Before I was married, I met men the old fashioned way: at bars and through friends. When I met my ex, online dating was in its infancy. I dabbled in it a little—after all, there were only so many horribly blind dates I could go on before taking matters into my own hands—but on my first go, I met my ex's roommate, and then my ex, and the rest is history.
After getting separated, I realized the only way I was going to meet a date in a world that seemed filled with married couples having children was to go online. It was brilliant, actually. In the quiet, lonely hours after the kids went to bed, I could message a friendly face or chat with a fellow single parent. I was surprised when friends told me they never had any luck online. After a few conversations, I asked them to email me their profiles and went to work.
In all, I've helped more than a dozen singles re-write their profiles and quite a few of them have had more luck in the dating process. I've narrowed down a few tips to help you if you find yourself mentally composing a profile:
1. Write a hook. The first sentence should be something that not only grabs the reader's attention, but also shows your sense of humor. Whatever you do, don't write, "I always thought online dating was lame, but my friends made me do it." While that may be true, we're all in the same boat and no one wants to think that boat is lame.
2. Think about what makes you unique. A girlfriend once quipped that if all the guys who claim they love long hikes actually hiked, there'd be fewer people at the movies and more people on the hiking trails. Do you know how to make balloon animals? Did you complete your doctorate? Did you recently return from a trip to Madagascar? Have you perfected coq au vin and can't wait to share it?
3. Don't talk about your kids. I may be alone in this one, but besides mentioning you have them, I don't think it's necessary to expand on how important they are, how much you love them, or how they are your world. Although all of those things are likely true, anyone open to dating a single parent will realize that. If you meet the right person, there will be plenty of time to talk about your kids later.
4. Leave your baggage at the door. I once edited a friend's profile where she started off listing qualities she's looking for in a mate. While that's not a bad thing, they were couched in phrases like, "I want someone who knows how to be flexible and doesn't always insist it's his way or the highway." I cringed when I read a line talking about how her ideal mate should be open to change. It read a little like a list of what had been wrong in her previous relationship. Guys are just as bad. "No more drama mamas!" was a recurring theme along with, "I don't want to date a crazy girl." I clicked away as fast as possible. Not because I'm drama or crazy, but if his previous relationships are filled with drama then I'm sure I'll get sucked into it.
5. Keep it light. Unless you're on eHarmony. Honestly, don't put anything in your profile you wouldn't tell someone at a cocktail party. This is your introduction. Keep it under 350 words, keep it light and descriptive, and above all else, remember dating supposed to be fun!