Although dating apps are now the mainstream when it comes to meeting new people, it's important to be cautious. While it's safe to assume not everyone is out to catfish you, there are still
dating app red flags that need your attention. But the problem is when your head is in the dating game and you're really looking for "the one," either for a night or the long-haul, seeing those red flags isn't always easy. In fact, they could be right in front of you, practically screaming, and you still might miss them.
"Online dating is by its nature a judgmental beast," master confidence coach and host of the
UnF*ck Your Brain podcast, Kara Loewentheil, tells Bustle. "Most of us could stand to dial down our judgments about [potential matches] and give dating more of an open-minded chance. At the same time, keeping an eye out for certain red flags will help save you time in the long run!"
some red flags are completely obvious (bragging about their sexual prowess, half naked photos, and blatant racism, sexism, or other bias, just to name a few), others may not catch your eye as even being a red flag. And of course, use your best judgment when swiping — not everything on this list might feel like a dealbreaker to you, and you ultimately know best what you're looking for.
But being aware of potential red flags from the get-go can save you a lot of trouble down the line. Here are 19 of the most commonly-missed dating app red flags, according to the experts.
"When people first tend to move to a new place [and] just adjusted to their jobs, meeting new friends may be the priority rather than getting into a serious relationship," Stefanie Safran, founder of
Stef and the City, a professional introduction service, tells Bustle. If you're up for a new friend, then by all means swipe! But if you have something more romantic in mind, let them meet new friends first. If they're still online in a few months, then consider swiping on them if you're still interested.
A Lot Of "Don'ts" In Their Profile
"If there are more comments about what they DON'T want rather than what they DO want, it might not be someone who sees the next person as an individual and not just another date," Safran says. Even if someone has been
put through the wringer with dating apps, it doesn't mean they need to be so negative about the whole experience.
According to Safran, someone whose photos always show them in some kind of party setting can be a red flag if you're looking to date someone seriously. (If you're a party animal yourself, then swipe away.)
Profiles Without Any Text
"Some people don’t write anything in their profiles," life coach and founder of
After Defeat, Nina Rubin, M.A. tells Bustle. "This is a red flag and shows a lackadaisical approach." Or straight-up laziness.
Bathroom And Gym Selfies
Anyone who's been on a dating app, for even a few minutes, has seen the on slot of endless bathroom and gym selfies. According to Rubin, these types of photos can be a red flag because they show that
someone is "self-impressed" — aka, a narcissist.
"Why the long face?" Rubin asks.
Exactly. Someone who can't smile on a dating app where they're, ideally, supposed to look at least somewhat approachable is a sign to pause.
Long Narratives About "What's Wrong" With Society
The world is a mess; we get it. But is a dating app profile really the best place to go into a long a rant about the decline of humanity? Not so much. Rubin advises staying away from these types, since there's a strong likelihood they'll bring that negative energy to your date.
"Don't Contact Me Unless You're Comfortable Sexually."
While everyone has their (totally valid) kinks, broadcasting this on their dating app profile suggests that this person is truly only in it for sex — and a conversation about kinks should probably come after you get to know each other a little bit (rather than be the first thing you learn about them). "It is also indicative of a controlling type of person," Clarissa Silva, behavioral scientist, relationship coach and creator of
Your Happiness Hypothesis Method, tells Bustle.
Whether they put "gold digger," "drama queen," or some other negative assumption about people in there, Silva points out this is someone on whom to swipe left.
"Listing their preferences up front makes them appear as someone who doesn’t want to build a relationship/partnership," Silva says. "It’s a strong indicator that they’re letting past relationships control their future relationships."
If Their Conversation Feels "Off" From Their Profile
A static profile is obviously going to be different than a person's dynamic conversation, but if the vibe is totally off between the two, it could be a red flag.
"For example ... their profile is pretty chill, yet they comes off as aggressive,"
Claudia Cox, founder of Text Weapon, tells Bustle. "Everyone has a personal brand; it’s the way they present themselves to the world. If theirs is all over the place, then you should be concerned."
This might not necessarily be a red flag or a dealbreaker, but if someone says they're "just looking to hang out" or "keep things casual," that's a good indication that... that's what they want.
"If you are seeking something serious, don't swipe right in the hope that you'll be the one to change [their] mind," certified dating coach and host of the
Dates and Mates Podcast, Damona Hoffman, tells Bustle.
Cropped And/Or Group Photos
"If the only pictures someone has of themself include other people, they could either be very insecure or recent out of a relationship (or maybe not yet out of a relationship at all!)," Hoffman says.
We all have friends; there's no need to showcase it in every photo on their profile.
Photos That Are *Too* Hot
"If you see a profile of someone that looks like they could be a model, and not just an IG model, [but] like a print mag model," Hoffman says, there's a good chance it's just fake. To be safe, do a
reverse Google Image search before talking to them.
Similar to not enough words in their profile, not enough photos is
also a red flag.
"When someone only has a couple photos I always get suspicious that they could have stolen the pics from someone else," Hoffman says. Reverse Googling is helpful here, too.
Complaining About "Certain Types" Of Women
"This red flag can be tricky because if you don't match the complaints, you may think that's a compliment to you," Loewentheil says. "But anyone who is complaining about how women think, look, or behave — especially on a dating app — is thinking about women as a stereotypical group, not about individual women they might date."
If someone is so quick to judge and stereotype, you better believe they'll be easily judging you too.
Most Types Of Complaining
"We all get it, online dating sucks sometimes!" Loewentheil says. "But someone who devotes their small precious profile space to complaining is not going to be fun to hang out with in person, and probably thinks they are entitled to reality being exactly how they want it and to things not being challenging for them that are challenging for everyone."
"It's Too Much To write, Just Ask"
Seriously? You want me to do all the work? No thanks, buddy.
"This person will be terrible at conversation, I can guarantee it," Loewentheil says.
No one said dating was a walk in the park. While dating apps have made access to more people easier, it's definitely upped the amount of red flags we have thrown our way. It's best to note those now, instead of a few months down the road when things are likely to be more complicated.
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Kara Loewentheil's name. The story has been updated.