'Date Me Docs' Are Personal Ads for the Modern Era
- Dating apps can be frustrating and, in some cases, lead to increased stress, anxiety and burnout.
- A growing number of people—especially older millennials—are trying an alternative: "date-me docs."
- These docs are akin to a job résumé, but for dating, and prioritize quality over quantity when it comes to potential matches.
"Male, Straight, Monogamous, Wants Kids, SF but Flexible, Born 1992." The title of Chris Olah's "date-me doc" could easily be that of an old-school personal ad in the Sunday paper. Rather than a few quick sentences, however, his document is comprehensive, with four chapters, 15 subcategories and a separate appendix.
Olah, a San Francisco-based neural network engineer, was among the first to try a new approach to finding love: date-me docs. For many folks, these dating curriculum vitae are a welcome alternative to apps and a response to more people believing—at least much of the time—that online dating sucks.
Olah had seen others experiment with this new form of online dating and thought it an interesting alternative that enabled creators to share more in-depth, earnest profiles. That's what he tweeted, along with a link to his document, in August 2022. The tweet received about 500,000 views and 1,630 likes.
Olah is no longer single, according to a blog post that houses his now-defunct doc. It's unclear what part the doc had to play in his relationship success, but myriad singles have since embraced the concept, creating date-me docs of their own.
How do these docs work?
The idea of a date-me doc isn't novel. People have used personal ads, video dating and, in some cultures, biodata for decades. Much like speed dating, date-me docs offer a fresh, 21st-century take on an existing idea and singles can easily create them in Google, Notion, Canva or other platforms.
Not all docs look like Olah's. Their content and designs are as diverse as the people who create them. Typically, users craft and share them in similar ways.
Most post their doc to social media, encouraging potential "applicants" to reply and friends, family and acquaintances to play matchmaker, if they have someone in mind.
Some people don't give up the apps entirely, instead linking their doc in their profile or sharing the link with potential matches via direct message (DM).
"They're akin to a résumé for a job search, but in this case, the person is searching for people to date," said Susan Trotter, Ph.D., a relationship coach in Natick, Massachusetts.
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Why is this fresh dating trend appealing?
Many doc creators say it's more efficient and effective than swiping through countless profiles just to be let down, again and again, by matches that don't click.
The dating process requires time, energy and emotional investment, Trotter said. Dating apps can be particularly taxing, leading to stress, anxiety and burnout.
About 78 percent of United States adults ages 18 to 54 who tried online dating said they'd experienced emotional fatigue or burnout related to it, according to a survey by The Singles Report, an online dating research platform. On average, users are about three times as stressed compared to non-users, according to a 2020 study.
Additionally, about 49 percent of people with preexisting mood disorders said using dating apps exacerbates symptoms. The 2020 study and other research indicate apps can diminish some people's self-esteem and body image.
"Dating apps also tend to have certain built-in biases against certain groups—such as Black women, Asian men, single parents and older divorcees—and don't cater to all daters," said Jasmonae Joyriel, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist in Austin, Texas, and the founder of Ignite Anew.
Moreover, most apps aren't designed with long-term love in mind, making them more frustrating for users seeking lifelong partnerships.
"Part of the challenge with dating apps is that they are structured for people not to share a lot of information about themselves," Trotter said. "Usually, they are limited to just a few lines, a few photos and checked boxes."
Users can learn more about one another through messaging, but many don't understand the importance of this step, Trotter said. As a result, they meet people without fully vetting them, become disappointed and feel negatively about dating or themselves.
"The date-me docs allow creators to share more than a few attractive pictures and witty, attention-grabbing remarks," Joyriel said. "Instead, they can provide a fuller picture of themselves, one that, ideally, highlights their characteristics, establishes expectations and specifies exactly what they are and aren't looking for."
Most users won't get as many matches, but the people they do find will likely be more suitable, making the dating process less tiring and more fruitful, Trotter added.
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What makes a good date-me doc?
The art of creating an eye-catching online profile is a skill many modern singles have in their dating handbook. Part of the beauty of date-me docs is there's no set structure, allowing users to be as creative and thorough as they like. Still, some of the same principles apply.
"The most important guideline is to present yourself authentically and in a way that shows how you're unique and what it might be like to date you," Trotter said. "Don't create a generic doc. You want it to attract people that are potentially a good fit for you, so it needs to reflect who you are and what you're looking for."
Here are three essential tips experts recommend for creating the perfect date-me doc:
1. Choose photos wisely
"Before posting your four most Insta-worthy selfies, take some time to reflect and think about what you want to convey," Joyriel said.
For instance, if you want someone to join you for a hike, ceramics class, vacation abroad or demolition derby, share photos of yourself doing those things. Showing your range is also helpful, she added. If you like to get dressed to the nines and go out sometimes but chill on your couch in no makeup and sweats other times, show both sides.
"Essentially, the photos are meant to enhance your written profile and to show what it might be like to date you," Trotter said.
2. Give details
Instead of making a bulleted list of personality traits, hobbies and interests, expound on each to give the reader more context, Trotter explained.
"For example, instead of saying 'I am adventurous,' you might say 'I recently went skydiving for the first time and I can't wait to do it again,'" she said. "Simply saying you're adventurous can be interpreted differently, depending on the reader. Being more explicit tells the reader what being adventurous means to you, and then they have more info to help them assess if you might be a good fit for them."
3. Be clear about your needs and wants
"Again, reflection and self-awareness are paramount," Joyriel said.
For instance, if you're a serious person who's trying to lighten up more, say that. If you're constantly cracking jokes and realize that's not everybody's jam, say that, too. Outright deceitful dating tactics are obviously a no-go, but being even moderately disingenuous isn't helpful either.
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"Being transparent and honest is much more likely to get you the quality match you want," she said. "Likewise, think carefully about what you want in a partner and specify it."
As a single mother, a main priority for Joyriel was finding someone who would embrace her and her son, but other considerations were also essential. These included personality, common interests, mutual values and shared definitions of fidelity.
"I'll use myself as an example," she said. "I was dating a really wonderful man before my current partner. He did a lot of amazing things, but we didn't really laugh. I realized that while he was this amazing, great boyfriend and partner, I really needed laughter. And so, when I ended that relationship, that was one of the things that I prioritized and emphasized."
Rather than finding someone who looks good on paper, it's essential to find someone you feel you can grow and build a long-term partnership with, she added.
The bottom line
After fielding endless one- or two-word intro messages and enduring a slew of bad dates, it's easy to feel like giving up on dating altogether. Instead, it might be time to stop swiping, take a break and try something new, whether that's date-me docs, speed dating, or working with a dating coach or matchmaker.
"It always starts with radical honesty and self-knowledge and celebrating that," Joyriel said. "While you may not have a lot of matches, you are more likely to find the right matches, which is ultimately the goal for most of us."