Deal-Breakers, Red Flags To Look For In Online Dating Profiles, Photos, Bios, Prompts, Messaging and Communication.
It’s very tempting to jump into the deep end and immerse yourself with dating apps. Dating apps are addictive and seemingly simple and straightforward to use. But with a new medium come a number of ways your efforts and intentions can come off negatively or the wrong way.
Anonymity encourages bad etiquette, check-boxes create unhealthy expectations, upfront information creates a false sense of security, easy profile setup creates lazy behavior, people read too much into matches (not a good KPI), access to numerous profiles provides opportunity for temptation or unwillingness to settle down.
If you have a hard time getting likes, receiving messages, getting matches or experience a drop off after exchanging a few messages, you might want to read what I have to say. Dating apps can be superficial and there is little to no feedback to understand where things went wrong unless you get help.
I have helped numerous people optimize their profiles while maintaining authenticity, approachability and a touch of candidness. Below are some tips to identify some red flags while online dating (I provide more detailed, customized advice for clients). Click through a few frequently asked questions about dating apps, photos, bios, swiping strategy and more below.
For an exhaustive list of online dating red flags and how to spot them, check out this post: https://eddie-hernandez.com/online-dating-red-flags/
DATING PHOTO RED FLAGS
Too Few Photos
Dating app requirements vary from app to app but at least 4 photos but no more than 6 should be used on dating apps. It is easy to fill this minimum requirement and if someone is struggling to do that or uses duplicate photos, outfits or backgrounds, take note.
If you are at a beach or sunbathing, that is perfectly normal and fine. Once you get to the shirt lifting, multiple shirtless photos and flexing poses, you are entering the city limits for douchelandia.
An epic selfie with a friend, celebrity or travel location is fine but limit to one in your profile. Having multiple photos or boring hallway photos is definite red flag that is associated with lack of friends, lack of confidence, lack of vulnerability etc.
The selfies taken from high, awkward angles are a dead giveaway of this behavior. Women are the biggest culprits of these angles in attempt to appear slimmer.
Dark, Distant and Blurry Photos
If you have a travel photo with an epic background and dwarfs your appearance, this is fine to use but multiple photos like this can suggest a user is not confident in their looks or appearance or is trying to hide something.
Dark photos with excessive shadows look to mysterious and creepy. Stay away from these when possible.
Inconsistent Looks In Photos
Your photos should reflect who you are and what you would look like on a date. If your photos are spaced too far apart in age i.e. more than a couple years, feature different hair styles or colors, reveal a variety of facial hair or conflicting weight, tans, body art then this could give others pause. .
Wearing Hats In Photos
Using excessive photos with hats can suggest hatfishing (term used by men who are trying to hide hair loss). 1 or 2 hat photos in the sun, beach or other relevant locations is ok but you should have 3-4 other photos that clearly show your hair or lack thereof to remove all doubt.
Looking Too Intense In Photos
Often times guys try too hard to look attractive, confident, smooth, nonchalant or arrogant. Trying too hard can come off as distant, ambivalent or narcissistic. Inability to laugh or smile is a sure sign that the individual lacks the ability to relax, be vulnerable, laugh at oneself or be comfortable in ones skin.
Group photos are fine but limit to 1-2 per profile of 5-6 photos. Make it obvious which one you are and never use them as your main profile photo. Use captions when possible.
Cropped Out People
It is best to never crop out people unless the photo is too distant and there is too much space but if you do, make sure it is obvious it is not a current or ex significant other. With a lack of captions and most poses people will assume the worst.
Photos Without You In Them
1 photo is fine but ideally all your photos should have you in them. Pieces of art, random sunsets, pets etc are best not used unless you are in them.
The worst offenders are those that use inspirational quotes.
Pouty faces, duckfaces, suggestive selfies, too much skin in not relevant environments, photos of your neck down, feet, legs or chest are all obvious cries for attention and need for validation.
No Photo Captions, Bad Photo Captions
Not all apps allow for captions on photos. If the app you are using does allow for this, take advantage of it. This shows more effort, creativity and adds context to photos which makes it easier for others to engage with you and reply to your messages. Similarly bad, lazy captions can reveal your true colors.
Having 1-2 of the photos above is not the end of the world but if you display a variety of photos that span these buckets or if you use one of these photos as your main profile, well now you know where you can improve.
BIOS, PROMPTS & ABOUT ME SECTION
Empty Bios, Lazy Prompts
Empty bios, short bios, lazy prompts are all signs of low effort profiles. Low effort usually signals the person is testing the waters (at best), is clueless, or is looking for a hook-up.
Lack of Friends and Social Circles
Excessive selfies, single person hobbies and interests, no mention of friends, isolating job is usually associated with a lack of friends and social circles. Nothing wrong with this if you are new in town but even so, getting into a relationship with someone like this can be exhausting and demanding to be their everything and only option for interaction.
Empty Adjectives, Biased Self-Assessment
Aside from potentially and likely biased assessments, empty adjectives don’t reveal anything. They read like a laundry list or someone that lacks creativity. Talking about passions, hobbies, interests, guilty pleasures, priorities are all much better.
Worst kind of biased bios are ones that are quoted by friends or reference friends as the source. Friends can be biased. https://blog.photofeeler.com/linkedin-tinder-profile-photo-feedback-opinions-input-from-friends/
Joke Profiles & Answers
Joke profiles and answers are usually a deflection (hiding something) or shows in inability to talk about oneself seriously and be a bit vulnerable. Profiles like this lack depth and signal not looking for anything serious.
Defensive, Negative Language
No players, no hook-ups, swipe left if… All defensive languages in profiles. This suggests an inability to trust people and likely inability to read people.
Dating apps like Tinder are usually for folks looking for casual encounters, hookups but not always. Sometimes it is the only dating app in town (true for smaller, rural areas).
It is not unheard for guys to have a relationship focused profile on Hinge or Bumble and a hookup profile on Tinder.
LIKING, COMMENTING, MESSAGING & MATCHING ETIQUETTE
Only Liking Profiles
Liking is low-effort, lazy indications of possible interest. The involve no customization and are mindless. If you like someone message them. Don’t settle for a like as sometimes people use this to see who is interested in them first and then approach it like a numbers game.
Generic, Copy-Pasted Opening Lines
If something sounds too smooth, google it. If it is sourced on Reddit or some other suspicious pickup artist site, you have been warned. Make sure messages are addressed to you personally and not a vague comment or generic question.
Replying Too Quickly
People should be eager to respond to your messages but if someone responds too quickly too often, make a mental note. It is nice not to be ignored but everyone should not drop everything all the time right away to address every message – seems to eager.
Waiting Too Long To Reply
If the person you are talking too takes too long to respond, cut them loose. Messages should be replied to end of day or next morning of end of the weekend depending on when they are sent.
Trying To Get You To Leave The App & Use Other Apps
There is no need to get off the initial app you met on especially before meeting in person for a date. Being overly pushy on trying to get someone to use What’sApp, Snapchat, Instagram or phone number is a red flag. Yes, some dating apps are buggy but no need to give your personal contact info to a complete stranger before you meet.
Date, Time of Dates
If someone is always pushing for late night or drink-focused dates too eagerly or often and won’t consider other types of dates then it’s possible they only want to get drunk or get you drunk.
You should remain on high alert on early dates especially if drinks are involved. Don’t let your drink out of sight nor don’t let others order a drink for you while away.
Type of Dates, Locations of Dates
It helps to get a better read on someone through a variety of dates. If they are too similar it is hard to get a read on them. Mix it up, add in some light chores, couple dates or visits with family to see how they react. Also observe how they treat homeless, kids, servers, as well as behavior behind the wheel of a car.
If a date insists on date locations that are far away, always dimly lit, suggests sitting in corners away from others all the time or prefers places aways from his/her work, home areas often then take note. It could be he/she wants to avoid running into people but if you are dating for a while, it could be he/she is seeing someone else or is ashamed of being seen with you.
Online dating apps can be brutal but they can be extremely helpful with the right preparation, strategy and patience. They require a set of skills that are similar to meeting people offline with respect to first impressions, communication skills, etiquette, transparency, vulnerability and an ability to read people.
These are just a sample list of things to look out for when meeting strangers especially if you are new to dating apps, are a little too trusting or don’t have friends and family to bounce questions and ideas off of.
About Eddie Hernandez
Eddie Hernandez is a professional photographer specializing in natural, candid online dating photos. Featured in the SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle. In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice and date ideas. https://eddie-hernandez.com/contact/
Dating Profile Critique
For those of you who are remote or virtual dating help and are looking for an online dating profile critique you can read more about my services here.
For other helpful online dating tips check out my blog for more helpful advice: https://eddie-hernandez.com/blog/