(User)name Game:A guide to Crafting Your First online dating Impression

By: Laurie Davis, Founder of eFlirt

When you’re digitally dating, there are two first impressions you make on a match – the impact you have at first click, when someone lands on your profile, and then the presence you exude in person at first blush. While considering your first online impression, in almost every case, the thing they will view before anything else is your username. On most dating sites, your match actually needs to click on your username in order to view your photos and written profile.

When it describes your life in a few characters, it can make someone interested in clicking on your profile, but if your username isn't awesome, matches may NOT click simply because it's a turn off! I've seen both men and women balk at a username and pass someone awesome over. I don’t want that to be you! In this guide, I’m going to teach you the dos, don’ts, and “oh-please-never”s of usernames so your first online impression to matches is always a stellar one.


Keep It Safe

Before we get started, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you want to stay safe online – usernames included. Real names and nicknames should not be used. We don’t want your matches to be able to Google you before you meet in person! Keep both your first and last name out of your username. Yes – both your first and last.

While anyone can cruise your profile, not just anyone is worthy of knowing the name behind the thumbnail. Consider your real name the virtual equivalent of whispering sweet nothings – it’s special and should be reserved for someone you’re crushin’ on. It’s okay to reveal your first name in a message to a match because, if you’re communicating with them, they are worthy of that special moment. It’s also a new opportunity to humanize yourself with a match.

Remember that your first and last name isn’t the only name you’ve had on the Web – everyone also has old personas online.  Your shiny new profile is not the place to reuse your old-school AIM name, GChat ID, Facebook vanity, Twitter handle, Skype username or anything else that has been or is currently affiliated with your digital persona. It may seem natural to recycle an old username, particularly because you’re already familiar and comfortable with it, but it’s important not to take the easy way out. Googling a username will pull up just as many results as a legal name these days.

Now that you understand how to stay in safe territory, let’s put pen to virtual paper and start composing your username!


4 strategies for writing a unique username

The usernames that hit the hearts of my clients when we search through matches are those that reflect someone’s personality or interests. Don’t try to impress based on what you think others want; make sure your username reflects you. Here are some tips to writing a username:

1.      Write your profile first, then your username. Once it’s clear how you’re presenting yourself to new matches and which parts of your life you’re highlighting, it will be easier to define yourself with a username. Start by looking at keywords in your “About Me.” If nothing jumps out at you, consider words that would be variations of a topic. For example, if you mention wine tastings, you could use the words “cork,” “vineyard,” or “stem.”

2.     Try a mash up. Now that you have some keywords to play with, try doing a mash up. Combining hobbies or words on the same topic is an easy way to create a unique username. For example, if you love travel, you might go with something like GlobalTrek or OutdoorVentures.

3. Craft your own word. It’s okay if your username can’t be found in Webster’s. Taking creativity one step further, you can create your own word to represent you, no definition required—for example, Gigglation or Explorcation.

4.     Make it recognizable. Short phrases do really well also. It’s important to stay away from clichés here, like UpForAnything. But things like recognizable song lyrics work well (as long as they aren’t too cheesy). Think Mumford and Sons or Maroon 5, not Celine Dion!


getting technical: what the research says

According to a new online dating study from Queen Mary University of London researchers, playful screennames work best, such as Fun2BWith. Men are most attracted to usernames that focus on physical attributes, so if you can squeeze in words that describe your look, like "blonde," all the better. Women are most attracted to intelligence, so guys, focus on things that show off your cultured side.

Anything that has a negative connotation, like "little," sends the wrong message, the researchers find. Nix them from your username.

And if you want to get really technical, begin your digital personal with the letter A-M. According to the study, success such as socioeconomic status, are often correlated with names that begin earlier in the alphabet.


turn-off trends

There are two consistent trends I see in usernames that are turn offs. Here’s the break down:  

  •  It’s your username, not a numbers game. Your username is not a numerology report, so stay away from numbers. This will allow you to remain unique rather than pointing out that you’re the eighteenth person to choose “citygal.” Revealing personal details through numbers is also a no-no. Your birthday reveals your age in the wrong context, your lucky number will be irrelevant to anyone but you, and the current year will quickly become dated, pointing out just how long you’ve been on the digital scene. Needless to say, none of this adds to the conversation.   If they are meaningful to you, they will be cryptic to others, and if it's auto-generated, you're not showcasing your creativity. 
  • Keep your virtual clothes on. Save the intimate implications for later on; usernames with sexual undertones can send the wrong impression. I know some women who won’t even open emails from guys with inappropriate terms or, ahem, “69.” For women, you may think you’re just adding allure, but sensual terms can sabotage who is attracted to you. It implies you’re looking for a more casual connection, where getting nookie on the first night is acceptable. It’s fine if you are! But if you’re looking for a serious relationship, don’t send mixed signals.

Remember, you're branding your singledom! If it's something you think your ex would have laughed at when you first met (and not in a good way!), keep brainstorming.  Make sure that you test it by saying it out loud – and any mispronunciations of it too. One of my clients ,who is a musician, mashed up “Rose” (her favorite flower) with “Douce” (a music term meaning soft), but it could be viewed by non-musicians as “RoseDouche!” Needless to say, once I told her what it sounded like, she couldn’t log in fast enough to change it!

While this may seem like a lot of work for just one word, I promise it will be worth it so you attract the right matches. And remember that the rest of your profile matters, too -- it's your first impression! In my best-selling book, Love @ First Click: The Ultimate Guide to Online Dating, I reveal all my secrets for writing an authentic and irresistible profile. From what photos to upload, where to start when writing your About Me, and the nuances that matter most like profile length, Love @ First Click reveals the details that has worked best for thousands of our clients. 

Get my help attracting the right one, not just anyone.

Whether it’s your first time looking for love online or you’re just giving it another shot, getting started can be the hardest part. So if you're feeling a little overwhelmed, don't stress! Find a creative space to sit with your laptop, take a deep breath (and maybe pour the perfect glass of wine). Then, keep focused on your flirty future.