• You see, the key to any good punch-up is to finesse our little quirks. Let's assume that in some sort of misguided effort to emulate Johnny Cash, I once "shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die." A clever tweak might suggest that I "support the Second Amendment, adore the desert, and consider myself a keen observer of the human condition."

  • I review my manicurist's profile as she soaks my cuticles. It says that she's looking for "complete and total happiness." Darling, I'm looking for LL Cool J to feed me fettuccine as we watch an endless loop of Project Runway. But that's just not how the world works. Complete and total happiness comes in quick bursts of joy—it's the bite of banana cream pie, it's "Hey Jude" blasting from a car radio. Forget complete and total happiness; look for somebody who wants to meet you for a drink, and just see what happens.

  • Indeed, there's a lot to be said for keeping things simple. But please note, simple doesn't have to mean dull. The rules governing what's considered too slutty these days have come unraveled faster than Amy Winehouse on a six-pack of Red Bull. I have a coworker who swears she would not be the happily married woman she is today were it not for three magic words she tucked into her online profile: "horny and attentive." Now, would I tell a group of online strangers that I'm horny and attentive? No, but that's because I have a tendency to be "cranky and oblivious." The point is: Sex, like the sun-dried plum, continues to sell.

  • Cousin Arleen wants to start a family. How do I know this? She mentions it in three different places on her profile. Say it once if you feel you must, but wait for an actual dinner date before whipping out the iPhone app that chirps when you're ovulating.

  • Another coworker starts her very defensive profile with "Let's get this out of the way right now: I'm short, okay?!" Why not go with something like "I've sometimes been described as a 'pocket Venus.'" Actually, my teeny colleague's touchiness raises another point: When you choose to mention something is every bit as crucial as what you choose to mention. Lunch meat makes me wheeze uncontrollably and break into hives the size of Ping-Pong balls—but I probably wouldn't lead with this information.

  • The sister of my babysitter lets people know right off the bat that "the cats I cohabit with know I live only to serve them." Oh, crazy, crazy cat lady, where do I begin? What your cats actually know is that mice are a tasty treat, that there's nothing better than a long nap on a squishy cushion, and that Katherine Heigl doesn't make very good movies. Of course, you can tell interested partners that you love animals, but unless you want to be stuck with a soul mate that hocks up fur balls, you've got to quit sabotaging yourself by announcing to any potential suitor that he will never take priority over Captain Fluffy Paws.

Next: Is your list of needs never-ending? Then the thing you need most is an editor


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