I’ve noticed a curious behavior on dating apps like Tinder that always dumbfounds me.
It’s the common habit of women writing something like the following on their dating profiles:
- “Not here for hookups!”
- “If you’re only interested in sex, swipe left…”
- “Don’t bother messaging if you only want something casual…”
Whenever I come across such profiles, I can’t help but ask myself: Does that really work??
Not because I believe that dating sites are only useful to facilitate quick sex and no-strings-attached physical encounters. Quite the opposite: I’ve known plenty of friends who have used sites like Tinder or Bumble and ended up finding dates that eventually turned into relationships and (and in one case even an engagement).
Rather, when a woman says emphatically, “No hookups!”, my thought is always: This is exactly the kind of thing that scares great guys away.
This might seem counter-intuitive, so at the risk of seeming unclear, here are the three major reasons why women should avoid writing this on their profile:
Reason #1 – It doesn’t really help you filter out “players”
When a woman stresses on her profile how much she “DEFINITELY doesn’t want hookups”, she might do so because she believes this makes her appear high value to a man.
However, while I understand the intention, the strategy is entirely wrong.
Sure, there may be a few “player types” who are scared off by such a line, but there are also a fair amount of guys who are just as spurred on by such a challenge (or who at least ignore it entirely).
In other words, just saying, “I hate players!” isn’t some kind of lethal kryptonite that destroys every man who just wants a hookup.
The only REAL effective filter is judging guys based on their actions and looking for little signs in actual conversation.
- Does he want to invest time in seeing you, or does he just always try to get you over to his place?
- Does he seem curious about who you are, or does he barely listen to what you say?
- Does he push for sex on a first date, or does he take his time?
- Does he say he squirm whenever the topic of relationships or marriage comes up? Does he say he is “just having fun” right now, or does he express a desire for something more serious?
I suspect in some ways, just writing “No hookups!” on a profile is an attempt at a shortcut. It’s wanting to screen out the worst guys without doing the actual work of screening them through the methods above.
But there is no 100% foolproof way to do this in dating: There’s certainly no way to do it on a dating app, just as there’s no certain way to know if the cute guy who chats you up in a coffee shop isn’t only asking for your number so that he can sleep with you and then never call again. That’s why you always have to watch both his actions and his words and pace yourself before you jump in too deep with a new guy.
(Note: Of course, you could write on your profile something like, “I’m looking for a great guy who cares about family, closeness, etc.” because at least in this case you’re writing it as a positive rather than the negative “No hookups!” approach…)
Now, we’ve seen how writing “no hookups” on your profile can be ineffective in filtering out players, but there’s also another reason you should avoid such a strategy…
Reason #2 – It scares good men away
Whenever I see the phrase: “Swipe left if you just want a hookup!”, it’s as though the person who writes this believes that a stable, mature, kind, high-achieving man is going to read that and think to himself, “Ah good. A woman who doesn’t want to play games and who is really ready for a relationship. That’s great.”
But what he REALLY thinks is, “Wow, she seems intense.”
Think about it: he may be open to a relationship with the RIGHT woman, but also not be 100% certain what he wants yet.
But now he’s being asked to date a woman with an exact outcome in mind, knowing that if he later decides he doesn’t want to commit to something long-term, he may get a world of grief, be accused of being a player, or get a highly emotional response that makes him sorry he even took the chance in the first place.
Showing how much you are desperate not to meet a player doesn’t make him think you’re serious. It makes him think you’ve been burnt, that you’re jaded, that you’re someone who is suspicious of men and has a negative view of guys in general.
And nothing is more unattractive to a new partner than someone who still lives with previous emotional baggage.
Which bring us to the final reason you should avoid writing this on your profile…
Reason #3 – You start identifying yourself as a “victim”
When you paint yourself as a woman who is always afraid of being burnt by “players” or dishonest guys, you begin to identify yourself with the label of being a victim.
Taking on this role makes it so much harder to appear fun, relaxed, open and willing to embrace that tingle of spontaneity that occurs when you first start dating someone new. It sucks the fun and mystery away and makes a man feel like he is more being sized up for a relationship than just getting to know and connect with you.
Bottom line: We cannot have fun dating if we’re always afraid of being gut-punched by love.
That doesn’t mean you have to be naïve: you can still meet a guy with eyes wide open and without putting your whole heart on the line with a guy you barely know, but if you go in always waiting to be let down, you’ll scare away any guy with honest intentions.
Good guys resent being treated like bad ones. If you don’t know a guy and he peaks your curiosity, give him the benefit of the doubt until he gives you reason not to.
No-one likes being the object of suspicion and doubt. Don’t be the one who makes him feel like he has to justify himself before he even knocks on the door.
Stephen Hussey helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.
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43 Replies to “Why Writing “No Hookups” Won’t Stop Bad Guys”
Great article, Stephen. Well done. I really like that you and Matthew focus on empowering women to discern a quality man based on his behavior and not just his words. And frankly let’s be honest, so many of us (ME included,) have justified a low quality man’s behavior because we just didn’t want to own who he really is, OR scared off a decent guy with defensiveness. Thanks for all you do!
Thank you so much Kelly. That really means a lot. :)
Perhaps a good idea on dating profile, is just put what you *are* loooking for, rather than what you’re *not*.
If you say you don’t want x,y or z– you’re in danger of attracting x,y or z. If I said to you: “Don’t think of a pink elephant”– what comes to mind straight away?
I see the point you’re trying to make, Stephen. I’m not sure if I agree with it, though. On a free dating site that I’m on, I have a disclaimer. I’ve tried not having it multiple times, but always get inundated with messages from guys my parents age, 30 yr olds looking for a cougar to sleep with, guys with high sex drives that are in town on business frequently looking for someone to sleep with, friends with benefits & someone who wants a 3rd person. Maybe I’m taking the wrong approach & missing out on a good guy, but it’s overwhelming & depressing to have to wade through that all that. I’m not convinced “write your profile with only positives” will stop me having to deal with it. I’m definitely open to suggestions.
It’s so discouraging I don’t even bother anymore!
Why aren’t we also teaching men how to properly treat women? Oh wait I forgot, the sexual revolution and our own willingness to participate has literally and figuratively screwed us.
Michelle- AMEN! And things are getting worse
In my experience, the free dating sites typically have less desirable men to date. Before giving up on online dating, you might try a “paid” site, which tends to weed out many of the less desirable dating candidates. There’s no guarantee, of course, but that’s why there’s a delete button to get rid of those who aren’t your type.
I agree with Judi-paid dating sites tend to have more quality options looking for LTR. Although I met my wonderful boyfriend on a free app created by women to empower women (and found a number of quality men on there before meeting the guy I’m with). I highly recommend it: called Coffee Meets Bagel.
As I said in the article, you may weed out *some* of those players by writing “no hookups”, but I really do think it comes at a price of making guys feel a lot of pressure in the early dates, as though they need to be very certain of their intentions from the first message.
Maybe you ONLY want guy who are 100% certain in what they want, in which case, if it’s working for you then great, but in my experience many good guys (who would be open to a relationship) feel put off by a woman who says “no hookups”, especially if, as is often the case on Tinder, this is ALL they write in their profile.
I would go for a middle ground. Say the kind of thing you DO want, e.g. “Looking for an amazing man with whom I can travel the world, share my appreciation for art (and cuddles), and have an incredible connection” – something along those lines.
Or if it’s a dating site which gives you options, just check the box that says “Looking for a relationship”, but THEN use your profile to talk about THE KIND of man you like (e.g. ambitious, fun-loving, a great cook etc.).
Both of these alternative makes you seem more positive and exciting, rather than making it sound like you’ve been burnt and are scared of getting used for hookups/sex.
Hope that makes sense! Thanks for your thoughtful comment.
Hi Stephen, I think the article is great. I think it’s ridiculous to say that you’re not looking for a hook up. I especially think it’s ridiculous when I guy puts that on his profile. Maybe you won’t find what you’re not looking for. Wouldn’t that suck? I’d rather say something about what I am looking for. Eventually if I like you and you meet my standards we will be “hooking up” I think the idea of a profile is to spark a conversation and a date. There are a lot of things immediately you can use to weed out the players without having to state it in the profile. Thank you for the great article.
I am not on any kind of dating platform anymore, I stopped wasting my time but my experience was that men do not care what you write. They will try their luck, it’s a numbers game.
It actually happened that I wrote “I am not looking for a hookup” (something similar) and a guy messaged me how brave I was stating that I was looking for a hookup. He completely omitted the ‘not’
Also I admit I wrote this, or when I met guys in clubs initially said “Oh no, Im not doing it” but at the end we ended up in bed.
I am pretty sure I am not the only one so men know exactly that saying you’re not looking for a hookup is meaningless. They will just assume you are trying to hard to get in a way.
Well this is my experience
This is why in the article I say that writing how much you hate “players” or “hookups” doesn’t really make a difference. We have to look at HOW SOMEONE BEHAVES.
e.g. that guy in the club who wants to take you home on the first night. When you say “no”, is he pushy about it? Does he follow up by wanting to schedule a proper date? It’s up to us to define our standards, and not let people in so quickly that we have no time to actually judge who they are (this is a good reason not to sleep with a guy too fast, if you are worried about him just wanting sex).
Btw – there are men who read women’s profiles in online dating. And that’s something you’ll also be able to tell by his questions. Does he take an interest in the things you write about yourself? Does he pay attention to what you say? You can test all these things before you ever see this guy for a real date, so look out for those and you’ll get a better picture of who he is.
Thanks for your comment. All the best.
I think guys get aroused/ excited at words “hook up.” esp if that is their pattern. Addicted. And u might as well take a number, because he thinks he is at the deli. Next!
Seriously it’s the first time I am posting because this article and the examples are a load of crap.
Nobody ain’t got time for that seriously. Who will waste their time telling the 30th guy, after a drink or two “oh sorry I didn’t know you just wanted to hook up I thought you would be interested to know me better”. I signed out of dating websites because of this kind of propositions. It’s just too tiring and going as well for dinner and the guy finally telling you that he is not happy with his girlfriend but doesn’t want to be alone so is dating to find the next. Isn’t it supposed to be the contrary, you break up first and then you find someone else? Lots of crazy people out there. Your advice doesn’t help at all either. I know I will meet the One but for now I preserve my sanity from all this stupidity.
I appreciate your point that it can be frustrating when you have bad experiences in dating,and my point in this article isn’t to encourage you to waste more time with bad men.
My point is that saying “No hookups” or “No players!” is an ineffective strategy for filtering out guys, and worse, it scares away great guys because it makes you sound like someone who has a negative view of men in general (which the tone of your comment seems to imply). It’s true as you say there are “lots of crazy people out there”, but there are also lots of eligible, kind, interesting people out there as well, which is why we have to be open-minded and go into things positively instead of always looking to avoid the worst.
Thanks for commenting,
I”m replying again because I think it’s important. I don’t put anything negative in my profile and I think I’m positive about men. So good for them. They go in thinking I’m fun.
But really? It’s not always fun. I’m so very tired as other women have written here. You aren’t really addressing that. Sure, we won’t scare men away by taking your advice. But it leaves us with a lot of sorting to that only makes us more tired.
If the dating fatigue isn’t addressed then we might be too tired by the time we get to the 10th? 50th? 100th? guy who may be the one, the awesome, patient, great guy we want to meet. I believe I will meet him. But I didn’t know who I’d *be* when I did meet him so I got off the dating websites. And I feel peaceful, positive about men, and free. Isn’t that what a man wants a woman to be like when he meets her?
Stef, no offense, but does it really make us “bad” women if we were previously hurt by men and we ae not afraid to talk about it? Does that make us “uneligble” if we (logically, due to experience) carry emotional baggage? I normally really love your article, and I understand your point here, but I cannot help feeling a little hurt right now. This kinda argument is not fair. I am not saying that carrying baggage is attractive because it is not, but you can hardly blame us for it. Lots of men carry emotional baggage too, as they were hurt by women, too. That does not make them bad people.
I think a lot of online stuff is just about sex. Not worth it to me to deal with what i see as offensive and a kind of emotional assault. Sad world these days. I read this stuff for my real life interactions
I never thought about this actually until I came across this site and Matthew’s programs, but I did exactly the same – first line on my profile would be ”No hookups” as well as last one, but with bit of humor, like ”again, if you missed first line, no hookups” yet 50% of messages would be almost direct about sex. It might be coincidence, but as soon as I removed ”no hookups” and replaced it with who/what Im after, I certainly receive less rude and direct comments.
I actually agree about it sounding bit aggressive and negative and I think now if a person is smart enough (I am definitely after the smart one ha), he would be able to get right from the beginning of the conversation what my intentions are. Usually I know very good place for them to go if they continue trying their luck :)
I agree this gets frustrating sometimes, but it certainly not boring. Great article, I’m glad I found this!
It’s not that there are so many bad men. It’s just so many men who aren’t the right ones. It’s gets so tiring to sort through them. To be open and fun only to find he’s not the one, again and again and again.
While you can’t really shortcut the process it’s so long to find the right man. I’ve been doing this for years. I have to take long breaks away from dating just to do other stuff for a while that is fun to me.
I’m funny but I can be intense too. I just haven’t met anyone on the sites who really is ready for a relationship with me. And a guy not knowing what he wants? Doesn’t really attract me any more. He doesn’t have to have everything figured out but he has to at least know he wants a long-term relationship with someone, even if it turns out not to be me.
I agree with everything you said. But I will also add…its rough being a woman. There are all sorts of tricks men use to get what they want – which is usually just sex. Men will go out of their way to pretend they are nice guys, or relationship guys or whatever necessary to gain your trust. After they get what they want and they disappear.
So I can understand why a lot of women start feeling suspicious every time any guy takes an interest in her. When you’ve been lied to enough times, its really hard to remain trusting and positive :(
I am very very careful with men these days. Getting hurt a lot does that
So I’m poly, meaning I get attracted to multiple people at the same time, sometimes having multiple relationships at once. Right now I’m enjoying being fluid, just having close connections with people that sometimes include being physical- not committed or a relationship, just… Going with the flow ;)
But when I first see a new person, if we have that kind of connection and they know I’m up for being physical they want to rush to the finish line. They want sex the first time I see them, or very soon afterwards, I guess because we’re not ‘dating’ towards a relationship they’re viewing it more as friends with benefits? I don’t know. But I miss the slow burn and sexual tension that comes from gradually getting physical over time, and sex just isn’t so great for me when I don’t know the person.
So, how can I better communicate what I want to people? And what’s a way of saying “I want to fool around but not have sex yet but I don’t want to date you romantically but I want to keep seeing you and being free to physically act on our attraction to eachother” that’s a bit more smooth and snappy to voice in the heat of the moment??
Try just saying those words. I think your deliberate ambiguity probably causes more problems than u realize. U do not want to say no. Attraction is really nothing. U have to be about more than attraction.
I will echo the same sentiments as others. I just dated someone I met online for the past month or so. My profile is positive. I required all of the things you mention — proper dates, an interest in me, what I like to do, proper communication (i.e., phone calls and text), etc…the minute we were intimate, he started to fade. I got curious, went online and lo and behold he ex (who he said just happened to have drama with recently, despite breaking up a YEAR ago), just “happened” to be in town. I can only require and watch behavior, I can’t force someone to be transparent. I ended it immediately even though he denies seeing her. So, it is frustrating when you’re doing what you can and realize some guys will still do all the “right” things and then do an about-face.
You can know that a lot of men want sex and then run. That is why women used to, for most part, not sleep with men before marriage. Not “even” engagement. That has destroyed our society, easy sex for men
I have a mix of things on my profile and have been contacted by many men. I can count on one hand the number of “whineybutt” responses I have gotten (because I am seeking a nonsmoker, for example) because something on my profile caused their butthurt.
Most of the responses I’ve had was applause, whether we ended up on a date or not.
My profile includes a meme that reads, “Cinderella didn’t have to take off her dress to get her Prince… and neither do you.” I also have one that reads, “Boyfriends do not get husband privileges.” The men who have asked me for a date told me this was the thing that impressed them the most; that I have standards and haven’t been with every Tom, Dick, and Harry; and they don’t want an “overly-experienced” woman. Men who are “really great guys” won’t be aiming for your g-spot. “Really great guys” are in control of their genitalia; their genitalia don’t control them.
The “life’s too short” on many a man’s profile is a red flag that states he’s in a hurry to hit the sack. I have all the time in the world. I’m not desperate. I know my value. And if/when I meet “the one”, and we end up married, he will be WELL taken care of! Because any man that respects my worth is going to get his brains respected outta his head for the rest of his days. There is no greater aphrodisiac.
What about “I am looking for a serious relationship.” ? It is positiv. It won’t stop all bad guys to contact you. But it won’t scare away the good man.
I know that a lot of “Mingles” who are maybe good man out there might get scared by the words “serious relationship”
but it is not my duty to convince good man to see that they are ready.
A man who knows what he wants gets the job, gets the girl and gets the life.
That last paragraph is kind of gross.
Just be careful with men who like your challenge and then run.
I agree totally, but there’s one more reason not to write such a thing on a profile: because even if someone ISN’T looking for an immediate hookup, there’s a subtle undercurrent of the *possibility* that a hookup could happen, and that *possibility* is tantalizing and (for me anyway) adds a certain thrill. Because let’s face it, don’t we usually size people up as potential sex partners? We might think about someone “I wonder what he/she is like in bed”. But if you say at the outset “No hookups”, for me it kind of kills that air of mystery. And mystery is intriguing. Whether you have no intention of actually hooking up is beside the point.
Yes. Partly because we live in this weird culture. But partly because a man wants to think u might make an exception FOR HIM. But mainly, u need to stay out of gutters in life.
Reading the comments here is so frustrating for me, it must be even worse for you, Stephen! To the women out there who are looking for the advice that’s going to make it easier, there is none. It’s hard to sort through all of those men and even harder when your emotions are involved. This is speaking from experience, I met over 100 men from dating sites over the course of a year!
It makes me cringe when I see women use some version of the “no hookup” line. I suspected it was non-productive for the exact reasons you list. I have coached my friends (both men and women) in writing their profiles and one of the first things I suggest is to keep it positive. This is simply based on my own personal experience. As soon as I read what a man does not want or any kind of negativity, I am no longer interested in him.
I agree. Always be positive. Do not put up restrictions. People should already respect normal boundaries.
But 100 men?! Why in the world that many?! Never. U need to read where Matthew says LESS DATES.
Same with guys writing “No drama…” Shows me you date drama queens repeatedly. And I’m out.
Great advice as always….;)
Nice article and idea on hooking up. Almost guys send messages to you as your good-looking face and sexy body.
To Steven Hussey.
This article is eye opening.
It is one of the best advice articles, I have read to date.
Dating nowadays is exhausting.
Online dating, variable of expectations, people’s intentions.
I too, have been frustrated by online dating.
Had been posting off putting declarations.
Every thing you wrote, is accurate.
From a woman’s perspective, thinking.
To a man’s. All correct.
So after reading your column, I made changes to my profile.
We all want to protect our feelings.
To ensure we do not suffer any undo dating stresses.
But it is never that easy, by posting negative statements.
Best to screen person by his words and actions, over time.
What “no hookups” conveys to a man–preemptively–is that the woman writing it ALREADY considers him to be of low value: it doesn’t “scare good guys away”, it INSULTS them by lumping them in with the self-centered idiots who still hold the adolescent perception that their d*cks are the most important thing in the universe.
How about not getting on Tinder just to go against the grain? It’s like sitting down at a steakhouse, ordering a steak and then yelling about how beef is bad and you’re not into eating it and oh the cows blah blah. This modern culture man, so ridiculous. You don’t need to include a caveat just gtf off of Tinder and let the grown ups who know what they want have fun.
Wow, whoever runs this blog is a 100% certified snowflake. If you have to censor people’s posts, your take on this particular issue is obviously terrible. Go ahead and delete this post too, you whiny little crybabies.
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