Part of learning how to write a good online dating profile is learning what not to write.
This will make or break your game.
I can always tell when guys don’t bother to learn what not to write. Their profiles are full of rookie mistakes:
- They use lots of general descriptors, like “active” or “fun-loving.” But they don’t tell me what’s actually “fun” to them – so I can’t tell if we have anything in common.
- Other guys freak me out by sharing way too much, too soon – like listing all the ways they’ve had their hearts broken.
- Some of the worst are the guys who tell all girls to stay away…unless we “have long, blonde hair, a fit body, and know how to treat a man.” Gross.
Boring. Sad. Douche.
It’s annoying and exhausting to wade through these profiles.
It’s possible that they’re decent guys – but their profiles just advertise their flaws. I’m not taking that bet.
You don’t get three strikes in this game.
The instant a girl sees a serious red flag in a guy’s profile, he’s out. It doesn’t matter if his photos are cute, if his first message was decent, or even if the rest of his profile is fine. That red flag will ruin everything he’s done well.
But you won’t strikeout.
When you learn what not to say in an online dating profile, you’ll cover your bases, seriously improve your game, and stand out from the competition – so the right girl will know you when she sees you.
Here are the biggest DON’Ts of writing an online dating profile:
1. Don’t say general things that mean nothing.
Here’s one guy who’s made this mistake:
At first glance, he seems like a good guy. He’s “fun,” “intelligent,” “caring,” and he values good conversation to boot.
There are two serious problems with a self-description like this:
- He doesn’t tell me why he’s different from other guys.
- He doesn’t tell me what we have in common.
Millions of other guys’ profile also say, “I’m fun-loving,” and “my family and friends mean the world to me.” Their profiles all blur together. This guy says he’s “very different,” but he doesn’t show me how.
HERE'S HOW: The best way to stand out is to give girls specific information about your personality and interests.
This way, when you send a girl a message, she’ll be able to look at your profile, easily find common ground, and have a reason to message you back.
When I read a guy’s profile and can see he’s also into rolling his own sushi, David Sedaris, and the Fitocracy community, I’m excited. I want to talk to him about this stuff, since I’m into it, too.
The key to showing how you’re different is to go deeper with your self-description
This guy does a great job showing HOW he’s “active”:
He tells me specifically WHAT he does to stay active, so I can easily see what we might talk about. If he messaged me, I’d reply and ask him about his favorite yoga stretch, or where the local climbing destinations are.
Make it easy for girls to talk to you with these prompts for going deeper with your self-description.
2. Don’t tell us your sob story.
This is a sure way to kill any buzz I’ve got going.
Too often, I get psyched reading about a guy who seems great…only to be ambushed by his super depressing account of all the ways women have broken his heart and done him wrong.
The bummer effect in action:
Major bummer, right?! I don’t even know if this guy should be on OKCupid. Maybe therapy would be better right now.
This is over-sharing. It’s the worst. And it’s really hard to make a comeback from this – even if the rest of a guy’s profile is fine.
First, I feel bad for the guy: Oh, man. He’s given up on love? But then I get uneasy. I wonder: if he dumped this much of his baggage on his online dating profile, then how will it weigh on a new relationship? If I go out dancing with friends, will he think I’m going to cheat on him? If I want to talk-out a disagreement, will he freak out and accuse me of starting drama?
Everyone has baggage. But your online dating profile shouldn’t give a girl reason to doubt you’re the well-adjusted guy you are. These guys think they’re warding off the She-Devils. But they’re scaring off everyone.
We’d rather learn about your baggage while also discovering all your amazing qualities. Then we’ll love you for you – battle scars and all.
If you want to be up-front about your dating past, there’s a right way to handle your baggage so it won’t scare girls away.
3. Don’t be a douche.
Some guys use their online dating profiles as a list of requirements for their future girlfriends. This is the fast track to Douche City:
Good luck, buddy. The only way I’d ever message this guy is with a link to Amazon for a blow-up companion.
If you have a “type,” it’s OK. A lot of us do. Go ahead and look for her.
But a smart guy’s profile doesn’t discourage girls from contacting him.
This list of shallow, obnoxious demands is a huge turn-off to me. It also discourages girls who do fit the profile. I assume he’s a militant asshole. If he’s that specific about how I look, I’m guessing he’ll also have a lot to say about what I eat, how I dress, and who my friends are. Yeesh.
Here’s another guy, traveling a slightly different road to Douche City:
Not as superficial as the first list, but Jesus, what a picky lunatic.
Again, a list this long and specific discourages even girls who do match the description (if one even exists). We’d never live up to his standards.
That being said, it’s OK if you accidentally wrote a list verging on one of these. It’s good you know who you are, and who you’re looking for. But there’s a right way to describe what you’re looking for:
Focus on the personality traits and common interests that are most important to you.
For example: when a guy says, “no fatties, lol,” I can guess the deeper meaning behind that statement (the what/why/how?) is that he’s looking for "a girl who values an active, healthy lifestyle.”
If this is the case for you, let your own self-description hit the point home. When your profile also mentions your weekend trail-runs and your goal to make delicious lean protein and veggie dinners four nights a week, you’ll innately attract a girl with a similar mind…and body.
4. Don’t ignore spelling and grammar.
Some guys seem so relieved to be finished writing their profiles, they forget to quickly check for writing errors before posting it. This is a huge mistake.
A profile with tons of spelling and grammar errors makes a guy seem careless, lazy, and stupid… Not qualities we’re looking for in a boyfriend.
However, it is totally fine if spelling and grammar are not second nature to you. Different kinds of smarts make the world go round!
The occasional spelling mistake or typo is easy to overlook. Lots of mistakes damage a first impression. Nothing kills my girl-boner faster than a profile filled with LOL-ing, the wrong “your,” and crazy punctuation.
When mistakes keep popping off the page at me, it’s difficult to focus on what a guy is actually saying.
What he wrote:
But this is what I see:
These mistakes are easy to make, but they’re also easy to fix.
Before posting your profile (or sending a message), take a minute to re-read what you wrote. Look for these common grammar mistakes. Correct any misspelled words (underlined in red) by right-clicking the word and picking the correct spelling, or by Google-ing the word.
When you’ve done a quick proof-reading, the only thing jumping off the page at me will be your awesome personality.
Now you’re ready to go pro.