It doesn’t have to stress you out.
Why is writing an online dating profile so difficult and anxiety inducing?
This necessary first step in the dating dance often feels loaded because you are painting the first impression that any potential love interest will see.
You are essentially saying, “Hey, stranger, please judge me! (And, um, please judge that I’m good for you!)”
And knowing how to overcome anxiety in order to write an effective dating profile for apps like Tinder, Bumble or Hinge is, like it or not, something you need to do if you want to find true love.
If you are one of those people who tries to bypass this dilemma by convincing yourself you’ll meet someone without dating sites or apps, here are some sobering statistics.
According to the Singles in America study conducted by Dr. Helen Fisher for Match.com, 53% of single people in the U.S. have created an online dating profile and 40% have dated someone they met on a dating site or app, while only 25% have dated someone they met through a friend.
This means that if you want to find love, chances are you’ll need to delve into the world of online dating.
We all go through the world with a persona: the person we want to be seen as and therefore show on the surface. It’s generally a combination of personality traits and characteristics we think other people will like approve of and our internal values/sense of who we are.
If the discrepancy between your sense of who you are vs. your sense of what other people want you to be is too big, this causes a split in you — along with an incongruity that spells anxiety of an unnecessary kind.
When you constantly try to present yourself in a way that is different from who you feel you are, you create a false self.
A false self is built as a compromise created in an attempt to hide what you feel is shameful or not good enough about yourself while, at the same time, making a connection with someone else.
The problem is that a false self knows it is brittle and that if you let someone close enough, they will, eventually, discover your true self.
This gives rise to anxiety, because even if you manage to trick someone into getting close to you, you suspect they might leave you when they inevitably discover your true self.
What a bind!
How do you write an online dating profile without encountering this anxiety?
The solution is to present your true self!
When you can divorce yourself from the fantasy of other people’s judgment — and let’s face it, it is a fantasy, because you haven’t even met these people yet! — you allow yourself to represent your true self.
It is still anxiety producing to present your true self for evaluation and judgment. But this anxiety is normal, healthy and manageable, whereas the anxiety of hiding your true self is paralyzing and never changes.
The other, known, truth about dating profiles is that almost everybody lies!
Ugh. It’s true and unfortunate, but most people are anxious that their true self isn’t good enough in some way: not tall enough, not young enough, not accomplished enough, and on and on.
If you feel compelled to lie in your dating profile, this is your clue that you feel you need to create a false self for other people.
Naturally, this increases a level of anxiety that can’t be resolved. Consequently, you’re likely to put off doing anything about it or avoid addressing the issue altogether.
Next thing you know, six months go by, you’re still single, and you feel … more anxious!
Developing a healthy relationship to your true self can be complicated and often takes expert guidance.
I find that the most common misconception that leads to a false self in dating is the idea that your need for connection is abnormal, burdensome and shameful.
In order to heal the divide between your false self and your true self, you must understand that your need for closeness with another person is not only natural, but healthy.
Unhealthy past relationships may have clouded this understanding for you.
I highly recommend that you spend some time integrating your true self such that your persona and your dating profile are congruent, natural extensions of who you actually are.
When you do this, writing a dating profile should feel exciting rather than torturous!
In summary: there are normal anxieties most people experience when writing a dating profile, and their are unhealthy, avoidable anxieties that you can and should avoid!
Normal anxieties are mixed with excitement, anticipation and a healthy dose of the unknown.
It is also normal to register a level of anxiety about revealing your most basic human needs and deepest vulnerabilities to another person — which is what will happen if the dating profile goes well and leads to a relationship.
This normal anxiety guides us to invest wisely rather than open our hearts to just anyone.
Unhealthy anxieties occur when there is a divide between the false self you present and the true self of who you are.
This split weakens your sense of self. The consequence of this are vast, and they sabotage all of the best parts of having a relationship — namely, being fully understood and accepted by your partner.
Give it a go! Dive in and write that dating profile, first knowing that your need for connection is wonderful.
Write from your heart, from your core values and aspirations.
Let that true self shine forth, for this is the part that wants genuine connection, can sustain it, and needs to be accepted by the person who is right for you.
Perrin Elisha is a psychologist, psychoanalyst, author and teacher who helps clients get to the root of and heal their relational difficulties. Download her free eBook “How to Be an Extraordinary Partner” or learn more about her Dating Wisely Course.