Hi, Evan!

What are your thoughts on stating explicitly in my profile what I categorically do want in a relationship and, conversely, what I categorically do not want? I know we’re supposed to keep our profiles positive, light, and personal without being scary. Is there an upbeat, non-attacking way to say that I want to get married and will only consider meeting men who want the same? I don’t want to sound harsh (or scary), but neither do I want to spend any more time in my life getting to know someone only to discover that he isn’t looking to get married.

I don’t see much benefit in wading through all the ambivalent suitors out there just to be polite. Related to this, there are some matches that just will not work with me — smokers, for one, and guys who are enraged with their exes and monologue about them ceaselessly.

So, in sum, I want to meet emotionally and legally available guys who are serious in their intent to marry and who are willing to consider me as a possible mate, applying to me the same thoughtful consideration that I must apply to them. If I am not a contender for the one-and-only spot in someone’s heart, I don’t want to chat with him through a dating site. And presumably, a fellow looking for something that I can’t/won’t provide might appreciate it if I say at the get-go what a no-starter for me would be.

All this deal-breaker kind of talk does seem rather heavy for an introductory profile. But I wouldn’t interview a computer analyst if I were hiring for a forest ranger job, and I wouldn’t audition for Cirque de Soleil if I were afraid of heights and couldn’t do all those bendy things (much as I would love to be in Cirque de Soleil). At some point both parties have to lay it on the line, and today I’m thinking that sooner rather than later is the way to go. What do you think?

Suzan

Dear Suzan,

A snippet from a man’s profile:

“If you’re over the age of 34, don’t waste your time. If you don’t like guys who flirt with other women, stop reading. If you’re not fit and thin with curves in all the right places, we’re probably not a match. If you can’t feel secure unless you’re telling me what to do, you might want to skip the rest of this.”

Listed above are the needs and wants and thought processes of a good number of men. You might think they’re shallow and meaningless, but men want what men want. A young, hot woman who is easygoing and will allow him to be himself at all times. Yet if you read that profile above, you wouldn’t give the guy a second look. You’d probably pass it along to your friends because he sounds so horrible.

This is what happens when you state explicitly what you DON’T want. You sound shallow and negative and picky, even if what you desire is quite reasonable.

So for your rule of thumb…

Don’t say what you don’t want. Say what you DO want. Find the positive. Always. If you have been with fiscally irresponsible men in the past, say, “I want a guy who knows how to balance a checkbook – even if it’s online.” If you have a past with abusive men, say, “Chivalry and kindness are the keys to my heart.”

Which brings me to my other major point – one which probably should have led off this blog post:… You can’t stop the WRONG people from writing to you. This is not an opinion. This a fact. It doesn’t matter if you write in big bold letters, “FAT, SMOKING, UNEMPLOYED, BITTER, CREEPY, DIVORCED, PERVERTS NEED NOT APPLY,” you’re still going to get letters from them.

This may come as a shock, but there is absolutely no value into trying to turn these people away. You know why? Because they don’t care what you have to say. It costs nothing to send a canned email, so why shouldn’t they take a shot?

By definition, 95% of men are the “wrong” men for you. So don’t get so upset when they say hi. You are under no obligation to write back to them. Just delete ’em and move on.

I know your original email, Suzan, was about something much deeper – you’re looking for marriage and commitment, and you don’t want to waste your time. I’m not really comparing a guy’s desire for a flat tummy with your desire for eternal love. But we are talking about deal-breakers here – yours and his. Thus, it doesn’t matter if you want marriage, a non-smoker, or a tall, red-headed fireman with a kinky side – the wrong people will always write to you. And by explicitly stating your intentions in your 200 word first essay, you will always sound too serious or heavy.

There are other experts who say you should state everything right up front so as not to waste your time. I disagree. You don’t bring up your ticking clock, your herpes or your abandonment issues until you’ve forged a connection. And by leading with your very reasonable desires in your profile, you may be killing your chances to forge a connection.

So hold off on the proclamations and use your best radar. If the guy sounds like a player by email, phone, or after the first couple of dates, you can always dump him. But there’s no proof-positive way to keep him away.

If the science of writing a compelling and likeable online dating profile seems tricky, you can have a professional writer do it for you.

E-Cyrano.com is my profile writing service, where you can fill out a questionnaire and/or talk to a writer on the phone. All of my writers have been trained personally by me and have written scores of profiles over the past 7 years.

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Warmest wishes,

Your friend,

Evan