When it comes to relationship status, it is not uncommon to say we are either “on the market” (single) or off (in a relationship, married, or something altogether different). Our love is a product we want to sell — to the right buyer.
Unlike our parents’ generation (or ours for those of us just getting out of long marriages), today the marketplace is found mostly online, which is great for younger generations who grew up on Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook and know nothing different from putting their best foot or, ahem, duckface, forward. But not so great for divorced middle-agers who never expected to be dating again, let alone doing it in the fast-paced and visual way they must.
Professional stylist Alyssa Dineen couldn’t help but notice the struggle.
At 41, Dineen divorced her husband and found herself back “on the market” for the first time in 20 years, transplanted into a foreign land of dating apps and websites. Swiping left on profile after profile, she was astounded by how poorly men presented themselves, visually and in writing, and more so by the fact that a business did not exist to assist those new to the modern dating scene.
Armed with a stylized profile of her own, Dineen met her current partner of two-and-a-half years on Tinder. As for his profile? According to Dineen, only one out of the five pictures he featured were good, and his bio was “just OK.” Only after going out with him did she realize he was a great guy, making him also a lucky guy.
The pair went on to compare stories of other online dating profiles they had seen. Dineen concluded that “profile after profile needed a lot of help on both ends.” The women’s profiles were as bad as the men’s.
Together, they had an idea.
A better way
Soon after, Dineen founded Style My Profile to create and tweak online dating profiles so that men and women could present the best version of themselves on dating sites. Employing the motto, “New look, same you,” the goal of Style My Profile is not to transform its clients into different people; instead, it is to revamp them.
Upon request, and for an additional fee, Dineen will accompany clients on shopping trips and to the hair salon, as well as hire a professional photographer for a photo shoot.
With flattering pictures in hand, Dineen next offers her clients strategic advice for building a strong profile, which also includes what not to do.
A big mistake people make when creating their online dating profiles, according to Dineen, is to include only one photo.
“A sparse dating profile is often seen as a red flag to veteran online dating users. It may indicate you are not genuinely interested in meeting anyone. Or worse — that you are married.”
Common dating profile mistakes
Dineen reveals that other common mistakes include using blurry or grainy photos which prevent anyone from really seeing your face, group photos that contain more than 15 people making it nearly impossible to identify you, and photos of you only wearing sunglasses.
“One of these photos is OK,” Dineen concedes, “but the rest should feature your face.”
Dineen admits online dating can feel daunting. However, she says having someone to guide you through the process can make it feel less scary, hopefully even enjoyable. Dineen’s advice to those who are trying to create a new online dating profile is to ask for help.
“Even if you cannot afford to hire a professional, your best bet is to ask your friends for advice. They can help you choose a flattering outfit to wear and take fun, relaxing photos of you for your profile.”
With one caveat: It is essential your shots do not look staged.
Dineen also reminds her clients that a stylized profile is only part of the challenge online daters face. A large part is maintaining a positive attitude.
“It is a given that there will be bad dates and bad text exchanges. But do not be dissuaded.”
Dineen likens online dating platforms to going out to bars, where you can have a wide range of experiences.
“There will be nice people, and there will be jerks. That may feel more overwhelming online because people are condensed in one place, but the plus side is you are saving time by meeting and weeding out more people quickly.”
Dineen reminds those she works with that the ups and downs of online dating are universal.
Her top suggestion?
“Focus on what you want to get across.”
Stacey Freeman is a New York City-based writer and lifestyle editor at Worthy.com.