Biggest Red Flags in Dating Profiles

Let’s tackle three questions I received recently from clients. Remember that if you have a question, chances are likely that someone else has the same one, too. Without further ado…

1. What’s the biggest red flag I should look for while scouring dating profiles?

First, not all red flags are the same. Some may simply mean that the person is not ready to date, while others may be indicative of a bigger concern. It’s up to you to decide how important each is to you. Below are some common red flags to look out for:

  • Photos with old time/date stamps or that are very obviously old. This shows that someone does not have confidence in who he or she is today and is not only living in the past but is trying to deceive you into meeting using falsely misleading information.
  • Contradicting information or a different age listed in the profile than the text. Again, many people try to “game” the system by lowering their age to try to fit into younger prospects’ target range, but a lie is a lie, even if the person comes clean in the text of the profile.
  • Too many “lifestyle” photos. What are they trying to prove? Too many (or any) photos with fancy cars, boats, etc. — especially with no one in them — show that this person is trying to compensate for something (looks, personality?) with “stuff.” Ultimately, people just want to see who is going to show up on the date. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • A long list of things someone does not want in a partner. Whenever I see this, I think, “This person is bitter or not over an ex.” Write what you do want, not what you don’t. As an addendum to that, anything showing bias towards a whole group of people is a major red flag.
  • A long message sharing only information about him or herself and nothing about you. This is a copy/paste job at its finest. Every message should include something specific to you.
  • An urgency to connect offline immediately. Where’s the fire? If someone says, “Write to me at this email address because my subscription ends tomorrow,” then beware.
  • A message containing strange links. This one is self-explanatory.
  • All “sexy” photos. Either this person is only looking for one thing or is highly self-absorbed. Either one is a turn-off.
  • An unwillingness to meet in a timely fashion. In the end, the point of online dating is to meet in person. If someone cannot commit to that, it’s time to cut your losses.

2. I found a person who I’m extremely attracted to, but the profile doesn’t include much information. Should I send a message or avoid these kinds of people?

It never hurts to send a message. Some people just don’t know what to say in the profile. (Though writing something is always better than writing nothing.) You could write something as simple as, “What should I know about you, Glen?” Or, “I love your photos, but your profile is blank! Anything I should know?” Or you can comment on one of the photos if there is something distinctive, like “Where was that hiking photo taken? I love going to the Shenandoahs on fall weekends.” My philosophy is to open doors and then decide later if/when to close them.

3. Should I double message a person if they don’t reply to my first note, or take that as a sign that they’re not interested?

Generally, if someone doesn’t reply to a message, it indicates that he or she is not interested. Is that true 100% of the time? Of course not. With people getting inundated on the dating apps, there’s always a chance that your message got buried in a sea of other messages.

If you do decide to double message — or write again — say something simple like, “Just wanted to check in since your profile came up again. Hope all is well!” Never be accusatory or rude with, “Why did you match with me if you weren’t planning to write?” Even if they were inclined to, they won’t now. We’ll never know why some people write back and some don’t.

This article originally appeared in the Duluth News Tribune.

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