It took only three swipes on Bumble to find a profile bio including the sentence, "I'm an open book, just ask."
That might be the least surprising lede I've ever written for an article. If you've spent any time on The Apps, you've likely noticed there's a sameness of language that pervades many bios. There are phrases that pop up over and over again: "Just say hi." "Quotes way too much from The Office." "Fluent in sarcasm."
There's a corner of my brain that keeps inconsequential conspiracy theories stored away like that one tin can of French-cut green beans you're never in the mood for. And it's there that I imagine a global meeting of online daters where it was decided that the only way to snarkily address height-related inquiries was to write, "[Height] because apparently that matters."
Over dinner with friends a few weeks ago, I brought up this topic, and one of them admitted he'd had that exact phrase about height in his Tinder bio. Feeling like maybe this was the first step in unraveling a mystery, I asked where he'd gotten it. He said a friend told him to put it in his bio. And when I got him to ask his friend where he'd heard it, the friend wasn't sure and thought maybe there was no point of origin, but rather that the whole thing was a convergent evolution.
Poring over Google results from years past also failed to turn up some first golden instance of the phrase.
So there likely was no meeting, or at least I wasn't invited. Nevertheless, the same language occurs across the genders, and, according to my international colleagues, across the bodies of water that used to provide much more effective barriers to the spread of trends.
Granted,. You're trying to figure out how to distill your personality -- all those intangible qualities that might actually endear you to someone -- into a few hundred characters. All the while, you're trying to find a certain economy, leaning on details that signal something deeper about your lifestyle.
So after chatting up friends, co-workers and strangers on the internet, I'm here to offer you The Love Syncs Guide to Online Dating's Most Annoying Phrases.
Fluent in sarcasm
It's quite possible that "sarcasm" has become shorthand for having a sense of humor. Ask yourself this, though: What exactly is appealing about constantly saying things you don't mean? And in that tone.
I'm an open book, just ask
Though it's a positive to signal an openness to share about yourself with a potential match, this phrase is most often a lazy-sounding stand-in for writing a bio. Don't forget, the point of a bio is to help others figure out if they want to talk to you. Don't invite them to go on a fishing expedition in hopes you both happen to enjoy Norwegian Slow TV.
[Height] because apparently that matters
Will I go ahead and blame societal hang-ups about gender and height on the patriarchy? Of course. In the meantime, adding this to your bio is like taking a snitty little (unneeded) swipe at future matches who actually might not care how tall you are.
A string of emoji
While it might seem cute to fill your bio with emoji representing the activities and interests you like-- a beer glass, a dog, a person doing yoga-- you're better off sticking to words and sentences that actually illustrate your personality. Though many have tried, a football is not a personality in and of itself. Also, please don't make your potential matches decode your emoji like hieroglyphics. Words are handy. Use them.
I'm bad at replying
Maybe you should work on that skill, given that's how most of these sites work.
I'm bad at bios
Self-improvement is a wonderful thing. Seize the opportunity. Moreover, instead of making a self-conscious comment, or an excuse for why you left your bio blank, take five minutes to put something down. Half of these apps have a 500 character limit. You will overcome this hardship.
Please be interesting
The implication here is that you are fabulously interesting. Or, at least interesting enough to pass judgment on others. But unless you're swiping from the top of Mount Everest with your best friend, a dancing bear, you're probably just like most other people on The Apps -- a human who works, pays bills, and has some shred of hope that enough swipes will yield what you're looking for.
Looking for a partner in crime
You better have a '66 Thunderbird we can drive off a cliff.
Not looking for a pen pal
Admittedly, if you talk to online daters, there's a common problem with chats that go on too long without either party making a move to meet in person. But preemptively scolding would-be matches is off-putting. Instead, maybe be more intentional about steering the conversation toward making plans, or better yet -- just ask.
Here for a good time, not a long time
If nothing else, at least you're being up front about what you're looking for. And hey, if someone else out there is also not looking for the whole white picket fence deal, it may not matter you're not Shakespeare. Consider once again, though, that even if you're trying to lock down a Friday night and nothing more, there are still tons of profiles competing against yours using the same verbiage.
Quotes way too much from The Office
It's totally reasonable to think that common interests will attract a potential match. Here's the thing, though: Pick an interest that's more unique to you than, say, liking one of the most popular television shows in recent memory. (Nielsen found The Office was the most watched show on Netflix in 2018.) At one point in time, perhaps liking The Office meant being the kind of person who likes cringe humor, pranks and heart-tugging will-they-won't-they romantic tension. These days, it just means you like a popular show. That's akin to hoping someone likes you because you're such a big fan of french fries. Much like puppies and sunshine, these aren't controversial interests.
Also ask yourself this: Do you really quote from The Office that much? How much is "way too much?" Does it border on annoying?
Just remember, quoting from The Office isn't a personality.
Looking for the Jim to my Pam (or vice versa)
On one hand, this could be a supereconomic line to have in your bio -- you're signaling that you're looking for something serious while also nodding to a piece of pop culture you're into. But to refer to the above entry, IT'S THE OFFICE. It's not unique. You might be better off picking characters from a show, movie or book that are more unusual (but not so obscure no one is going to know what you're talking about). OR you could forgo the cliche altogether and write something else.
If my dog doesn't like you, it's not going to work
Pet owners can get pretty wrapped up in their furry buddies. I, for one, have essentially surrendered the entire guest bathroom of my condo to my cat, Salsa. If you talk to dating coaches, though, they generally advise staying away from negative language in your profile. Just think: You haven't even met and you're already laying out a condition for how the relationship is going to fail. But at least you'll have your dog to cuddle with!
I'm just here for the dog pics
Genuinely, I have no idea what this is trying to communicate other than maybe a sense of humor? Or the ability to copy and paste on a mobile device?
Just moved here, show me around!
Being new to town is definitely a relevant detail to disclose. It can lead to some starter conversation about what prompted the move, or even chatting about places you've lived. The "show me around" part leaves the other person with those vague thoughts of "why?" and "surely Thrillist has several articles on this."
I've got my shit together. You should too.
Should they? Good for you for knowing what you want, but maybe be less abrasive about it? YIKES.
General references to having fun and laughing
Again, file this under "noncontroversial interests." You know what would be interesting? The person who hates laughing. Show me that human. I have questions.
Just say hi
CNET's Love Syncs is an advice column focusing on online dating. If you've got a question about finding love via app, send it to email@example.com for consideration.