The Words That Turn Men Off Online

Was it something you said? If you're baffled by the lack of interest in your profile, check to see if any of these 10 negative phrases and words that put men off could be the culprit. If so, start editing!

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

f you've been breathing, you've been romantically hurt sometime during your life. But just because you've experienced heartbreak doesn't mean you should wear your wounds on your dating profile! Most singles aren't aware that everything they post reflects their history. For example, when asked if he wished to participate in this research, one man angrily responded, "I don't want to contribute to anything that will help women fine-tune their already infinite capacity to LIE!" How clearly he revealed his own negative past with a statement like this!
The word "always" especially sparked his skepticism.

My findings show that this guy's distrust of women is common amongst some men, but women can do something to enhance the level of trust between the sexes. Of course, we can't lick the wounds of each guy we meet, but we can become more sensitive to how our own words are perceived by them. Here are some reactions that men looking for love online shared with me, which you might want to reconsider when working on your own dating profile:

1. Words that boast of your honesty and fidelity.
Online dater Sam looked at Gail's profile admiringly — until he read the words, "always honest" and "always faithful." His experiences had taught him the women who proclaim their honesty and fidelity the loudest often turn out to be anything but. The word "always" especially sparked his skepticism. Sam said, "Unless honesty and fidelity had been issues for this woman, why would she include these words as absolutes?" Sam passed on contacting Gail.

2. Words and photos that appear to be out of sync with each other.
Another online dater, Jim, said that he ignores women who describe themselves as "pretty" or "hot" when he can make that decision himself from their photos. Another guy, Clark, added that he chuckles at gals who post 20 photos of their pets, but only one of themselves. "Often, that solitary photo was taken when their dog was a puppy, but the rest of the photos show him as 10 years old!" Jim said. "I want to know what happened to the years in between."

3. Words that imply you're not quite single.
Besides the usual red-flag descriptors of "married" or "separated," men reported that they stay clear of the words: "It's complicated." For example, Patrick met a lady online who posted that in her description, but he foolishly ignored it. Then, he discovered a possessive husband she was divorcing who threatened to beat him up. Patrick high-tailed out of this woman's life so fast, he never even said goodbye.

4. Words that suggest you don't take care of yourself.
Paul said, "I run to the next profile as soon as I see a woman who doesn't work out or who smokes. If someone won't care about herself, how can she care about a man?" He went even further, adding: "When a woman defines herself as 'average,' she's usually less than that. I want a woman who takes pride in her body and her life, one who thinks she's more than just so-so. And if she's secure, she won't include the words, "I've been told I'm beautiful." She'll know it — and show it!"

5. Words that point to desperation.
Melanie wrote an email and sent it to Scott at 3 a.m., which made him question whether she had a life. He reasoned that "she's gotta be desperate" and never responded to Melanie. He even said that she'd admitted she didn't have any hobbies — except for shopping. Scott exclaimed, "Shopping as a hobby? I'm looking for a
I run to the next profile as soon as I see a woman who doesn't work out or who smokes.
woman who stimulates and excites me. Just don't sit around with nothing to do but look for a guy — at 3 a.m.! Or, at least, don't look in my direction."

6. Words that are spelled incorrectly.
"Bad writing suggests little education or class," John said. "I've seen too many less-than-literate ladies list what they must have in a man, and what they WON'T TOLERATE — all in UPPERCASE! One woman wrote she couldn't stand 'COOME-OVER HARE' and another said she wouldn't tolerate 'BAD TEETHE.' These chicks couldn't spell, but they demanded a perfect guy!" John customarily blocks these women, which he calls "low-rent" profiles.

7. Words that advertise for an "accomplished," "successful," "generous," or "financially stable" man.
Men resent being considered nothing more than walking wallets. Roy moaned, "When one woman wrote that she enjoys fine dining, I thought, 'Well, there goes the six-pack of Coronas and pizza by a romantic fire on a winter night!'" He also avoids "gold-diggers looking for a rich and generous guy, while these women view their own money as off-limits."

8. Words that misrepresent your true self.
An experienced online dater, Rod now easily distinguishes the words women post from their true meaning. Here are some of his findings: "shy" really means "poor self-image;" "curvy" implies "fat;" "used to be a model" really means "I won a baby pageant at age two;" "entrepreneur" really means "I sold some shoes on eBay;" "silly" and "quirky" really mean "awkward" and "unattractive;" and "I want a humorous man" really means "Please rescue me from my own dull life!" Before Rod connects with a woman, he looks for other clues she mentions in her profile that support who she says she is in real life.

9. Words that advertise your obsessive love for your animals.
There's a difference between loving your pets and being obsessed with them, ladies. Tony read Rita's words saying that she "loves her cats" and ignored them. But after dating for a month, he saw that Rita's beloved cats kept soiling his stuff. When he complained, Rita told him her cats were helpless creatures that she loved, and if he wanted to be in her life, he'd have to love them, too — poop and all! Then he had a nightmare about being eaten by one of Rita's felines. At that point, Tony chose to leave Rita alone with her kitty litter.

10. Words that follow the phrase: "I'm tired of..."
Platinum-selling rock star Anand Bhatt once confided: "Usually, what follows that phrase is how the woman is jaded because of previous unsuccessful encounters. It implies a negative attitude. I'd rather communicate with ladies who like men."

While these 10 words and phrases depict some men's biases, they can serve to caution you about which words you choose while writing your profile. Select your words carefully as you strive to portray your natural self. When the chemistry matches up, love online can pay off in beautiful ways. One of the women the celebrity rocker Anand Bhatt met online was a model; they hit it off so well that she landed the cover of one of his singles. The two are still in touch today, although his traveling makes an exclusive relationship difficult for now.

Online technology boasts so many millions of available guys to date that no woman should ever give up! As my Gilda-Gram says, "Striking out is part of life, but growing from your adventures is the essence of living." When you're truly enjoying your journey, the right guy will want more of your positivity. I'll be anxious to hear about the new love you score!

For the other side of the story, read The Words That Turn Women 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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