turn offs when dating

Full disclosure: I wrote about these dating turn-offs a long time ago during my single days. I was absolutely exhausted from dealing with those horrible pick-up lines (do they get them from Instagram?) and wondering “when will people get the memo that none of these advances are welcomed?!” So I decided to write about what NOT to say when pursuing someone romantically. These turn-offs on the dating scene can end things before they’ve even started!

Also – while I’m probably preaching to the choir here – if by the off chance you are employing any of these strategies, I seriously encourage you to rethink them. But if you are a victim of these ridiculous attempts like I was, then feel free to enjoy it for a laugh!

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1. The I’m-Kind-of-a-Big-Deal Turn Off

Your approach is overflowing with confidence and yet, decidedly hapless. Tragically, the response is quite likely the opposite of your intentions: amusement followed by pity.

You say: “My salary is several times larger than anyone else I know.”
I hear: “You seem like a gold-digger and I think you’ll be impressed by this.”

You say: “I’m extremely successful, particularly compared to others of a similar age.”
I hear: “I’ve spent innumerable hours stroking my own ego. Look how big it is!”

You say: “I went to an Ivy-League school and I never meet people who are equally intelligent.”
I hear: “I’m assuming you’re an idiot so you won’t notice that all of my positive attributes are veiled insults.”

While you may be wildly successful by worldly standards, I am much more likely to be barely stifling my surprised laughter when your “game” is how superior you are.

2. The Be-Weird-and-Unique-So-I’ll-Be-Memorable Turn Off

You say: “Have you ever seen a mannequin on fire?”
I hear: “I’m criminally insane and therefore frighteningly unpredictable.”

The goal appears to be simply, make an impression.

Mission accomplished…but for all the wrong reasons.

May I delicately point out that this might be much more efficacious if you were to aim for making a good impression?

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3. The Playing Hard-to-Get Turn Off

The only way one could realistically be aware of your interest is through the direct intercession of a third party.

While some may find the nostalgic, third-grade strategy of having a mutual friend test the water quaint, I think by adulthood most agree that this approach is cowardly and a dating turn-off, even when masked by the supposed desire to be chased.

If, by some miracle, the object of one’s interest correctly interprets the hint and initiates, what, pray tell, is the use in continuing to act as though you aren’t motivated to contribute any effort in return?

In summary: you’re interested in someone, so act like you aren’t interested at all. Totally illogical.

4. The I’m-So-Confident-You’re-Already-Into-Me-I’m-Not-Even-Going-To-Be-Nice-To-You Turn Off

Similar to playing hard-to-get, this approach involves once again masking your true interests. Instead of indifference, one makes use of contempt. 

You say: “Are those your actual dance moves?”
I hear: “I find insulting people invigorating.”

Why on earth would anyone think that being rude is going to produce advantageous results? Is there really a widely-held, asinine belief that people respond positively to ridicule from complete strangers? Baffling and a total dating turn-off.

This is the adulthood modification of throwing a rock at someone in elementary school. At the risk of reiterating the painfully obvious: insults and injuries are not widely accepted forms of flirtation and should really be avoided.

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5. The Be-Persistent-to-Show-I’m-Not-a-Quitter Turn Off

Few interactions are more alarming than those in which one discovers that a complete stranger is determined to accept nothing but, “Why yes, let’s start a serious relationship immediately!” as a response to their romantic invitation.


Most people are really rather reluctant to deliver a blunt, brutally honest rejection to anyone because it feels unnecessarily cold. Why would anyone choose to say, “Actually, I find you repulsive,” when “I’m flattered but I’m taken,” delivers the same message of non-interest without making the recipient feel like refusing?

So in an effort to be humane one gives an excuse rather than the more accurate disclosure of a lack of interest, and in return is countered by an unwelcome rebuttal.

You say: “We should hang out.”
I say: “Thank you, but I’m dating someone.”
You hear: “Be more forceful, I’m being coy.”

You say: “I’m a really good time.”
I hear: “I’m pushy and arrogant. That’s good, right?”

I say: “I’m sure you are, but we’re very happy together.”
You hear: “Shock me with your fondness for infidelity.”

You say: “We can still go out; your significant other doesn’t have to know.”
I hear: “I’m not opposed to moral duplicity and am confident that this makes me more attractive to you.”

The only way anyone swoons under this romantic siege is in order to create a diversion and escape via ambulance.

My advice for dealing with these clowns:

Be honest with them. The more you placate and enable the behavior, the more you’re going to receive it. Don’t be afraid to tell potential suitors, and also with your friends, family, and network, that you’re not here for that ride. At this point I don’t even think I’d say “Thanks, but I’m already seeing someone.” I think a “No thank you, not interested” would suffice.

The more you communicate your wants, needs and expectations – the closer you’re going to get to the real thing. If I had stroked these people’s egos – I would have ended up in a pointless relationship. But instead, I’m with my husband. And not to brag – but he’s the best.

So if you are swamped in a cycle of ridiculous daters, let’s work on it together. We’ll find the right one for you!

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