Lisa Kogan online dating ad
Illustration: Kagan McLeod
Something has happened to the prune. I don't know why, I don't know how, I only know that I was at the supermarket one fine morning, minding my own business, when suddenly I came face to face with "the sun-dried plum."

I will tell you right now that I'm a fan of the prune—particularly when it's in Danish form—but the prune was clearly not selling. For the prune to turn heads (not to mention meet a nice guy, move to the suburbs, and have a couple of baby prunes) it needed a fresh marketing strategy. Which brings us to today's subject: the online dating profile.

I've got a number of brilliant, beautiful, frank, funny friends, all capable of remarkable things, but writing an enticing online profile does not seem to be one of them. That's where I come in. Some people offer their services in soup kitchens, some volunteer to shampoo crude oil off of sad, gooey pelicans; I rewrite online dating profiles.

It all started when my pal Paula asked me to figure out why she wasn't getting a response to her JDate ad. I didn't have to read beyond her opening sentence—"I like the library!"—to know why. All the exclamation points in the world couldn't save that line. "But I was being honest," Paula groaned. "Why can't I find somebody who gets that?"

What I get is that we all want to be loved for exactly who we are. But surely there's a juicier way to bring up your literary fetish. "Dewey Decimal? You bet we do!"

It wasn't long before news that I'd taken Paula's profile from drab to fab spread far and wide (okay, a couple of people in Brooklyn heard). Soon I was averaging 3.5 profile punch-ups a week. I've seen the dumb, the dull, and the klutzy; the bitter, the brazen, and the too cute by half. I've studied strangers on the Web and friends at my kitchen table, and here's what I've learned:
  • False modesty is, well...false. Still, I urged my friend to follow her goddess-like self-description of "an award-winning microbiologist who is Nigella Lawson in the kitchen and Megan Fox in the bedroom" with "I'm absolutely tone-deaf, and I can't ski, but I'd be open to a lesson or two." Soon she was swooshing down a bunny slope with an ophthalmologist from St. Paul. You see, you're better off copping to a humanizing flaw than coming across as too good to be true. (Mother Teresa was too good to be true, and nobody ever saw her having sushi with James Franco on a Saturday night.)

  • My friend Carol, on the other hand, is not one to blow her own horn. "I'm divorced, with a grouchy teenager and an incontinent beagle," she writes, neglecting to mention that she's also a total babe and one of the top labor lawyers in the country. "I wanted to be funny," she explains. Funny is good, I like funny, and God knows I enjoy a bladder control reference as much as the next guy.... Wait a second, I just remembered something: Guys don't like that. Let's save the fact that little Snoopy is in diapers for the fourth date.

Next: "Lunch meat makes me wheeze uncontrollably and break into hives the size of Ping-Pong balls—but I probably wouldn't lead with this information"


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