Life Advice



Erika Ettin: Poor grammar, negativity, and other reasons your dating profile isn't working

Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

Writing an online dating profile is daunting, but I probably don’t need to tell you that. As if talking about yourself isn’t hard enough already, you have to try to convey who you are, share your hobbies and interests, give a little bit of your background, include elements of your personality and express what you’re looking for in a partner, all within a limited amount of space (especially on apps like Bumble — how can you fit that all into 300 characters?).

As someone who writes and reads bios on dating websites and apps for my job, I’ve seen the best of the best … and the worst of the worst. A good profile gives the reader a glimpse into you and makes them want to learn more. But just one element that rubs someone the wrong way will result in an automatic swipe left. Here’s what to avoid including in your profile at all costs:

Poor grammar

There are a few reasons why I’m so against typos, grammar errors and other mistakes that would make your seventh-grade English teacher cringe. The first thing the errors do is insult your own intelligence. Even if you have a doctorate degree, mixing up “your” and “you’re” will likely give the reader pause. Plus, if run-on sentences make your profile difficult to understand, the person on the other side might just give up rather than spend a ton of time trying to decipher your writing.

But perhaps what bothers me even more is that it feels lazy. If you’re not even willing to reread your own profile, how serious can you be about putting the required effort into a relationship? You always want to make the best possible first impression, and that includes showing off your grammar skills. (And if this isn’t your strong suit, plenty of free websites can help you out, or maybe ask that friend who is always playing grammar police in group texts to give you some pointers.)



To all the people who are “saving everyone time” by listing all the things they are not looking for in a partner, please reconsider. All I see when I read that is someone who is bitter, and who wants to date someone like that? We all have a past, but your dating profile is not the space to dwell on what hasn’t worked before, either in relationships (please don’t talk about your ex!) or in bad experiences with online dating.

There’s always a way to put a positive spin on what you’re trying to say. For example, instead of writing something rude such as, “I am not interested in lazy, overweight people” (believe it or not, I saw this one yesterday and did the requisite cringe), try this: “I’m someone who stays active with biking and hiking, and it would be great to find someone who shares similar interests.” Not only are you conveying information about yourself and what you hope to find in a relationship, but you come off much more pleasant and positive.

Anything inappropriate

Again, you’re making a first impression. Even if you have a “dirty” sense of humor or don’t want to pursue a relationship that doesn’t have a physical element to it, your bio is not the place for it. It can easily make the reader feel uncomfortable and leave your profile immediately, even if they do find that you have things in common. Keep the potty mouth for your friends.

A good dating profile requires thought and effort. You might be perfect for someone, but if you don’t express yourself well in the bio, they will never know it or be willing to give you the chance. Keep things positive and appropriate, and for goodness' sake, don’t write it in ALL CAPS.

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