Welcome to another episode of the exEXPERTS DIVORCE etc… Podcast where we give you all kinds of information and tips on everything divorce. Why? We’ve lived it, so we get it! We’re T.H. & Jessica.
Jessica: We’re really excited in today’s podcast to have back with us Alyssa Dineen of Style My Profile. She’s a stylist and a dating coach and also the author of the book, ‘The Art of Online Dating’. She’s come up with this really clever way to basically style your online dating profile. That’s what we’re going to be talking about today. Thank you so much Alyssa for coming back.
Alyssa: Thanks for having me again.
T.H.: Thanks for coming. Let’s hear about this.
Jessica: Your Mad Libs.
Alyssa: Our Mad Libs style of writing your bio. We came up with this idea to help people write their own bio in a more interesting way than just the usual.
It’s a little bit of a way to stretch yourself a little bit, and you can think of some interesting things about yourself and quirky things about yourself, and write it into this context. Usually, if you’re able to choose the right words, then you can fit it in a Bumble or even maybe The League, definitely Tinder, into those bios, which as you know are pretty short. It’s trying to give a lot of information about yourself in a really small space, as we know. It encourages people to think outside the box and think of something a little more unique than just the usual, ‘I like walks on the beach and red wine’, which we all do, but that’s why you don’t need to write that.
Jessica: You cover old ground that everyone’s technically supposed to cover in their dating profile, but rather than it just being the prompts, to your point, some of what’s written in here can even fit into those prompts.
Alyssa: Yes. Absolutely.
Jessica: [Inaudible] added humor in the way that you’re writing it out.
Alyssa: Yep, exactly. Exactly. Yes, some of these could definitely fit into a Hinge prompt for sure.
T.H.: It’s hard. I went through this and it took me a little bit of time. Even when Jessica and I were writing our bios for exEXPERTS, I could easily write about her, but I couldn’t write about me. She wrote about me, and then I wrote about me. I needed help. Jessica actually helped me with my Hinge profile, which worked because now I’m with the greatest guy ever. It’s hard to think of the right words that are cute and fun and someone’s going to like about yourself.
Alyssa: I know, I know, and what’s going to catch someone’s attention. I know. I mean, that’s why I think the quirkier you get with it, the better it is in a way because you’re narrowing in on somebody who’s really going to get you. You know what I mean?
Jessica: I have a question when you’re laughing from reading someone’s dating profile, you’re way more inclined. I didn’t end up clicking on him because there were other things I think that just weren’t compatible, but there was a prompt, I don’t remember which site it was on, the question was something like, ‘At the bar, you’ll usually find me…’ He was like, ‘At the bar on the far right. Just turn left when you walk in past the waiter. He’s in a green sweater. There I am.’ I was laughing out loud.
Alyssa: Yes, I absolutely ended up going out with a few people based on how funny their profile was for sure. There you have it.
Jessica: T.H. and I printed out the template of your Mad Libs dating profile and we filled it out about ourselves. We’re about to hear what each other wrote and let people hear the kinds of things that we came up with and listen to your constructive criticism. Hopefully, it will help people will have a little fun and be able to loosen up a little bit in their dating profiles.
Alyssa: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.
T.H.: Yours is going to be way funnier than mine.
Jessica: I don’t think–well–
T.H.: You’re definitely going to get the date. That’s what you need to tell us at the end, who’s going to get the date. We won’t be offended.
Jessica: Alyssa, start us off with what the first paragraph says according to your template, so people just get an idea of the straight and narrow.
Alyssa: Do you want me to read it?
Alyssa: How we started it out is, ‘If you are (personality trait you find fun in someone else always and actually find it admirable) and prefer (cultural reference) over (cultural reference).’ For example, like wine over coffee, or coffee over wine, or something that, ‘I’m your (synonym for match). Then also, you could also choose to edit out this other sentence if you want to just keep it short and sweet. That would be enough in my opinion, but then ‘I’m also (activity you enjoy that is off the beaten path) and if I like you, I might let you join (said activity).’ I’ve actually used this on many clients and believe it or not, it sounds more confusing than it is because I think that once you have–
Jessica: Read the example of like–
Alyssa: Yeah, I’ll read the example. Then also I wanted to give you a few–
Jessica: This is what it might sound like.
Alyssa: Yeah, so example, ‘If you are picky about what kind of coffee you drink, put your phone away during dinner and prefer Coen Brothers over Steven Spielberg, I’m your girl. I’m also interning at the local zoo. No, that’s not a euphemism. If I like you, I might let you feed the tigers with me.’ I’ve substituted so many different things–
T.H.: Oh my god, that’s so good. I don’t even want to read mine now.
Alyssa: Well, that’s just sort of a melding of a few people. Obviously, that’s like, you know–
T.H.: That’s a team approach.
Alyssa: Yeah, but I was going to say is usually what clients are doing for me ahead of time is I have them write down a list of seven to 10 adjectives to describe themselves. Then also, how would your friends and family describe you, which is sometimes easier to think about how your mom would describe you or your best friend rather than feeling like you’re bragging about yourself because so many people have a hard time with that. It’s a lot easier to come at it from what would your friends say. You already have this list of–and I also have people write down all their hobbies, projects they’re working on, interests, whatever that is. You already have some things to pull from, so that also helps. I want to hear what you guys wrote.
Jessica: Let’s do it. Okay, I’ll go first. I may as well just get it out there.
T.H.: Yeah. Yours is going to be really good.
Jessica: Some of mine, because I wasn’t sure exactly how we were going to do it, I have a slash in between. I feel like it could go either way. My first paragraph is, ‘If you’re usually up for getting off the couch, always thoughtful/generous and prefer spending time with kids/family over being on your phone 24/7, I’m a great–’ and then there’s supposed to be a word for match. I wasn’t sure what word to use. I really liked, ‘I’m your girl’, but that was part of the example so I don’t want to use that. I have a few different choices: mate, counterpart, sidekick, or cohort.
Alyssa: I love that.
Jessica: ‘I’m also a somewhat decent snowboarder. If I like you, I might even let you pick me up when I fall getting off the lift.’ Then as an alternative for the snowboarding one, I wrote, ‘I’m also launching a new business with my best friend. If I like you, I might let you in on the details.’
Alyssa: Oh, those were great.
T.H.: I’m not reading mine.
Alyssa: Yes you are!
T.H.: Mine is like this is where you’re going to get a list and you’re going to be like, okay, so let’s talk about yourself a little bit more. This is like so vanilla.
Jessica: But hold on, because I feel like mine is vanilla. But here’s part of the thing–
T.H.: It’s not.
Jessica: No, but I love that Alyssa you’re saying when people are starting if you start off with making a list of characteristics of yourself, how other people would describe you, activities you love, things that you’re working on, and then you can fill in the blanks with stuff that you down. T.H. and I were kind of doing it raw, and I’m just racking my brains for stuff off the top of my head. That would make the process a lot easier. And T.H., for both of us, we want Alyssa to give constructive criticism, right, because it’s worth doing it.
Alyssa: Yeah. I think that this is also something you could do with a friend for example. You could absolutely write down what you would do and then hand it to your friends and what would you write for me, and kind of just meld them together.
Jessica: Like how I helped T.H. with hers and made her choose hiking Mount Kilimanjaro?
T.H.: Yeah, that’s why it isn’t going to be good. Okay, I’m going. Ready?
Alyssa: No, no, no, but this is hard because you really were coming at it cold.
T.H.: I appreciate that, but this is probably why Jessica fixed mine anyway. I’m not good at talking about myself, just saying that. If you’re like me, it’s probably going to sound like this and then Alyssa will fix you. ‘If you’re always up to try something new, always hard work, harder play, and prefer family time always over going to temple, I’m your partner in crime. I’m also up for exploring a city without any plan or destination. If I like you, I might let you walk the city with me.’
Alyssa: That’s great! That’s really great.
Jessica: I love the ‘spending time with family over going to temple’.
Alyssa: That’s awesome. I love that.
T.H.: Right. They could both be torturous.
Alyssa: [Laughs]. That’s great. No, you did awesome, seriously.
T.H.: You’re being nice, but thank you.
Alyssa: No, I’m not. I’m not. I’m not. I’m not. That’s a really, really good start for sure.
T.H.: Okay, let’s get on to the next one.
Alyssa: Okay. Obviously, it’ll make more sense once I give the example but, ‘(Mundane activity that you’re really good at) extraordinaire, semi-professional, (another quirky or mundane thing that you’re having fun with), never (dramatic thing you’ve never done). I won’t bore you with stories about (generic topic) or (generic topic).’ I’ll give you the example. ‘Parallel parker extraordinaire, semi-professional bathroom singer, never been in jail except when playing Monopoly. I won’t bore you with stories of about my dog or my children.’ I think it would always be good to add a little call to action at the end like, ‘what about you?’ or something like that.
T.H.: Okay. All right, I’m going to go first. I feel better about this now.
Alyssa: Okay, good.
T.H.: ‘I am a filling-out-the-form extraordinaire’, I do like filling out forms, ‘semi-professional–’ it doesn’t blend right. I just put in the word, so it doesn’t sound right in the sense, but filling out forms was the mundane activity that I think I excel at. My quirky activity that I enjoy is keeping track of my steps. What I will never do is sing solo for anybody without music playing in the background. I won’t bore you with stories about politics or my divorce.
Alyssa: Mmm, that’s a good one. I like that ending.
Jessica: I will bore everyone with stories about my divorce.
T.H.: I so don’t want to talk about it. It’s like you tell me yours, I tell you mine, and now let’s move on.
Alyssa: Right. Just one thing I was going to say, you could word it semi-professional step tracker, or step counter, or something. It’s funny because so many people are into that.
T.H.: I am the person that my family goes to, to fill out the forms. We’re going to Italy on Monday and I have done everybody’s health form, tracker form, and registration form. I’ve got everybody’s details. I’m the form girl.
Alyssa: I hate all that. That’s so funny.
T.H.: I don’t really like it, but it’s pleasurable. I feel like I have instant gratification because I’m productive, even though–
Alyssa: Right, and then once you’re done, yeah, it feels good.
Jessica: For mine, I wrote, ‘Olympic level talker, semi-professional smoothie maker, and never drink coffee.’ Then in parentheses, I wrote, ‘(Trust me, I have enough energy). I won’t bore you with stories about my political views or how much I yell at my kids.’
Alyssa: Awesome. That’s a great one. You guys totally caught on to this. Yeah, you guys did it perfectly.
Jessica: Not drinking coffee is not nearly as dramatic as not singing in front of people.
Alyssa: But that’s sort of the point is that–
Jessica: It’s a surprise when I say I don’t drink coffee?
Alyssa: Yeah, and I think that’s sort of the point. It can be something sort of mundane because if people want to know– you’re saying it in an interesting way that you don’t like coffee, or you don’t drink coffee, so that’s the point. Yeah. Okay, last one. ‘I am a (two adjectives that sum you up) person who likes to (how you relate to others). I (a hobby that I love) because I’m a wannabe (professional version of your activity) who became a (current job title). Also, I love to spend my time off (another thing you love to do). (Aspect of that activity) and (aspect of that activity) are my thing.’ This one was tough unless you see an example. ‘I’m a warm, sensitive person who likes to take care of others but not to the point of being a doormat. I volunteer at the Museum of Modern Art whenever possible because I’m a frustrated artist who became an ophthalmologist. This is actually a real client. ‘I still love to see art and paint with my daughter whenever possible. Also, I love to spend my time off walking through new cities. Street art and checking out hole-in-the-wall coffee shops are my thing.’
Jessica: The examples are really great. Okay, I’ll do this one. I wrote, ‘I’m an eternally optimistic–’, which could be switched out with positive. ‘I’m an eternally optimistic and bubbly person who likes to ask a lot of questions. I read as much as I can because I’m a wannabe author who became a network news TV producer/entrepreneur. Also, I love to spend time off on travel adventures. Exploring new places and people watching are my thing.’ I couldn’t really think of a good thing to put at the end. It’s not that travel is boring, but I’m like everybody writes–
Alyssa: Everybody writes, ‘I love travel’. Yeah.
Jessica: And I really couldn’t come up with something else.
Alyssa: No, but again, that’s a more interesting way of saying, ‘I like people watching, and what was the other thing?
Jessica: I said, ‘exploring new places and people watching are my thing.’
Alyssa: Yeah, well, that’s great. Okay, T.H…
T.H.: Okay. Mine’s not grammatically correct because I don’t think I read through the whole thing. I just looked at–you said two adjectives, and then I just wrote two adjectives. I might fumble a little.
Alyssa: That’s okay.
T.H.: ‘I’m a fun and adventurous person who likes–’ and this was wrong. How I relate to others, I wrote ‘understanding’. That doesn’t make any sense. Who likes to what, be understanding?
Alyssa: Yeah, who likes to listen?
Jessica: Be very understanding?
T.H.: I don’t really like to listen. I would prefer to just understand my [inaudible].
Jessica: Or something like how you’re told you’re understanding, or how people–
Alyssa: Maybe is compassionate? That would be something–
T.H.: Yeah, I’m compassionate and understanding. Listening is not one of my best skills. ‘I like to do anything outside because I’m a wannabe explorer who became an entrepreneur. Also, I love to spend time off hiking. Taking in nature and talking to the trees are my thing.’ I know that sounds so lame, but that’s like my thing. I do everything. I’ll do everything now except climb a rock with Jessica again and skydive. I’m totally up for whatever, but that’s my happy place. I love the trees. They’re my friends.
Alyssa: That’s awesome. You guys did so well with this.
Jessica: I really think that it’s, I don’t want to say easy, because you do have to put some thought and some effort into it, but the idea of like you said, the twist on the words, it’s a more interesting way of saying that you’d like to do something. Saying I won’t bore you with stories about this or that, that’s just a cute fun sentence.
Alyssa: Yeah. It could be my job, it could be my kids, my divorce, and it could be so many things that nobody else wants to hear about.
Jessica: Right. Even at the top, when it’s if you are X, and you’re always Y, it’s like you’re already telling someone what you’re looking for about them. If someone saw mine and I’m saying, ‘If you’re usually up for getting off the couch and always thoughtful and generous’, I don’t know that anyone would say they’re not thoughtful or generous, but if someone’s like I don’t ever want to get up off the couch, I’m not your guy.
T.H.: I love the couch.
Alyssa: Yeah, exactly, that’s what I mean. You’re sort of weeding people out.
T.H.: What are the things that you should be careful of when describing yourself? What are the things you should never say?
Alyssa: Well, first of all, you just reminded me, there are three adjectives that everybody wants to use for themselves, and when I say everybody, I mean everybody, which are loyal, kind, and funny. Those are the three that I always really just cut. It’s so dark outside.
Jessica: Look at the lighting on me–
T.H.: I just put on the light because [inaudible]
Jessica: It’s funny though that those are the three words and everybody likes to use, and yet neither of us used those words.
Alyssa: But I was going to say, yes, loyal, kind, and funny, which is something that everybody uses. I have to really steer people away from those, and it’s hard because really, everybody sees themselves as funny, kind, and loyal, although loyal is maybe the slightly less fun, less frequently used. But anyway, that’s one of the main things. Then the other thing is that so many people tend to go negative on their profile like, ‘I’m not looking for’ or ‘I don’t want’ or ‘no drama’. There are just so many things that people don’t want in a relationship, but that’s not what you put in your profile. Absolutely not. You’d be surprised how many people still do that. I mean, so many men write, ‘No drama. Not looking for anyone with baggage.’ Who the hell doesn’t have any baggage?
T.H.: Yeah, but don’t you think they’re still going to come? They’re going to read it and be like, yeah, I’m not drama. I don’t have baggage.
Alyssa: Yeah, exactly.
T.H.: I’m totally your perfect match.
Alyssa: Right, I’m drama-free.
Jessica: But I think that still sort of weeds people out because I’ve seen a million of those. You’re totally obviously right, you’re the expert in this area, but I feel like when I’m reading a guy’s profile and he’s saying things like that, I’m just turned off.
Alyssa: Yeah. Oh, absolutely.
Jessica: There might be women who are like, yeah, I have no baggage. I have baggage clearly, but I feel like I actually manage my baggage so I’m not projecting it onto anybody else. I think that a lot of people think that I don’t necessarily have a lot of baggage just because I’m able to compartmentalize. If I read that from someone else, I’m like eww!
Alyssa: That’s the thing, no woman will reply to that. There are men that come to me that are like, why am I not–
T.H.: Unless they’re really cute. They might reply if they’re really cute.
Jessica: By the way, anybody that says that has baggage.
Alyssa: Oh, completely. You mean even at a certain age, who doesn’t have any baggage?
T.H.: Right. He can have baggage, but she can’t.
Alyssa: Yeah, exactly.
Jessica: He really has baggage if he has to say that in his dating profile. I saw back in the fall when I was on the dating apps, a lot of ‘don’t even reply if you are of this political bent or you support this candidate’ or they would write a sentence in there that showed clearly who they supported. Because there were people where it’s like, oh, okay, if you’re putting on your profile, then we’re–
T.H.: Politics should stay out of the profiles, right?
Alyssa: Well, this is the thing. I used to say yes up until basically a year and a half ago or so when things became so divisive because now people literally won’t go out with somebody who’s the opposite of who they are. It’s like if they’re a Democrat, they definitely will not go out with a Republican. I mean, it didn’t use to be like that.
T.H.: It’s so unfortunate that you can’t just accept each other’s opinions and still have–
Alyssa: I know. I think that’s really rare. Really rare.
Jessica: We actually have a section, and I know Bumble does, where it’s one of the choices for you to fill out. You don’t have to write anything about politics in your actual profile if you don’t want to, but like one of the things. It says, ‘Are you looking for a relationship? Are you not sure? Are you looking for marriage? Do you do drugs? Do you smoke? Do you drink?’ And then it’s like, ‘Are you a liberal? A moderate? A conservative?’ and you can check it off.
Alyssa: Yeah, so I’d say put it in that section, but not right into your–the bio is so small in most of these other than Match and OkCupid. You don’t want to waste space on that when they can just look into the stats section and see what political view you are.
T.H.: Which apps do you think lend themselves to the highest success? It depends on what you’re looking for and how you define success, but if you want to meet someone great, what are you–?
Alyssa: There’s no concrete answer because it depends on where people are located, how old they are, and it depends on so many different factors. I don’t really have people coming to me trying to improve their profiles just to hook up with people.
T.H.: Wait, no. Right, so–
Alyssa: I don’t really know how those people are finding success or how they’re defining success even. People who are coming to me want to meet somebody and be in a relationship. I can’t really speak to that, but I feel like it really depends where they are.
Jessica: Do you mean geographically?
Alyssa: Yeah, geographically. Yeah.
Jessica: In some areas Hinge is the better app and in some areas Bumble–
Alyssa: Yeah, I would say middle-aged people in the Midwest or Florida or something, I don’t think they’re using Hinge for the most part. They’re using Bumble and Plenty of Fish, Match, and maybe even Tinder depending. I feel like Hinge is really big on the coasts and or in metropolitan areas for the most part. Also, I feel none of my clients that are over 60 uses Hinge. That’s also another thing. I guess if I had to say overall, maybe Match because so many people go to that one when they don’t know what else to go on. They just go to Match.
T.H.: Match worked for me and I thought it was just the easiest to use. But then when you go to other ones, like I would go to JDate, all those people are on Match too. Then I didn’t even bother with that. And Hinge, I don’t even honestly remember who said anything to me about Hinge. I don’t even know how I found it. Bumble, I used to travel for work a lot, and then I would go back onto my account and be like, ‘Oh my god, these guys are so cute.’ But meanwhile, they were in the city that I was in last week. It was annoying to me that location-based thing. If I were there, and I wanted to just hook up, that would be great. But by the time I found all these great guys matching with you, but I’m already back at home. That was a little bit annoying.
Jessica: I want to know what some of the other major glaring mistakes are Alyssa, that people are doing in their dating profiles so that people listening can make sure that they go back in and fix that stuff?
Alyssa: Honestly, I would say the most common thing is just being really bland in your bio. When people are flipping through and swiping through so many people if it’s not catching their attention in some way, it’s really important to again think outside the box and, as I say, get a little weird.
Jessica: What do you say about pictures? Is there a no selfie rule? Is there the whole thing with guys who have a picture of themselves with fish?
Alyssa: Yeah, the car selfie for men strapped into a seatbelt, the fish photo, the bathroom selfie where they’re not even looking at their expression and the lighting is horrible–
T.H.: And they’re not dressed.
Alyssa: Yeah, and they’ve no shirt on usually. Yeah, for sure, those are all big ones. I think that a big mistake for women is that they include a photo of themselves with 10 friends. There are too many of those and we can’t tell the person who they are.
T.H.: That was not what I thought you’re going to say about women, but go on.
Alyssa: Then another one is apparently the yoga photo for women is like the fish photo for us. To men, that’s the fish photo. They get sick of seeing the yoga–I don’t know why. I think that when you want to see the person and what they’re they like to do, but apparently, so many women do that but guys are swiping left on that. What’s the other mistake for women…?
T.H.: I was going to say be sexy, but don’t be–
Alyssa: A lot of women fall into the trap of doing crazy filters and you don’t even look like a real person. Obviously, everybody who’s looking at those knows that you’ve used a filter because they’re so obvious. That’s another big one. People of all ages make that mistake, and definitely young women, but even people my age.
T.H.: But you might need a filter a little bit, but you don’t want it to distort your face.
Alyssa: I mean, people use like the full filter where it’s like you basically have no pores and it’s like completely fuzzy.
T.H.: You’re like a cartoon character.
Alyssa: Yeah, exactly. People want to see that real you. Then the too sexy is a big thing. I mean, really, people want to see you smiling. I think to a lot of men, smiling and being happy is also sexy. You don’t need to be so overt about it. If you are, then definitely keep it to a minimum. Not all your pictures are sexy, have one that’s really sexy. Of course, that’s like a scale of what people think is sexy and not sexy.
Jessica: It’s all relative. I do have one last question, which is–I literally just completely lost my train of thought.
T.H.: Well, I’m just going to ask you, I know we talked about it in the prior podcast that we did, but what about kids? What’s your advice on kids in your profile pictures?
Alyssa: Oh yeah. I think that now it’s becoming a lot more widely used to include your kids in a photo, and it’s more accepted. I think so much of our lives now is on social media, and even on LinkedIn, and on your website people can really find what they want about you if they really want to. I feel like people are less worried about putting pictures of their kids up. I just say don’t include more than one, in my opinion, because depending on how younger kids are, I guess, but you want people to know that you’re available to date. I think if you have pictures of your kids in every shot, it gives the message that you’re always with them.
Jessica: I remembered my question, which is someone had told me to make sure that at least one of the pictures is some kind of a full-length picture. Because if all of your pictures are from that chest up, then someone might be not inclined to click because then they might be questioning what your body type is like.
Alyssa: Yeah, no, that’s huge. You have to include a full-length photo. Many, many people don’t. I think that it depends again on the age group we’re talking about, but definitely people under 60, they don’t do just shoulders up. They want to see everything. Your whole body I mean, not everything.
T.H.: If you’re putting yourself out there, then put yourself out there.
Alyssa: And put yourself out there. Not to mention that you’re wasting your own time really more than anything when you put pictures that don’t look like you, or they’re from seven years ago, or you were a different weight, or whatever. You’re showing up to every date, and no matter what, even if you’re an amazing person, the person already feels duped in a way because you’re not what you look like in your pictures. You’re starting off on a bad foot immediately. It’s very rare that you get asked on a second date, so then what’s the point? I think that people think that they don’t think ahead of themselves where it’s like, okay, great, now I’ve matched with a ton of people, and I’ve got several dates lined up. But then if all these people are expecting this younger person, and I show up, they’re going to be mad and or definitely not ask you out again. It’s really a waste of your own time.
Jessica: That’s actually really good advice. Don’t start off on the wrong foot where you’re misleading people about what–
Alyssa: Yeah, and again, it doesn’t even matter at that point what you look like, or you have an amazing personality, whatever, it doesn’t matter. They’re already let down.
Jessica: Yeah. Well, this was actually really fun. You’ll be able to click through on our site to be able to get over to Alyssa’s to be able to access the template and have fun with it. Obviously, she can give you all of the expertise and all of the tips that you need if you’re having any issues with dating. Thank you so much, Alyssa.
Alyssa: You guys both did amazing with the Mad Libs. I’m really impressed.
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