Erika Ettin column: In dating, don’t be a cliché

People want to see the real you, quirks and all, even if it means excluding someone.

Erika Ettin
Erika Ettin
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We’re all so different in real life, but when it comes to online dating, it’s amazing how so many of us sound exactly the same. If you’re on any of the online dating sites or apps, you know what I’m talking about. People often write overused expressions and clichés to try to be more inclusive or get more matches, which often backfires. People want to see the real you, quirks and all, even if it means excluding someone. Overused lines don’t work. Let’s look at some of the biggest offenders:

1. I like to laugh and have fun.

The absence of saying this does not mean you don’t like to laugh and have fun, so it’s unnecessary. If you do, in fact, like to have fun, let’s talk about what you like to do for fun. Comedy shows? Renaissance festivals? Walks along your favorite trail? All provide so much more detail than a generic “I like fun” statement.

2. I’m just as happy with a night on the town as I am staying in.

Is that really true? Especially in COVID! Yes, most of us can be happy out some nights and in others, but that doesn’t set you apart. Does “out” mean Lincoln Center, or your neighborhood Mexican place? Does “in” mean reading a book on the couch or binge-watching all the seasons of "Ozark"? Big difference.


3. I love trying new restaurants.

Many of us do. What’s your favorite cuisine? Do you cook, too? How about saying, “I’m trying to replicate the best lasagna I had in Italy. It’s a work in progress.” or “I pick my restaurant choices based on the dessert menu.”

4. I love to travel.

For this one, I give the same advice as the point above. Be more specific. Are we talking about weekend road trips, or skiing in Italy? Trips to the beach, or active adventures? Both constitute “travel” but mean very different things.

5. I’m looking for someone who doesn’t take life too seriously.

Leave this out and add something unique about yourself. Even a slight variation to “I’m looking for someone who can watch a sad movie, make a joke, and laugh/cry at the same time” paints a clear (and adorable) picture in our head, unlike the original generic line.

6. I’m looking for someone to grow old with.

Are you trying to say you’re looking for a long-term relationship? It’s OK to say that. No need to use a cliché when you can state what you’re actually looking for.


7. My family and friends are so important to me.

I think most of us can say something similar, so saying this loses its importance.

Take a look at your profile on whichever site(s) you’re currently using, and see if you have any of these overused lines. Is there a way to change them around to make yourself stand apart? As a test, when you’re out and about, look at the person next to you (who you presumably don’t know) and ask yourself, “Could this person have written the same profile as I did?” If the answer is yes, let’s do something about it.

Erika Ettin is the founder of  A Little Nudge  , where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter,  , for updates and tips. ©2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Related Topics: DATING
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