Deal-Breakers, Red Flags In Online Dating Profiles, High-Angle Photos, No Full Body Photos, Defensive Language, Low-Effort Bios, Prompts, Messaging & 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.


What Does Left Swipe Mean? What Is An Automatic Left Swipe?

A left swipe means you are not interested in someone and wish to move on with respect to reviewing profiles on dating apps. An automatic left swipe is a phrase used to denote something so bad, obvious or unflattering that the image or content itself is enough to offset any flattering aspects of the dating profile even if the person is super attractive, desirable.


Automatic Left Swipes On Tinder, Hinge & Bumble

Dating profiles without a photo get automatic left-swipes. Dating apps that don’t require photos don’t work. If you are too shy to post a photo online, you shouldn’t try online dating. For those that are new to dating apps, left-swipe is the term used to display disapproval for a profile that surfaces in queue on your phone. If you are interested in person’s dating profile, you swipe right.

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) including cringeworthy photos as well as awful pickup lines.

Click through the cringy aspects of dating profiles that typically lead to quick left swipes…

For an exhaustive list of online dating red flags and how to spot them, read this post.


Too Few Photos, Only One Photo In Dating Profile

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.

Tasteless Shirtless Photos

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.  

Excessive Selfies, Bathrooms Selfies

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.

Only Floating Head Photos, No Full-Body Photos, Unnaturally High, Weird Angles

Suggests you are hiding your body.

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. .

Snapchat Ears, Filters

This is not cute. Please seek help.

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. 

Fish Photos

Most cliche photos for men outside car and gym photos. Nothing wrong with fishing but if you look lethargic or do this too much, will likely weed out most people for you.

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. 

Ambiguous Group Photos, Too Many Group Photos, Photos With Hot Friends

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. Taking photos with your hot friends will only leave the impression of said hot friend embedded in their mind. Use captions when possible.

Photos With Exes, Hooters Girls

Not sure why I still have to write this in 2020 but I do.

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. 

Narcissistic Looks

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.

Instagram Photos

Staged photos, photos with blurry backgrounds (bokeh), plandid photos, photos that look like they should be on stock photo sites. Suggests lack of creativity, lack of vulnerability and lack of uniqueness.

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.

Good Vibes Only / Good Vibez Only

This suggests the person has a habit of letting bad vibes and people in their lives and are hoping people will out themselves for them. Don’t bother with these magnets. Closely related to No Drama people.

Are Selfies Bad For Dating App Profiles?

Excessive selfies are bad for Tinder and other dating apps. They suggest lack of social life, insecurity, or lack of friends. One selfie on an epic lookout, hike or with a friend is ok but avoid anything beyond that.

Having 1-2 of the photos above is not the end of the world but if you display a variety of photos from these buckets or if you use one of these photos as your main profile, well now you know where you can improve.

How To Spot Fake Accounts and Profiles

Read this: 


Empty Bios, Emojis, Laundry List Of Adjectives, Lazy Prompts

Empty bios, short bios, cliche bios (good vibes only), unsubstantiated 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.

Travel, Wine, Brunch, Hiking

No sh$t Sherlock, so does everyone else. Be specific, list trails, type of travels, favorite meals, favorite wine regions. 

If I Super Liked You, It Was By Accident


I'm Actually (Insert Age)

Lying about your age on a dating profile is a big red flag. Suggests you also lie about your age on Facebook – who does that? 

Not Looking For Anything Serious, Not Sure What I Am Looking For

Indecisiveness and ambivalence are boring and a waste of time.

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.

The Office Quotes

No explanation needed.

# of Countries Visited

Tacky, superficial. There are others ways of communicating your travels, worldly taste for other cultures.

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. 

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 i.e. Swipe Left If, No Hookups

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. People like this are easy to filter out and screen – don’t assume if you put this language you are in the clear. If anything, some guys are drawn to such a challenge to see if they can let down your guard.

(Insert Height) Because Apparently That Matters...

Only a whiny little b*tch would list this in his bio. He has issues with women and lacks the ability to be tasteful in his banter.

Listing Instagram or Snapchat Username on Profile, Bio

Suggests that you are looking for followers, attention, validation or penpals. Similarly stating you don’t message first on dating apps does the same thing.

Height Requirement

Nothing wrong with having a preference or deal-breaker but just ask the person or review their profile. Makes you seem superficial.

Just Ask

Listing too little information on your bio suggest laziness, insecurity or not that serious about dating. Adding this phrase suggests lack of maturity.

No Drama

Your life is filled with drama. You list this because you lack the ability to filter this out on your own.


Code word for unemployed, no real job or sells weed.


App Choice

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.


Only Liking Profiles, No Comments

Liking is low-effort, lazy indications of possible interest. They 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.

Hi, Hey, What's Up, How's Your (Day, Morning, Evening, Weekend, Quarantine, Holidays)

Chances are, someone has been asked this a billion times. Be original. Ask this later once you gain some ground.

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. 

One Word Answers, Texts, Replies, Responses & More

If you ask boring, unoriginal questions, expect the same energy and low-effort replies. However, if you are continually messaging first and the other person doesn’t reply quickly enough or gives a good excuse as to when to expect a reply, move on. Sure people are busy but quality people will make time for you. If you don’t have options to move on, improve your profile and photos so you can afford to be picky and not so desperate.


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.


Worst Online Dating Profiles On Hinge, Bumble

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. 

Dating Coach Services

First date ideas, wardrobe styling, places to meet singles, where to sit at bars and restaurants, body language, vocal intonation, eye contact, conversation skills, how to flirt over text, how to be more approachable and get people to start conversations with you, mock dates and more.

About Eddie Hernandez

Eddie Hernandez is a dating consultant & professional photographer based in San Francisco, servicing clients in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and beyond as featured in the NYTimes, 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, date planning, screening profiles, ID'ing red flags, offline techniques for meeting people organically, naturally. 

Dating App FAQ's  |  Online Dating Resource Guide  |  How To Be Successful With Dating Apps

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