Male Call: Don’t Bury Your ‘Lead’


Click to read more about James Roberts.

 By James Roberts –

Ready to impress? Put your best, hopefully realistic but flattering photo up front in your dating profile. This may sound obvious but there’s a story here.

Let’s backtrack a bit. There’s an old newspaper maxim for journalists: Don’t bury the lead. (OK, OK, it’s really spelled “lede,” but we didn’t want to confuse you with crazy technical jargon.)

What this time-honored advice means is basically this: Get to your big news right off the bat…don’t hide or bury the most important info down in the murky middle paragraphs. Such a strategy can work great for a murder mystery or Marvel movie where you’ve got a captive audience (or did before COVID), but consumers of news can drop out very quickly if you don’t pay off on your headline right away.

Same with dating profiles.

For our purposes here, your lede is your picture and opening line. It’s the part meant to entice the viewer into reading the whole story.

Let’s look at three examples of how a lot of ladies bury their lede:

  1. Grumplestilskin. Much as you hate it when a guy comes up to you and says “Hey, you should smile more!” — this is the one instance where you can’t afford to come off looking grumpy, mean or unhappy. This doesn’t mean you have to go all bare-teeth on us. You can be “mysterious,” or “surprised” or “mystifying”; just don’t lead with your cheesed-off look. (Ironically, guys can sometimes get away with a “serious” look but that’s probably because we never learned to smile without looking like a Goofus.)
  2. Groupies. Never lead with a group shot. It may be perfectly obvious to you which one you are but considering how often women change their hair style and color you’d be surprised how it just leaves us wondering. This includes twofer shots with babies and men. Yeah, we figure it’s your grandniece or brother but why make us guess? (Oh, and you probably never need a groupie at all unless it’s your dog, cat or horse.)
  3. Sideways. Great movie, terrible photo goof. Since even your 7-year-old niece knows how to turn and crop a selfie, there’s no excuse for not making sure your pic is right side up. And while you’re at it, how about cropping out those black borders with all the camera data?
  4. See, you may only get one shot at being swiped right or left so lead off with your best shot — but not necessarily your most glamorous. 

Now, let’s talk about leading lines:

  1. We’ll probably get banned by the ad copywriters’ association for this but don’t worry too much about your headline — frankly, all we guys see is the first pic. But do pay attention to the first line of your profile. It might even be helpful to read it.
  2. Don’t need no negatives — at least at the front. That is, don’t start with things like “No gameplayers” or “No scammers” or things you don’t want. (Tip: the scammers aren’t going to run away just because you shoo them off.)
  3. Write in first person. Some profiles read like your sister or BFF scribed them: “Loves to laugh/cook/travel,” “Appreciates good manners.”
  4. Guys mostly don’t care where you were born and raised. It’s not necessarily bad to mention somewhere that you’re originally from the Midwest or transplanted from Georgia but really, is that the most important thing we need to know? (And, by the way, we have no idea what you mean by “midwestern values.” We know you think it means something, but it’s a bit like “serial dater” — some kind of gal-code.)
  5. You don’t get to call yourself “classy,” especially in your lede.
  6. Don’t lead with your dog-like qualities — friendly, loyal, eager, obedient…well maybe that last one would be OK!
  7. Of course, we know that there’s probably very little actual meeting going on in these COVID days but at least we can get the lead out of our ledes.

Need a guy’s perspective? Jot a note to Male Call at For more words, ideas and whimsy, visit

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Leave a Reply