Miss Information: Are you “sassy”? Five phrases you should never put in your personals profile

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Dear Miss Information,

My dating profile has been active for years. Literally. Guys will hotlist me and look at my profile over and over, but they rarely reply to my emails. My profile name is [redacted]. Any tips? — Noble Sort

Dear Noble Sort,

The transgressions I spotted in your profile are ones I’ve seen on many an online dating site.

1) You use far! too! many! exclamation! points! in your profile. Enthusiasm is good, but show some grammatical restraint. One or two is acceptable. More than that, and you sound like you doodle unicorns when you’re not worshipping Zac Efron and snorting Sudafed.

2) Stop bringing up your family. In your profile, you answer eleven questions. Grandma & co. show up four times. Unless I have an incest fetish, I don’t want to be thinking about your kinfolk when I’m taking the first steps toward doing the dirty. It’s just not right.

3) Six pictures and I still can’t get a good look at your face. Quite an accomplishment. You want to post shots that are both visually interesting and flattering, and there’s a way to do that without taking a super-duper close-up under fluorescents. Lock yourself in a room and take shot after shot on your cell phone/digital camera/what have you. Take at least fifty, and I’m sure you’ll find one that doesn’t make you nauseous.

4) I have a big problem with females who use the word "sassy." It reminds me of Cathy cartoons and chain-email forwards my mother sends me about Coca-Cola dissolving your teeth and Bill Gates giving everyone a C-note. In fact, it’s No. 1 of my Unfuckable Five — dealbreaker terms that people use in online personals. Here’s the complete list, both male and female editions. If you kids have any of these on your profiles, do a purge right now:

Unfuckable Five: Girls
1. "Sassy"
2. "High-maintenance"  "Hi, I’m a bitch masquerading as a cutesy stereotype!"
3. "Fun-loving"  As opposed to fun-hating. Way to differentiate yourself.
4. "Sweet"  Zzzzzzzzzzzz. Like they told you in English 101, "Show, don’t tell."
5. Cat references in user handles  MizSexyKitty, purrfectgirl_76, etc.  This is weird and cloying. Keep it up and I’m going to spay you and make you poop in a box.

Unfuckable Five: Guys

1. "Mr. Right"  No. Don’t do it. Just. Don’t.
2. "Generous"  You sound like you’re either trying to pay someone to go out with you (i.e., hire a hooker) or brag about your money. It’s better if you anchor it with something  "Generous with my time" or "Generous with my affection."
3. "Cultured"  If you were, you wouldn’t have to say it.
4. "Gentleman"  See "sweet" above.
5. "Bad boy"  Hey, you wouldn’t happen to know Ms. Sassy, would you? Just checking. You’re either a cheater or someone has a court order against you.

Readers, what are your Unfuckable Five?

Dear Miss Information,

My boyfriend John and I have been together for two years and are very much in love. Recently, John noticed that our friend Tom was acting strangely around him. Lingering looks, a few caresses on his thigh, a tentative game of footsie under the table. After talking it over with me, John finally approached Tom and asked him what was going on. Tom admitted that for the past year he has been considering his own bisexuality, and had somehow been reading their close friendship as potentially sexual. John let him know, gently, that this was not going to happen.

First, what steps should John take to preserve their close friendship? Second, one of my best friends actually thought having a secret affair with my boyfriend was okay. How am I supposed to react? — Now What?

Dear Now What,

Gay, bi, or whatever, exploring one’s sexuality isn’t a license to act like a skeezer. Tom wasn’t exhibiting world-class levels of respect when he hit on your boyfriend. The fact that it happened repeatedly demonstrates premeditation, and is harder to forgive than if he made a pass at John-boy one night when he was sozzled or depressed.

I would forgive him, though. Or at least not yell at him. He’s new at this, and it could be that he needs some more time to get it right, to learn the signals, and know what’s appropriate. I can tell from your letter that you and your boyfriend really value this friendship, so give it another try and look at the next few months as probation.

The best thing John can do right now is make out with Tom and send me a video. Ideally they’ll both be wearing those little colored briefs that look like grown-up Underoos and you’ll dub in a little Peaches for the soundtrack. Thaaaaaaaaaanks. The second best thing John can do is go against the instinct to distance himself. It feels good in the short run, but avoidance builds tension and makes everything much weirder than it has to be. John should also ensure he’s not doing anything that could be misinterpreted as flirting, and adopt a "No venting to Tom" policy about any couple-related squabbles. When you’re attracted to a friend, you’ll view such kvetching as a sign that your friend might be interested in leaving his significant other for you. Not entirely unreasonable; it’s the way a lot of new couples form. But in this case, it’s not, and we don’t want Tom to get more confused.

And now, the obvious: if Tom continues unabashedly hitting on John, don’t feel like you have to continue being friends out of some sort of respect for his newfound sexual orientation. "We’re all sensitive people," sang Marvin Gaye. But that doesn’t extend to people hitting on other people’s boyfriends. Word.

Have a question? Email Letters may be edited for length, content and clarity.