Sunday, November 11, 2012

Negative Nellies Need Not Apply – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 53)  By Erika Ettin – November 7, 2012
Have you ever read those profiles where the person sounds intelligent and generally interestinguntil that fateful last line?  I’ve seen them all:

    Cowboys fans need not apply.

    If you’re looking for a fling, look the other way.
    No drama, please!
    If you’re into country music, forget about it.
    If you’re a cat-lover, move right along.
    Don’t write to me if you’re not looking for a serious relationship.
    Douche bags need not apply!  (Taken from someone’s actual profile… I can’t make this stuff up.)

In doing a quick search of for men ages 25-40 within 20 miles of 20001 (my zip code), I found that 36 men used the expression “need not apply” somewhere in their profiles. And women?  Over 100!

You might be thinking, “Is it really so bad to tell someone what I don’t want?”  The short answer is: Yes.  Let’s take the cat statement above, for example.  While I may not love cats, I’m definitely not into negativity, so I’ll be turned off by a line eliminating a whole group of people for one trait.  Instead, it’s better to show people what you do want rather than what you don’t.  So in this case, rather than calling your cat hatred to everyone’s attention, just write about how you’re looking for a dog-lover because perhaps Fido is the main man in your life right now, and you’d like to change that.

By including one of these lines in your profile, you come off as negative, or even bitter.  “No drama, please” screams, “My last relationship was full of drama, and I am SO over that.”  “Douche bags need not apply” is not only a pretty disgusting expression, but also says to someone, “This girl’s been burned one too many times and she is jaded about this whole dating thing.”

Take a moment to reread your profile, and if something comes off as negative, try to turn it into a positive. To take two examples:

Negative: Cowboys fans need not apply.

Positive: I love football, but be careful because I may have to tease you about your team sometimes.  (This line also serves as “e-mail bait,” enticing the reader to ask what team you like.)

Negative: Don’t write to me if you’re not looking for a serious relationship.

Positive: I’m looking for someone who is ready for a meaningful relationship.

When people read about you, they are likely to remember the last thing you said, so make sure the end of your profile comes across as confident, intelligent, and, most importantly, positive. Negative Nellies need not apply!

Erika Ettin is, as the Washington Post has noted, a “modern day Cyrano.” She is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people with all aspects of online dating.  Check out her interview on NPR here. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

This article was also posted in JMag, the online magazine for

1 comment:

  1. Semantics. "Just write about what you're looking for" strikes a chord.

    Maureen: If you need a friend, I make a pretty good one.
    Court: A friend's not what I need, right now.

    Man on the Moon (1991)



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