Henry08003

283017390

KidTestedGrampsApproved

PhilsFanFromTX

If I gave you these four online dating usernames (all made up, of course), whose profile do you think you'd click on first?  I'd venture to say, solely based on the username, that you'd choose the third or fourth one.  Am I right?  While the username is sometimes an afterthought for online daters, I encourage you to think of it more as an executive summary.  It is one additional chance to share an extra tidbit about yourself in online dating land.  Using a computer-generated number or your name is analogous to wearing a black suit and white shirt amidst a line of others in a black suit and white shirt.  Having a fun, clever username adds some flair, like a pink scarf or a purple tie.

Let's say you walked into a bookstore, and there was a book called, "The Scientific Answer to Your Most Common Questions."  Would you buy it?  Now, what if it was instead "Why Do Men Have Nipples?: Hundreds of Questions You'd Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Martini" that graced the shelf?  Perhaps some of us, solely out of embarrassment, would opt for the first choice, but I'm guessing that more of us would at least be intrigued by the scandalous title of the second choice.  (And for the record, this is a real book.  I own it.  Don't judge.)

Now, back to usernames…

When online dating, one objective is to catch someone's attention quickly.  There are so many options out there that it's important to take every opportunity to differentiate yourself.  As an exercise, think of two or three words that really define you – nouns, verbs, adjectives, anything.  Then, try to string them together into a username.  I'd much rather date a "PhilsFanFromTX" over a "283017390" any day.  If anything, your potential matches know that you put in the extra time and effort to come up with something creative, even if it only took a minute.  Let's also try to avoid anything negative, like "JustGotDumped" or "LonelyManHere."

Before you take the leap and post your username, though, make sure it doesn't have any undesired meanings that you didn't intend.  For example, I'm pretty sure the buyer at Macy's didn't mean "NiceRack" in the way if comes off.  Or how about "Buttongirl," who loves her collection of vintage buttons and brooches?  It's probably best to leave anything that might be misconstrued as a body part out of your name.  And lastly – the pièce de résistance – don't make your username TossedSalad.  Ever.  This may happen to you.

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people navigate the world of online dating. Her services include: writing unique profiles to get you noticed, helping to choose your best profile pictures, writing one-of-a-kind emails to get someone’s attention, and planning dates. A Little Nudge has been featured in The Washington Post, NPR, Talk Philly, Good Day Philadelphia, JMag (JDate's online magazine), and Ask Men. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter for updates and tips.