It’s midnight, and I’m lying in bed searching for a partner-in-crime to hike trails and grab margaritas with when an attractive stranger with strongly defined shoulders and a witty bio suddenly appears on my phone screen. Against my better judgment, I disregard their basic gym-mirror selfie and decide to give them the benefit of the doubt. Fatal mistake. I take a deep breath and smile, put down my phone, then wake up the next day and check my notifications to see that we’ve matched and they’ve sent me three messages. Before reading them, I start to fantasize about how our story will play out.

“Why do you think training Brazilian jiu-jitsu is going to be a plus on a dating app?” 

“It’s like the girls who post pictures at the shooting range… I don’t get it. It’s just a huge red flag.” 

“Then I look at your Instagram feed and I see the other glaring red flags. Lol hopeless.” 

Well, that was harsh and unexpected. But wait, there’s more! To add insult to injury, they unmatch me before I can even think to respond.

I can’t help but think, what the actual fuck? Is it really a turn-off to promote the fact that I’m proud to know how to defend myself, or are people like this just projecting their own insecurities onto me? What else is wrong with my profile?

As it turns out, our online dating profiles are littered with content that might be turning away future matches. Often, this can be a good thing: Being upfront about who you are can help weed out the prospects who wouldn’t be a good fit, anyway. I don’t mourn the loss of my gym-mirror selfie match who was intimidated by my Brazilian jiu-jitsu training. But in some cases, the content we choose to share can do more harm than good, even when we think we’re being funny, cute, harmless, and/or honest. These Tinder taboos could be working against you by repelling potential matches rather than reeling them in — fishing pics and other puns included.

1. Judgmental Requirements For Your Matches 

Saying what you don’t want in a match could be limiting your opportunities. By stating that you’re not interested in short guys or that you prefer redheads or that you’re only looking to date someone of a specific education level is close-minded, and will result in prospects who don’t fit the bill Noping you. Whatever you think you want, things might change when you connect with the right person. Be open to dating outside of your type and you might just be surprised. 

2. “Red Flag” Hobbies And Basic Interests 

Once upon a time, my Tinder bio read “hate small talk, love burritos” (super clever, I know). I’ve since changed it so I’m not a hypocrite and, therefore, can attack folks like my former self in this hot take. Everyone loves tacos. Most of us enjoy cuddling. A lot of people watch TV. *yawn* 

Instead, think about what sets you apart from the crowd and might inspire someone to Like you. Do you have a side hustle? Volunteer in your spare time? Any quirky skills? Share that insight instead. 

When it comes to hobbies, it’s a mixed bag. Obviously, some women who train male-dominated sports intimidate people (see: intro), just like men who share photos posing next to the dead fish or deer they just killed scare away vegetarians, animal lovers, and environmental activists. Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you share your potentially polarizing hobby upfront. Just know that by doing so, you’re making a deliberate choice to exclude certain prospects.  

3. Photos With Exes

If you take away one thing from this story, please let it be this. Avoid posting pictures with your ex at all costs, no matter how good you look in them. Ex-related content is hands down the number-one Tinder profile taboo. A good general rule of thumb when it comes to talking about exes with new people you’re dating is to…not until the topic naturally comes up. The exception: if you have kids together or there is another reason why their presence in your potential partner’s life would be unavoidable. 

4. Memes

We can all appreciate a good meme but browsing through someone’s photos to find one that’s clearly ill-placed or, worse, not funny can be truly cringeworthy. Don’t waste precious profile real estate on a joke that probably isn’t worth telling and even more likely is not your own. You get nine photos to show off your smile, your dog, your handstand skills, and your not-so-humble travel brags. You have all the time in the world to DM quality memes to each other once you’ve established a mutual sense of humor or collected some inside jokes.

5. Kinks And Fetishes

We’re all for embracing your sexuality, but chill TF out with the TMI before you even say hello to someone. Enough said. Hard pass.

6. Politics And Religion (Unless It’s A Deal Breaker)

You know the saying. “Try not to talk about politics or religion, because a fight always breaks out when you mention either topic in front of your racist Uncle Joe” — or something along those lines. The same thing goes for the early phases of dating. If it’s a deal breaker for you to date someone whose political affiliations or religious beliefs don’t align with yours, then by all means go ahead and include it on your profile. If those things aren’t that important to you, even if they are part of your identity, then consider saving yourself from (or simply prolonging) the inevitable debate. 

7. Your Myers-Briggs And Enneagram Test Results

I’m an INFJ-T and a 4w3, but you’ll never catch me placing those seemingly gibberish letter-number combos in my bio. That’s because our personality test results mean more to us than they do to anyone else. These identifications are helpful in the sense that you can use them to learn how to better navigate the circumstances of your life based on your natural inclinations and traits, but they aren’t meant to be used for filtering out or attracting dates. They can, however, help you come up with an awesome first date idea. 

8. Your Sun, Rising, Moon, And/Or Venus Signs

It’s cool to be spiritual and check your horoscope everyday. As a budding astrologer myself, I get it. But for the love of those who don’t give a shit about astrology or those who you have yet to enlighten, please don’t list your zodiac signs in your bio. The people who understand birth-chart compatibility are limited to you, maybe your best friend, and anybody else who uses the Co-Star app. If you must, after you match, casually ask when their birthday is and where they were born, then secretly pull up their natal chart in the privacy of your own phone. After all, some secrets are harmless.