There’s a bit of scientific data on what you should include and how you should present yourself on online dating profiles if you want to maximize the number of dates you get.
A lot of the data is not that helpful. Like, did you know that people apparently associate letters in the beginning of the alphabet with academia/intelligence? I guess that’s why it took my husband (Sean) and I (Tracy) 30+ years to find each other. We were just too damn buried in the alphabet!
Other data seems somewhat more helpful. For example, studies have found the ideal ratio of talking about yourself versus talking about your potential mate: 70% you and 30% them. They theorize that it’s easier for a person to reach out to you if they not only understand what you’re like but also that you’re looking for someone like them.
Finally, researchers have found that the old “show don’t tell” adage applies to hilarity in dating profiles, too. Don’t tell someone you’re funny — show them. Well that’s super simple.
What I found when digging through the piles of research about this topic is that, in my humble, happily-married opinion, they were all focusing on the wrong thing: getting dates. Yes, of course, if you are on a dating app, you want to get dates. Dates can be great! They can be so great that you might have to pull over the car because you’re laughing too hard to drive safely (as occurred on my first date with my husband).
Then again, sometimes a date can ask you how thick the walls at your house are in a very menacing way (as also occurred on a first date, though not with my husband). This is a less fun date.
And this is why the better goal is quality over quantity. Instead of looking for ways to convert more dates, let’s look for ways to convert more quality dates. In my opinion, that means showing your swipers and your clickers just what makes you a cool person! And if you’re hanging out on Book Riot, this means showing them what kinds of cool books you’re into.
Obviously, I don’t know what kind of cool books you’re into but I do know what categories I have decided you should focus on. So come along with me, to a dream world of magic, in which you perfect the art of showcasing your fun, cool, nerdy, whatever personality to all those daters out there who don’t even know they’re waiting for you yet.
Books That Showcase Your Sense of Humor
Let’s start with the topic our scientific friends suggested we cover: humor. Remember that you’re not trying to impress people. Impressing people might increase the number of people interested in a first date, but our goal is to find you a quality date. So what we’re looking for here are the books that made you laugh in an out loud style.
I read a lot of books about and by comedians, so I can pretty easily find some nonfiction that gives a good indication of what makes me laugh. In fact, I did just that when I wrote about the 15 Comedy Audiobooks to Get Your Funny Bone in Shape.
If you’re not a big standup fan, no worries. Maybe this list of 100 Must Read Hilarious Books will help jog your memory about some fiction you’ve found funny. Perhaps there is a topic you find hilarious, like the fact that Ted Cruz thinks 100 cans of soup is a normal amount of cans of soup to buy? Is there a book on that yet? Or perhaps you could focus on memoirs you’ve loved by people you think are funny. Funny In Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas comes to mind.
The key to successfully adding books that showcase your sense of humor is to focus on what YOU find funny. Do not fall into that trap of second-guessing yourself. You’re not trying to impress anyone, you’re simply trying to show what you like, in order to show what you’re like.
Books That Showcase Your Hobbies
If you’re really into botany, you should certainly talk about that in your dating profile, but you can also use books to show just how interesting your hobby is. Yes, it would be great if you found other botany fanatics to date. But couldn’t it be just as great to find someone who’s like, “Oh, this person is into botany! I didn’t know that was a hobby. Look at these books about botany they’ve listed, those seem interesting. This person seems interesting!”
Might you find a few folks who are going to respond more like, “Botany? Who the fuck is into botany? Wow, and they READ books about botany for FUN?” Yeah, but do you want to go out on a date with a botany-hater? I am indifferent about botany but I do not want to go on a botany-hate date, no thank you!
As thrilled as I would be if I found out that a bunch of botany lovers were reading this, my guess is most readers have hobbies other than botany. If you’re into video games, sure, list some games, but why not also list some of your favorite video game books? Or add a few of your favorite cookbooks to the list if you’re a fan of knives and fire.
Whatever your hobby is, include some books about it. And if you haven’t read any books adjacent to your hobby, might I suggest checking out a few while you wait for your matches to come in?
Books That Showcase Your Political and/or Philosophical Views
If politics and/or philosophy are a big part of your life and worldview, adding books that align with what you believe in can be a more efficient way of connecting than just stating your beliefs.
As a Socialist, yes, I could just say that I’m a Socialist. I could list The Communist Manifesto on my dating profile. But neither of these steps would really showcase what my political and philosophical views are like. To do that, I might list Time for Socialism by Thomas Piketty, because it does a better than average job of connecting the abstract idea of socialism as a philosophy to socialism as a solution to the hellscape we currently live in.
Of course, you are most likely somewhere to the right of me on this topic, but wherever you are, adding a few books that show where you stand can help you find the right people to date.
And please, if you’re a big Ayn Rand fan, make sure you add that to your profile! This is very helpful information for people who would like to avoid you. Pow! Betcha didn’t think there’d be a Rand-Slam in here!
Books That Showcase What’s Most Important to You
I want you to take a moment and forget about dating. Forget about that hot piece of person you’re thinking about smashing lips and/or hot body parts with. Forget about French kissing and dry humping and think about this: what is most important to you? If there’s one thing you would want a potential date to know about you, find some books that showcase that and then showcase them!
When thinking about what books to include in your online dating profile, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to curate a list that makes you look cool in the way you want to look cool. But why not look cool in the way you are actually, currently cool? And I promise — you’re cool! I think you’re great!
Of course, you can always just make a list of your favorite books. You can list the books that have meant so much to you, that have changed your worldview, or that have just made you feel warm and fuzzy. And do it, I dare you!
But also, I double dare you to take some time and think about what the books you’re listing show about you. Think about what you want people to know and how a cleverly selected list of books can show rather than tell them just how much of a coolio you are.