to briefly mention your children in your profile, don’t list all the activities you love to do with them, advises Los Angeles-based matchmaker and relationship coach April Beyer. “It takes away from the romance of dating. It makes you look only like a mom,” she says. “You want to present yourself as a single woman first.” Save your thoughts about how much the kids mean to you for your second or third date.

If you want to mention family, then come up with something funny like: “In my spare time I like to drive carpool with passengers under 4 feet tall,” or straightforward: “You’ll like me even more if you meet my kids. They are amazing people.”

Mistake #2: Getting PG-13… or racier
Everyone knows you’re not looking for a movie buddy. But advertising how “sensual” you are just comes across as creepy. Skip the action lineup, too: “I can’t wait to hold you and give you long kisses.” Even saying you like massages or cuddling in bed is too suggestive. “I don’t write back to men who say they are looking for ‘sexually secure’ women. They are coming on way too strong,” explains Karen, 51, marketing executive in Acton, MA.

Forget those steamy photos, too. You may be proud of your beach pics, but those that advertise your hot bod covered will still get you noticed while avoiding sending the wrong message—or worse, appearing desperate. For men, that includes uploading pics of you washing your boat or car sans shirt. Stephen, 51, a television executive in Santa Monica, CA, says he often comes across photos of older women in bars holding monster margaritas and wearing teeny tops. They may think they’re revealing their fun “party girl” side, he says, “(but) it shows they’re trying too hard to be sexual.”

Mistake #3: Treating the reader like your therapist
You want to be thorough in describing yourself, but remember that a profile is just a peek at your personality. Save the really personal stuff for later dates. Carol, 50, a yoga instructor from New York, says she was taken aback when she read a widower’s profile explaining how much he missed his wife, who had died of cancer. “I’m a totally sensitive person, but it’s too early for that,” she says. “It’s inappropriate to share intimate details of one’s life with strangers.”

Too much 411 can definitely scare people, stresses Beyer: “Not everyone can deal with death or know what to say. All of a sudden there’s a weight that doesn’t need to be there.” Save the stories of personal-growth journeys (“I’ve emerged a new woman from my divorce—stronger, more independent, less judgmental. I finally know what I want in a man.”) for later, too. A better strategy? Skip the back story and get straight to the point. “As long as you mark that you’re divorced in the profile, you just have to say ‘I’m ready to meet someone new and wonderful.’ You don’t have to talk about how you arrived there,” says Beyer.

Mistake #4: Using loaded phrases
A woman may innocently write how much she loves romance. But to a guy, this can read like a duty call, as in “I want you to provide the romance, such as tasting menus, weekend
Don’t get hung up on body-fat percentages.
get-aways and orchids delivered to my office.” So be aware that some words can have loaded meanings. “A lot of guys who read that women like fine dining think she’s high maintenance,” explains Robin Gorman Newman, New York City dating coach and author of How to Marry a Mensch.

Or if a man writes that he wants someone who likes to cook and is family-oriented, a woman could interpret that as an ad for someone to take care of him. Likewise, if he likes the “simpler things in life,” she could read that as he’s cheap, Newman says.

Also, for this initial form of contact, avoid phrases that make you sound like you’ve been burned in the past: “No game-playing” or “Commitment-minded people only” are common gaffes, she says. Even listing requirements like “I want someone who is flexible and easy” suggests relationship baggage. Instead, communicate that you’re positive, open-minded and looking for the goodness in people, and that you’re not evaluating your dates based on your last bad experience. Bottom line: You want to sound like someone who’s desirable to date—not a wounded puppy.

Mistake #5: Spelling out your type
You can ask for exactly what you want in your profile, but a 50-year-old man who writes that he’s seeking a woman 30 to 40 in his search criteria may inadvertently repel the really cool 46-year-old he also contacted. Beyer suggests expanding your age range and mentioning it in the text: “While I often feel very comfortable with younger women, I defy my age and am open to women who defy their age, too,” says Beyer. “He’ll get a lot more women responding to his profile. He’ll also look like a great guy.”

As for looks, describe what you find attractive in a partner, like someone’s warmth and curiosity, instead of his or her height or body-fat percentage. “I can’t stand it when men say they want a woman ‘in great shape’ or ‘drop-dead gorgeous’” says Carol, the yoga instructor. “It’s so superficial.” Athletic types who want sporty sweeties can attract them by stressing how much they love to spend a Sunday afternoon hiking or biking. Asking a cute question like, “Want to race me to the top of a mountain?” does the trick, too.

Mistake #6: Turning back the clock
It’s so tempting to shave a few years off your age. “Don’t lie,” urges Bev Bacon, author of Meet Me… Don’t Delete Me. Otherwise, when you do have to fess up, you’ll appear insecure and untrustworthy. And your date will wonder what else you’re fudging. That also goes for a 62-year-old listing himself as 59 so he’ll show up in an age search of 50-year-olds. That also applies to posting photos so old they’re turning yellow.

“You eventually find out the truth,” cautions Allison, 52, an artist in Woodmere, NY. “One guy said he was 37, but he was actually 52. I feel sorry for those people who haven’t found a level of comfort in their lives that allows them to be who they really are.” So be yourself—it’s the easiest way to meet someone who appreciates the real you!

Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a New York City-based journalist who writes about relationships and trends for magazines, newspapers and online media.
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