1. People & Relationships
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

4 Reasons Why Your Online Dating Profile Isn't Working


Man drinking coffee and using laptop in kitchen
Astronaut Images/Caiaimage/Getty Images

Q: I've been single for a while now, have joined quite a few free dating sites, and I either get matches by people in the US (I live in Ontario, Canada) or from guys that are not in my age range. Or not even anything I would like. Or on the other hand, if I send a message to somebody, they don't reply back. What am I doing wrong?"

A: The most probable reasons why you aren't getting responses to your dating profile (or are getting responses from the "wrong" kinds of people) are:

  • Either you haven't tweaked your wants on your dating profile properly, or the free dating sites you're using aren't serving up their matches properly;
  • There is something off-putting in your dating profile;
  • You are too picky when it comes to responding to potential suitors;
  • You would be better served by a pay-per-use dating site.

Let's explore all four of these possibilities a bit further.

Maybe... You Need To Change How People Find You Via Search

Frequently - but not always - free dating sites have either limited or lacking search options that either need some massaging to work in your favor, or that make it really difficult for you (and thus potential suitors in turn) to find whatever you're looking for. I have to assume you are using either Plenty of Fish or Ok Cupid, both of whom have decent search options. However, you'll need to tweak the standard variables to ensure you only get high-quality matches. At Plenty of Fish, log into your account and click on the "Mail Settings" tab to change who can contact you, and on Ok Cupid, you'll find what you are looking for under My Account --> Edit Settings. Having said that, if you put too many restrictions here, it'll impede some people from being able to contact you or reply to any messages you've sent. Anything you limit here, be 100% sure that it's of absolute necessity to include. 

Maybe... Your Profile Needs Tweaking

In Why You're Not Getting Responses, I've outlined two reasons directly related to your dating profile that may be holding you back: your "tag line", and your profile photo. If you don't have a profile photo posted, this may be the only reason why you aren't getting responses. Several studies - including one with eHarmony - have shown that men look at profile pictures first, and if they don't find the photo they see appealing, they won't bother exerting any effort into getting to know you better. eHarmony found the results of this study so conclusive on this matter that they went from not housing photos on the site at all, to requesting all users post a photo of themselves. It may not be fair or right, but that's the way the dating world works today. You may also have something in your profile that men find a turn-off; what I hear complained about the most is overly negative or condescending information, such as, "Don't contact me unless you have your *** together". Try some of these suggestions if you're in need of help still: How to Write a Dating Profile.

Other profile issues include being negative, overtly sexual, self-deprecating, or too picky - our next potential reason.

Maybe... You're Too Picky?

I find that many women have become a tad too picky when it comes to their relationship expectations. This may or may not be the case with you, but I'm guessing from the way you've worded your question that you've got a few man-meeting criteria points that may stop you from finding love. Try stripping down your list of "needs" and "wants" for a first date to a measly three: within ten years of your own age, without significant red flags that would affect your personal safety, and within a specified geographic area. Many of my friends, clients and readers have told me time and time again that when they lessened their search criteria and opened up their mind to dating people that didn't fall into their set type, they were finally able to meet the person of their dreams.

Maybe... You Need To Try a Different Site

The online dating world has changed dramatically over the past five years. Totally free dating sites may not have had a lot of users, but the early adopters definitely found great use out of the fledgling sites. Today, there are so many users that many get bloated with profiles that are no longer in use, fake, or poorly crafted to really demonstrate what the person in question really, truly wants. 

This recent change in online dating is unfortunate, yet far from unsurmountable. What I suggest is that you sign up for one of the less expensive, yet still popular pay-per-use dating sites. Not only will you get a whole different set of users to draw upon and possibly meet, but you'll know that everyone else who has a profile posted is really serious about meeting someone and not just posting for kicks. They've invested some money into the deal (even just a small amount), and thus will net some higher-quality pickings. I suggest Lavalife (which is a great system in that the first respondent is the one paying for contact), Match.com, or even OkCupid again, where you pay for the added features.

Your other option is trying to meet people through other online means. If money is a serious issue and thus why you are only using free dating sites, then try perusing the forums at Plenty of Fish for Ontario (or whatever area you are looking to meet new people). Not only will you generate new discussion about dating-related topics, but you'll also be privy to a host of singles events posted by other users. Try attending one or two - or even post one of your own. When I lived in Calgary, I found it extremely difficult to meet new people, so I posted an impromptu, "Who'd like to go for coffee?" on the local forums one day. Fifteen people showed up.

Ask Bonny is a dating advice column that focuses on relationship issues. If you have a question that relates to the dating community, please fill out this dating advice submission form.

More Dating Advice
Did I Catch Him Cheating? | How Do I Date While Taking Care of My Mom? | Is He Still Interested? | My Boyfriend Lied. Should I Trust Him? | My Perfect Guy Wants Someone Else | Should I Date When I Don't Have a Job? | When Will He Call For a Second Date? | | Why Am I Not Getting Responses To My Dating Profile? | Why Won't Younger Women Date Me?

  1. About.com
  2. People & Relationships
  3. Dating
  4. Dating Advice
  5. 4 Reasons Why Your Online Dating Profile Isn't Working

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.