20 Online Dating Red Flags You Need To Know About

You only need an internet connection to be able to join dating websites or apps. This low barrier to entry means you might come across some less desirable types on these sorts of platforms.

And it can be difficult to judge whether a person is right or wrong for you based on their profile description and photos alone.

However, there are some things that could help you rule out bad matches faster. Knowing the red flags associated with online dating will also keep you safe from scammers and fake profiles.

Basically, if someone seems too good to be true, they probably are.

But there’s more to it than that. You will run into a lot of people who are in no way dangerous, yet they are definitely not the right match for you. Some might not want the same thing as you do, while others are still not done with their past relationships.

Prevent being used by bad people and wasting your time with the wrong people by recognizing the red flags. When you notice them, don’t ignore them just because a person is charming or attractive. Depending on the red flag in question, you might still give this person a chance, but don’t be quick to let your guard down if there are warning signs.

Here are the red flags that you should look out for:

1. They have no profile description.

You should generally avoid profiles that have no description and only one or two pictures.

Granted, there are people who are actually looking for something serious among these profiles. But most such profiles are either fake/catfishing, or the person isn’t serious about dating online.

Even if they were the real deal, why are they expecting you to know that purely based on how they look? Be especially cautious if the way they look is above average because this can indicate a fake profile too.

The odds are that the person who has no profile description is hiding something. Even if they’re not, they should have bothered to complete their profile if they were serious about finding the right match.

Some people will simply write, “Just ask me,” or something similar, but how are you supposed to reply to that? Instead, move on—there are plenty more profiles to browse through.

2. Their profile description is negative, vague, or demanding.

Let’s start with a demanding profile. When a person writes extensively about what they don’t want and little about what they do want or who they even are, they are likely still stuck in the past.

Think about it, what would make you write in your dating profile that you don’t want specific kinds of people or specific kinds of things? You probably had a bad experience with these people or things before.

Someone with a demanding profile is guided by what they don’t want instead of what they do want, so they probably aren’t a good match.

A profile can also be very negative. Sure, life can be unfair sometimes, but when you write an essay about it on a dating website, you probably aren’t in a place where you could have a healthy relationship with someone new.

Some people write about their dislikes instead of about their likes, which is similar to the previous two examples.

You should also steer clear of profiles with vague information that seems fake.

3. They look too good.

When you see a ton of hot people online, remind yourself that you’re living in an age where no one looks like their photo anymore. Obviously, a profile with no information and a single photo of an incredibly attractive person is likely to be fake. But that’s not all you should worry about.

There are real people with fake photos, so be cautious of any photos that are heavily edited. You might get to meet the person whose profile that is, but they might not resemble their photo at all.

It’s always a good idea to ask for more photos or a short video call before meeting in person. Naturally, you are not expecting your date to look as great as in their best photo, but you should be able to tell it’s them.

You should also keep in mind that looking too good applies to more than just their physical appearance. Be cautious when you run into perfect profiles of people who seem too good to be true. The odds are, they’re not that great, and even if it’s not a fake profile, it’s a person who definitely has a lot of experience with dating online.

4. They’re showing off their wealth.

You will run into photos of people drinking champagne on a yacht and unlocking their sports cars with their Rolex in the picture too. Most likely, these people are not rich. Someone who has that kind of lifestyle is unlikely to post about it on a regular dating site, plus, rich people don’t show off their wealth that much. It’s similar to profiles with above-average beauty—if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Someone who is using money or beauty to attract matches is probably up to no good. Sure, everyone wants to appear successful and pretty… But they will do so by writing about their passions and jobs or posting a lot of touch-up-free pictures of themselves. So, don’t be quick to assume things based on photos.

Watch the Tinder Swindler if you haven’t already! In these cases, it seems like they’re projecting what they’re looking for rather than what they actually have to offer.

5. They only have one or two photos.

You need at least three pictures to figure out what someone looks like. More pictures indicate that the person is taking this seriously and is who they say they are. If they only have one or two pictures instead, you should be careful. It would be best to consider their profile description before deciding whether to contact them or not.

If it’s just one or two photos with little to no information about them, you know where to swipe. If they have a complete profile except for their lack of photos, you can always contact them and request more pictures after exchanging some messages.

6. They are shirtless in all their photos.

Obviously, this red flag applies to guys showing off their abs. One shirtless picture might be okay, but if he’s shirtless in all of them, most girls will swipe left. Pictures from the gym are also not as hot as some guys seem to think. Yes, we want you to look good, but we don’t have to see the entire process and get the results flaunted in front of our faces.

Should you take this red flag seriously or not? Well, guys’ shirtless photos are the equivalent of women making duck face or twisting their backs to show their behind. Some might find it appealing and even hot, while others might think it’s distasteful and desperate. So, you decide.

Your safest bet is to look for someone with different pictures portraying their hobbies and interests instead of their looks.

7. They’re not smiling in any photos.

Everyone who creates a profile on a dating site wants to look as approachable as possible to attract new matches. So why aren’t they smiling in any of their photos?

It might not be a huge red flag, but there’s something odd about not having a smiling picture in your profile.

Again, consider their profile description before deciding whether to contact them or not. If they’re not smiling and their description is negative, they probably aren’t that fun to be around, at least right now.

8. They don’t want to send photos.

Let’s say someone has only one or two photos, but you give them a chance. Still, you read our advice, so you ask them for more pictures. What if they refuse or make excuses? Some people rarely take pictures and don’t have many of them, but they certainly have more than two.

If they don’t like the others, they can try to take new photos so that you can see them. The point is, when someone refuses to send photos of themselves, take it as a big red flag.

Naturally, they might refuse to send sexual photos, but if all you asked for is a simple selfie, they should send one. You may also ask for a short video call. This is a great way to make sure that they are who they say they are before meeting them in person. If they don’t want you to see them before meeting them, don’t meet with them.

9. They ask for money.

You might be thinking that you couldn’t possibly get scammed for money. After all, you would never give money to someone who asks for it on a dating site. But scammers don’t ask for it, they sell you a story. You might be told a very believable story that makes you want to send money to help in an emergency, or so you can be generously repaid.

Scammers can be charming and promise you the world, but don’t believe anyone who asks for money on a dating site. This is the place where people come to find love, not a loan. You’re not going to give money to someone you barely know, even if you’ve been dating them in real life, so don’t do it online either.

Again, watch the Tinder Swindler if you run into a charming and wealthy man who needs help!

10. They tell you they’re bad for you.

When someone literally tells you that they’re wrong for you, believe them.

The thing is, people will sometimes openly warn you about themselves. They’ll say that they’re trouble, bad for you, or simply not a good match for you. When they do, always believe them, take their advice, and look elsewhere for a match.

It’s not your duty to figure out whether they’re right to think poorly about themselves or not. Just take it as a clear warning sign and swipe left. Assume that they know what they’re talking about because you don’t know them that well.

11. They use pet names right away.

You only exchanged two or three messages, and they’re already calling you “honey,” “baby,” “sweetie,” or some other pet name. The odds are, they are doing this to all their matches, and it’s a red flag.

Pet names are usually used by couples once they’re comfortable enough with each other to enjoy them. The person who uses pet names at the beginning of a conversation is not considering whether you’re enjoying them or finding them patronizing.

Someone who gives a pet name to a stranger online is not serious about dating. There’s nothing better than when your match gives you a special little nickname that just the two of you understand, and it’s even better if it revolves around an inside joke. Don’t confuse pet names for that.

12. They send sexual messages right away.

This might be the red flag that you’ll most often encounter, especially if you’re a woman.

A person who sends sexual messages right away isn’t looking for anything serious. What’s more, they’re disrespecting your boundaries, especially if they ask for sexual content too.

You probably don’t expect to see anyone’s genitals before at least the third date, but you might get a vivid picture in your inbox right after matching with them… Clearly, this is not someone you can have a relationship with.

There is an exception to the rule though. You might have asked them for sexual content, or they might have asked you for permission to send some explicit pics. Again, it is probably too soon for messages like that, but whatever two consenting adults do is fine, so if you’re down with the whole sexy stuff, enjoy!

However, if you didn’t ask for it and weren’t asked about it, it’s disrespectful, and the person is likely going to keep pushing your boundaries.

13. They tell you that they love you way too soon.

People don’t just rush with the sexy stuff, they can move too fast with emotional stuff too. Instead of a nude picture, you might get an “I love you” out of the blue.

You can’t love someone you don’t even know, but some people fall in love with every new potential partner they meet. They move too fast in relationships, and not surprisingly, they move too fast online too.

If someone is focusing on their emotions instead of actually getting to know you enough to form real feelings, it’s a red flag.

Sure this person probably isn’t dangerous, but you aren’t likely to have a healthy relationship with them. What’s more, you probably aren’t the only person on the site that they’ve expressed their love for, and they could be desperate.

14. They use a lot of sweet talk.

You might be beautiful, intelligent, and unique. However, no new person is going to constantly tell you that unless they have an ulterior motive. If someone is constantly trying to flatter you with sweet talk even though you only exchanged a few messages, they probably aren’t genuine.

Maybe they make you feel like you’re the best person they ever got the chance to meet, but this is probably not true. They just want to get into your pants or lure you into a relationship that might not be healthy.

Odds are, you’re not the only person that they’re trying to win over with sweet-talk. So, they’re not being entirely honest with you. Maybe you really are that great, but they’re not telling you that to make you feel good about yourself. Be careful of people who use excessive compliments as a gateway to your heart.

15. They’re obsessed with their ex.

Some people will just go on and on about their ex or even write about their ex in their profile. Even if all they do is complain about their ex, they’re still obsessed with that relationship and haven’t moved on.

So, they’re not really ready for a new relationship with you. They might even compare you to their ex, which is not something that you want to deal with in a new relationship.

Another hint that someone has recently ended a relationship is if all their photos are cropped or in groups. All their recent photos are probably with their ex. If they haven’t even had time to take new photos, it’s definitely too soon for a new relationship.

You don’t want to be anyone’s rebound. In addition, someone who badmouths all their exes is likely to talk the same way about you one day if you hook up with them.

16. They make sexist statements.

If someone talks about what all men or all women are like, it’s a red flag. The same goes for when they mention certain “types” of men or women.

Someone who makes stereotypes and is quick to judge will likely judge you too at some point. So, if they talk about a certain way women/men behave, look, or think, run the other way.

It might be tempting to take their stereotypes as a compliment if you don’t belong to the group that they’re describing, but it’s still sexism. Some people even put sexist statements in their profile description, and this is a clear sign to swipe left!

17. They send a generic first message.

A first message that seems copy/pasted probably is just a copy-paste. Some people write one message and just send it to everyone they match with. So, if you get a generic first message, you’re probably one of the many that got it.

Instead, you should look for someone who’ll use the opportunity to message you to ask about your interests or comment on something from your profile so you can establish some common ground.

At the very least, you will notice that they’ve put effort into crafting a good message specifically for you, not simply everyone that they match with.

A generic message can be a simple “Hi, how are you?” which might not be a red flag but could indicate that the person is not that into you or that communicating with them will be difficult. You might still give a chance to the boring “Hi, how are you?” but avoid clearly copy/pasted messages as this person is just shooting in the dark.

18. There are a lot of inconsistencies.

If someone is not being honest about who they are or about what they want, there are bound to be some inconsistencies. You could notice that they communicate a lot differently than you’d assume based on what you read in their profile. You might also notice that their stories don’t add up or that they often change their story.

Maybe they say that they are looking for a serious relationship but send sexual messages right away, or all their photos are taken when clubbing with people of the opposite sex. Notice any inconsistencies and consider them as warning signs.

19. They try to force you to meet or they refuse to meet.

Some people might force you to move to a different platform or meet in real life. This is not okay. If you have refused, they shouldn’t push you into it. Take your time to get to know them on the dating site before moving the conversation somewhere else or meeting in real life. Don’t let anyone push you into moving things faster than you’re comfortable with them moving.

On the flip side, someone might refuse to meet you, and this is also a red flag. If you’ve been talking for a while now and they make excuses for why they can’t meet in real life, they might not plan to meet with you at all.

As far as you know, they might not even be who they’re pretending to be. It’s a good idea to ask for a short video call before meeting someone in person. If they refuse that too, move on to another match.

20. They freak out when they don’t hear back from you right away.

You will probably run into some over-texters who’ll freak out when they don’t hear back from you. You will find several messages asking why you’re not responding. They’ll also make assumptions such as you not being interested in them enough.

While this can be simply because they’re excited or nervous, it could also be a red flag.

It could mean that they’re insecure, and/or controlling. They might use guilt to manipulate you or verbally abuse you if you make them angry. A relationship with a person like this isn’t likely to work out. Besides, they should respect your boundaries and your time. If they don’t respect them now, that’s not going to change once you’re in a relationship with them.

In the end, you should always trust your instincts. Don’t rely only on these 20 red flags. If you notice something else that makes you feel like you couldn’t be happy or even safe with the person you’re chatting with, don’t ignore it.

You shouldn’t be quick to judge anyone… But you are trying to find your right match, and if you’re getting the wrong vibes, the person probably isn’t right for you, even if they’re not that bad. So, look for someone who makes you feel comfortable and shows no warning signs.

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About Author

Ana Vakos enjoys writing about love and all the problems that come with it. Everyone has experiences with love, and everyone needs dating advice, so giving these topics more attention and spreading the word means a lot to her.