What Not To Say in Your Dating Profile

An intellectual’s profile picture.

I’ve always been reluctant to advise people on how to construct their dating profile, because there’s really only rule: be yourself. If you’re funny, lean on humor. If you’re an intellectual, don’t be afraid to talk about books, or politics, or…pipe smoking. Whatever it is intellectuals talk about. And if you’re looking for something real and substantial, a genuine connection with someone you could be with for a long time – say that too. There’s no point in beating around the bush or soft-selling your wants from the dating world. If you were putting up an ad looking to buy a piano, you’d say exactly what kind of piano you want and what you were planning to do with it, right? Well why do anything different if your ad is looking for a mate? Or, you know, a mate who happens to be a piano. Just make sure your profile sounds like you, gives the reader a good idea of who you are and what you’re looking for, and you’ll be fine. The only thing you can do wrong is, well, everything else.

There are two mistakes bad profiles make:

1) Saying the same bullshit everyone else says.

2) Saying new bullshit that no one else is crazy enough to say.

The first one is more common, but the second one is so much more fun. I will try to catalogue some examples I’ve encountered of each, to serve as a handy example of what not to do in your profile. As I only look at female profiles a lot of these will be lady-centric, but I’m sure men are just as unoriginal/insane – so women, please feel free to post your least-favorite profile moves in the comments below.

So, here we go. Under no circumstances should any of the following appear in your profile…

1) “Looking for a partner in crime.” The only crime we’re going to be partners in is your eventual murder if I have to read this on Match one more time. I know you’re trying to be cute and spunky, but it’s reading more “kooky aunt who never updates her material” than “flirty soulmate.”

This is what you are missing without TV!

2) “I don’t own a TV.” You might as well say, “I send bombs through the mail.” Look, it’s totally fine not to be into TV. You wouldn’t be a good match for me, but hey, thank your lucky stars on that one. Why you don’t own a TV is beyond me, I mean, don’t you want to watch the news? Like if something breaking or major happens. Or what about “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo?” Don’t you want to watch “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo?” But saying in your dating profile that you refuse the presence of a TV makes it sound like you’re trying to make a point out of it, and, well, that’s a really annoying point. And a little creepy. Unless you’re specifically eager to eschew the attention of modern media fans, just leave this one out.

3) “I probably shouldn’t say this, but…” Nope. No matter what follows the beginning of this sentence, it isn’t a good idea. You know why you think you probably shouldn’t say it? Because you probably shouldn’t say it. The pages of Match.com are not the place for frank personal confessions — save it for the third date. I know I encouraged you to be honest earlier, but if you overshare in your profile, the reader is only gonna think, “And this is what she’s admitting to online. Imagine how much worse it is in reality!” The other day I read a profile that said “I probably shouldn’t say this, but I have a little problem with shopping. Nothing too serious, though!!!!” And even with the four exclamation points, I wasn’t convinced.

4) “I love to laugh.” Everyone loves to laugh, that’s why it’s laughter.

5) “I love listening to music.” Oh, well then do we having something in common!

6) “My friend is filling this out for me.” Have you ever gotten one of these? Where the girl is unsure about Internet dating so her friend filled out her profile and will screen all the message before passing the best ones on to her? Yeah, that sounds like something I want to get involved in, an Internet dating version of telephone. And let me ask you this, if she’s uncomfortable filling out a profile, how is it gonna go when we have to actually go on a date? I have two guesses: bad and also bad.

“Hey baby, you feelin’ generous tonight?”

7) “Looking for a generous man.” I know that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a hooker, but it kinda makes it sound like you’re a hooker.

8) “I need a guy who’s cool with my birds.” He doesn’t exist. Might as well take down the profile, because nobody – guy or girl – is gonna be cool with your birds.

9) “Know the difference between you’re/your and they’re/their/there.” I get it, grammatical error are annoying, but what does this line accomplish? Is anyone reading your profile, saying to themselves, “Well, I really don’t know the difference between you’re and your,” and deciding not to write? No. So say this instead: “I find intelligence in a man to be really sexy.” Some message, better delivery, and hey, I’d totally respond to that. So, you know, you’ve been warned.

10) “I’m a total (insert sign of the Zodiac).”  It’s probably not fair, but in my book, Astrology = Crackpot. Anytime a girl gets into the whole “I’m, like totally an Aries, and I’ve found I get along great with Capricorns!” business, my eyes just start to glaze over. If you really, truly, deeply need a guy to be a specific sign, find a subtle way to ask when his birthday is via email. Then…get your head examined.

I could go on and on, but then I’d be guilty of the deadliest profile sin – boring the crap out of my reader. So please, if any of these adorn your page, scrub asap. And if there’s any I’ve forgotten, post them below.

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37 Responses to What Not To Say in Your Dating Profile

  1. Mare says:

    Somebody needed to say this stuff, so THANK YOU. And you succeeded again in creating some therapeutic crackups!!! (My only “meh” response is about the TV-free thing – as it can be a cultural creative code phrase of sorts in contrast to the redneckian TV addict thing, sometimes…)

    Here are some more annoyingly repeated phrases I’m fed up with, as your blog so graciously allows us to vent with commentary:

    “I’m a laid-back/easygoing guy who enjoys all that life has to offer.” – why don’t you just say that you live in Vagueness City? Blah. Yawn.

    “I enjoy the finer things of life.” What a lazy-ass way to describe one’s self. Plus, people have many varying definitions of what those finer things are, such as clean laundry, etc. You sound like a person who cannot articulate themselves.

    And last but not least, people who describe behaviors they’re NOT looking for, which creates a heckuva downer experience as obviously these people are kinda obviously have excess baggage that keeps repeating negative scenarios… Such as “No liars, schemers, cheaters, superficial types.” Well, since you mention it in the precious little space of your profile, you’re all about perpetuating your angst, actually….

    Ah, it’s so nice to have this analysis out there in the ethers along with all the unsuitable profiles…

    • Mare says:

      Yes, there’s typos in what I just wrote, sorry. But it’s kinda nice to allow one’s self some typos in the online world apart from The Profile.

  2. Michelle says:

    Three additional favourites for me…
    1-‘I’m very laid back and am not looking for drama.’
    I get that this means you don’t want to deal with some chick’s crazy ex showing up at your second date with a machete, or some sociopath stealing your identity, but does that really need to be said? Maybe I should put “not looking for serial killers” on my own profile…you know…just in case.

    2-Varies between ‘looking for a girl that looks as good in a baseball cap and jeans as in a little black dress’ or ‘I’m as comfortable in jeans as I am a tux’
    No one does…and no, you’re not.

    3-total extent of profile is…”I hate talking about myself, so if you want to know anything, just ask.”
    Well…so far, I’m guessing…lazy, unmotivated, and unable to initiate a simple conversation, so…nope…I’m good.

    • APB says:

      I also like when people put in their profiles under Profession “yes”, “got one”, or “ask”…

      I get it. I’m looking at a min wage burger flipper. Be proud of it, we’ve all been there. I think.

      If I’m going car shopping and a sale person seems less than interested in selling me a car, I’m bolting. A gal isn’t motivated enough to sell me on why she’s worth my time, well, tough shiite.

  3. BrandonB says:

    You have one buried in #3: Never say anything resembling “I love to shop!” I guess if she does indeed love to shop then she should be honest about it, but all I hear when I read that is “I enjoy spending money as an end unto itself, so get ready for a high maintenance thrill ride if you plan on dating me”.

    Yeah, I’m not going for that, and I doubt many guys looking for anything serious would. It would be like me putting “I love sex!”. I mean, I do, but why would I put that in my profile and what woman looking for something serious wouldn’t delete an email from me if I did?

  4. Tera says:

    The one that always annoyed me the most was “If there’s anything you want to know, just ask!” Which translates to: “I’m too lazy to actually describe myself, so I’m going to make you do the work and put all the attention on me, while trying to come off as easy going and open!” LAME. >_<

  5. A says:

    I haven’t had cable in over 10 years, but I still agree with #2 if you’re living anywhere near a major city. The issue of whether or not you own a tv lost most of its relevancy years ago when technology surpassed the need. All you’re really saying at this point is that you’re a hipster with something to prove. There are plenty of other ways you can communicate your lifestyle choices… and watch Honey Boo Boo.

    For all the OKC users out there: If you can’t come up with more than: friends, family, phone, computer, car, internet, etc. for the six things you can’t live without, leave it blank. All you’re telling me with that list is that you lack creativity and if we were ever stranded on a deserted island (or the grid went down), you’d be sure to die shortly after.

    Same thing goes with listing eyes and smile as the first things people notice about you, or spending your Friday nights out with friends. If you’re unsure of how to respond, don’t like the question, or don’t feel like your answer sheds any light on who you are as an individual, LEAVE IT BLANK and come back to it later if you want. No answer is better than a lame one.

    That said, I second Michelle’s #3, and add to that to avoid excessive repetition. So, you have a child, or a dog, or you are working on your doctorate in pharmacology. Great, put it out there! But don’t make it the topic of all your essays, photos, etc. Just because we’re utilizing the interwebs to date does not mean we’re looking for a one-dimensional character.

    • bruce says:

      …don’t use ‘interwebs’ its hipster…unless of course, that’s the vibe (<– gen x'er) you are going for ..

  6. BJE says:

    I’ve been saying this forever, but let\’s see, you left out a few more like:

    1) The female version of the ”jeans or tux” line is the ”I’m just as comfortable in heels and a dress as I am in jeans and a sweatshirt” – no, you\’re really not. No one is.

    2) ”I love my family and friends” or ”family is super important” or ”family-first” — I’d think if any of these things weren’t true, you’d have way more serious problems in your life than lack of dating prospects

    3) ”Must love dogs/cats/iguanas/ferrets” — You can say you\’re an animal lover in a way less passive-aggressive manner. Plus it sounds like you might be a cat/dog/gerbil-lady…

    And last, but certainly not least:

    4) ”I can’t believe I’m on here…” — Really? It’s 2012. Online dating is not the back-room taboo it might once have been. You’re here — might as well enjoy it and not be ashamed of it!

  7. DH says:

    Almost every single profile I have seen on Match has the following:
    “I love to travel” or “traveling is my passion”, followed by a list of the myriad countries to which the person has traveled. I’m sure everyone loves to travel, but how can it be such a significant component of your identity that you must highlight it in your profile?! Boo, I say!

  8. Russ says:

    I had to write. I’ve had this same theme running through my head lately.

    Others already beat me to the infamous “I’m just as comfortable in a little black dress and heels as a sweatshirt and jeans” line. Any woman without a version of this gets 25 bonus points.

    Some additional ones on my list:

    1. “Last Read: Fifty Shades of Grey.” I don’t know what happened but almost overnight, every profile added this. Do women think this makes them seem edgy? I admit, it’s better that “I don’t really read.”

    2. “I’m really sarcastic.” No, you’re not. Sarcastic people never write this. It just makes you look unimaginative.

    3. “I’m pretty/attractive/hot.” Sadly, you don’t get to decide. Plus, it reads “high maintenance” to guys.

    4. “If you can make me laugh that is a huge bonus!” Really?

    5. “You Only Live Once/YOLO.” Gag.

    6. “Don’t write me if you’re just looking for a hookup.” Unless you’re on a site for that sort of thing, this just comes across creepy. Besides, one guy told me that women who write this are easier targets. He knows they’re thinking about sex.

    7. “Don’t write me if you’re short, fat, bald, broke, etc., etc.” Reads high maintenance/ego-centrical.

    8. “Physical chemistry is a must.” Ummmm…OK. How does that help?

    Bonus Tip: Never, ever post a picture of yourself with you and your hotter friend (or daughter).

    • benehrenreich says:

      “Bonus Tip: Never, ever post a picture of yourself with you and your hotter friend (or daughter).”

      Yes! Why oh why do people do this? Do you not know that your friend is hotter than you? I don’t care how non-appearance oriented a guy might be, serving up a comparison like that is silly!

      Also, can there be an online article that people must read before posting pictures that teaches them what a good photo of themselves looks like? And please no cellphone+mirror shots!

      • APB says:

        I see profiles with hotter friends quite a bit. Bonus points when the hot friend is on the site as well! Negs when both chicks are fat…

  9. Amused says:

    B, I can’t believe you didn’t mention the stale “Live, Love, Laugh” headline…

    But yeah, profiles that have “I’m an open book, if there’s anything you want to know, just ask!” annoy me to no end, because they really mean “I’m too lazy to write anything, so I expect you to read my mind.”

  10. Worse than the music comment is the dreaded “I listen to all kinds of music”. Nothing says “I own 7 CD’s and only listen to Top 40 radio” more than that statement. Nobody likes everything – if your tastes are bland, own up to it and a guy with an extra Nickelback ticket will reach out. If your tastes are eclectic in any way, you’ll score major bonus points among music nuts and casual fans alike. You don’t have to be a music nut to know that karaoke nights, dance clubs, weddings…even dinner parties… are no fun with someone who has awful taste (or no tastes at all) in music.

    A close runner up to the “all kinds” comment is the “I like all music except [country, metal, classical, rap, etc]”.

    Nice touch on the birds. If there’s one inalienable rule of dating, it’s that ALL women (not 99.9%, this one’s an even hundred) who own pet birds are crazy. Single and over 30 with birds? Run. Fast.

  11. D. says:

    A few you left out:

    1. “Must love dogs” or some variant thereof as a profile name. The only people who don’t love dogs are: (A) those insanely allergic to them, (B) people who have been attacked by and therefore traumatized by dogs, and (C) serial killers.

    2. In the list of things they’re reading or have read, all you see are whatever schlock Oprah is shilling for, or is currently on the NYT Bestseller list. This, by the way, also works to help date a person’s profile. Do they mention loving the Da Vinci Code? They probably haven’t updated that part since about, oh, 2004. Eat Pray Love? Probably since about ’07 or so. Are they talking about how they loved the Twilight books? Probably haven’t touched it since 2009. 50 Shades of Bullshit? That’s a recent one. And so on. All I see, though, when I see someone who lists only these kinds of books is “Hi! I’m boring and generic!”

    3. My absolute least favorite profile cliche: “I work hard and play hard.” I see that and read “I kill myself at the office, and then either go run a marathon or get completely shitfaced, depending on how I feel that weekend.” Outside of that, I have no idea what it means to “play hard.”

    • J. says:

      Yes! The male book cliche is, by far, Shantaram.

      Worse thing to me a male profile can include is “looking for someone who takes care of herself” or similar.

      • D. says:

        I’ve never even heard of Shantaram until today. Maybe it’s a regional thing? I dunno. As a guy, though, I don’t find myself perusing male profiles, so I don’t know what to expect there.

      • melzie86 says:

        Ugh! I agree 100% every single profile I read from guys these days is “looking for someone who takes care of themselves”. It insinuates that they anyone outside of their bonylicious criteria is a complete slob with cheese-wiz in their hair. Let’s not beat around the bush here, just put what you’re really looking for, which is thin. Or if you have a thousand pounds of gel in your hair and a blowout, put “looking for someone who shares a love of hair products like myself”.

  12. Anna Harte says:

    Hmmm… maybe you should be grateful that the zodiac followers and bird aficionados are weeding themselves out for you, right “there” in “their” profiles :). What’s the alternative? Hearing about it on a first date? Given that you’re probably being facetious here, I’ve never understood these sweeping ‘what never to say’ diatribes. It seems self-defeating to recommend people edit themselves on exactly what you’d want to know to avoid them. Either way everyone’s list of “do’s and don’ts” is different… and that’s kind of the whole point. Bird lady probably isn’t the gal for you. But maybe, despite all odds, by being honest she’ll find an ornithology soul mate after all…

  13. Peter F. says:

    A few more:

    1. No players, cheaters, liars..etc. I mean, is that meant to be E-Garlic or profile Holy Water to keep the “evil” away?
    2. “I live life to the fullest”. Great. Super…so does that imply I live life to the half full mark?
    3. “My friend’s would describe me as….”Notice egocentric uber-bitch, etc. nor any bad adjectives
    make their way into this litany of feel good diction.

    Finally, my absolute favorite….The MONEY qualifier. I mean, how many Match profiles have you seen where the woman puts 100k plus and what does that signify?

  14. S says:

    “What am I like? My friends would (or do) say (or have said)…”

    Okay, look. I don’t know you, okay? At all. I have to take your word for everything you say about yourself; it’s part of the process, par for the course, whatever. But with this line, you’re asking me to take your opinion (when I don’t know you) about your friends’ (who I also don’t know) judgment (which I have only your word for) of your noteworthy qualities (which they, not you, have selected). I cannot think of a quicker, more efficient way to cast so much doubt on a single person in a single sentence.

    This line actually reads, “Hi! My self-esteem is so low I don’t even trust my own judgment about myself, and instead of doing a bit of self-reflection and demonstrating even a modicum of psychological strength, I’m going to slough off the responsibility for my own presentation on third parties. I require external validation; can you give me some?”

  15. S says:

    Oh, and leave out the quotations and song lyrics; it’s a sign of mental laziness and an inability to come up with your own words to describe who you are and what you want. “I prefer to let other people do my thinking for me.” Yeah, I think I’ll pass on that.

    Life isn’t a song, you’re not as clever as you think, and when the quote is wrong to boot… hilarity ensues.

  16. Pingback: What Not to Say in Your Dating Profile, Revisited | It's Not a Match.com

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Guys of OKCupid, “the zombie apocalypse” is a totally played-out answer for “I spend a lot of my time thinking about…”

  18. in2theknight says:

    Me being a person of color, it sucks seeing all the profiles that specify that they only want white men. I know everybody has their preference, mine being Asian women, but I just don’t see me putting that on my profile.

  19. Tyler says:

    Is “grammatical error are” intended as satire?

  20. GregHeath says:

    Every four years or so I re-visit and post a Match profile. Since last subscription in 2008 I am thrilled the “…dance like no one is watching, love like you have never been hurt…” phrase is dead, or on life support.

    Profiles of 25-year old divorced woman with three children at home, working full time while attending school full time makes me wonder what 15 minutes on Sunday she will be available for coffee. Her schedule is so busy that $60 spent on Match would have been better invested in tuition, groceries, or a babysitter.

    Pets are okay. I do not own one. Kissing pets on the lips is a deal breaker for me. Also owning more than two pets screams “Crazy Pet Woman”.

    I disconnected my cable and will switch to an HD antenna, but the television is still there. That may promote me as cheap or frugal. Conversely I worry about the woman who watches a little too much Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty, Storage Wars, etc.

    Likes the beach, mountains, fine dining, sunsets, wine, travel. So do I, each in its proper perspective. Too much emphasis on these say, “I want the fairy tale fantasy”, or, “I am superficial”.

    Match has Spellchecker. When anyone touts intelligence then spells “definately” I place palm on face.

    I enjoyed reading this blog and comments thread. Nice work, all.

    • Response to your jerk remark says:

      Hey! Your single mother analysis, lets look at it this way: she is 25, working her ass off to support her kids, finishing college and putting herself back into the dating world after a divorce! Yes she has a lot on her plate but shouldn’t that show a sign of strength and determination towards people – look at all the crap she handles and she STILL has time to date!

      But no a selfish guy like yourself looks at her and says well when will she have time for me, instead of looking past it and seeing the strength she is actually showing!

  21. flem says:

    i need a good profile that make sence

  22. Pingback: It’s Not a Match | Nickolai & Courtney

  23. Tony says:

    The trouble is that everyone reacts to different things. What bothers one person another likes, so just be yourself for better or worse. We’ll find out in the end! Plus if someone made a list of everything in the comments that you can’t say we’d be stuck with “Hi!” and then be downgraded cause we’re boring & lazy.

  24. Steve says:

    If all the above were eliminated, virtually all profiles would be 86’d.

    • Tads says:

      I was just thinking this. Everyone is SO BITTER. Who cares what people write. if you like their pix, and they are some one descent, and can spell, then send a message. Quit griping and actually GO ON DATES. Internet dating does not mean, browsing profiles like youre shopping on amazon.com. Get together, have fun, live and maybe, just maybe, fall in love.

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