For every online dater who’s still figuring out what’s right for them, there’s another who knows just what they like. Generally, I’d recommend not being overly particular if you can help it. Limiting your dating pool unnecessarily will make it that much harder for you to find someone and being surprised by someone is often the beginning of falling in love.

I can also acknowledge that you may have certain “must-haves” that, for perfectly good reasons, you cannot bend on. That’s fair.

It’s easy, however, when you have very specific requirements, to come across as demanding or controlling in your online dating profile. Certain stigmas can also be attached to certain needs (“golddigger,” “energy sucker,” etc.).

So how do you separate the wheat from the chaff without the negative repercussions? Try “saying it without saying it.”

Is it important to you to be with someone who’s financially stable, but you don’t want potential partners to think you’re shallow? Use words like “secure,” “successful,” “ambitious,” and “stable,” to describe who you’re looking for. Do you like people who are a little submissive in bed, but you don’t want people to assume that you’re into hardcore S+M? Maybe you’re looking for someone who “likes to be taken care of” or “doesn’t mind when someone else takes charge.”

It may feel strange to not just come right out and say it, but remember that tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language don’t come into play at all online. Have you ever sent a text that started a fight because the recipient read your tone wrong? It happens. And it means that online, we have to be a bit more creative in how we choose our words if we want to get what we want.

More like this:

Online Dating 101: You’re Not Dating, You’re Searching

Online Dating 101: What to Do When You’re No Longer Interested

Online Dating 101: You Don’t Have to Respond to Everyone

Online Dating 101: The Worst Thing to Bring Up on a First Date

Online Dating 101: Keep it Fresh

Online Dating 101: Leave Sex Out of It

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