By Dylan Alexander
When online dating, wouldn’t it be great if people read your entire profile simply out of respect for the effort you put into it?
Yes it would. But, sadly, this is the opposite of reality. The truth is, people rarely read all the way through a profile before deciding to move on. The second they get bored, they close it and skip to the next person... usually before the end of the first paragraph!
So, is not reading the whole profile the fault of the reader for not having a great attention span? No. It is the fault of the writer for not hooking them in the first paragraph!
Most online daters fail to appreciate the importance of the “opening paragraph hook.” This is a critical tool in any writing, but especially in online dating profiles, where you must get your reader, man or woman, to become involved in your profile enough to want to see it all the way through. Your first paragraph is absolutely the most critical in your profile. It sets the tone for your entire piece. It hooks the reader. It gets them curious, and makes them want to read more.
Consider this... when you pick up a magazine or newspaper and start reading an article, if you get bored during the first paragraph, how much more do you usually read? NONE OF IT. And that's exactly what's happening with the people reading your profile, they aren't getting hooked and are wandering off.
Want to know one of the best things you can write to lose their attention immediately?
"I hate writing these. It's so hard to describe everything about yourself in words. Each time I do I feel I never come close enough to who I really am. Oh well, I guess I have to put something, so here it goes."
In this common and pessimistic paragraph, you are telling the reader that you are uncreative, lacking personal insight, and just as average as every other online dater out there who starts their profile the same way. This is a bad way to kick off your profile!
How about this one:
“I’m smart, funny, confident and outgoing. I’m looking for someone who likes to have a good time, laugh, hang out, and travel. Most of the sports I enjoy are outdoors. I like to hike, ski, go camping and rollerblade in the park.”
Why is this bad? Because there are at least 100,000 profiles on every dating site that start almost exactly the same way. They all turn into a blur and vanish from the reader’s memory as soon as they move on. Besides being a list of adjectives and hobbies (which is boring) there is no spark, no connection, no uniqueness to this paragraph at all.
So, what makes a good opening paragraph? Here’s one of my favorites.
"I used to play guitar for KISS"
"Yes, I used to play guitar for KISS... Sure, it was in my parent's back yard, my guitar was a broom and my best friend played some upturned trash cans for a drum set... but man did we rock the neighborhood. I never did make it into KISS or any other band, but I'm still in love with the guitar... and my best friend became a garbage man!
Now a little more about me..."
This WILL get someone to keep reading your profile! It’s unique, funny, filled with images, and is something a lot of people can relate to from their childhood. Unfortunately, you can’t just copy this one, as you have to create something congruent with who you are, in order to portray an accurate version of yourself.
While it is important to open your paragraph with something that is absolutely unique to you but displays strong value to the reader, the real key is to make a CONNECTION. Combine both uniqueness of your topic and a healthy dose of your personality, and make the reader feel like they aren’t just skimming a profile, but having a face-to-face conversation about your life!
Now go look at your online dating profile. Ask yourself... is there anything really exciting and unusual about my opening paragraph? Is this something someone would get really excited about reading? If in doubt, ask some friends of the opposite sex. If the answer isn’t an enthusiastic 100% two thumbs up... it’s time to hit the keyboard for a rewrite.
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