In an earlier post I outlined how smart dating is like successful job search.
Step 3 in job search best practices is defining your personal brand. For smart dating, that translates to knowing yourself and defining your dating personal brand.
In practice, this really goes beyond knowing yourself to differentiating yourself from the rest of the dating pool and knowing how to communicate (in writing and verbally) who you are.
The better you know yourself, the better you’ll be at picking the right people to date.
The more specifically you can speak to people about yourself, and write about yourself in your online dating profiles, the more likely you’ll connect with a kindred spirit.
If you’ve been dating online for any amount of time, and reviewed even a few profile summaries or narrative sections, you’ve probably noticed how much the same they sound, for the most part. Very few people differentiate themselves. They load the content with clichés that don’t really provide information about who they are.
Many don’t bother to write much of anything, and the narrative section is where you get the chance to really “sell” yourself.
I believe they don’t understand that a generic summary about them in their profile does little to capture attention and compel the right people to reach out to them.
If your profile is generic and makes you sound pretty much the same as everyone else, you may not get noticed by your ideal partner.
Differentiation, not sameness, will get you noticed.
7 Steps To Know Yourself Better – Define Your Dating Personal Brand
I’ve done this work myself, and I can tell you that it takes some effort. But I’ve found that anyone who takes the time to do it is better prepared to know their ideal partner pretty early in the game, and is better able to weed out people who aren’t right for them.
In a Psychology Today article, Meg Selig outlined the benefits of self-knowledge. Think about how powerful and useful this will be for you, as you’re dating:
Happiness. You will be happier when you can express who you are. Expressing your desires, moreover, will make it more likely that you get what you want.
Less inner conflict. When your outside actions are in accordance with your inside feelings and values, you will experience less inner conflict.
Better decision-making. When you know yourself, you are able to make better choices about everything, from small decisions like which sweater you’ll buy to big decisions like which partner you’ll spend your life with. You’ll have guidelines you can apply to solve life’s varied problems.
Self-control. When you know yourself, you understand what motivates you to resist bad habits and develop good ones. You’ll have the insight to know which values and goals activate your willpower.
Resistance to social pressure. When you are grounded in your values and preferences, you are less likely to say “yes” when you want to say “no.”
Tolerance and understanding of others. Your awareness of your own foibles and struggles can help you empathize with others.
Vitality and pleasure: Being who you truly are helps you feel more alive and makes your experience of life richer, larger, and more exciting.
As you do my self-knowledge exercises below, take the time to dig deep, and be introspective and insightful.
Step 1: Guiding Principles – Understand Your Core Values
Part of the work involved in determining who your ideal partner is includes detailing your core values which, for the most part, your ideal partner should share.
Your values are your guiding principles. By determining your top values, you’ll be better equipped to identify potential partners whose values match yours.
You’ll find a comprehensive list of core values here, but the following gives you an idea of what they are:
Authenticity ~ Adventure ~ Authority ~ Autonomy ~ Balance
Compassion ~ Challenge ~ Citizenship ~ Community ~ Curiosity
Determination ~ Fairness ~ Faith ~ Friendships ~ Fun
Growth ~ Happiness ~ Humor ~ Justice ~ Kindness ~ Learning
Love ~ Loyalty ~ Openness ~ Optimism ~ Peace ~ Pleasure
Popularity ~ Recognition ~ Religion ~ Reputation ~ Respect
Responsibility ~ Security ~ Self-respect ~ Service ~ Spirituality
Stability ~ Success ~ Status ~ Trustworthiness ~ Wealth ~ Wisdom
Step 2: Personal Attributes – The Words That Best Describe the Kind of Person You Are
Think about how people introduce you to others. What words do they use?
Here’s a list of suggestions, but don’t limit yourself to these:
Accessible ~ Active ~ Adaptable ~ Ambitious ~ Assertive ~ Bold ~ Bright
Calm ~ Collaborative ~ Communicative ~ Competitive ~ Confident
Congenial ~ Conservative ~ Cooperative ~ Dependable ~ Devoted
Diplomatic ~ Dramatic ~ Driven ~ Energetic ~ Enterprising ~ Ethical
Extroverted ~ Flexible ~ Genuine ~ Honest ~ Humorous ~ Imaginative
Impatient ~ Introverted ~ Intuitive ~ Liberal ~ Likable ~ Open-minded
Organized ~ Passionate ~ Persuasive ~ Precise ~ Reliable ~ Resourceful
Risk-taking ~ Sensual ~ Silly ~ Sincere ~ Supportive
Step 3: Passions – What Things You Most Enjoy Doing
What interests drive you and get you up in the morning? The activities you can’t wait to do, after you’ve taken care of all your responsibilities. These include the sports you like, your hobbies, favorite pastimes, etc.
Step 4: Lifestyle – How You Like To Live Your Life
You’ll want your partner to share many of your lifestyle choices. For instance, you’ll soon be frustrated being with someone who won’t eat at the kind of restaurants you like because they don’t like that kind of food.
Or, if you’re a non-drinker, you may not be happy being with someone who does drink, even if only socially.
Or, if you’re into big adventure travel, things probably won’t work long term with someone who only likes cruise ship vacations.
Or, if you’re a homebody, think twice about connecting with someone who can’t stand being around the house.
Or, if you’re into healthy cooking and eating, you may have problems with a partner who only eats fast food.
Step 5: Strengths and Weaknesses – The Good and The Bad About You and Relationships
Think about the relationship (romantic and otherwise) and dating strengths that drive you. The things that led to successful experiences with people.
It could be things like being supportive, or being willing to compromise, or being patient always, or being a great listener, or being good at solving personal problems.
Conversely, what things about you have kept you from having successful relationships and dating experiences? What things get you in trouble?
For instance, are you someone who picks partners who need fixing, because you’re a “fixer”?
Or, are you always falling for people who are no good for you?
Or, do you always move relationships along too fast, when your partner needs to move more slowly?
Step 6: Feedback from Others – How People Who Know You Best Describe You
The true measure of your dating personal brand (the authentic you) is how you’re perceived by others.
The feedback you get from those who know you well (family, friends, co-workers, hair stylist, etc.) will help you better understand who you are and how you come across to people you’re dating.
Once you’ve done the work on Steps 1 through 5 above, have them review your answers and give their input. How would they complete these steps with you as the subject?
Step 7: Wrap It All Up Succinctly
Now that you’ve worked on the 6 steps above, you should have a pretty good handle on who you are and what makes you unique.
Bring it all together with this nifty exercise.
Describe yourself in 3 words that explicitly say who you are. And describe why you chose those 3 words.