Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I’ve been subscribed to a prominent Jewish dating website for the past two years. I try to be selective about the women I send requests to. But I invariably receive the same reply: "I reviewed your profile and decided that we aren't a match."

I know I must be doing something wrong and need to change my profile. I would like to find a wife! What do you suggest I do to get better results?

Larry

Dear Larry,

There's more to successful online dating than an appealing profile, although that's an important element in the process. We have some pointers on how to write a profile that will get the results you want, and we have other suggestions for how to increase the likelihood that someone you contact will consider you as a potential dating partner.

The image you present to others begins with your display name. This has the power to turn someone on or off. Sometimes, attempts to be witty or funny don't have the desired impact. What imagery do the following display names evoke: "Isweat5," "swinger2011," "GoldenGodess," "want2havefun." Do any of them sound like someone looking for a serious relationship that will lead to marriage?

The first rule is to use something that triggers a neutral or positive image like "Mike2011," "nicestableguy," or "like2smile." If you can’t think of anything creative, it’s better to play it safe with a bland name.

We also suggest staying away from names like, "Singledad4kids" or "BigYankeesFan" – unless you want to attract someone who specifically seeks the quality you're emphasizing.

It's crucial to use a flattering, well-focused photo.

Now for the photo. Many people underestimate the power of their photograph on a dating website. While photos don't convey a person's true essence and can only give the viewer a general idea of someone's appearance, the reality is that they play a huge role in the decision whether to find out more about another person. That's why it's crucial to use a flattering, well-focused photograph, preferably by a professional photographer. Take a series of shots and have a friend help you choose the best one.

For the photo, you should be well-dressed and nicely groomed – for men that means getting a haircut and shaving off stubble, for women a flattering hairstyle and makeup. Look directly into the camera and smile. Keep your dog, your children, or other people out of the picture, and don't use any props. These are all needless distractions.

Before the Boxes

Now for the actual profile. There's an important step prior to filling in the blank boxes: You need to clarify who you are and what you're looking for, and then find a way to express this so that you'll appeal to the kind of person you want to meet. Take some time to write down the qualities that characterize the type of person you are, as well as the values that are important to you, where you are in life and where you see yourself in the next one-to-five years.

Next, specify the qualities you would like in the person you marry. When you're done, edit your list down to no more than five of the most important qualities that define you as a unique and interesting person, and another five that describe the type of person you are looking for.

Express confidence without sounding too full of yourself.

Now, take some time to turn this information into a few flowing, readable paragraphs. Remember that your goal is to get another person interested in learning more about you as a potential date. An overly long description is unnecessary. Your description should focus on qualities that make you sound unique, appealing and marriageable. It's important to express confidence and comfort with who you are, without sounding too full of yourself. Instead of using cliché adjectives like "dependable" or "reliable," give an example of how you display this quality. Mention the elements of your life that you feel a prospective date should know in advance, such as your children or your willingness to relocate (but don't overly focus on these). Check for spelling and grammar, and then show it to someone you trust to give you their honest reaction.

A little bit of humor can make your profile more appealing, but it's important to think about the effect your profile will have on someone who reads it. Self-deprecating or sarcastic comments usually backfire. A potential dating partner doesn't want to read how hard it is to write about yourself, that your friends made you sign up for the website, or that you appreciate their taking the time to read your profile. If you mention money or looks in the profile, you may be viewed as being overly materialistic or superficial.

Don’t make any negative statements about past relationships, or anything you wouldn't feel comfortable revealing to someone on the first couple of dates.

Making the Connection

Once you post your profile, it’s time to review profiles of potential dating partners and decide which ones to contact. Try focusing on finding women who have the personal qualities you're looking for, rather than those who appeal to you simply because they have a nice photo, live in your area, or are in the right age range. You're more likely to get a positive response from someone whose lifestyle and goals are similar to yours, and who is looking for someone with qualities like yours. A woman who's very different than you (in terms of age, religious orientation, looks, education, employment or lifestyle) will probably not feel you're compatible and will turn down your offer (or not answer you altogether).

Your initial email is as important as your profile. It should be in a way that piques her interest. Tell her why you liked her profile – are you both cat lovers? Hockey fans? Hope to move to Israel someday? Did you like how she expressed herself? Remember that if you're too flippant or pepper your letter with innuendo, you won't be taken seriously. Similarly, a letter that is too generic or contains spelling or grammatical mistakes conveys the impression that you don't really care about making a good impression.

If you follow these pointers, you are more likely to get an interested response from one or more women who are in the ballpark for you. You can then exchange emails that tell a little more about yourselves. We suggest using email as a tool to help you decide if you have enough in common to meet – don't get into "dating" over the Internet by exchanging lengthy emails for weeks. If your correspondence flows, and she seems like someone you'd like to meet in person, check out each other's references and then arrange to meet.

We wish you success in navigating the dating maze,

Rosie & Sherry