How to turn negative dating profile statements into positive outlooks

Erika Ettin | Tribune News Service

As a dating coach, I’ve read a lot of online dating profiles … which also means I’ve read a lot of bad dating profiles. From bad grammar to lack of photos and rants about politics, many things can turn me (and my clients) off to a person’s bio, but perhaps the worst perpetrator is general negativity.

More often than I wish to see (which is ever), profiles are filled with what a person is not looking for in a partner, what they don’t like to do, or what they won’t tolerate in a relationship.

If I asked the authors of these bios what they are trying to achieve with these statements, they might argue they are trying to rule out anyone who doesn’t align with their values or interests. While they think they are saving time by being frank about their beliefs, they’re actually cutting out not just those who don’t perfectly match with them but also those who might, but are left with a bad taste in their mouth by the profile’s pessimism.

Instead of focusing on the “don’ts,” “can’ts” and “won’ts” in your profile, it’s best to turn those into positive statements. Need some examples?

Negative: “I do not want a relationship with someone who has different religious beliefs/political views than mine.”

Positive: “My religious beliefs/political views are important to me, and I would like to share that part of my life with a partner.”

No one is saying you have to amend your religious beliefs or political views while seeking out a partner. However, many couples don’t align 100% on these issues yet have a happy, fulfilling relationship. Moreover, stating in a hostile way that you are not open to anyone who has different thoughts on these subjects makes you sound close-minded, which may push away even those who do share your beliefs. It’s better to state that these are important values to you, which may be appealing to someone who feels the same without seeming gloomy.

Negative: “I won’t tolerate a relationship with someone who spends hours in front of the TV every day.”

Positive: “I like to spend my free time outdoors as much as possible — hiking, walking my dog or just sitting on a park bench in the fresh air.”

Maybe you’re not a big TV show-and-movie person (just like some people aren’t foodies, others aren’t into having pets, and there are those who don’t enjoy extensive travel). Instead of focusing on what you don’t like to do, talk about the hobbies and interests you do have. That way, you’ll have a much better chance of attracting people who share your enjoyment of those activities while keeping your profile optimistic.

Negative: “I can’t deal with someone with a lot of baggage.”

Positive: “I understand we all have a past, but I want to focus on the future.”

The “no drama” or “no baggage” people crack me up because we all have exes, past relationships, family matters, the list goes on. (Do people really think someone signs up for a dating app without any history?) Since most people are not looking to bring turmoil into their life, they want things to be easy — which is something successful relationships are decidedly not. Instead of pretending there’s someone out there without their own past, it’s best to acknowledge you’re looking to build a bright, new chapter with someone special.

I would encourage you to read your own dating profiles and look for any “cons” you can turn into “pros.” They’ll give your bio an instant makeover that is lighter, more pleasant and more inviting — resulting in more interest. While it’s tempting to try and “rule out” people you know aren’t your type, you may be unintentionally rebuffing the perfect match, too.

(Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter, for updates and tips.)

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