I’ve dabbled in online dating over the years – a few good runs on Match, a brief stint on eHarmony, an excruciating six hours on Plenty of Fish – and after much trial and error, I’ve had some killer dates (bungee jumping) and some killer dates (his exact words were, “you don’t carry mace do you?”).
The dates I’ve taken have equipped me with enough stories and lessons to teach a master’s class; but for every adorable guy who greeted me holding his phone over his head playing “In Your Eyes,” there’s a date who didn’t order dinner because he “had a PB&J before I left the house.” Online dating is as risky as going to a restaurant without consulting Yelp – if you’re lucky, the red flags will start waving by the time you’ve ordered your first drink and you can make your escape. If not, you’re going to be stuck with some iffy leftovers.
Fortunately, many prospective dates will wave their red flags proudly right in their profiles and save you the trouble of a bad review. I recently consulted a bunch of friends (both male and female) to discuss their vetting process, and here’s why – no matter how good the menu looks – we pass over a profile:
1.You work hard and play hard. I don’t even know what this means, but I suspect it’s used as a foreshadowing mechanism so I’m not surprised if you stand me up for “a work thing.”
2. Your headline is a quote from a bro movie. I’m not impressed by your rich mahogany and calling someone a “stage-five clinger” is really third date material.
3.You like to laugh, you like to have fun, and you’re laid back. Methinks thou doth protest too much.
4. You use the phrase, “if that just offended you we wouldn’t make a good fit.” This thins the wrong herd.
5. You end your two sentence profile with, “if you want to know more just ask.” You’re the guy who is going to text me “what up” at two in the morning.
6. Your hobbies include working out, your favorite hotspot is the gym, and four of your photos are abs down. I get it, you’re fit. That’s great but I’m not interested in spending our first date comparing heart rates over a bottle of Gatorade.
7. You don’t want drama. Liar.
8. Your bathroom mirror is responsible for all of your profile pictures. I’m not sure whether I’m more concerned that you appear to be a loner or that your smartphone doesn’t have a front-facing camera.
9. You can’t spell. This is me just being judgmental.
10. The last thing you read was Maxim. The last thing I read was a box of Lucky Charms but that’s between me and me. If you haven’t learned how to tell a little white lie by now you’re not ready for a real relationship.
My friends and I have undoubtedly saved some time by recognizing these red flags, although we likely have shortchanged ourselves a good story or two.
Whether or not you’ve ever screened a date online first, there are always red flags in any method of dating. What are your major red flags?