You didn't choose your birth name. For most of us, that task fell to our parents. When it comes to the world of online dating, however, you do get to choose your username. The clever moniker that resides next to your carefully selected profile picture can help you stand out in a digital sea of singles seeking love, especially if you give it some serious thought.
"A bad user name can completely kill a photo," says Carmelia Ray, an online dating coach and matchmaker with more than 22 years of experience in the dating industry. "Your username is your online brand. Every word counts, and people will judge you on that."
If businesses can spend months and tens of thousands of dollars dreaming up great names for their brands, it makes sense to put some effort into crafting your online dating "brand." After all, your username is a loaded combination of words that could mean landing your future spouse, your next one-night-stand ... or coming up empty.
"I've seen both men and women balk at a username and pass someone awesome over," says Laurie Davis, founder digital dating consultancy eFlirt.
To avoid getting passed over, here some pointers from dating experts.
Know your target audience "The end result is obviously to capture the 'right' person," says Ray. "Just like any advertiser would use a certain set of words, or know who they’re looking to impact, the username should be catered to draw in the interest of the intended target." Think about who you hope to hook. Which words would capture his or her attention amidst thousands of online profiles?
Meantime, know thyself and get creative Break out the thesaurus. Jot down adjectives that describe you in a positive and truthful way, while keeping your target audience in mind. Ray recommends combining your favorite adjectives with a hobby or favorite activity, then determining which combinations stand out and are available for use. For example, usernames such as FlirtatiousFoodie, JoyfulMusician and RebelliousBiker reveal a personality trait and a life passion. "You're creating a pun or an interesting pairing of words to make the name much more fun," Ray says. "There are so many word combination that you can play with, and it's worth taking time to experiment." Short phrases that speak to your personality also make memorable usernames. "One of my client's usernames is a recognizable song lyric she loves, and it relates to dating, too," says Davis. "So it says something about her personality and what she wants, even though it's someone else's words."
Avoid using numbers Scott145869 and Sally1999. Does these mean anything to you? Many add default numbers onto their username or settle for a hodgepodge of numbers and letters because their first choice is taken. Davis says this doesn't showcase creativity. As a general rule of thumb, she recommends steering clear of numbers altogether: "If it's the year, you could date yourself on a site. If it's your birthday, you're giving too much personal information. If the numbers are meaningful to you, they will be cryptic to others."
Beware of 'sexy' words Thinking about going out as ItalianStallion69 or SexxxyGrrrl? Consider the audience that you're likely to attract. "Unless you're looking for a hookup, stay away from sexual words," advises Davis. "A lot of my female clients think words like 'sexy' or 'sensual' are what a guy wants to hear, but instead, it gives the wrong impression when they are actually looking for a long-term relationship." On the flip side, if your primary objective is to score, and you want to make that loud and clear, then sexually provocative words are the way to go.
Use the name as a filter While your username is meant to attract people, it can also serve as a filter. By putting a critical piece of information about yourself front and center within your username -- something that may raise an eyebrow with some singles -- you're narrowing the field of those who may contact you. This may sound like a bad thing, but it's actually positive because you're eliminating those who aren't an ideal match in the first place. Are you a mom of four who only wants messages from singles who are pro-kids? Consider a username such as LaughingMomof4. Are you a guy who wants to be upfront about his height? Consider a name like 7FtTallGentleman or ShortButWorthIt.
Be honest A big online dating fail: a username that pretends to be something that you're not. In the end, it will attract the wrong people. "For example, don't use the name OutgoingAndFun, but really you're an introvert," says Ray.
Get a second opinion Overwhelmed? Know that you needn't craft the name alone. Get a second opinion from an honest friend or hire a dating coach. Or call your mom.