One of the many miracles the Internet was supposed to work was to reduce the number of dating disasters — or at least make perfectly calculated matchups.
Online dating hasn't exactly worked out that way, but millions of people have used the Internet to find love, or something like it.
And there's help for singles who want to create the perfect profile: online profile coaches.
Dozens of consultants have sprung up in recent years to offer coaching services for online daters. And for those who don't want to spring for a coach, even the dating Web sites offer some help.
Straight white female, 41, athletic, with a knockout smile, sits in front of her computer checking out the prospects on JDate, a Jewish dating site. Shula Neuman recently moved to Seattle from St Louis, and when she decided to start ramping up her social life, she, like millions of others, went online.
"Even though it would be, of course, nice to find a date hot and heavy, really I'm just more interested in meeting people at this point," Neuman says.
Neuman has turned up some intriguing possibilities on JDate. She sees one guy looking for a special lady to appreciate him as much as he appreciates himself. The profile says "Mystery Charmer," but he is pictured with a blonde on his arm. Neuman laughs.
Imagine this guy walking into a party — maybe with the blonde in tow — and introducing himself as he does online. His profile reads, "Passion! So important for a fulfilling life!"
Neuman calls that a turnoff.
"I just want somebody who sounds like they're talking," Neuman says. "And at the same time, I don't like it when they're listing off their criteria in their little 'About Me' section: 'Are you someone who likes to do this and skydive and take romantic walks on the beach?' "
If there's hope for people with crappy profiles, it can be found with consultants like Sierra Faith, an online profile coach in the Bay Area who helps people retool their virtual selves. She's noticed most customers want help with their profiles.
"Either they're looking for greater traffic, or they're busy," Faith says. "And a lot of women and men that are very busy tend to present themselves in the romantic arena the same way they present themselves in the business arena. And energetically, it's totally backwards."
Advice: Get 'As Close To The Truth As Possible'
Herb Vest, a former banker from Dallas who now runs the matchmaking site True.com, says to write a profile that reflects who you are.
"You want to get it as close to the truth as possible," Vest says.
Vest says a lot of people are thinking too far ahead when they're writing profiles. Stop looking for Mr. or Ms. Right, he says, and just find that good first date.
"What you're looking for here, like a fisherman, is fish," Vest says. "You want to attract fish. Once they get into the boat, you can throw them back out."
In recent years, his site has started offering help with profiles and pictures. It is even working on a service that identifies customer preferences and changes your profile picture based on who is looking at you.
April Baer reports for Oregon Public Broadcasting.