Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dating Profile Clichés

Wow, it's been quite a while since I posted to my blog, which I'm sure I could blame on something, but I'll skip that part. Incidentally, commenting on how long it's been since one's last blog post is a high-visibility cliche, which just happens to be the topic of today's post! More specifically, I'm going to ramble about cliched phrases I continually run across in online dating profiles (yes, I'm on dating sites, see if you can use your powers of inference to guess what my username is). This has absolutely nothing to do with my usual topics, but I felt like writing about this somewhere, and it is my blog afterall.

So on to the list! These are a selection of phrases that I've run across dozens of times, when browsing profiles either on OKCupid or Plentyoffish (both free sites, so they have large populations of uncommitted users). Some of these phrases have come to seem so unoriginal to me that when I see them, I immediately stop reading the person's profile.

It is worth noting that I have read many more profiles written by women than by men, which I'm sure biases the phrases I'm running across.

1. "I don't bite (unless you're into that sort of thing)"

I don't know why this is as popular as it is. If I'd only seen this once or twice, I might have thought "Oh, heh, I get it," and moved on. As it is, this phrase is so inexplicably popular that I can feel my blood start to boil when I see it, but maybe that's a defense mechanism my body has to ward off vampires.

2. "I want someone who can sing to me/play [x] instrument"

As someone with mild musical ability, this probably shouldn't bother me, but it does. The problem I have with this phrase is that it's a clear manifestation of the profile-as-venue-for-fantasies complex. Of course you'd like to date a rock star. Everyone would. Telling us so is not the point of your profile - you should be trying to convince readers you're interesting or cue them about what your interests are. Instead, profiles that include this phrase often read like dating fanfiction.

3. "If you want to know [x], just ask me!"

In the time it took you to write that sentence, you could have simply told your reader the fascinating fact you're obscuring from us. To make matters worse, the user that includes this phrase usually doesn't respond well to you asking about it, because everyone who messages them asks about it and now they're tired of repeating the answer hundreds of times. Of course, the solution to that is to just include it in your profile to begin with.

4. "I want someone who won't lie to me/cheat on me/make me cry for a change!"

Rule number one of online profiles: never focus on negativity. When you see the above sentence in a profile, it's often part of a greater paragraph, or in some cases a manifesto, about how much they really hate it when people are mean to them. This usually makes me run away.

5. "I'm not your typical girl/boy!"

Yes, you probably are.

6. Listing "travel" as a primary hobby

This is one of those lines in a profile that seems like it would add an air of sophistication, except that traveling any significant distance costs money. So unless you're completely loaded (in which case what you say in your profile doesn't matter that much), traveling is something you only get the chance to do from time to time. In other words, this user is claiming that one of their main hobbies is something that they spend 99% of their time not doing.

More importantly, this is most likely completely irrelevant to someone you're considering dating. Unless you're going to invite them to come with you on a trip to another continent right away, it's not going to have much impact on whether or not they're going to want to grab a coffee with you next week.

Note that this is different from "I traveled to [x] place and really loved it," which suggests you have stories to tell. Instead, the cliche suggests a negative story space that sucks interesting stories out of a date (again, profile-as-venue-for-fantasizing complex).

7. "I'm preparing for the zombie apocalypse."

I can't dig on this one too much, because it clearly does tell me something about the user's personality. However, this user would, in all cases, die instantly in a zombie apocalypse. So would I, probably, but at least I didn't waste any time preparing for it.

8. (In response to "I'm Really Good At") "Everything, especially being modest."

This is the one cliche that I'm guilty of perpetrating myself (or was guilty of). There's nothing inherently wrong with the phrase, until you start to realize how unoriginal it is.

9. (In response to "The Most Private Thing I'm Willing to Admit") "I'm on a dating site."

No. Crap.

Furthermore, this carries the connotation that the user is trepid about online dating and therefore less likely to respond to messages, which doesn't usually help their case.

10. (In response to "You Should Message Me If") "You're bored."

Way to maintain your standards, there.

-Silent Ellipsis