Should You Say In Your Profile That You’re Looking For Marriage?

a woman trying out a wedding gown

Hi, Evan!

What are your thoughts on stating explicitly in my profile what I categorically do want in a relationship and, conversely, what I categorically do not want? I know we’re supposed to keep our profiles positive, light, and personal without being scary. Is there an upbeat, non-attacking way to say that I want to get married and will only consider meeting men who want the same? I don’t want to sound harsh (or scary), but neither do I want to spend any more time in my life getting to know someone only to discover that he isn’t looking to get married.

I don’t see much benefit in wading through all the ambivalent suitors out there just to be polite. Related to this, there are some matches that just will not work with me — smokers, for one, and guys who are enraged with their exes and monologue about them ceaselessly.  

So, in sum, I want to meet emotionally and legally available guys who are serious in their intent to marry and who are willing to consider me as a possible mate, applying to me the same thoughtful consideration that I must apply to them. If I am not a contender for the one-and-only spot in someone’s heart, I don’t want to chat with him through a dating site. And presumably, a fellow looking for something that I can’t/won’t provide might appreciate it if I say at the get-go what a no-starter for me would be.  

All this deal-breaker kind of talk does seem rather heavy for an introductory profile. But I wouldn’t interview a computer analyst if I were hiring for a forest ranger job, and I wouldn’t audition for Cirque de Soleil if I were afraid of heights and couldn’t do all those bendy things (much as I would love to be in Cirque de Soleil). At some point both parties have to lay it on the line, and today I’m thinking that sooner rather than later is the way to go. What do you think?


Dear Suzan,

A snippet from a man’s profile:

“If you’re over the age of 34, don’t waste your time. If you don’t like guys who flirt with other women, stop reading. If you’re not fit and thin with curves in all the right places, we’re probably not a match. If you can’t feel secure unless you’re telling me what to do, you might want to skip the rest of this.”

Listed above are the needs and wants and thought processes of a good number of men. You might think they’re shallow and meaningless, but men want what men want. A young, hot woman who is easygoing and will allow him to be himself at all times. Yet if you read that profile above, you wouldn’t give the guy a second look. You’d probably pass it along to your friends because he sounds so horrible.

This is what happens when you state explicitly what you DON’T want. You sound shallow and negative and picky, even if what you desire is quite reasonable.

So for your rule of thumb…

Don’t say what you don’t want. Say what you DO want. Find the positive. Always. If you have been with fiscally irresponsible men in the past, say, “I want a guy who knows how to balance a checkbook — even if it’s online.” If you have a past with abusive men, say, “Chivalry and kindness are the keys to my heart.”

Which brings me to my other major point — one which probably should have led off this blog post:… You can’t stop the WRONG people from writing to you. This is not an opinion. This a fact. It doesn’t matter if you write in big bold letters, “FAT, SMOKING, UNEMPLOYED, BITTER, CREEPY, DIVORCED, PERVERTS NEED NOT APPLY,” you’re still going to get letters from them.

This may come as a shock, but there is absolutely no value into trying to turn these people away. You know why? Because they don’t care what you have to say. It costs nothing to send a canned email, so why shouldn’t they take a shot?

By definition, 95% of men are the “wrong” men for you. So don’t get so upset when they say hi. You are under no obligation to write back to them. Just delete ’em and move on.

I know your original email, Suzan, was about something much deeper — you’re looking for marriage and commitment, and you don’t want to waste your time. I’m not really comparing a guy’s desire for a flat tummy with your desire for   eternal love. But we are talking about deal-breakers here – yours and his. Thus, it doesn’t matter if you want marriage, a non-smoker, or a tall, red-headed fireman with a kinky side — the wrong people will always write to you. And by explicitly stating your intentions in your 200 word first essay, you will always sound too serious or heavy.

There are other experts who say you should state everything right up front so as not to waste your time. I disagree. You don’t bring up your ticking clock, your herpes or your abandonment issues until you’ve forged a connection. And by leading with your very reasonable desires in your profile, you may be killing your chances to forge a connection.

So hold off on the proclamations and use your best radar. If the guy sounds like a player by email, phone, or after the first couple of dates, you can always dump him. But there’s no proof-positive way to keep him away.

If the science of writing a compelling and likeable online dating profile seems tricky, you can have a professional writer do it for you. is my profile writing service, where you can fill out a questionnaire and/or talk to a writer on the phone. All of my writers have been trained personally by me and have written scores of profiles over the past 7 years.” target=”_blank”>Click here to get a profile that attracts the people YOU want to meet:

Warmest wishes,

Your friend,


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  1. 1

    I’ve read more than my fair share of “DO NOT CONTACT ME IF…” lists on dating sites. They always make the women seem angry, bitter, and shallow. See:
    as but one example.

    If you’re looking for marriage, then say it, but say it in a way that will attract those you’d like to actually marry. Stay away from the “don’t contact me if you’re only looking to get laid, or have no interest in a long term relationship” type statements. Focus on what you are looking for, rather than what you’re not.

  2. 2

    Reading this reminds me of a common objection women have to online dating: they really don’t like that men are looking for a woman with the “kid in the candy store” mentality, wondering which flavor tastes best and wanting to try them all instead of choosing just one like a good boy! But I don’t see that a woman looking for committment and avoiding undesirables is any different; she is also going shopping online and wants what she wants. It may sound nobler to say you want marriage instead of just to get laid, but in both cases it’s shopping and being shopped. If she gets rejected because she’s not thin or attractive enough, and he gets rejected because he’s not marriage material, aren’t they really playing it the same way? I agree about being positive and just getting in the game. You’re just highlighting your most positive attributes; isn’t that a good way to attract an equally great person with equally positive attributes?

  3. 3
    Jen From NYC

    Suzan, Evan is right on. As I wrote about 100 times before in other comments I posted, I found my man on JDate and I was on the site for 5-6 years before we found each other. I must have re-written my profile about 100 times. For a long time I wrote things like, “if you live with your mother, don’t contact me.” And, “I do not want a man who thinks a woman should pay on the first date.” Yeah, that got me no where.

    Evan is so right about being postive and basically accpeting that no matter what you write, you will still hear from the freaks and the geeks. I learned over time to be cordial and sweet to the guys I was not interested in. I tried to reply back even one sentence, as I believe karma is a bitch and although we live in the internet age, I would never just ignore a guy who approached me in a bar whom I wasnt interested in so why be rude on the internet.

    With all that said, I met my share of guys who did not meet my list of wants. I also came to understand that no one has everything, but it is okay and actually necessary to know in your head what you will accpet and will not. I just do not think it is necessary to write it all down. Your profile should be about you and reflect who you are. Most guys already know that woman have the “I can live with it,” Or no f-ing way!” list in their heads. I knew I did not want a guy who lived with his mother, or thought it was okay for a girl to pay on the first date. But I did not write that in my profile. I also did not write about past negative experiences, as I learned that a guy I may meet and date does not need to know that I thought my last boyfriend was a latent homosexual. No?

    We all want the “perfect person” for oursevles, and you will find the right one. My boyfriend is a wonderful man who definately is missing a few of the MUSTS I always planned to have in the man I spend my life with. More importantly, he has SO MANY of the musts I wanted, that the few he is lacking do not make a dent of a difference in how much I love him. Had I stuck to my list of must haves, I would have never have dated him and gd would I have been a fool. By all means, do not compromise. My girlfriends and I always talk about how important it is to be atttracted to the man you are with, as well as share many, not all of the same ideals and beliefs. Those things need to stay on the list….just keep a mental list and keep positive and you will attract the right man. Promise!

  4. 4
    Jen From NYC

    Sorry I forgot one thing: As for writing that you ONLY want a man who is looking for marriage. I really do not think you need to state that. As you date and meet these men, you will sense if this guy is in it for the long haul or just flings. And I totally think talking about marriage on a first meeting is rediculous. Just date and have fun. Of course if there are men who state explicidely, “I am not looking to get married,” believe it and keep going because he aint gonna change his mind for you.

    Finding a man who wants to get married is not tough. And remember, anyone can get married, it is finding the right one to marry that is the hard part.

  5. 5

    Personally, I think the “tick-box” section of your profile is the place to specify that you want a 6′ non-smoker without children. That way your essay’s can be bright and breezy

  6. 6

    Having experimented with online dating from time to time myself, I would echo what Evan says, i.e., say what I DO want. For instance: “Having grown up with both parents working outside the home, I’ve always believed in equality–not just on the career front, but on all fronts. The highest compliment I could ever give a woman is that she is my peer. A peer is independent enough to make & pay her own way in this world, yet saves room in her life for me. She is willing to split the cost of the first date with me, then take turns with me in paying for subsequent dates. If you are that peer, I await your reply.” Now that’s positive phrasing, is it not? It may not yield a whole lot of replies, but anyone, of either gender, who hopes to find gold must filter out a lot of dirt!

  7. 7

    There something that bothers me about this approach–what bothers me, and I suspect it bothers men too, is that you have an agenda. Most people don’t like feeling like they’re on someone’s agenda. Husband: check. House: check. 2.5 kids: check. It reduces dating and relating to some checklist of things to accomplish by such and such a date. I once had a boyfriend tell me, “I don’t want to be on your agenda. I want to BE your agenda.” I’ve never forgotten that.

    And it bothers me that so many women look at dating as some kind of trial they must endure to win their mate. It’s not a competition! I always approached my dates with the attitude that I was getting to know people, having fun, and taking it from there. I’ve gone on a lot of dates, and I’ve even made some friends. I’ve been disappointed that the men weren’t as cute or as witty in person that they were in their emails, but the dates were almost all pleasant.

    You can tell within 2-3 dates whether or not the guy wants marriage. To me it’s time well spent.

  8. 8

    collins- i liked your post. i like the he pays one date she pays the next date. where do you live? i’m in the chicago area. 🙂

  9. 9

    As some folks have pointed out here, the most important thing is to project a positive image in your profile. Negative language is a definite turn-off because it projects a negative attitude. I read one guy’s profile that said, “don’t write me if…” and “I don’t like women who….”. ugh!

    All dating sites I’ve been on allow you to check off the box if you want marriage and children. I’ve found that if a guy doesn’t want that he won’t indicate….but if he checks off that he does it doesn’t nec mean that he truly wants it, but you’ll find that out after a couple of dates.

  10. 10

    In my colleague’s matchmaking experience, women who created extensive lists detailing EITHER what they did or did not want found their dating prospects dramatically decreased. Why? Because they came off as too high-maintenance. It makes far more sense to create a profile that appeals to a large number of people and then begin the filtering process through further communication.

  11. 11

    Christine, I live in eastern Idaho, a LONG way from Chicago. But thanks for the compliment on my post.

  12. 12
    Hadley Paige

    RE: expressing your wants in your profile

    From my perspective, the longer the list, the more the woman seems to me to be high maintenance (which I definitely don’t want). Expressing her wants, needs and desires in a positive, well written, charming way helps, but tis still a list.

    Advice to the ladies>> keep the needs list short & positive.

  13. 13

    Sorry, Collins, but if you put that in your profile, you would simply come off to me as cheap.

  14. 14

    I thought what Collins wrote as an example is okay up to ……… but has room in her life for me. Nix the accounting details or yes, that comes across as petty. Good idea of how to handle things but not in a profile, IMHO. Instead, perhaps tack on what else might be appealing in a peer, sharing of intellectual pursuits, whatever. Then the concluding sentence he wrote. Just my 2 cents. I hate the online thing, personally. I also believe in at least responding with a quick sentence back to acknowledge the person and say sorry. That can get overwhelming.

  15. 15

    We guys can’t win, can we? If we don’t pay for the first date, we’re cheap, & if we do, we invite golddiggers. Well, if I do come across as cheap, at least I can filter out those women who view men as ATMs, sperm donors &/or rescuers (& to be fair, not all women do, just like not all men view women as sex objects). On the other hand, I could, in Marie’s words, “create a profile that appeals to a large number of people & then begin the filtering process through further communication.” Marie’s strategy might make sense especially for the guys, given that the gals tend to be inundated with e-mails within minutes of releasing their profiles, while the guys get hardly any e-mails except from porn-star-like girls who are most likely spammers.

  16. 16

    Collins, I actually thought your suggesting in your profile that the gal pay on the first date was a joke. First meetings online, IMO, should be coffee or a drink, this way neither party feels obligated since you don’t know the person.

    If a guy expects me to pay on a first date or even for coffee I take it he’s not interested and move on. In my experience a decent guy will pay on the first date if he’s interested in you. And decent women expect the same.

    I beleive there’s a whole other post on this topic so I won’t rant here.

  17. 17

    I don’t know if this is the best thread to put this on, but here goes. Should a woman write in her profile that she is debt-free, or financially responsible, or owns her own home, or anything to show that she’s got her own money and isn’t looking for a goldmine? Not trying to incite a flame war, but since so many men on this board have commented on the fear of golddigging women, don’t know what I should do in regards to my online profile.

  18. 18

    hi Evan, yes i want to be married to an intelligent guy, dawn to earth, some one who is understanding and who knows how to take care of a woman(woman’s needs). i am working yes i have my own car and i am planning to buy a house also next year. but then it doesnt mean that i dont need a man who will provide me if i need something. i want a man who will show me that he loves me more than anything, whom when i am not with, he will sms me or call me to let me know that he loves me and miss me you know a romantic man. and the other thing is, if i get married i dont want to change and become a different person, meaning stop visiting my friends, not going out with them just because i’m married, i want me amd my man to leave the way we used to leave b4 we marry because is all about controlling yourself if your out with your friends and not forgetting that your married thats all. We must just talk and agree about what we want and dont want and try to solve a problem imediately if there is any.

  19. 19

    Hi Evan congratulations on the birth of your first child!

    Never say at the start what it is you want just have fun exchange ideas and listen to what he says. I wish to be married in 2012, which is making me more selective. Of course I never tell men that I’m training to be a wife, ha.

    I understand you’re on a budget. And you should pay for the first dates even if she offers to spilt the bill.  
    May I guess that you are under 30 years old?

  20. 20

    Okay – this is why I like your stuff – ha – you are hysterically funny and your advice kicks ass:

    “There are other experts who say you should state everything right up front so as not to waste your time. I disagree. You don’t bring up your ticking clock, your herpes or your abandonment issues until you’ve forged a connection. And by leading with your very reasonable desires in your profile, you may be killing your chances to forge a connection.”

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