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. 21

    Collins, sorry dont agree with your post – we are all programmed by nature, and women dont really like to be treated as equals on the first few dates, as we like to feel as if we are being wooed.   It is human nature for a man to want to look after a woman – just a little, in the   initial stages of dating – as this is how evolution has designed men, and this is how men show they care for a woman.   It is just part of the “dating ritual”.   A woman picks up these signals and responds accordingly.   If she doesnt pick up these signals, her instinct is to assume she is not dating a “man” and she moves on to a more attractive proposition.   Later on in the relationship equality and doing things on a more equal par will happen as the male has proved his “masculinity”.   Sorry, but that is how it is and most happy relationships follow this format!

  2. 22

    Hmmm, apparently Collins’ post has triggered some issues. Here’s MY take:

    Women are just as equal to men. Collins’ post makes this clear. I’ve no problem with what he says. The women who are complaining really need to step back and think about why they’re irritated.

    Okay, yes, we women like to feel like we’re being wooed.   But what if Collins doesn’t have the biggest bank account in the world? Not every guy can be–or wants to be–Nelson Rockefeller. Yes, many men want to be wealthy to a degree that they’re comfortable with. But many men do things that are not-so-big-time-CEO-oriented, like teaching, for example. That is a field where MANY people, both men and women do not earn a whole lot. They do it because they LOVE it. We clearly don’t know Collins’ profession (Collins, care to share?), so what’s the point in judging him?

    I can pay my half for a date and still feel like I’m “being wooed” because I’m not paying for the whole thing. I’m only paying half. And splitting the bill on the first date is not really all that bad, especially if it’s an online deal, where you’re only just getting to know the other person. And I like Collins’ idea of trading off who pays for a date. It allows the woman to feel like she’s contributing, and it allows the guy to treat his lady. I see no big issue here.

    And I am definitely not the kind of woman who views men as an ATM. Heck, I didn’t even like being dependent on my DAD when I was a teenager. I hated having to ask him for money. So I got myself my own job, giving up my dance lessons to achieve this independence.

    This doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to nix the idea of letting men pay if they want to. What I would feel guilty about is if the guy does have extenuating financial issues (through no fault of his own), but they insist on spending more than they have, all in the name of “tradition.” If splitting the cost of a date means they are being fiscally responsible while still searching for the love of their life, then I would much rather have that than a man go into debt just to have me as his girl.

    Does this mean I don’t want a guy who makes a lot of money? It depends on what you mean by “a lot.” I don’t like a constant “poverty mindset” (love of money is the root of all evil, therefore I’m afraid of being wealthy), but neither do I want a guy who has a six-figure income but is a royal jerk. Heck, I don’t want a jerk, period, no matter how much–or little–money he makes. 😛 I just desire that, even if he doesn’t have a lot of money, that he’s responsible with it.

    And if THAT means he splits the check on the first date to make sure his personal checking account stays in the black, for his sanity’s sake (doesn’t want to end up homeless, without wheels, etc), then by all means, I’m down with that.



  3. 23

    But do you choose the “I am looking to get married” option if you are on a site like Plenty of Fish that explicity asks you what type of relationship you want?

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