Phrases in dating app profiles that make me swipe left

Over the years, I have suffered through a lot of dating apps and I have gone on more boring/horrifying dates than I care to tally. Here are some words and phrases that trigger a quick swipe left for me:

“Partner in crime” – What’s the most rebellious thing you’ve done lately – drive very fast through a yellow light? Borrow your brother’s HBOgo password? These are the most milquetoast people on the planet. LEFT.

“Laid-back”, “easy-going”, “care-free”, or “chill” – These are all code words for boring. People who are actually chill in a real way do not feel the need to announce it. LEFT.

“Someday…” – C’est la vie, man. What are you waiting for? This guy will irritate the crap out of me talking about big dreams for things he could absolutely do today. LEFT.

“Settle down” – This phrase makes my skin crawl. This is code for “I’m ready to give up on my dreams and move to the suburbs.” LEFT.

“Nice guy” – This guy is almost certainly going to call you a bitch or worse the first time you take more than 3 minutes to respond. Weird martyr complexes abound. LEFT.

Quotes from Anchorman or Wedding Crashers – Dude, I am the worst at movies but it’s been over 10 years! Find some new pop-culture references. LEFT.

“I’ll make you laugh” – Definitely not funny. And you’ll have to fake more than laughter. LEFT.

“[Industry] Expert” – He’s whatever the bottom rung of this profession is. LEFT.

“Someone to spoil” – This is going to get weird fast. Whatever is the opposite of Daddy issues, he has them. LEFT.

“Fluent in sarcasm” – About as creative and interesting as our partner-in-crime seekers. LEFT.

No profile – You could put in the bare minimum of effort here. You are not that good looking. LEFT.

“I have a car, a job, and don’t live with my Mother.” – Fine, I take back what I said about bare minimums. LEFT.

“Love to cuddle” – Maybe it’s just me, but it creeps me out to list this as a hobby. I already need some space from you. LEFT.

“Hate cats” – Darwin doesn’t care for you either. LEFT.

“Are you the one?” – Lower your expectations. LEFT.

“420 friendly” – Are you really over 18? LEFT.

“I’m not good at writing these things.” – Results matter. Maybe ask a friend? LEFT.

I hope all of these men find the Live.Laugh.Love women of their dreams.








My Grandfather the Feminist

My grandfather was an aerospace engineer and a lover of innovative technology. As far back as I can remember, he could be found tinkering with a new gadget (purchased after hours spent pouring over consumer reports, of course) or building something on his own if he couldn’t find a product that suited his needs. He once built a ramp for getting his boat in the water with some plywood and cutting boards. He was an early adopter. He had the first computers, the first internet connections, the first digital-everything.

We called him Pop and he entertained his grandchildren’s innocent curiosities with great delight. Grandma and Pop had a water barometer in their kitchen. One day, my cousins and I inquired what would happen if you blew into it.

With a grin, he suggested we try it and find out:


If you’re familiar with how barometric pressure works, you know this didn’t end well for us, but it’s remained a favorite tale among cousins for nearly 20 years.

Pop took me to science museums and aircraft carrier tours and taught me to sail and tie knots. He gave me math problems and riddles. He asked me hard questions. He let me navigate, even when I took him an hour out of the way (really, who trusts a 4-year-old with directions to the bagel shop?)

Pop died nearly 10 years ago, but my grandmother recently relayed a story to me that I had never heard before, and quickly came to cherish:

(To no one’s surprise), I was a bossy child and I was a ham. I liked to command a room’s attention with stories and jokes from a young age. During one such spectacle, when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old, a number of adults in the room commented amongst themselves that I was destined for a career in theater: maybe an actress, maybe a director.

Pop turned to my grandmother and whispered, “No. She’ll be a CEO.”

My grandfather was born in the 1930s and had a prominent career in engineering. It’s safe to say that there were few, if any, female CEOs in his ecosystem. Somehow, this didn’t stop him from imagining that future for his granddaughter. I wish he were here to see it become a reality. Pop’s Galileo thermometer sits on my bedroom shelf, a visual reminder to seek knowledge and pursue curiosity; try, and find out.


Remembering Michael

In the pre-Facebook days, Penn had a separate online portal for newly admitted students to gossip about dorms and classes and clubs, and other pre-college chatter. Michael and I were both admitted early decision and we quickly progressed our friendship from Penn portal to AIM to the regular old telephone. We were 17 and it seemed impossible to wait 9 months to become in-real-life friends, so we decided to rendezvous at his house, just about 45 minutes north of mine. I met his lovely parents and then we made our way to the Wendy’s drive-thru and took our cheeseburgers to a nearby park to listen to all our favorite music. Ok, Michael’s favorite music, which became my favorite, too. It was the most ordinary thing for a bunch of high schoolers to do, but it was a memory made extraordinary by virtue of being with Michael.

Photo by Raymond Colon

I was shocked when Michael told me before winter break freshman year that he wouldn’t be returning to Penn in the spring: he was joining the Navy. I balked at the idea. You? The Navy? The same guy who fiercely debates the merits of the Oxford comma at 4am? Michael made the case that he didn’t really know what he wanted to do, and couldn’t see the sense in spending all that tuition money figuring it out. Well. That may sound like a well-reasoned response, but Michael had gone to the same kind of parochial high school as I had, so we both knew he was supposed to graduate from an ivy league school with honors and settle into something suitably professional. He was deviating from The Plan. 8 years later, I found myself in the same situation, and I found myself channeling Michael’s courage to carve out a different path. He was one of the first people besides my parents that I told about leaving my job to start the company, because Michael had a way of making you feel like you were destined to make all the big decisions you were making, and he’d just been patiently waiting for you to figure them out.

For the 7 years that Michael served in the Navy, he was mostly based in far-away places. Somehow, we knew our friendship was special, and diligently kept in touch with letters, emails, phone calls, Facebook, and a visit whenever he was on the east coast. He came to speak to my class during my first year teaching in Baltimore, which I think was an enlightening experience for all parties involved.

Getting older and moving around makes staying in touch with old friends harder. There’s an illusion of intimacy since we’re all constantly aware of each other on Facebook. It’s easy enough to say, “We should totally get together the next time I’m in your city!” But Michael really meant it. If we were within 200 miles of each other, we would find a way to see each other.

We said we loved each other a lot. As a society, I think we’re bashful about loving too much. We get wrapped up in the implications and insinuations and we treat each other so casually. Michael did nothing casually and we were unabashed in our mutual expressions of love and affection. Imagine if we were all so unapologetic about loving our friends? Just big, bold, audacious love. If anyone is afraid that too much love would make it any less special or intimate, trust me that Michael’s whole existence was evidence to the contrary.

A strong theme has emerged in the dedications to Michael over the past few days: It didn’t matter if he knew you for 10 minutes or 10 years, he made you feel special. Michael had some sort of super power in that he could immediately pinpoint all of your insecurities, gently make you face them, and just dissolve them, leaving only the beautiful parts. This gift for seeing the beauty in every person he met made him a remarkable photography, and a truly extraordinary human.

“You know when you’ve found it, that’s something I’ve learned, cause you feel it when they take it away.”

Love you, Michael.