Phrases That Make Me Swipe Left

and other reasons your online dating profile is not getting you laid

I am an attractive young white person who enjoys travel, long walks on the beach, and being a real human who definitely exists.

Once you’ve been doing the online dating thing for a bit, whatever app or service you use, your eyes start to glaze over. Especially if you’re femme-shaped, you see people calling for attention all day long, every day of the year, until they all start to look the same. The same happy, pretty pictures, the same generic phrases about work and play, the same copy-pasted, low-effort messages so nobody gets caught caring too much about the outcome… This will not do. For your own sanity, you have got to establish some hard-and-fast criteria for eliminating people.

The basic stuff, of course — a certain age bracket you’re comfortable with, certain red-flag topics that you definitely will not agree on, maybe you’re not into blondes or beards — that’s the first level of filtering. But you’ve done that, and you still have thirty-five dick pics to sort through. It’s time to get petty. Here are a few minor sins that will instantly send a profile to the nega-zone left of the phone, to languish forever among the bigots and catfish.

1. Headless chest or ab pics

If I see a beheaded bathroom-mirror shot of your sunken chest one more time, Trevor, I’m going to track down your Facebook and tell your mom how you’re acting on the internet. Here’s a pro-tip, straight men: women don’t give a shit about your abs. They really, really don’t. Yeah, I’m sure you’ve all got one Edge Case Bobbie in memory, one woman who was literally only into you because she saw your rippling pecs in her dreams, but that doesn’t change the reality. Statistically, women look at men’s faces first—when you ask women what features they find attractive in men, sure, chest and abs will be on the list, but they won’t be at the top. The top of the list is always a sampling of the following in random order: eyes, hands, arms, smile, facial hair. That’s what women look at, and men, that’s not news. We’ve been telling you this for decades. You know women aren’t as interested in your abs as in your face, and yet you continue to offer me pictures of your naked torso that cut off at your clavicles. You know what that says to me? It says you’re arrogant and self-involved, more concerned with enhancing your ego than sharing who you are with me. Hard pass.

2. “NO FAKES! Sick of being friendzoned. I value: loyalty! Honesty! THIS MEANS YOU.”

Listen. I know online dating is tough for men. I get that there are a lot of scammers and catfishers out there, I do. But you don’t need to dump all your resentment on every new person you meet. When you lead with aggressive, wounded warnings, when your profile is a laundry-list of what you don’t like and don’t want, it makes me wonder why you’re not writing anything about yourself. Is the huge chip on your shoulder the most attractive part of you? Are you interested in anything but your own pain and anger? If we go on a date and it doesn’t work out, will you add an all-new passive-aggressive rant about “people like me” at the bottom of your profile?

Don’t make the next person you interact with responsible for what the last person did, and don’t lead with your resentment. It’s one thing to express reasonable frustration about how tough online dating is for men. It’s another thing entirely to conclude that women are to blame for all your suffering, and they need to fix it by having sex with you.

3. “Things I can’t live without: air, food. I’m really good at: being myself. What I’m doing with my life: living it.”

Yeah, yeah, you’re hilarious. Just like the last ninety-five people who made that joke. It’s a dad joke, and unless you’re a dad, you need to let them have it. If you are a dad, you need to stop trying to date people the same age as your kids. Just sayin’.

4. “If I say too much here, what’s the point of getting to know each other? Just ask me anything you want to know.”

Both men and women pull this one, and it’s extremely rude. If you’re on a dating app or site that uses long-form written profiles, (and if you’re not, why are you reading this? Go back to waving your penis at innocents on Tinder) that means that all the people you’re trying to attract have put effort into their profile. Why did they do that? To help you. To give you things to talk to them about, to assist you in starting a conversation, to help you know ahead of time if you want to rule them out entirely. People aren’t writing these profiles for their fucking health. They did all that work to make your life easier before you even showed up, and the very least you can do is make the bare minimum of effort to fill out your profile. If you have so little personality that you’re able to spoil all of it in a box marked “What I’m doing with my life,” I promise you, we’ll be bored before dinner arrives regardless, because you are a boring person.

5. “I love to laugh.”

Holy shit, where have you been all my life? I’ve spent years surrounded by dour human Eeyores who cry out in physical pain when I crack a joke! I’ve never met anyone who enjoyed laughing before; you must be a unicorn!

If you’re saying you have a great sense of humor, fine — just say that. If you’re saying you like your partners to make you laugh a lot, that’s fine too! Use your words. But “I love to laugh” is right up there with “I’ve been eating every day since I was a kid” and “I would rather not be killed” in terms of telling your audience anything about you.

6. “I hate to lose.”

Another rare beast! Where do they keep finding all these mutants who don’t enjoy coming in second? I can’t be bothered with that; I prefer to surround myself with career losers, the kind of people who actively seek out failure and revel in it. I find they’re much more interesting.

The thing about someone who “hates to lose” is… they’re seeing losing as a blow to their ego, an entirely unproductive event that diminished them. They don’t see losing as an opportunity to learn, an attempt during which they gained experience and skill, or a genuine acknowledgement of someone else’s ability. They just see it as injury, an attack on their perception of themselves as a “winner.” Do you know anyone else who talks about “winning” all the time? Who needs very much to convince you that they are a “winner” but doesn’t have any actual wins to show you? Almost presidential behavior, wouldn’t you say? Swipe left.

7. Your Myers-Briggs type

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but Myers-Briggs is pseudoscience. It’s loosely based on untested, inconclusive work by Carl Jung, it‘s stunningly unreliable, inconsistent, and incomplete even for the purpose it purports to serve, and it indicates nothing about you except what you would like to believe you are. Myers and Briggs were not psychologists and didn’t learn the psychometric testing techniques they used to back up their theory until after publishing the theory — in other words, they decided what they wanted to believe about human nature and then went out to find data that agreed with them. Between a third and half of the published material on the Myers-Briggs test has been produced specifically by the Center for the Application of Psychological Type, which provides training in the test and is funded by sales of the test. There is no evidence that this test relates to reality in any meaningful way. Myers-Briggs is a horoscope for people who think they’re too smart for horoscopes.

8. “I can’t see likes/I don’t pay money for this service, so just message me!”

Okay, class, eyes up here. Clearly I need to explain this shit, because no one seems to understand how this system works and that it’s working as intended.

Most dating apps use some permutation of the “like” and “friend” structure. In this structure, you can “like” or “favorite” someone you’re interested in, and “friend” or send them a message if you really want to get their attention and are willing to make the first move. When someone you’ve liked also swipes right on you, you’re both given a notification of that, to prompt you to start a conversation.

This means that the function of the “like” button is to indicate that you’re open to interacting with a person in a low-pressure way. We know you can’t see it — 99% of users do not pay money for these services; we can’t see the likes either. That’s not what they’re for. If you could see them, they wouldn’t be low-pressure. If someone isn’t brave enough to message you, they also wouldn’t use likes if they thought you could see them regardless of your interest. Online dating tends to appeal to people who find face-to-face interactions more intimidating — for this reason, dating apps have geared the service toward allowing you to put yourself out there without risking rejection, only interacting with people who have deliberately chosen you. This is a good thing. You don’t want everyone to see you, you want people who want you to see you. The only way you lose in this scenario is if your dating strategy was the shotgun copy-pasted message spammed at everything with tits, and sorry not sorry, if that’s you, you are the problem.

9. “I like watching Netflix.”

Do you get that this is the modern equivalent of saying, “I like watching TV”? What are you trying to say? You enjoy watching moving images, just any kind? Will a screensaver do? Maybe you’re a huge devotee of the Netflix corporation specifically? What if I don’t have Netflix, do you like watching anything else, or will you walk out if you see the Hulu logo? Please, I’m begging you, go get a personality. There are plenty on Netflix, just pick one.

10. “I love to travel.”

Nope. Nobody loves to travel. I’d believe you if you said, “I love traveling to relaxing beaches,” or “I love exploring Buddhist sanctuaries,” or “I loved all those years I spent hitchhiking in Europe,” but I do not for a second believe that you enjoy sitting in airports, carrying luggage, exchanging currency, worrying about your phone service, or driving long distances with someone you got sick of eight hours ago. Perhaps you’d like to tell me why you like traveling? Where you’ve been and why you picked that place? What you saw there? Because when you say, “I love traveling,” all you’ve told me is, “I’ve been privileged enough to travel a lot, and I intend to maintain that level of privilege if at all possible.” Cool story, bro. We’re all very envious. Sure is a shame you didn’t learn anything on your travels.

11. “I think outside the box.”

No, you don’t.

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