Online Dating 101: Creating a Profile That Gets Results

If you’re like a lot of gay guys, you probably have a love/hate relationship with online dating apps and with good reason. On the one hand, you can’t beat the convenient access to hundreds of eligible gay men in search of the same thing you are. On the other, it can sometimes feel difficult to impossible to really stand out in such a huge crowd.

So how can you make sure yours is the profile that stops a serious hottie in his tracks when he’s mindlessly swiping through an endless selection of options? Sure, it helps to be a stone fox that’s photogenic almost to a fault, but there’s definitely hope for the rest of us as well. Keep the following tips in mind as you give your profile a second look and you’ll be attracting more promising prospects in no time.

1. Put some serious thought into your profile pics.

Your choice in profile pics isn’t just important. Your pics are literally the most important part of your profile, so stepping up your “it factor” game should start there. First of all, if you don’t actually have a profile pic yet, get one. No one stops and looks twice at a profile without any pics at all, especially when there are so many other options to choose from. Second, know the difference between a great profile pic and one that’s totally forgettable.

Gay men like to see as much of what they’re getting as possible, so make sure your pic not only clearly shows your face, but also includes at least some of your body. Even if you’re insecure, resist the urge to choose shots that show you wearing hats, sporting sunglasses, or posing from an odd angle that conceals too much of what you look like. Let the best of your unique personality shine through.

2. Choose a headline that gets straight to the point.

Making a lasting impression quickly is the name of the game when it comes to online dating apps, so definitely put some thought into your choice of headlines if your app of choice allows for one. Some guys waste theirs trying too hard to be funny or overly vulgar. However, while that’s definitely one way to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack, you’ll have more luck using yours to be as to-the-point as possible.

Your headline is your chance tell potential dates or hookups exactly what they can expect from you in a nutshell, so be honest and direct. Are you only interested in no-strings-attached sex or simply looking to chat people up at this point? Say so. You’ll avoid wasting anyone’s time, not to mention keep people from wasting yours.

3. Use your about section to build on your headline.

Your pics and your headline are there to make guys sit up, take notice, and get curious about you. Your about section is there to flesh out that first impression and let interested prospects know a little bit more about you. In other words, this is your chance to make it hard to resist taking the next step, messaging you, and initiating some actual interaction.

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What you should put in your about section depends on what interface you’re using and what you’re actually looking for out of the dating experience. If you’re there strictly to enjoy a little naughty fun and are only interested in sex, use your about section to highlight your bedroom preferences and X-rated interests. If you’re at least potentially looking for a lasting relationship, share standard interests and interesting little pieces of information about you instead.

The key to success here is to show people a little bit of your personality and let them know what’s appealing and unique about you. Definitely be thorough, but do your best to be succinct as well, as even interested people have short attention spans online. You can always ask a friend for feedback or suggestions if you’re not sure what would be best to include.

4. Fill out your entire profile.

Nothing’s more frustrating than checking out a promising online dating profile on Grindr or Hornet only to find the person’s left a ton of fields blank. It gives the impression they just don’t care that much about being thorough or about making truly awesome connections via that interface. If your profile is like that, you’re almost definitely missing out on a lot of potential interaction. With so many other guys to choose from, interested prospects will almost always just move on instead of actually asking for more information.

That said, make sure you have every possible section of your profile filled out. This includes but is not limited to age, height, “tribe” within the gay community, HIV status, and preferred role when it comes to sexual activity. Be sure to be thorough with fields that let other guys know what you’re into and open to as well. Again, just be honest, as opposed to saying what you think will get you the most attention. Even though it can sometimes feel like it when you’re putting yourself out there, there aren’t any wrong answers.

5. Don’t be a jerk.

And by that, we mean don’t be “that guy” we all know. You know – the one that thinks he’s being brutally honest and direct, but really is just outing himself as a flaming racist, a size-shamer, or anything else along those lines. No one will see you as edgy, nor will they want to waste their time on you (even if they do happen to fit all your non-negotiable criteria).

They’ll just find you infinitely less attractive pretty much instantly. You’ll also come across as less intelligent and less confident when it comes to your bedroom game. It’s fine to have preferences as far as what types of guys really rev your engines. It’s not OK to slam everyone else for no good reason.

6. Work on your message game.

Everyone likes receiving messages and chat invitations via the online dating apps they use most. No one likes receiving messages that start and stop at “hey”, “hi”, or any other single word greeting. It’s unlikely you’re any exception to the rule, so don’t do it to other guys. At best, you risk your message getting lost in the shuffle. You’ll almost certainly give the impression that you just don’t care enough to come up with a conversation starter that’s actually engaging.

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One of the best ways to open a convo with a guy you find interesting is to refer back to something he included in his profile – an interest he has or possibly something unusual he mentioned that sets him apart. Maybe he touched on a sexual kink that’s totally your cup of tea. Shoot him a message letting him know you think you might be a match. At the very least, extend your greeting to: “Hey, how’s it going?” The idea is to communicate in a way that actually encourages further conversation.

7. Always have a cache of additional photos at the ready.

As touched on above, online dating really is all about the photos, so don’t assume that the photos you upload to your actual profile are going to be all your prospective hookups want to see of you. If you get to chatting with a particular guy and he really seems interested, you should pretty much assume that he’ll ask you for more pics at some point. More pics means being able to grasp a better sense of who you really are.

Make sure you’re prepared by compiling an entire collection of shots that you not only like, but that are 100% ready to send at a moment’s notice. If you’re looking mostly for sex, make sure you have some spicier, racier shots included in the mix as well.

8. Stay active.

Although your exact options depend entirely on which interface you’re using to score your next big date, you’ll want to make sure you’re making the most of as many as possible. Staying active and making it a point to explore all possible features can drastically increase your chances of making awesome matches. It keeps you nice and visible as well.

Does the site you’re using allow users to post updates or other content for other users to take a gander at? Use it to let interested guys know a little bit more about what you’re into and highlight what’s most important to you. (It’s a good idea to interact with other people’s content when and where it makes sense too.) Making sure to log in often, answer or send messages promptly, and keep your profile info or pics up to date helps keep you nice and visible as well.

Ultimately, getting noticed on your favorite online dating apps isn’t as tough as you’d otherwise think. It’s all about knowing how to highlight your attributes and understanding how to retain someone’s interest once you have it. Try it and see!

Rob West

Rob West

I worked with Matt to build several hookup apps for gay men, including Guyhop.

I've been in the scene for several years now. Eternally single until I find "him".

My background is in marketing and psychology, which gives me a unique perspective on the LGBTQ dating and hookup scene.