The Words That Turn Women Off Online

If you've posted a profile, uploaded photos and sent plenty of emails without getting any responses, your wording could be the culprit. Follow this advice to make your online language skills female-friendly.

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

nline dating can be fun, and many marriages have come out of it. But too often, I receive emails from frustrated single men like this one: "I've tried everything to be appealing online, but I seldom even get a response. What am I doing wrong? Am I too honest? Too old? Too repulsive? Too set in my ways? PLEASE HELP ME!"

When I work with singles on their profiles, I find that they are often unaware that some of the words
If you're looking for a mother figure, try scoping out a playground.
they have used in their essays can actually be turn-offs to potential dates. Read these 10 examples below — some of them are doozies, but they all come from real profiles belonging to guys that are presumably looking for love:

1. Words that hint at your childish ways.
John posted a profile that said "I'm a boy in a man's body," figuring his "cuteness" would entice a lady to love him (and also mother the little boy in him). However, he got no takers. Most grown-up women don't fancy childish Peter Pan types. If you're looking for a mother figure, try scoping out a playground — not a dating site.

2. Words that reveal how you objectify women.
When Carl saw Lois online, he wrote her an email that said, "You are so beautiful, I'd like to drape you on my arm." Lois replied with: "What? You have me confused with a sweater." Carl defended himself, explaining that what he was trying to say "came out wrong" — but he didn't attempt to explain what he did mean originally. Making a bad outreach attempt even worse, Carl said, "Let's have dinner. Even if it doesn't work out, I'll still pay." Now with this missive, Carl had attempted to buy himself some superficial love for the cheap price of a meal. Women don't want to feel like an ornament to be displayed and fed, so naturally, Lois never responded.

3. Words that suggest you have a short fuse.
Karen received an introductory message from Robert via an online dating site. After reading his profile, she thought he seemed nice but dull, so she didn't reply — but Robert wouldn't give up. He sent Karen another message, saying, "Hi, Blondie. I sent you a message. Still waiting to hear from you. Be a sport and answer back." Karen gagged on this guy's crass familiarity. "Blondie?" she thought, still ignoring him. Robert sent a third message — but this time, he extended his fangs: "What's the matter, Blondie? Not good enough for you? You don't know what you're missing. At your age, you shouldn't be so finicky. Your loss, Sweetheart." Karen finally did respond after that — by blocking Robert permanently.

4. Words that imply you'll do whatever she asks to up your appeal.
Marge's profile photo showed her holding her dog. Moe wrote to her, saying that he loved dogs and was a card-carrying member of the ASPCA. Marge's profile also stated she worked with the homeless. Moe wrote Marge again, this time boasting that he financially supported a homeless family. Marge's profile detailed her love for workouts at her gym. Moe then wrote a third time, telling her about the hours he spent each day working out. He tried too hard, so Moe was a no-go for Marge!

5. Words that suggest women are interchangeable to you.
Jeff's profile seemed sweet and sensitive, so Carol agreed to speak with him on the phone. But during their conversation, he called her "Judy." Carol asked, "Who is Judy?" and Jeff replied, "Oh, she's the last woman I dated." Carol's instincts told her to pack it in with this guy, but she ignored her gut by reasoning that anyone could have a Freudian slip. She agreed to meet Jeff in person, where he brought her a bouquet of roses and escorted her to his favorite brunch place. Upon entering, he asked for his usual waitress, but she was off work that day. Jeff told another waitress, "When she comes back, tell her I'm no longer seeing Judy." Carol was dumbfounded, imagining she was part of some surreal
Sara didn't like being put on the defensive like that.
Seinfeld episode. When this classless (and clueless) guy asked to see her again, it didn't even take a nanosecond for Carol to say "no."

6. Words that imply a woman should keep her mouth shut.
Marv wrote to Pam online, saying, "Your profile is great, but who is the woman behind the words? As a scientist, I am generally brief and to the point. In five words or less, can you list your best qualities?" Pam concluded that this "scientist" would try to mute her words every chance he got. She then decided a one-word reply saying, "Next!" would probably be brief enough for him.

7. Words that foretell desperation on your part.
Victor, who listed himself as "divorced" in his profile, wrote to Meg, saying: "Love your profile. Lots of character. What can I do to charm you away from this site?" Meg wondered why he was in such a hurry, so she responded, "How long have you been single?" Victor answered: "My divorce will be final next week." Meg was not only turned off by Victor's lie about his relationship status, she was also offended that he hadn't bothered to read her profile, which clearly stated she wanted to find a man who had been divorced or widowed for some time. This guy seemed too anxious to immediately substitute his wife for a new girlfriend, so Meg passed.

8. Words that tease or sound manipulative.
Laura got an email from some "fisherman" looking to hook her interest by using an overzealous, Casanova-style line: "Your eloquence matches your appearance, but something is missing from this beautiful picture. I am interested to find out exactly what that is. Let's talk." And what was Laura's reaction? "What a superficial line!" She cut the mate-bait and ran — in the opposite direction.

9. Words that challenge her choices in life.
Before even bothering to say "Hello" in his first email, Ted asked Sara, "Why have you never been married?" and "Why have you never had children?" Sara didn't like being put on the defensive like that. Why hadn't Ted commented on the archeological digs she had been on during her career as an anthropologist? A woman wants to be appreciated for her own rich experiences instead of being criticized for not fitting into a preconceived stereotype. Sara never wrote Ted back.

10. Words of endearment used too soon.
OK, you've made it past the initial profile assessment phase, enjoyed sharing email, text, and phone conversations, and your online chemistry rocks. Warning: Don't get too cozy yet! Fred was so excited to finally meet the woman of his dreams that he kept addressing her as "Baby." But according to a magazine poll, even on a first date, 88.4 percent of singles prefer being called by their first name rather than some saccharine, generic term. Unfortunately, Fred's sweet-talk backfired; the "woman of his dreams" deemed him a player and she cancelled their date before they were to meet.

Guys, when you're communicating with potential dates, consider the words you use and the mood you project. Ask a friend to read what you've written or work with a professional to hone your tone. Words count, but so does the way in which they're uttered. As my Gilda-Gram advises, "A positive attitude illuminates your expressions." With consciousness and care, you can use your improved online language skills to attract women and hold their interest. I look forward to hearing your success stories!

For the other side of the story, read The Words That Turn Men Off Online.

Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D., has a private practice and is an associate professor at Mercy College in New York. Her best-selling books include Don't Bet on the Prince!, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. Please visit her website ( and send her your relationship questions.
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