Writing a Good Bio 101

It?s officially that time of year again: cuffing season.

I know, I hate that term too, but just bare with me here.

During the fall and into the winter, there?s a 15% uptick in online dating activity, resulting from a number of factors, including an increase in testosterone and other horomones that affect sex drive and happiness. Cuffing season isn?t just a thing we say to excuse summer flings, it?s a real phenomenon. So, if you want a relationship, now is the time to either start looking, or step up your existing profile a couple of notches.

We all know what to do in the picture department (most of us, anyway). Don?t use crazy filters, don?t wear sunglasses in every photo, show a few pictures of you doing something you love if you can, show a full body pic so that you don?t get creeps trying to verify that you?re not somehow secretly fat (the horror). There?s lots of good advice on this around the internet. You know what to do.

Most of the ?what to write on your profile? advice that I?ve seen, however, is? dated at best. The first Google results are mostly from sites like Zoosk and Match.com, who seem to think that it?s still 2002 and that people are carefully reading every line of every profile to find their soulmate because online dating is new and scary. Their examples tend to be multi-paragraph, rambling essays that encourage flowery language and talking about how you want someone kind and compassionate as a partner. Clearly, that approach isn?t going to work on Tinder, and, I?m pretty sure it?s not still going to work on Match either.

Here are some tips on how to write a concise bio that will help you attract the kind of partner you want. I?ve also included some writing exercises you can try to get the creative juices flowing, since most of these kinds of guides spend a lot of time telling you what to do without showing you how.

  1. Be as short and sweet as possible. Your potential match probably is going to read dozens of profiles in a day. How short you need to keep it depends on the platform. If it?s Tinder, 1?3 lines is all the space you have. If it?s more Hinge-style where they give you writing prompts, you have a little more wiggle room, but keep it to less than a paragraph overall.
  2. Start with the takeaway. What are the one or two things that you want your partner to know about you? You can?t tell a stranger everything about your personality and life story in such a short space, and you shouldn?t try. What things in your life are most important to you? For me, I love my creative work and think it?s the only thing that makes me even sorta cool, so I want the takeaway to be ?she?s creative and smart?. For you, it might be that you love your dogs and being outdoors with them, and your ideal partner would be 100% on board with long dog walking hikes. It might be that you?re a small business owner and want someone who thinks powerful, ambitious women are sexy. Think about a simple takeaway, and design your profile to deliver that.
  3. Think about storytelling shorthand. This sounds way more complicated than it is. You know how in Gone Girl, Amy casted herself as the abused-but-in-love housewife? We all know who that woman is, and how that story goes, so it makes that character an easy sell. This is a technique you can use for good, instead of evil. If you were going to be the bff in a rom com, what persona would you be? Sexy gamer girl? Boho free spirit? Girl next door who wants to open a cupcake shop someday? You don?t have to literally be that persona (I hope you?re more well-rounded than that), but it can help give you an easier ?brand? for others to identify and respond to.
  4. Don?t try to appeal to everyone. If you?re worried that something in your profile might scare someone away, think of it as a great time-saver. If he thinks your Etsy shop full of taxidermied squirrels is terrifying, then he wasn?t the guy for you anyway.
  5. Be weird. What are things you like/do that not everyone likes/does? It?s much easier to like the person who says ?I?m obsessed with watching Australian cane toad documentaries in bed while eating raw cookie dough out of the package like a chocolate bar?, than the person who says ?I like Netflix, going to the gym, and craft beer.?, even if we relate more to the second option.
  6. Give them an easy conversation starter. This is helpful to include as a last line on a longer profile, or even as your only line on Tinder or Bumble. If you?re having a hard time coming up with a good bio, start a good conversation instead. ?Would you rather?? is a good template, or, ?Bet I could beat you at (Star Trek trivia/Scrabble/Call of Duty/a 5k sprint)? is playfully competitive and provides an easy segue to a date.
  7. Be funny, if at all possible. This is the most challenging part. I?m not very funny in person either (some would argue at all), but if you can get someone to smile, they?ll think you?re cool and it will be more memorable for them. Just don?t steal a line off the internet, that?s cheating. If one liners are challenging you, try telling a funny story in one to two lines ?One time I? (ate a scorpion/got lost in Tibet and met a Yeti/got in a brawl with an alligator)?.
  8. If you?re going to talk about what you want in a partner, be specific. Say, ?I need someone who can kill spiders for me?, not, ?I want someone who is kind and honest?. Even assholes think they?re kind and honest, you won?t scare away the right people that way.

Some Writing Prompts

If you?re having trouble, try one or both of these to see if they can help dredge up anything useful.

  1. Write down all the things that make you a little odd. Odd is good. People like odd, when it?s nonthreatening. Your mother and/or your best friends and/or that coworker who doesn?t like you can all be good resources for this. This is also great to keep as a list on your phone in case you ever get roped into one of those terrible icebreaker roundtables where you have to say something interesting about yourself.
  2. Write Tinder bios for your friends/pets/favourite tv show characters. Sometimes it?s easier to identify the sexiest qualities in someone else first.

What profile did you come up with? Show it off in the comments so other people can get inspired!

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