There’s a lot about online dating that turns many of us off, but it’s here to stay. Some happy Tinder-matched couples even assure me it can work! I decided to do some digging and find out for you what good online dating looks like…and what people hate, so you can avoid turning off potential matches.I asked over 200 singles — men and women — from two Facebook groups, Twitter, and some of my local single friends, what their pet hates are. Obviously, all the big hitters turned up: d*c pics, early sexual comments, asking for naked pics, hunting/fishing photos, scammers, and getting aggressive, were among the most hated things on dating apps. We all know these basic “what not to do” behaviors, but what about the more subtle ones? The ones we don’t realize are turning people away?
Here’s what they said:
1. Less than cute
It’s lovely when your partner calls you sweetheart, darling, or pumpkin-pie (whatever does it for you). Research shows baby-talk, couple-speak, and cute names can be good for your relationship. But what about when someone you haven’t even met does it?
Over one hundred women were asked this question in one of my Facebook groups and all unanimously said they hated it. The least favorite? Baby or babe. For some reason, there are a number of men on Tinder and similar apps starting their messages this way. They dole out variations of “Good morning, sweetheart” or “Hey sexy” to every woman they message.
To make a good first impression, it’s best to save the endearments for when you’re snuggled up on the couch with her in real life.
2. The sitcom life
One big turn off for women is this type of statement in your profile:
“No drama” “I’m drama free” “Allergic to drama”
It’s not just a turn-off, it’s a red flag. Many women see it as being an indication that you’re not genuine. As one woman stated: “Real people have drama. Fake people can’t handle drama.” Dozens of women liked and commented in agreement.
No-one likes drama. Well, some people seem to but that’s for another article. No healthy person likes drama. It doesn’t need to be in your profile.
3. Meta dating questions
“So, how’s this site working out for you?” “How’s dating going?”
Is there even a good answer? Clearly, it’s not going that well. If it was going great you’d be in a relationship and off Tinder, right? It seems other meta dating questions are annoying too: “How long have you been on here.” “Why are you on here?” “How are YOU single??”
I know, it’s meant to be flattering small-talk or perhaps it’s grasping for something you have in common: you’re obviously both dating. But talking about being single, or your online experiences, with a potential date doesn’t work. It’s like talking about how they made the movie as you’re watching the movie — it takes away the magic.
4. Your shopping list
Profile’s need to be about promoting yourself and the kind of relationship you’re looking for, not who you’re looking for. Your profile is like an ad for you. It’s not a “job position open” poster and there’s no need to detail what a successful applicant looks like.
- “Looking for fit, athletic type.”
- “Must love dogs.”
- “I want someone who isn’t messy.”
It all sounds fair enough but it doesn’t translate well — you end up looking fussy or arrogant. Or worse: “Not looking for someone who already has kids, I want to have my own.” To which one woman commented, “Looks like he’s hunting for a uterus.”
Stick to info about you. What kind of dates or activities would you do together? If you’re funny, this is a good place to inject some humor!
5. Their shopping list
It sounds really valid to ask: “What are you looking for in a partner?”
You don’t want to waste each other’s time and it’s often asked to weed people out. If they want a partner to help run their farm and muck out with the pigs and you’re an indoor computer-geek type — it’s not going to work. As one guy said, “If they are looking for the weirdy-bearded, beer swillin, wanna-be tough guy, that’s not me.”
The problem is this type of question comes across as suspicious. Are you wanting to know so you can pretend to be those things?
Her: “I’d want a guy who keeps fit.”
Him: “Great, I totally care about my health and fitness!”
Women especially are always looking for initial signs of fakers and scammers. There are more than you’d expect online: it’s a huge issue. So you need to get through that initial doubt barrier and show you’re a real honest human being. Get to know what they want by just getting to know each other, like you would in real life.
6. Honest fakers
Obviously, faking anything online will catch you up in the end — like when you meet in real life. But some people, both men and women, said they often came across filters on photos, photos angled so the person looks quite different than in real life, or people faking ages to be both younger and older.
When they chatted, the faker owned up as if that made it okay somehow: “My profile says my age is 45 but I’m really 55. I don’t know why it put my age as that?” Hmm, was it really the app that did it?
As one woman said: “So many people put one age then tell you it’s different…Like okay so you’re already a liar. I’m out.”
7. Bad first impressions
This one doesn’t bother me so much, but it does bother dozens of other people, especially women. There was almost unanimous dislike for one word introductory messages.
“Hi”, “Hey”, “Good-morning” will likely all get you crickets in reply. And starting a conversation with an emoji? Sigh — no, I can’t even go there.
One or two-word messages come across as lazy and leave people wondering if you’ve sent out 100 of the same to 100 different people. Just so you know, the opposite — really long introductions — are also unpopular. Hit a nice middle ground.
8. Not much going on
A number of women particularly mentioned holding a conversation, or more to the point, not being able to hold one. One said: “They literally don’t respond!!! Like come on…say something!!! How’s ur day— fine, what do you like to do — stuff.”
Some weeks you might not have much going on: same old work routine, same old after-work routine. Too boring to talk about, right? The thing is, if you offer nothing how can they get to know you? Conversation is important, especially for women. Most of my single friends tell me they like it best when they can talk about anything with a guy. If you need to learn some conversational skills there are many free tips online, such as The Art of Charm blog and podcast.
Also, for the ladies, money talk and “where do you work” too early on apparently makes some men feel like you’re gold-digging. Some women don’t appreciate it either. Maybe the safest thing is to let them bring up their job if they want to.
9. Real-life freak-outs
General advice to online daters is to meet up quickly. That way you can see if there’s chemistry, attraction, and if you enjoy each other’s company in the real world. A pet peeve in both Facebook groups and with my single girl-friends was that many people — both men and women — seem reluctant to meet up. They’d arrange to meet for coffee or at a restaurant one day and then…radio silence. The other tactic they complained about is delaying meet ups endlessly.
I get replies. I can get them to text me. When it comes the day of the date something comes up. Sure, I understand. Then back to texting. When do we get meet? I do verify I’m not being cat-fished by asking for a weird picture,” said one guy on Twitter.
One of my good friends commented: “A little bit of communication is good, just to make sure they’re not nuts, but really not much. Then you go and meet up with them and either it’s there or it’s not there. I don’t want a pen-friend. That’s not what we’re here for.”
10. Last but not least, profile pics
I don’t want to spend too long on this because the list for profile-pic hates is long and mostly obvious. But I’ll quickly mention a few that daters said put them off. The ladies were a bit more vocal on this one…
Women said they don’t like:
- Only adventure photos — they wanted an everyday pic too.
- Kissy face or tongue out (Really, some guys do this?)
- Hiding teeth or not smiling.
- Sunglasses on.
- Group photos or photos cropped with a women’s arm visible in the picture.
- Gym/workout photos.
- Kids included in the picture.
- Shirtless selfies.
- Bathroom pics.
One my friends said, “I hate it when people have pictures, but you can’t see them. Some people have three different pictures: one’s off in the far distance, the next one’s of a dog, and the next is the very edge of their face.”
The guys at Art of Charm confirm these pet peeves in their photo tips: “Pictures with kids generally don’t do well, nor do shirtless selfies… Pictures of you standing in front of your bathroom mirror are best avoided. We’ll even go one step further than that and say that it’s best to avoid selfies in general.”
Men said they don’t like:
- Only face shots — they wanted one full body pic. I know, this had me raise my eyebrows too, but some of the guys explained it wasn’t about body weight, they just wanted to see what you look like. Art of Charm actually recommends full-body shots for men too.
- Excessive makeup so you can’t see what a person really looks like.
I’m sure you’ll let me know of others in the comments.
Dating online is tough. There are no guide-books on how to do it perfectly. When things are relatively new we need to learn new ways of making them work for us. Knowing what to avoid is one step towards attracting better matches and, hopefully, finding your one match!
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: iStockPhoto.com