Topic of the Day: “Dating App Red Flags”

Robert is back in the forums again – If you don’t know the saga of Robert, the Cliff Notes version is:

he’s a single man in his mid-40s who has not had the dating success he wishes for. Two years ago he posted in the forums asking for advice on how to communicate with women. And, boy, did we give him advice (the original thread was deleted, but it was several hundred pages eventually)! I even gave him a free profile upgrade for his dating apps (I used to provide a service helping people edit their dating profiles). And, yet, two years later, he is still not having success in the dating world, and his most recent update has inspired a conversation in the forums about red flags that we see in profiles on dating apps, in communication with people we connect with on dating apps, and in first dates. Example: “If a 45+- year-old guy presented himself as a “business owner” or even as self-employed, but then I found out on a first date that he actually drove for Amazon and Uber Eats while not having enough money in the bank for car repairs, I would run far and fast.”

I thought I’d bring the conversation to the main page here and ask: What are some red flags you’ve experienced/seen in your foray(s) in the dating app/dating site world? Are their particular words or phrases that immediately make you run? Anything that triggers a sudden instinct to block?


  1. I think that his financial uncertainty/instability isn’t helping but lots of financially unstable people find dates and love. It’s not the core issue for him.

  2. When someone says they’re laid back, chill, and down to earth ?

    1. Not a dating app thing but everyone who self describes as laid back is actually accumulating slights constantly and congratulating themselves for only getting angry about ninety percent.

    2. Too many of them also like “to have fun, and have a good time.” I guess as opposed to the preference of having a miserable time!? At least this was the case back in my single days.

      1. I love to laugh.

  3. Whenever a woman talked in her profile about how she was “strong willed” and most men can’t “handle” how “strong willed” she is. Whenever someone generally disparaged their past experiences with the opposite sex in their dating profile.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Just to be clear, I married someone very successful and strong willed, just not someone “strong willed.”

    2. “People say I’m intimidating.”

  4. I probably have a lot of these since I was used the apps on and off for a few years, but the first one that comes to mind was any profile that read: “Looking for a woman who takes care of herself.” But I guess phrasing it that was was better than the time I came across a profile that said: “No land whales.”

    Other things that made me side eye or swipe left include:
    – Shirtless mirror selfies
    – “Daddy issues, swipe right”
    – No bio or ones that just said: “Just ask!”
    – Profiles listing what they don’t want (“No liars or party girls!”)/anything that made the guy sound like he felt entitled in dating

    1. Another one that makes me swipe – when they have 10 pictures and most of them show the guy with a drink in his hand.

      I’ve gone out on dates with men that had that, and I was right that they have to drink to have fun. Met up for HH with one, he had 5 tall beers in 90 mins on the first date. Another one had 3 double mixed drinks in an hour. If a guy is going to do that on the first date, then that’s how they live! I haven’t been wrong on this one. There’s nothing wrong with having a couple of drinks or occasionally having more, but it’s not my lifestyle to drink heavily on a regular basis.

      1. This was years ago, but in a similar vein, I remember coming across one profile in particular that caught my interest, started looking through his pictures…and couldn’t tell which was him. Every picture was him and his buddies. I legit did not know which of the four men I’d be matching with, and decided not to chance it. 25% odds not worth the risk, and it kinda made me suspect I’d be dating his friends as much as him.

  5. A few times guys I had just started to message with, talked about the romantic weekend or vacation we could go on and what we would do. Had not had a coffee together yet/met and they are planning vacations.
    Had guy want to do a phone cal.l (! lol Robert’s fave idea) He talked for an hour, not to me, but at me. Told me his life story, ex wife stuff, health problems. The whole time a TV was blaring a hockey game in the background. Actually I recall now, I had a second guy give me a call similar to this. I found out later from someone that knew who he was, that he had anger and addiction issues.
    A friend had a guy she was messaging with , and was interested in. They were planning to meet up. He sent her a message rhyming the city she lived in ,with a female body part. I guess he thought he was funny. She didn’t and never replied to him again.

    1. Prognosti-gator says:

      “He sent her a message rhyming the city she lived in ,with a female body part.”

      Great. It’s like that Seinfeld episode … now, I can’t stop running permutations through my head trying to figure it out.

      1. It’s Regina.

      2. anonymousse says:


  6. anonymousse says:

    I truly am grateful I missed the apps. Thank god. It seems like a real meat market sometimes.

  7. Honestly, any time guy mentioned he had a “crazy ex” or described her as a “psycho”….it turns out they were masters in the art of gaslighting and I gave the exes the benefit of the doubt lol.

  8. Yes bondgirl. That is so true and common. Reminds me of a guy I met disparaging/blaming his ex -wife who “Popped out three kids while he was still finishing university”. Umm,I don’t think she did this alone. Also maybe the fact he started his own religion/church following archiac rules had something to do with it.

  9. “No drama”
    “I hate drama”
    “I’m allergic to drama”

    These are drama kings who try to blame the excessive amounts of drama in their lives on others. Most likely on “crazy” women who, you know, have expectations and boundaries.

    Sweeping generalization: if you have a lot of drama in your life, you are the source of it.

    1. Absolutely this. I’m a clinical counselor who works with severe mental health and substance use issues. One of my clients was on the dating apps (with a pregnant girlfriend) saying he was looking for something “drama-free.” Another (married) was swiping *while receiving care in the behavioral health emergency room.* Hope this helps with perspective!

      “Ask me anything, I’m an open book” used to drive me insane. Why am I going to start chatting you up with all sorts of questions if I can’t tell whether I’d be remotely interested?

  10. Teri Anne says:

    I have tried a lot of dating sites without any success: OKCupid, EHarmony, Match, OurTime and Tinder. Although I am a Christian, I refused to try Christian Mingle after reading about the evils of fornication. I swore off dating in disgust for over 5 years, until this summer when I tried Facebook Dating. I had 3 pleasant dates in only a month, until I had to stop because the number of covid cases increased.

    Like other readers, I consider drama free and laid back are definite flags. I would also consider chill a red flag, although people my age (63) are less likely to use this word. Drama-free means don’t bother me with any of your concerns. Chill and laid back are likely to be untrue, because a person who is truly laid back would probably not mention it. Other red flags are religious: “put God first” and “God-fearing”.

    I was astonished at the number of scammers on Facebook Dating. It is easy to discern a scammer when they pick a woman’s name like Irene. But often distinguishing between real men and scammers is very subtle. For example, profile pictures obviously not taken in my city; interior decor that looks more Middle Eastern; or the English is slightly off. These profiles typically show men with important positions such as UN doctor, army doctor, or oil rig engineer. However my city contains no Army base and is hundreds of miles from the East or West Coasts. The scammers always want to get off the Facebook Dating site and switch to phone or Google Hangouts where they can get enough information to scam me.

  11. Robert123 says:

    One thing that’s a red flag for me isn’t in the profile, but when someone feels put off because I don’t message all throughout the day instead of going to work, when she feels as if she should be my only life, or something. Regardless of how much I am interested, I still have a job and a life outside of messaging.

    1. Omg. So does literally everyone else, but they own a smartphone and can take breaks during the day to text. It’s a huge red flag that you DON’T. Makes you appear very sketchy.

      1. anonymousse says:

        Yeah, agreed. That you don’t text is a huge red flag. They probably think you are in inpatient care like the above story or in a halfway house or somewhere your access is restricted to the internet!

      2. You tend to post on here at like 3am, Robert, which is when I assume you’re on the computer before bed? If you’re responding to messages at 3am that makes you look, oh, for example, married and sneaking around, or like a big drinker, or just someone who has completely different hours than a 9-to-five so how could you ever date someone with a normal schedule if you can’t carry on a conversation during regular hours. You know? Get a phone, and message your prospects during meal breaks.

  12. I missed this thread the other day, and oh I have so many of these.

    Nothing/very little in the profile. “If you want to know, just ask!” like @Copa said. Even better is when I ask them to tell me about themselves and they respond with “I’ll answer anything you want to know.” Like, I just asked, dude. This is showing me you’re not willing to do any of the work at all.

    “I lead an active lifestyle and want someone who can keep up with me.” I have lung problems and I’m not an athlete. I lead an active lifestyle for myself but, having had one man break up with me because at 4’10” and with lung problems I “couldn’t keep up with him on hikes,” I know it’s not worth it.

    “Just here looking for fun.”
    “Only interested in something casual; if it develops into more then cool.”
    “No dog moms.”
    “I want a woman who stays in shape.”
    Anyone with a picture of a fish or hunting spoil, or wearing camo in the woods.
    Long descriptions of all the sports teams they follow.
    Pictures are all selfies, either shirtless, in the bathroom, or that look like mugshots.

    …I can’t believe I’m doing this crap AGAIN for the 897th time in my life. I hate it.

    1. One guy I went out with, after our first and only date, texted something along the lines of, “Now that you know how active and involved I am, think you can keep up?” I declined a second date. I then proceeded to run into him regularly on the bus to work for years.

      1. Lol! Ohhh no. But yeah, if you think you’re so active that I can’t keep up…bbye then.

    2. The no ‘dog moms’ comment. I’ve seen that too! And the other is “can’t do cats”

      If it’s a severe allergy, I get it. But if they get jealous sharing attention, that’s just weird and insecure. If a guy shows off his dog and is proud, I find that endearing.

  13. Hmm, it looks like my comment ended up as a reply to another comment rather than a standalone. Trying again…

    For me it was guys who had a long list of what they *don’t* want in a woman, rather than what kind of person they actually enjoy.

    Fun fact: I had a longtime friend who I started hanging out with more during a time when we were both single and all our friends were coupled up. We bonded over how atrocious the dating apps were, swapping horror stories. We’ve now been dating for just over two years, and today — yes, today! — the movers just brought all my stuff to the house he bought last fall.

    So I guess sometimes dating app fails can lead to good things in a roundabout way…

  14. Bittergaymark says:

    I went on Grindr the other day and the only person who messaged me repeatedly was “Female, 30.” ?

    Didn’t even know that was possible.

  15. Lol to Lady E about the hunting/kill photos. I was not fond of ball caps either.
    I also could not relate to guys that rode/posed with motorbikes.
    I started to put in my profile that: “Sadly, tragicall,y I am allergic to motorcycles”
    Lol, one guy wrote and asked “what part of motorbikes are you allergic to?”

    1. Ball caps = bald. Bald is fine, but don’t hide it.

  16. I don’t mind bald at all. But personal quirk, i dislike ball caps. I think because when I was dating on line, I lived in a small city in a more rural area. Most of the guys who wore ball caps lived in ” the country” and were more generally into lifestyle stuff I wasn’t into or the athletic/sporty type which I am not either.
    Saved them from bookish, artsy, quirky me.

    1. Bookish, artsy, quirky – so true for me too! It is truly amazing how many of these guys are into every outdoor activity imaginable. Like, sure, I enjoy the outdoors but I don’t have the energy with a full-time job, two dogs, and hobbies like performing comedy to be white water rafting and bungee jumping all the ding dang time. Geesh.

      I grew up in rural Pennsylvania and my dad is a huge hunter. So many animal heads mounted on the wall. I want absolutely nothing to do with it.

      1. Every now and again I’d come across a profile where seemingly every pic was from an extreme sport. Scuba! Skydiving! Bungee jumping! Surfing! And I’d always have the reaction, “Do you not have a single low-key picture because you never do anything ‘normal’ in your free time? ” In my head I’d refer to these guys as Mr. Adventure. I like being outside and enjoy being active, but it’s not my entire personality.

  17. One other thing I forgot to mention: if they do NOT list their job or talk about it at all, I’ve found that 100% of the time it means they either a) don’t have one or b) don’t have a standard, steady, salaried job. Men are very proud of their jobs. If they aren’t talking about it it means there’s nothing to talk about. It’s literally proven true 100% of the time in my experience.

  18. So true Lady E. In fact I met a guy that had “mixed” listed under occupation. Turned out he was a failed lawyer, a failed teacher, a failed construction business owner etc. Could not stick with or keep a job. Sketchy and not a good bet for sustaining a relationship either. lol
    Copa, yeah “Action Man” would be exhausting for me.

    1. Not surprising! Ironically my most recent ex did not talk about a job at all in his profile nor when we first started messaging, and while he has several different gig/freelance type things he does for work, he does not, in fact, have a salaried, steady job. We dated for 2 years and that wasn’t a dealbreaker for me because he could pay his bills, but it’s amusing that my theory proved true even in that instance.

      1. Just to add to this, god forbid you should talk about YOUR job in your profile. That makes you look like an uppity bitch.

    2. I was always wary of any man who said he was an entrepreneur. It usually meant unemployed.

      And then as someone with a professional degree and good job, quite a few dates got weird and insecure about it. I’d get asked if my parents paid for rent (no) or very surprised reactions that I could afford a one-bedroom apartment on my own in a nice neighborhood.

      A good friend of mine has a masters degree and a good job. Her boyfriend of 10+ years is blue collar. She’s made comments to various friends in our group, myself included, about how we’re doing ourselves a disservice by overlooking men who are less educated or have blue collar jobs. In my own experience, though, it was *always* the man who made it weird if he was less educated or assumed I was more successful.

      1. Just the fact that she’s pushing that on you guys would make me suspicious of their relationship.

      2. She’s at least insecure about it.

      3. I think their relationship is not amazing and she’s also starting to see a lifestyle gap between herself and friends. Lately as our friends have been buying first condos/houses, she’s started saying she’s not there yet because she “didn’t marry rich” — as if that was everyone else’s goal. I was open to men who weren’t as educated but I’d say most of our friends were not. Anytime it came up, she’d seem so slighted as if it was commentary on her relationship.

  19. Wasn’t there an older thread about this ” unequal” job/education thing? Something about a female doctor and her construction worker guy and issues with attending work related events together?
    I just recalled another turn off, if not a red flag. Any guy that addressed/messaged me as baby, honey, princess, or suggesting I could be his “Queen”. Yuck, Just no.

    1. I’ve never seen that thread if it exists on this site. I did read an article maybe 5-6 years ago when I was still single about how there are now more women than men earning higher degrees and it led to a dating gap of sorts. If I recall correctly, women were far more likely than men to care about their partner’s education level than men. Men were more likely to feel bothered if they were the lower earner.

      And yes! The “hey beautiful” guys – ugh! This was a big pet peeve in online dating and I’m surprised I forgot. I didn’t respond to any guy who opened with that. I did have one friend who said she didn’t mind being addressed as “hey gorgeous” by men on dating sites… I think she found it flattering.

  20. Yeah, the “Hey Beautiful” is awful too and “Hey Sexy” even worse. I also had a guy wanting to meet without even asking my first name.

  21. I recently joined a dating site again, at 50.

    I’ve seen all of the above comments over and over. No drama, no games, very active, takes care of herself, wants to have fun, enjoy life. It’s a turn off when there’s a NO list, especially if they had political statements. And the lazy guys who say I’m an open book just ask.

    Here’s a couple of themes I’ve noticed this time around, every guy wants HONESTY, they ALL say they want an honest partner, and they say they are very honest almost to a fault. I think it’s more about communication, either their partner could not communicate or didn’t feel comfortable communicating openly to them, or the guy is a horrible communicator or listener.

    Doesn’t everyone think they are honest? Not sure how to qualify that trait in a profile.

    Thoughts? Be honest…. Ha

    1. Ah yes, the laundry list of must-nots! Never seems to be accompanied by much information about what they are bringing to the table, or what they actually want.

      If I saw someone claim to be honest almost to a fault, I’d run. Seems akin to “I’m a nice guy!”

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