I’m a lawyer. It’s true. But I promise I’m not the typical one!
I guess you’ve noticed that I’m a vegetarian, but don’t worry – I won’t get upset if you order a steak in front of me.
Even though I have to get up early for work (at 5:15 AM), I swear that doesn’t mean I can’t stay up past 10 PM.
How many times have you seen lines like this in someone else’s profile? Perhaps you even have one like this in yours. The common theme here is that the author is compensating for (and judging) something in his or her own life that is assumed to be a turn-off. Seemingly innocuous lines like these can actually be very off-putting for someone reading your profile because underlying the “but,” “don’t worry,” and “I swear” is a thinly veiled sense of insecurity.
Let’s take the first line, for example. For context, let’s say that there is, in fact, a stigma towards someone who has an “Esq.” following his or her name. (As a side note, this article is no commentary on how I feel about lawyers. In fact, my dad’s a lawyer, and he’s the best dad around!) In this example, the person writing this profile, let’s call her Shelby, assumes that her occupation could be a deal-breaker for her online dating soul mate and immediately tries to compensate for that fact. But what she’s actually doing is buying into the (mostly untrue) stereotype that people dislike lawyers. Shelby thinks that the second someone reads her profile, he will dismiss her because of this one thing. But rather than being turned off by the fact that she’s a lawyer (and an impressive one at that!), many people will instead be turned off by the fact that she presumes to already know how they feel about it!
In addition, Shelby is calling more attention to something that may not play a large role, or any role, in someone’s decision-making process. By saying, “I’m not a typical one,” she has not only called attention to her job, but she has also made it the focus of her profile. Is that her sole defining factor? She’s essentially saying, “My job defines me, but please don’t hold this against me!”
As most of us know, online dating can be pretty daunting, and writing the profile is perhaps the scariest part. There’s so much uncertainty, and people are often very uncomfortable with uncertainty.
What if people assume I have no life outside of work? What if they think I will always argue until they agree with me? What if they decide I’m a total dork because I go to a weekly law discussion group called the “Legal Eagles,” and we all wear shirts with the scales of justice on them? (Ok, maybe that one’s warranted.)
So, Shelby would prefer to assume that we already have these preconceived notions about lawyers rather than leave it up to chance that someone may not care or, and perhaps more likely, absolutely love the fact that she’s a successful lawyer! What they won’t love is that she’s downplaying it. So don’t judge yourself. Own it, be confident, and then move on.
I’m a lawyer.
I’m a vegetarian.
I wake up at an ungodly hour every morning.
How did your potential future J-Mates react? Who cares? Don’t assume they feel a certain way. All you did was state the truth. Leave the rest up to the powers that be.
Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter for updates and tips.