Online Dating101, Don’t Ignore the Red Flags


Your online profile is your time to shine.  The only thing more important is the Opening Email. But what’s the use of sending an email if, when he/she visits your profile it’s creepy, stalkerish, boring, and lazy?  We’ll go over composing a good profile and opening email later.  

These are my Top 24 Red Flags… Now, don’t get me wrong… it’s not a “one-strike you’re out” system. Ha!  It really depends on what’s important to you.  But don’t say you weren’t informed!

  • Some flags are yellow:  She owns a cat.

  • Some flags are small: She only reads Harry Potter novels

  • Some are normal size:  No relationship with parents/family/friends

  • Some are HUGE (See date no.2)

1. She makes the case for how ‘Average’ she is.

If she describes herself with the phrase “I’m just your average girl…,” take her word on it. The online dating profile is the place to sell yourself, so if she has nothing impressive to say there, better bring your uppers to the first date!

The “average girl” will kill any attempts at a getting-to-know-you conversation dead in its tracks. Her hobbies?  chilling, and hanging out . Her favorite music? Oh, she listens to everything but country. You’ll have more stimulating conversation with the waiter when she takes your order.

2. All of her pictures look identical.

You should already know not proceed at all if a girl has no pictures of herself on her profile, but what about photos that look like exactly like one another? Alright, be lenient if it seems like she has a “good side,” but if she has a “good facial expression,” run fast. There’s a reason she has 6 pictures of the top of her head, face and cat.  And I don’t need to tell you why.

3. Her list of what she’s looking for is longer than her self-description.

When her rundown of what She’s looking for in a man—Funny, well-traveled, witty bombshell with short hair must love cats, watching The Bachelor and Yoga! Listens to jazz and reads Kundera and loves romantic movies and wine!—is more involved than anything she can muster up about herself (“I’m smart and have a good sense of humor”), She’s telling you that she’s looking for a type of man more so than anything else… And that she’s painfully lacking in self-awareness. And if you are indeed the embodiment of the sporty, manly, fascinating, adventurous man of this girl’s dreams? You deserve better than her..

4. She’s only looking for new friends.

She’s “coming out of a relationship.” She’s “focusing on work.” She “travels a lot.” Listen, She’s not looking for more friends. Broken-hearted, newly single people don’t look for new friends on an online dating site. Busy people have enough friends. She’s looking to have sex. At best, She’s looking to have sex with someone she vaguely enjoys the company of while she’s putting on her pants and booking it out of her apartment. Exactly what you want? Go for it … but not with this girl. Find someone who’s straightforward about what she wants.

5. She claims not to have a type and then tells you exactly what her type is.

Oh, She just looooves short hair, but doesn’t really have a preference? Is she vegan and doesn’t care if you eat meat? LOL. Go ahead and go out with her, but don’t say I didn’t warn you when \she gently suggests you order the tofu at every meal you eat together and tells you about the slaughter of baby cows. EVERY MEAL.  I’m not exaggerating.

6. She describes what she wants using celebrities.

The down-to-earth charm of Natalie Portman, with the bad-girl edge of Megan Fox, and a touch of Reese Witherspoon, you say? This is the sign of a woman who has had little interaction with real, in-the-flesh men, and it should probably stay that way.

7. She’s a complainer.

You haven’t even been out with her yet and she’s already given you a rundown of all of the music, food, movies, and types of men she hates? Steer clear or be prepared to drink heavily on the date, especially if she focuses a lot of attention on that last one. Listen, buddy, no one likes someone who’s high-maintenance and high-drama and a cheater and a liar. If she can’t keep her past relationship grievances to herself (and/or her therapist) while trying to paint herself as datable, you can expect your honeymoon period to last halfway through the appetizers… if that.

8.  Winker’s are wussies.

Beware if she sends you a “wink” or a “smile” instead of a properly written e-mail. Don’t be fooled into thinking she’s “shy” or just intimidated by your topless photo. Yes, it’s possible she is shy and insecure,  But it’s far more likely she’s e-blasting winks to all men in her favorites list to boost her self-esteem and watch the emails roll in.  And they DO roll in… Lots of guys bite the hook and hang on ’til they’re reeling and on the boat.

Winks demonstrate laziness and lack of specific, intense interest in you…and that slight hint of  ”coolness” you feel turns against you.

EXCEPTION#1: She sends you a “wink” and then, when you don’t wink back, mans up with an e-mail and asks for your number.

EXCEPTION #2: Wink back.  Don’t expect an answer… but if she’s smart, she’ll notice the value of your knowledge of the game she’s playing and come clean.  It does work.

9.  Subject headers that are lame.

POF fishers know what I’m talking about….

“Humm, Hi, Hey, Hello There, What’s up?” may be Girl Code for many things (e.g., “sleeping with you might be interesting,” or “I’m bored so please entertain me with your witty online banter”). It signals ambivalence and/or arrogance — not decisiveness and determination.

EXCEPTION: She bounces back from annoying “Ho-Hum” header in body of e-mail with upbeat, enthusiastic commentary on your profile and a pitch for getting together.

TIP: If you’re having trouble understanding why “Hmm” is lame, then do this:

  1. Imagine yourself as your favorite, sexiest, most desirable celebrity — Brad Pitt, George Clooney (for you guys), Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson. Gisele (for you girls). Nobody who truly recognizes you for the Dreamguy/girl you are would risk alienating — or even confusing — you with such a lame, passive-aggressive come-on. If you MUST reply, write back “Hmmm yourself” — and NOTHING else. She gets one do-over, no more.
  2. Imagine you are emailing Brad Pitt, George Clooney (for you guys), Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson Gisele (for you girls)… Would you ever consider using “Hummmm” or something similar as your subject header?  Hell no.
  3. Now imagine yourself single and sitting at home on a Friday night, and that girl/guy you wrote to is out on the town only because his header was “Sometimes i feel like the butter between two piping hot pancakes.”
  4. Hmmmmmmm….

10.  She has no picture posted or the maximum pictures allowed by the Web site.

There’s really no good reason for an unattached, unmarried, normal looking woman not to have a picture publicly available if she’s dating online.  None.  If She’s got pictures of herself with another dude  – even cropped out — then just don’t even go there!  If she’s got a photo of herself holding a baby and you’re not into kids… well, you’ve already ran away from the answer i was going to say.

EXCEPTION:  Smart girls will put a caption on the bottom of the photo… “My brother and i at blah blah…” or “This is my Niece”

Us men are visual creatures, women cerebral creatures– they either like your look or they don’t.  She thinks your either intellectually  stimulating or a dolt.  It is okay to spend some time getting the right photo – but don’t waste time dilly dallying and dragging your feet about posting it.

Look for profiles with more than one picture. People who choose only flattering angles could be hiding something. Ask for a recent picture, and if the person refuses, you could be looking at that person’s high school yearbook photo.  See No. 20.

11. She sends a form letter. Update: Men are more guilty of this than women.

“Cookie-Cutters” are not always obvious.  I’ve fallen for it more than twice.

She may generously share details about herself — or even pay you general compliments, which are bound to flatter. But if this e-mail makes no mention of anything specific from your profile, then it could have been addressed to dozens of other women on the web (and most likely has been and will be). I remember one woman I know was so excited to have received a “Hi Gorgeous!” e-mail from a good looking stud who told her all about her job as a CEO and her deep desire for passionate communication with a soul mate. Unfortunately, He’d written an identical e-mail to another woman I knew. Busted!

EXCEPTION: A brief, concise e-mail that expresses general interest in your profile and a desire to communicate with you may — or may not — be a form letter, but with some references to your profile, you know he read your information and filled in the blanks.  I have no problem with this if it reads sincere.

Most of the time, the only things you will miss by ignoring such dating spam are headaches and key strokes. If you absolutely must respond keep it short, as in, “You sound sweet.” That is it. Why should you spend more effort coming up with an original reply to a cut-and-pasted query? If She sends back something nasty, that just proves she was never really interested to begin with, and imagine the fights down the road.

If you receive an impersonal message that seems oddly like a form letter, it probably is.

12. She NOT asking questions and leaves e-Mail responses close ended

I end most of my initial e-mails with either the phrase (or variances of “Anything crazy go on this week?” and “Let’s get creative!  We’re going on a day trip…where are we going and why?”

If you get a response.  Great!  But what if your response is “No.  Boring week.”  Or “Wine tasting in Napa.”

Where do you go from there? The girl that says “Boring week” with no open ended question gets deleted. In my mind, she’s boring and I’m not. That’s not a Red-Flag, that’s a Deal-Breaker.  Hey, I may be single- but that doesn’t mean I’m not a busy guy.

“Wine tasting in Napa.” do you go bold?

“What time should I pick you up on saturday morning, I know a great winery doing barrel tasting…” 

After four e-mails she either gives you her phone number or then She’s a “Next!” If you have time and interest in cultivating pen pals then that is one thing. I know one woman who e-mailed back and forth with a man who lived in another state for months, and finally graduated into long phone conversations that continued for a year. Then she married someone else.

Sometimes there are EXCEPTIONS: Not this time.  A woman who lets time pass while five, ten, fifteen e-mails are exchanged is not that eager to meet you and certainly not worried about other women swooping in and snapping you up.

13.  “I’ll tell you later”

The “I’ll tell you later” on or  OkCupid’s “—.” is a huge, overlooked Red-Flag.

Assume the worst about anything that says “I’ll tell you later.” No one leaves “Smoker” blank if they don’t smoke cigarettes. No one leaves “Drugs” blank if they don’t do drugs. More importantly, if someone leaves their relationship status blank, they’re most likely in one or want an open relationship. If they leave “children” blank, they really have 2, and probably full custody. End of discussion.

14.   Their username literally sucks

Girls: If her username is something along the lines of “JackInYourBox” has the word “cum” in it or ends in the number 69, stop right there. I don’t care how cute she is. Even the sluttiest  know wouldn’t stoop that low.  She’s most likely a “Phishing” account and is going to hit you up for your credit card number at some point.

Guys: If her username is “Marriage_Material”“Looking4love” or something else equally as desperate, she is delusional and going to cling to you like a boa constrictor. Don’t go for it unless you like scrapbooks and those picture booths that predict what your children will look like.

15.  They have “a great sense of humor”

If someone actually has a great sense of humor, they will use their profile space to make you laugh… NOT to tell you how funny they are. I’ve seen hilarious profiles. They never say, “I have a great sense of humor.” They prove it. Duh.

16.   They only have one picture… of their face taken from a high angle.

I can’t reiterate this enough… and I don’t care if their profile info says they are “athletic, fit or toned” – if they only have one picture, and it’s only of their face, this person is overweight. If they are not overweight, there is probably something else horrendously wrong with their body that they don’t want you to see. Either way, not worth finding out.

17. They like “long walks on the beach”

I actually see this on women’s profiles. This should be self-explanatory. Saying you “like long walks on the beach” is the biggest cliché of all time, and yet somehow like 50% of people on dating websites will say this in their bio. There is nothing wrong with walking on the beach. In my opinion, if you don’t like walking on the beach, there is something wrong with you. That being said, if you can’t think of anything more original to say in your profile, you’re probably flat, uncreative, and boring. Yawn.

18.  Bathroom Pics

Dude, we should all know bathroom mirror pics are lame and borderline creepy by basic instinct. However, consider this: if the person you’re talking to doesn’t even have one picture of themself out doing something fun with their friends, and thus had to resort to putting up 5 pictures that they took in their bathroom the same day they made their profile, they’re probably either not very fun, or don’t have any friends. Most likely both.

If they have their shirt off… well… they better be showing off some ink or killer tattoo that says something about their character…, but if not do i need to continue?

19.  She lists her income… and it’s unusually high

All I’m saying is if I made upwards of $500k a year I would leave my “income” blank for sure. This girl is either lying to get you to write  her, or telling the truth to get you to sleep with her. Whichever is the case, She is egotistic, a liar and not to be trusted

20.  They are wearing clothes that you wore in the 1990′s

Leg Warmers.  High School Sweatshirts, Stussy…If he or she is wearing an outfit straight out of the 90s, the other people in their pictures look like they could be the the cast of the original Melrose Place or Saved by the Bell, and the pictures were clearly scanned onto the computer rather than taken with a digital camera, this person is lying about their age by two decades or more. The fact that people think what they are doing here isn’t obvious kills me.  The same goes for Grainy photos.  They are not “Insta-Gramed”

21.  They write like they are illiterate or the are illiterate… (it’s hard to tell)

Seriously, if you are too lazy to spend an extra minute or two spell-checking your profile and putting together proper sentences, you need to re-evaluate everything about your life. If your sentence lasts for like seven lines of text, it’s too long. Taaaalking likeeee thiiiis is ridiculous. “Tryna” and “plz” are not words. Read a f-ing book!

22. They have a long list of “requirements” for their potential match

You absolutely won’t date someone unless they’ve had less than 5 sexual partners, can cook, have parents who are still together, don’t drink, are blonde, etc, etc, etc for 20 lines? Guess what, the person you are describing doesn’t date people who make ridiculous lists like this. Get over yourself.

23. Suspicious Photos

Should immediate Red Flags should pop up if they are…

  1. Blurry Photos? 
  2. Group Photos?
  3. Wearing Sunglasses in every shot?
  4.  Halloween Costume photos (unless she’s dressed as a black cat or red devil)?
  5. Far away?
  6. goofy facial expressions?

…or anything purposely vague. Yes!

There should be three-four photos ideally.  They should consist of

  • Face Shot (not in bathroom mirror)
  • Group Shot (but you should recognize them from the face shot above)
  • Action Shot
  • Full body head-tilt, leg bent pose (standard shot it seems)
  • And one shot with members of the opposite sex (some people will disagree, but it increases your value and desirability)
  • And if you’re a guy and like to take chances, a topless shot… but be on a god-damn beach or a boat or something.  NOT IN THE BATHROOM MIRROR, OR TAKEN BY YOURSELF. That will decrease your value and Creep Zone you Immediately.  

24.  Cyrano D’Bergiac

If I need to explain this, you need to have your mother put a lock on that basement door you live in so you can’t get out and hurt yourself… or read a book.


Aside | This entry was posted in Dating, Dating 101, internet dating, internet dating studies, Internet scams, Love,, OkCupid, Online Dating, online dating research, Online Dating Rules, Online Dating Safety, POF, Red Flags, Skout and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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