Online Dating Basics: What’s in a (screen) name?

It’s the first thing a potential partner sees, before they’ve even clicked on your profile. It’s got to be good. So why are so many of them so bad?

No one old enough to remember The Sopranos (never mind The Godfather) wants to read that MobBoss4Ever is interested in taking them on a date. What if they give you a kiss at the end of the night?

RUthe14me007 has either feebly conceded that that six other people on the same dating site have already posed this hopeful question and doesn’t care – or decided to toss in a common Ian Fleming reference as an afterthought. (Possibly at the risk of alienating those who don’t care about the difference between shaken and stirred, or know a lazy allusion when they see one.)


We’re all capable of recognizing bad screen names. How do you make sure yours isn’t one of them? What does it take to create a good one?

1. Be witty. If comedy is part of your charm arsenal – and wordplay in particular – then by all means, come up with a clever name. Lines from films/tv, works of literature, songs or other pop culture references are acceptable – but try not to date yourself, or choose something indelibly associated with a cheesy character. No one wants to meet therealRonBurgundy, really.
Really. They don’t.

2. Be memorable. Long strings of digits or acronyms stress people out. You don’t want someone struggling to remember your profile. It’s hard enough keeping the passwords straight for three different social networks and two online dating sites. Why confuse people who may be too busy to commit complicated equations to memory? Type in your desired screen name. If every reasonable variation on it is taken, and you’re looking at adding numbers or letters, you may want to let it go – for it was never really yours, was it?

Oh look, REDNECKRAMPAGE69 wants to meet me! How enticing!

3. Be appealing. It’s tempting to resort to self-deprecation when putting yourself out there. While LoserInLove might be a name to which everyone else can relate, why make that negative association with your profile? If it’s the dark, rueful laughter of self-recognition you’re after, why not call yourself I’llDieAlone?

4. Be accurate. Don’t reveal your real name – certainly not your surname – but try to pick a persona that relates in some way to the content of your profile. Incorporate your interests or ideals, or a favourite activity. Don’t make it too broad – there are enough SportsGuys out there already. Choose something that resonates with you, or is likely to pique the curiosity of others. Refer to your passion or your job rather than your hair colour or your pet. A nuclear physicist will attract more appropriate partners with a screen name like AtomSmasher than they would with KittyLover.

5. Be smart. Or at least, look smart. Make sure everything’s spelled correctly. If Nietzchefan is already taken, don’t choose Neitzchefan instead. Avoid cutesy spellings. No adult looking for the real thing spells love l-u-v. Cut that out immediately.

Give your online persona a name that embodies at least two of these five characteristics, and any contacts you make will be much more likely to result in actual profile views. If you’re still confused, I’m offering a special summer screen name consultation – I’ll take a peek at your profile and produce 5 available names for $25. I’d be happy to help the first ten people who contact me. Don’t let your hastily-concocted combo of letters and numbers, cringe-inducing joke, or unintentionally suggestive first name – yes, I’m talking to you randy1974 – compel someone to delete your message before they’ve even seen your picture.



One Thought on “Online Dating Basics: What’s in a (screen) name?

  1. Good article. It made me laugh out loud a couple of times.

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