Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The worst thing to say in a dating profile

I've already listed, and explained, the first nine of my Top Ten worst things to say on an online dating profile. Now it's time to talk about number one.

1 - I'm not looking to rush into anything.

Why is this number one? Probably because it appears harmless - until it circles back and bites you in the jeans.

By far the biggest complaint I hear about online dating is that people on dating sites are not serious. They're either not ready for a real relationship, or just looking for a hook-up.

I think it's true that there are a lot of these people on dating sites. But I think that's true of any large population of single adults, particularly those who are divorced and in their thirties or forties. Let's face it - you aren't going to find a higher concentration of these people anywhere than on a dating site. Statistically speaking, you are going to find more people who are not serious than who are.

That same basic math also tells us that the proverbial needle in the haystack is there, if you keep looking. That man (or woman) who knows what he wants, and really wants to find an actual, honest relationship.

Every site is different in how they present profiles, but they all follow a similar formula. You answer a series of "fill in the box" type questions, and then provide some narrative to expand on who you are, and what you want.

One of those boxes always asks what you're looking for. It's usually answered with a drop-down menu, with possible answers along the lines of: Long-term relationship, marriage, casual sex, friends, pen-pals, casual dating. Some sites let you pick more than one; other sites want you to more closely zero-in on your intent.

There are a lot - a lot - of people on dating sites who think they want a relationship. Or worse yet, they want to want a relationship. When they find one, they either get scared and run away, leaving the other person hurt and confused, or they fake the relationship. That can't last forever, and will eventually leave that other person even more hurt and confused.

But they still answer that they are "looking for a relationship" because ultimately, they believe that is what they want. 

In general - I believe them. Even the immature scaredy-cats who probably really aren't ready to date seriously. I believe they sincerely want a relationship, have come to the site looking to meet the right person, and I believe they eventually will.

I also believe they will leave a lot of collateral damage in their wake - and if you're not careful, you can easily become part of the wreckage.

So whenever I see a guy who says he is "looking for a relationship," I always take that with a grain of salt. I like to read a profile, and look for little phrases that hint at what he actually wants.

Nobody wants to feel pressured, or uncomfortable. It would be anybody's inclination to run from a situation that made them feel that way. So naturally, no one wants to feel "rushed" into anything.

The thing is - that goes without saying. If it needed clarification, there would be a drop-down menu item that said "I'm looking for a high-stress relationship that makes me feel suffocated and on the verge of a panic attack." There isn't - because no one would choose that option.

If I'm reading your profile, I'm already assuming that what you want is the right situation with the right person. I'm also assuming that, if you're an adult ready for that relationship you say you want, then you're ready to take things at the right pace. With the right person, it won't feel "rushed."

But if you're saying right up front you don't want to feel "rushed," that tells me that any and every sign of a relationship feels like a "rush" to you. After all, if you were really open to finding a relationship, then the first words you say or type wouldn't be negative, placing a limit on a relationship that doesn't even exist yet.

So no matter your drop-down answer, that phrase tells me the truth: I should proceed with extreme caution (if at all) because you may not really be ready for a relationship.

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