Why the masterpiece profile you created on Bumble might not be getting read

And what to do about it

Published 8/16/2022 6:00 a.m. EDT

Woman looks out angrily from pile of dating profiles that someone has matched with

For most online daters, deal-breakers are things like whether you smoke or drink, or if you’re looking for something serious or casual.

For one of Nick Frisone’s matches, the breaking point was Phil Collins.

Putting aside the fact that Collins is a genius and this woman is obviously not a match, Frisone thinks his fandom of the “Sussudio” auteur would not have been a surprise to her if she had read his profile.

Which she obviously had not.

“I had Phil listed there, with Beyoncé and some other people,” says Frisone, 33, a lifelong Highlandtown resident, blogger and member of the 46th District Democratic Central Committee. “But we were in contact, and Phil Collins came up, and then she unmatched me!”

Rude. This woman’s questionable taste aside, the bigger issue is that Frisone went out of his way to be honest in his profile about everything, including his musical tastes, but somehow his potential date missed that, perhaps just thinking he was cute and swiping right. It’s nice to be thought cute, but what about all these words?

I take this personally, as a professional writer in my early 50s with little time for foolishness, so I don’t just write my profiles. They are artisanal and handcrafted, with good photos and details about being a single mother and not looking for a hookup. Yet in the last month I have been twice unmatched on an app, once by a guy who asked if I could just come to Washington, D.C., for the weekend “to see where it goes.” Not with my young son at home. I have never heard your voice, sir. You think you’re worth a babysitter?

Then there was a man in his 40s whose profile said he was looking for a partner to have his back but then emailed me that he had never actually been in a serious relationship, didn’t like being told what to do and said he “wants to come and go as I please. Is that something you could work with?”

It is not. Not only did he not read my profile, he appears not to have read his own! What gives?

Baltimore therapist Granville Garnett, who is also a dating coach under the very appropriate pseudonym Nick Love, thinks that the weight daters give a written profile is about what they’re looking for, an investment, both emotionally and financially, he says. Love says that traditional apps such as Match.com, eharmony or OkCupid emphasize the profile more, while the “swipe apps,” such as Tinder and Bumble, focus more on the photos.

“It depends on the site and whether or not the person showing interest is a paid member. If you invest money, sometimes people take it more seriously, versus someone who just swipes past a picture,” he said. On some sites, such as Bumble, where the women have to make the first contact with matches, Love thinks that it might be a numbers game, where the swiper picks as many people as possible to increase their chances of getting a match, and doesn’t bother reading the profiles until they do. If they do.

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As a person who dates men and has experienced these shenanigans, I wondered if the response was gendered, and actually vented on Twitter that men don’t read profiles. And I wasn’t completely off. In 2012, the Seeker website wrote about a study of singles in San Francisco who were fitted with an eye scan, showing that men spent 65% more time looking at dating app photos than women, and women spent 50% more time on the words.

But as Frisone’s Phil Collins fail proves, it’s not just guys doing this. His profiles on different sites give some specific clues. His work in Democrat politics implies, for instance, who might be a good match philosophically, and his position in the dietary department at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center means he’s careful about meeting in person “for other people’s safety, as well as mine.” But at the height of the pandemic, pre-vaccine, people were like “ ‘I want to meet up,’ and I was like ‘I told you I can’t.’ ”

Megan Karanfil, a patient advocate and moderator of some Facebook singles groups who lives near Patterson Park, takes a “very scientific approach” to making sure her profiles are read. “I hide a keyword and I’ll say ‘If you read my profile, in your first message to me, type the word ‘orange’ or whatever so I know you actually read it,’ ” she says. She’ll also “make a challenge in my profile and say ‘You have to say “Challenge accepted or denied,’ ” but sometimes I’ll ask what the challenge is and they won’t know. And I’m like ‘You guys! What did you think the challenge was?’ ”

One they failed, apparently?

Karanfil disagrees with Love that money paid for an app determines seriousness, but agrees that intention is the key — people looking for a relationship spend more time reading. And even if they aren’t reading your profile, it’s important to read theirs. Love says that, for instance, people who “are talking about all of the things they don’t want, rather than what they do want, might be a negative person. And if they lead with ‘I don’t want drama,’ they might be the one bringing the drama.”

Also, a picture can be worth, if not a thousand words, some saved swipes, because they can offer clues about intentions. For instance, Love said, if the guy is shirtless or making sexy duck lips lying in bed, he’s likely looking for sex. And Karanfil adds that men who don’t have a lot of photos might not be invested. “Sometimes they’ll say ‘My pictures are all with my ex’ and I’ll say ‘You have a camera on your phone.’ ”

It’s so frustrating that I actually canceled my memberships on both apps I was on, but while writing this story decided to try again. This time, there just might be a key word.

And I still can’t run off to D.C. this weekend.

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