5 Profile Clichés To Avoid

If you’re looking for love online, learn what not to say—and what words will work best for you.

By Margot Carmichael Lester

f you’ve been dating online for more than a couple of days, you know there are some seriously hackneyed phrases that get bandied about by less-than-creative souls. The problem with these over-used words is that they not only mask the real person behind them, they’re an immediate
Skip saying, “Hey, I’ve never done this before!”
turn-off to readers. When you don’t put energy and creativity into your profile, it conveys that you may not put energy and creativity into your love life as a whole. In fact, some daters do as Judy Lederman of New Rochelle, N.Y., does: She won’t even respond to profiles with clichés. “Puh-leeze” she exclaims. “They’re repulsive.”

Why give people an excuse to reject you before getting to know you? If you avoid these meaningless lines, your profile will be more response-worthy.

Here’s a list of the most-used clichés along with tips for avoiding them:

1. Cliché: Walking on the beach and holding hands
“Who wouldn’t enjoy this activity, except maybe a Thalassophobic – someone who fears the ocean,” says Phillipa Stanley, a med student in Houston. “It’s such a throw-away line. Sitting by the fire is a similarly useless line that should be extinguished.”

Alternative: Even if you do enjoy the beach and a fire, don’t say so. Instead, talk about other things you enjoy that are more unique to you. Abandon big statements like “I like mountain biking” in favor of a sentence or two about why you like mountain biking or why it’s more fun with a partner. “I like introducing people to new trails and finding a nice spot to chill after the ride.” If you’re a hopeless romantic, explain how you show that to your partner. By focusing on how you participate in these things you’re presenting a unique take on a common interest. That helps you stand out.

2. Cliché: Equally comfortable in black tie or blue jeans
“This is great if you’re James Bond or something,” says Don Rodriguez of New York. “But most guys I know don’t wear tuxes enough for this to be a true selling point. So why waste the space?”

Alternative: If fashion is that important to you, show your personal style more effectively by creating a “word picture” to describe your affinity for haberdashery. Explain why clothes are important to you or why you like shopping or dressing up. This will help prospects understand you better—which always makes for a better match.

3. Cliché: Love dinner and a movie
“Every time I see this, I imagine this is the only date we’ll ever have,” says Stephanie Hardy of Evanston, Illinois. “It screams ‘I’m not very imaginative’, and that’s not very interesting to me.”

Alternative: The best dates are planned based on mutual interests, so
Steering clear of trite expressions will help you stand out.
it’s probably best to put your interests out there and leave the date planning for later. Why not put your energy into discussing what you want out of a relationship; how you see yourself interacting with your future mate, such as, “I’m looking for a true partnership where we tackle challenges — in our relationship and in our community — together.” This will help the folks reading your profile determine if you have compatible needs and values.

4. Cliché: Hey, I've never done this before!
“This comment makes me think she’s lying or is ashamed to be dating online,” says Marc Riddick of Jacksonville, FL.

Alternative: This is another one to skip completely because it sounds as if you’re embarrassed to be looking for love—and many people won’t believe you anyway. Also avoid talking about being burned, feeling emotionally uncertain or anything that casts you in a bad light. But don’t be afraid to put out there what you are looking for—meeting new people post-divorce or a serious, committed relationships ASAP. “I’m not really a date-around type, so I’m focusing on finding the love of my life.” This will help you avoid hooking up with someone who doesn’t want the same kind of relationship.

5. Cliché: Knowing how to treat a lady/man
“My granny used to tell me that if somebody has to tell you they know something, they probably don’t,” says Anna Jean Clarke of Atlanta. “So I always figure a guy who writes that is possibly a bit of a jerk.”

Alternative: Follow the old writer’s adage: Show, don’t tell. Instead of telling readers that you know how to treat your partner well, show them. Give an example of your ongoing good treatment or simply explain why you think it’s important to pamper your partner. Words like “You’ll never open a door or carry anything heavy with me around” or “Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I like fixing a nice dinner for my guy” give clues to how you’ll take care of your partner.

“Nothing says ‘danger, Will Robinson’ like a cliché in someone’s profile,” says Tammy Pollock of San Francisco. “It’s definitely a red flag.” So avoid those clichés, and get that green “go” flag waving. Steering clear of trite expressions will help you stand out from the crowd. And isn’t that what you want your profile to do for you?

Margot Carmichael Lester is a freelance writer whose work appears in the Los Angeles Business Journal and Go magazine.
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