Online dating is the mainstream culture now. Bumble, Hinge, Tinder, Happn, the options are endless. Instead of parks, bars, or offices, we are seeing romance brewing online. Alas, it does come with its own set of challenges and online dating red flags.
Whether you find the guy next door or a man from another continent, the risks remain the same. People come with flaws and behavioral issues that are hard to identify even in person. Being online without physical presence and social validation just makes the process trickier.
You can get catfished, scammed, emotionally manipulated, and in some cases, even physically harmed. You never know if the girl you are chatting with is actually a woman or a 50-year-old male creep. Spotting the red flags in online dating can save you from another The Tinder Swindler fiasco or an arduous heartbreak.
What Are The Online Dating Red Flags?
Reg flags aren’t necessarily every annoying habit of your partner. Despite what Reddit or Twitter might make you believe, not every quirk against the norm is alarming. Instead, a series of patterns that indicates unacceptable behavior is a real red flag.
For instance, a women’s date sends a red flag if she is always late everywhere. If it’s just a single instance, it doesn’t matter much. But if she keeps repeating it, it shows her inconsiderate nature and lack of commitment to you. It also shows that she values her time and convenience over yours and is finicky about her word.
Such attitudes and actions can cause severe emotional stress. They can make you feel upset, self-conscious, and terrible about yourself. It’s better to end things before red flags become a sign of relationship abuse. Here are some common online dating red flags to avoid:
1. They are vague and elusive
A dating profile is a succinct way to provide a glimpse of our personality. If your match can’t be bothered to write up a genuine profile and they fail to respond to you clearly, it’s a red flag. If they are dodging your questions and aren’t opening up at all, it’s time to drop them.
2. Their photos are too perfect
If their profile looks like a Vogue modeling catalog, maybe gear up for a reverse search. A set of too-good-to-be-true pics could be just that, untrue. Catfishing is still at large, it’s better to go with your gut instinct and swipe left instead of getting duped or scammed.
3. Online dating red flags in their bio
If their bio says anything along the lines of ‘Not looking for drama’, ‘Looking for someone who doesn’t take themselves seriously’, run in the opposite direction! More likely than not they are going to cause all the drama and gaslight you for taking it ‘seriously’. Plus, if they are bragging about their looks, wealth, and traits, scroll away to avoid dating a pompous narcissist.
4. They tend to ghost you
Did it start with a perfect pandemic-esque meet-cute and hearty flirting? But as time passed, they were nowhere to be seen, and took weeks to respond to a single text? Maybe, it’s better to move on than waste another minute on them.
Ghosting tops the online dating red flags texting rules. You never know if the reason is their lack of interest or level of immaturity. Or maybe they are just a cheater slyly deceiving their real-life partner online.
5. They overstep the boundaries
So, you’ve been talking for a while and things are going well except they just cannot stop crossing the boundaries you set? It tends to happen a lot when one person is more interested than the other. They start exerting control and expect more than you agreed to give.
For instance, if you clarified that you aren’t exclusive, yet they keep acting like your jealous spouse. Or the common red flags in men often involve sending unsolicited vulgar photos. Repetitively breaking boundaries is an instant turn-off and should end up in a block.
6. They avoid meeting up in public places
A huge red flag and a serious safety concern involve meet-ups. If they keep forcing you to meet them at a remote location or their home, instead of a neutral public space, maybe their reasons to meet are more nefarious. If they always ask you to meet away from their hometown, they could be hiding something from you, a terrible personality or a spouse.
Related Reading: Can You Fall In Love With Someone Online Without Meeting Them?
7. They complain a lot
The world sucks and we all love to rant about it! But a dating profile is neither the right place for it nor an outlet to convey worldly frustrations. Looking to start dating in college and you’ve ended up talking to someone who does not stop complaining about her assignments or roommates? One of the most common red flags on dating apps is passionate rants about unrelated topics. Complaining about the state of things could be an interesting one-time chat, but if that’s all they offer, it’s better to make an exit as soon as you can!
8. They warn you about themselves
It might seem romantic in Twilight or when you were 14 with raging hormones and an urge to fix the bad boy. It’s not as attractive or healthy as an adult. If someone warns you about themselves, better take their word for it. It’s a huge red flag for men and women alike.
9. Sexting – one of the biggest online dating red flags
We get it, we all love to indulge in some hot and heavy texting. Especially with no strings attached in the online dating world. But if it isn’t mutually agreed upon, it’s bothersome and truly a headache. If all they ask for is nudes and each message is a subtle prompt to sext, it’s a huge online dating red flag of texting.
10. List of demands
You might have seen (and hopefully swiped left) profiles with a long list of ‘Must’ and ‘Must nots’. Quick heads-up, steer clear from these people.
From ‘must be 6ft and over’ to ‘must have 6 figure salary’, these demands are often shallow and offensive.
We all have our specific preferences, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, using the precious space of a dating profile for tacky demands is a glaring red flag. It is crude, impolite, and narcissistic to a point of no return.
How To Find Online Dating Red Flags?
Identifying online dating red flags isn’t an easy task. Relationships are complicated and messy. To make matters worse, intense attraction toward the other clouds our judgment and we end up letting the red flags on dating apps slide.
However, online platforms provide us with tons of indicators to gauge the other person. It’s better to assess your compatibility and find any hidden red flags in online dating before diving into a relationship. Here’s how you can make a wise and informed decision.
1. Dig deeper
A simple scroll isn’t enough for a right swipe. Put on your detective glasses and make use of your swift stalking skills. You need to delve in and assess all their answers, photos, and linked accounts.
Their social profile could be a cesspit of badly lit bathroom selfies or anti-feminist rants. A little digging can save you impending trouble or heartache. Also, take note of the interactions going on in the comments, it’s an easy way to get to know them.
Related Reading: Is Online Dating Easier For Women?
2. Read into words
Are they a negative nancy or have a ‘good vibes only’ approach in their profile? Did they copy-paste the cheesiest bio off Google? Scroll away if their words paint a negative image of their personality.
3. Pictures convey a lot of online dating red flags
A perfect dating profile starts with a great profile picture and tons of other photos scattered throughout. While some people overpopulate it with their ‘influencer’ lifestyle, others hide in group pictures or masked selfies. Both scenarios raise a red flag.
Besides showing an obvious red flag of self-obsession or low self-confidence, photos let you decide on your compatibility as well. For instance, if you are an introvert looking for something slow and stable, a profile overflowing with booze and blurry party pics won’t be the right fit for you.
4. Focus on their actions
Online or offline, this is the biggest red flag of any relationship. It’s tricky to assess their actions and emotions through the screen. If your date tends to promise big and perform less, it’s better to steer clear of them soon.
5. Notice the incongruence
Did the girl who was clueless about the DC Universe, suddenly declare her love for Batman because you did? Or did the self-professed couch potato suddenly come up with stories of running marathons? A minor or major shift in their personality could be a huge red flag you might choose to ignore and end up even adoring.
When someone tries to impersonate you, your likes and dislikes to impress you, it’s a hardkill. It might be because of their low self-esteem or their reluctance to show you their real self. Whatever the reason might be, it’s neither healthy nor sustainable.
Dating Red Flags: How To Protect Yourself On Dating Apps
Since the world shifted online, it’s practically impossible to go back to traditional dating methods or find ways to meet people outside of dating apps. We can be nostalgic about the old times and chivalrous flirting, but that’s long gone now. The best step forward is to equip yourself with safety measures to make online dating a worthwhile experience.
While you don’t have to be on high alert all the time, it’s better to be conscious of things you share and the people you share them with. You have to recognize and avoid online dating red flags to build a bond based on trust and commitment. Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when interacting with a potential love interest online.
1. Keep your privacy intact
While we want to connect and share our lives with people we date, it’s better not to disclose any personal information until you know them well enough. Scammers and catfishers can easily hack and use your information against you.
If you don’t want a Joe Goldberg (of the infamous Netflix series You) scouring your life on Instagram, keep your socials away from the dating profile. Don’t share any private details. Especially your home address, family background, health records, occupation or bank details, and other essentials.
2. Share, but with caution
You can still tell them about your everyday life stories without revealing the specifics of where it happened and with whom. For instance, instead of spilling the beans in a cafe that you love, rave about its meals and aesthetic without revealing the name. It’s better to skip the specifics until you are sure about the identity of the person across the screen.
3. Make it a no-nude zone
An obvious yet overlooked piece of advice is about the selfies you send strangers on the internet. Mass hackers and privacy policies of social media applications already make sharing nudes a risky endeavor. However, the consequences of sharing it on a dating app with the wrong person can be dire.
People can easily save it, forward it, or even blackmail you if things go awry. Moreover, it’s even illegal in certain states if you are underage. It can be a tool to threaten you, extort money and disrupt your life.
Related Reading: Sending Nudes? Our Cyber Safety Experts Say You Shouldn’t
4. Verify their identity
It’s also crucial to verify their identity with video calls and their social media profiles. Especially before shifting to a personal app, sharing private information, or meeting up. Also, make sure you inform a close friend or family about their details before heading off to meet them or before becoming exclusive.
5. Block and report suspicious profiles
Did you match with someone asking you for financial help? Or did you just scroll over a fishy profile that might be using fake photos? Swiping left isn’t enough, you should report them and make the app a safer place for everyone.
6. Choose a befitting app
Picking the right dating application and being a little caution goes a long way in the online dating game. If you prefer an open relationship, Feeld is a good platform to meet other non-monogamous folks. Or if you crave some support from the LGBTQIA community centered around cis, lesbian, bi, trans, and queer females, HER social app is exclusively for you, among the many other LGBTQIA dating apps.
Stay true to your values and don’t rush into anything by compromising your safety. With some critical thinking and avoidance of online dating red flags, you can easily find the love of your life online. Set a pace and space that feels safe and comfortable to truly enjoy dating online!
The most prominent red flags in men are love bombing randomly, nagging immaturely, being overly possessive or jealous, ghosting, or being extremely attached over a short period of time, and passive-aggressive comments. Besides that, low self-esteem or constant self-deprecation as well as constant slander or comparison with their ex or claiming you are ‘not like other girls’ is a huge red flag.
The three most important dating tips to keep in mind are communication, independence, and expectations. You should convey your needs, thoughts, and opinions as openly and clearly as possible. Moreover, you should keep an open mind to listen to the other’s opinions as well. Having a life outside the relationship and keeping your expectations grounded in reality also help in having a successful relationship.
Did your date confess the 3 magical words one week into the relationship? Well, pack your bags and run in the other direction. Saying I love you before a period of a few months to a year is absurd and signifies attachment issues. Either they are too desperate or are love bombing you with grand declarations way too soon. Trust your instincts and don’t commit until you truly believe them and feel the same.