When you're standing right in front of a person and can give them with non-verbal cues (like a wink or head tilt or eye roll) that you don't really mean what you're saying, sarcasm can be a riot. But, those same sarcastic words said over text message or, even worse, over Tinder, can have a totally different meaning to the person on the receiving end. 'Cause without those nonverbal cues, saying something like 'I'm not stubborn, I'm just always right' sounds mean (and a little cocky).
Rule #1? Never be sarcastic about race, religion, politics, or anything else that could easily offend someone. When your matches don't know your personality and you don't know theirs, those kinds of comments could easily be taken the wrong way, she says. And there may be no coming back from that. "The danger of sarcasm is that people may not get your humor," Ray says. Sometimes, her husband sends her memes that he finds funny, but she finds crude. And if he'd sent them when they had first met, she says, she probably would have written him off. But since she knows about all the other wonderful parts of his personality now, the crude memes don't bother her so much. So if you tend to be super sarcastic, consider toning it down for the first few messages at least. Because you want to let someone get to know you first.
Of course, not letting someone get to know you might be the point of your sarcasm. Often, even harmless sarcasm can be a defense tactic, says matchmaker Sameera Sullivan, founder and CEO of Lasting Connections. "Sometimes people are super sarcastic because they're trying to hide behind a veil," she says. Maybe you're nervous to let someone get to know the real you, and sarcasm can be a way around having to show any vulnerability. But if your goal is to meet someone who could turn into a partner, then you want them to get to know you. So reconsider the sarcasm, at least until you've met in person.
That doesn't mean that you can't be sarcastic at all if that's your natural personality, but keep it to a minimum. "Some people are super smart with their sarcastic comments and it's hilarious," Sullivan says. "But if they're doing it too much, then they're hiding behind something and that can feel like a red flag." When you're first messaging on dating apps, feel free to throw in a sarcastic comment every now and then — as long as it's smart and not rude or offensive. But make sure you're talking about plenty of real things, too. And giving your match a sense of who you are, not just what you find funny.
Yet, there's a huge difference between the smart sarcasm Sullivan finds hilarious and sarcasm used to put someone down. She's worked with several women who have had people (usually men) say something like "Oh, so you're you're too good for me?" or "Ok, well I guess you're too busy for me, then." And that kind of sarcasm rings with insecurity. It's an immediate turn-off, Sullivan says. And so is the kind of sarcasm that can easily be read as rude, mean, or vulgar without context clues. So be careful if you have an urge to poke fun at something one of your matches said. And be ready to apologize if they don't recognize that you're making a joke. "Make sure you have a great comeback," Ray says. You can say something like, "Sorry. I push the limit a little bit too much sometimes."
Maybe you're naturally a very sarcastic person and you can't just turn it off. That's totally okay. You are who you are, and it's important that the people you match with on dating apps get a sense of the real you. Those first few messages are a test of whether or not you and a match have similar humor and life goals. "So I don't want people to think they should be restrained in being able to express themselves," Ray says. "But they definitely need to exercise some tact in the beginning." So let your sarcasm ring, but try to tone it down when you can, and think carefully about whether a sarcastic comment that pops into your mind could be read the wrong way.