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Is Profanity a Deal-Breaker? Maybe Not…

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If someone you met online used profanity, would it be a turnoff?

Certainly there are some places where swearing is not acceptable – classrooms, church, courts and most workplaces. But, what if I told you that people who use profanity are actually more honest? A new two-part study from the Department of Work and Social Psychology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, says that people who use profanity are more trustworthy and authentic. According to the research, people are more likely to swear as a way to express themselves, rather than cause harm to others, and the more an individual swears, the more honest they are likely to be.

For their study, the team of researchers asked a group of 276 participants about their swearing habits, as well as how honest they were in different situations. They also analyzed the status updates of more than 73,000 Facebook users, measuring for honesty and profanity. In the second study, the same team used previous data to compare the integrity levels of U.S. states with how often they swear. All the experiments had the same result: honesty was associated with higher levels of swearing.

As the final study points out, “the consistent findings across the studies suggest that the positive relation between profanity and honesty is robust, and that the relationship found at the individual level indeed translates to the society level.”

In addition, people who swear also might be more intelligent. A 2016 study from the Department of Psychology at Massachusetts College Of Liberal Arts found that individuals with higher levels of verbal intelligence (intelligence associated with oral language) tended to use more swear words.

To be honest, I don’t really have a problem with a some profanity use. Heck, I’ve been known to swear myself (especially after a few drinks!) Sometimes the worst word is the best word. With that said, does profanity have a place in online dating?

I’ll start by saying this: if you’re cool with profanity in the profiles and messages of yourself and others, then more power to you. I say, to each their own.

I can’t tell you how you should or shouldn’t feel, but I can point out a few reasons I take issue with profanity in online dating and why it’s a deal breaker for me personally.

It doesn’t make a good impression.

I’ve always thought of online dating like a job interview. You’re interacting with strangers, so you want to make sure you’re being your best self. If I saw someone’s profile and it included profanity, I’d probably think twice before agreeing to go on a date with them. If this is their “best self,” what does their worst self look like? If they’re not aware that they should be putting their best foot forward online, it makes me wonder about their social skills in general.

It comes across as aggressive.

Online dating as a woman, one of my primary concerns is that I feel safe. When I see someone using profanity in their profile or while messaging me, my “creepy” spidey senses start tingling. When you don’t know the person and you’re reading their words out of context, profanity can come across as anger and aggression. In other words, it doesn’t make me feel particularly safe. If they seem angry online, what is this person going to be like in person?

You may be more honest, but that doesn’t mean our personalities are going to mesh well.

As I mentioned before, I’ve been known to swear like a sailor at times. With that said, I only reveal that side of my personality once I’ve really gotten to know and trust someone – and not immediately, all at once. It comes out in bits and spurts. The more comfortable I am with someone, the more comfortable I am swearing in front of them. I would hope that my partner would feel the same way around me.

However, in general, I don’t use much profanity and definitely not while online dating. If your profile page is littered in f-bombs, maybe you are just “doing you” and I don’t judge you for it. It’s clear that we just have a different approach to making a good first impression – a sign that our personalities probably won’t jive much.

While that may sound hypocritical, I stand by what I said earlier: to each their own. Do what feels right and be confident with your decision. You’ll thank yourself for it later.


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