There’s no shortage of advice on how to write the best dating profile. Lifestyle publications suggest writing funny or thought-provoking lines that stand out, such as “Now taking applications for a boyfriend. Must be certified in cuddling and telling me I’m pretty” (Bustle) or “Trying to find someone who will give me laugh lines instead of frown lines.” (PopSugar).

But it might be better for people to write less about themselves and more about their future partner, research suggests. In a series of seven studies, University of California at Berkeley’s Juliana Schroeder (a graduate of Chicago Booth’s PhD Program) and Booth’s Ayelet Fishbach find that people are more satisfied in relationships, both romantic and platonic, when they feel known.

When it comes to dating profiles, this means expressing that you want to get to know someone rather than that you want them to get to know you. “If you say that you’re interested in growing together and being there for them, this is more appealing than saying ‘I want someone to be there for me,’” Fishbach says. “It’s the basics of marketing ourselves.”

In one test of this phenomenon, the researchers split about 70 participants into three groups, each of which received different instructions for writing dating profiles. Schroeder and Fishbach told one group to “write a profile for your ideal partner to get to know you” and another to “write a profile to get to know your ideal partner.” The last group was simply told to write a profile. They then recruited 250 participants to read three profiles from each group and rate them according to appeal and the likelihood of a potential match.

To know or not to know

The profiles in which writers expressed wanting to get to know their potential partner were consistently more appealing, the researchers find. A similar result came from a follow-up experiment that involved showing participants two nearly identical profiles—except that one included the line “I want someone who will understand me and always stand by my side” while the other had “I want to understand you and always stand by your side.” Again, the one that emphasized wanting to know a partner was significantly more appealing.

Yet few people seem to recognize the importance of making others feel known. Schroeder and Fishbach analyzed the language used in 200 profiles collected from and the dating app Coffee Meets Bagel. Only about 1 percent of the profiles collected included a statement about wanting to get to know a match (five from and one from Coffee Meets Bagel). Instead, daters overwhelmingly expressed a desire for someone to get to know them.

The researchers find similar patterns in other settings that involved relationships with siblings, parents, friends, and acquaintances. In almost every case, feeling known more strongly predicted a fulfilling relationship—only parents were satisfied simply knowing their children and not necessarily having that reciprocated, a difference the researchers attribute to the uniqueness of the parent-child relationship.

For others, especially relationships involving a new match on a dating site or a new friend, it’s important to look at every interaction from the other person’s point of view. Research has established that people are looking for others who can help them achieve their goals, says Fishbach, and relationships are strongest when both people feel known and supported. Yet “people are very centered around themselves,” she says. “It’s easier to focus on yourself. But if you want someone to like you, you need to know them as well.”

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