This article originally appeared on Shape and is reprinted here with permission.
Online dating can be difficult. You know you’re a smart, healthy, driven woman, but putting your best self forward to the world is easier said than done. How are you supposed to know what to include, exclude, and how to word it all in order to attract the right guy(s)?
Bravo’s new series Online Dating Rituals of the American Male examines the very people you’re trying to reach: men. The show looks into their views on the cyber-dating world, and to add to the mix, we did our own off-camera research. Here, guys dish on photos, profiles, and all the things you’re doing right and wrong to get their attention. You don’t have to overhaul your strategy based off of these guys’ thoughts, but if you’re in a rut, take some tips right from the stallion’s mouth.
What He Thinks About Your Photos
“If two or more pictures of you are with the same guy, an explanation is required.” –Jeff, 35
“When you have too many pictures with family members, it makes us think you’re going to drag us to family functions early on. Balance the family photos with you doing something fun—like hanging out at a stadium—so I have a better idea of what our time together will be like.” –James, 42
“If the woman’s photos are only with friends, I automatically think she is shy and insecure about her looks. I would like to see a confident picture of her by herself doing something she loves. That gives me something to talk about.” –Javier, 30
“Women that have pictures of themselves doing stupid and dorky things are always a plus to me—it shows a sense of humor and that a girl can poke fun of herself.” –Dan, 32
“I like a more natural photo, just the beautiful girl and her vibrant smile. That tells me she’s not trying too hard and that she knows what’s important in her life.” –Carlo, 37
What He Thinks About Your Profile
“Everyone’s profile says they love travel, animals, trying new foods, and that they are giving online dating a try. If you sound like everyone else, I’m going to think you didn’t put any thought into your profile. The best profiles are short and convey that a girl is open-minded.” –Will, 31
“I would bypass a profile if a woman’s profile said that a guy ‘needs to make me laugh.’ Don’t just tell me what you need a guy to do for you—emphasize the traits you find most attractive. If you say you like ‘a guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously,’ this gives me insight into your personality.” –Dan, 32
“I like when her profile shows a little sarcasm and spunk. Sarcasm can show that the girl doesn’t take herself or life too seriously. One girl’s profile that made me laugh said she was seeking a ‘rock star chef to search the infinite abyss with. And if you can make a red velvet cake, well, that’s pretty sexy, too.’” –Rob, 31
“Most men are basically children. If your profile comes across as too sophisticated, we’re afraid you’re going to make us sell our Xbox One on eBay. Use the old bait and switch! Put fun key words in your profile to get us on the hook, then you can switch the game up once we’re dating and we won’t even notice that we’re apple picking with you on the weekends.” –James, 42
“The different sections of your profile shouldn’t clash. If you say you don’t drink often, don’t put up photos of you drinking.” –Ed, 26
“If a girl is making too many negative judgmental statements, I’m not going to be interested in her, no matter what she looks like, especially if she uses the word ‘hate.’” –Jack 26
“I met a woman who didn’t have a profile photo and neither did I, but she mentioned she loved a city I recently visited and loved too. Once I realized that our interests and travels mimicked each others, I had to immediately message her to find out more.” –John, 30
What He Thinks About You Reaching Out First
“If a girl messages me first, that’s definitely attractive. It shows she knows what she wants, and if that’s me, who am I to complain? I personally don’t like initiating by sending messages.” –Danny, 29
“I like when a girl initiates contact as long as she shows she paid attention to my profile and says more than just ‘Hi’ or ‘You’re cute.’” —Mike, 26