Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

Red Flags (not in a good way)

Let’s be honest, so much of is about figuring out who you don’t want to meet.  Looking for the little red flags that say, this guy might seem attractive, smart, imaginative and all that good stuff but something just isn’t right.  Avoid him.  If you consistently miss those red flags then you end up wasting a lot of time meeting a lot of inappropriate people and then your experience with online dating is going to be a negative one.

So what do I look for?  Well, for starters, and this might seem like a no-brainer but it’s one of those things that shouldn’t be taken for granted, I take a few minutes to look for inconsistencies.  I do the math.  I read his profile carefully and see if everything he says about himself makes sense.  Sometimes there are pretty glaring issues, like the movies that take place in NYC and have a cab drive from the Upper West Side to the Meatpacking District in less than five minutes.  Is he a professional writer who can’t use a comma?  Does he say he moved to NYC right after college and has lived here for over 20 yrs and yet he’s still in his late 30s?  Yes, these are real examples.  I do not know what the faux writer did for a living as I never inquired (and yeah I know my comma usage on this blog is pretty hideous – hah).  The guy who lied about his age was really 42.

Most guys pass that test. Next, I take a few seconds and think about his picture.  Did he just offer up a single pic?  That’s almost always a bad sign.  As I said in Interesting?, I am far more interested in what a guy writes in his profile than in his picture.  But when a man just offers up one photo it’s a warning.  I might choose to ignore that warning if his profile is really interesting.  But then I know I’ve been warned and shouldn’t be too surprised when he shows up considerably older, fatter, balder… Same goes for guys who have multiple pics but theyre all taken from a distance.  I add this info in with what I learn from his profile and it helps me decide, yea or nea.

As I wrote about in my Online Dating Survival Guide, I find overly cutesy profiles to be a real turn-off.  I probably won’t be interested in a guy who quotes from poetry or love songs, or god forbid, tries to write his own.  Now, some other woman might find that appealing.  I don’t.  Just like books and music, it’s about personal taste.  If a guy lists books and music that I positively despise as his favorites, well, that doesn’t bode well.  I am pretty open-minded (I like to think) and have eclectic taste in music, but if a guy loves something that makes my skin crawl it’s just going to make it hard for us to spend a lot of time together.

I almost hesitate to mention this, because I know how it sounds, but it’s the truth and I’m all about the truth. A guy’s word choice matters a lot.  I do not use a lot of/any slang, or pop culture references.  I am old (old being a relative term).  I know a lot of people my age and older who are very in tune with youth culture.  I’m not judging them or saying they shouldn’t be.  I’m just saying that I’m not, probably because I don’t have kids and seldom have any contact with anyone under the age of 30 unless it’s in a workplace environment.  A big red flag for me is a profile that sounds like it’s written for a younger audience, with lots of references to pop culture.  Again, this is a red flag for me and wouldn’t be for most other people.

Lastly, I try to avoid anyone who is too snarky. A little snark can be amusing.  But some guys avoid telling anything about themselves by mocking the entire questionnaire and process.  They pretend to be above it all.  I can imagine that some women find that attractive.  I don’t.  I think it’s childish.  Sure, it’s ridiculous that we’re all essentially marketing ourselves while simultaneously shopping for someone to date/mate with.  But when a guy’s response to this bizarre circumstance is to stand back and mock, I know that he’s not the one for me.  I need someone who is willing to say, “Yeah, this is ridiculous, but let’s get in there and do it anyway.”


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8 to “Red Flags (not in a good way)”


  1. darkheath says:

    I’m not sure why you feel you need to hesitate when talking about “word choice”. When word choice and a few pictures are all you really have to go on, that seems to be a MAJOR factor in any decision making. Online dating seems to me a lot like resume writing, but in general, you are more apt to attract the type for whom you write. If you write “down” to that sector, including slang and hip-hop/pop references, that is all you can expect to attract. If you are looking for an intelligent and articulate woman, you really need to present that in yourself.

  2. Teifion says:

    An excellent list, I think there’s nothing at all improper about how “elitist” your list is. There are a lot of people on the planet and presumably a lot on the dating site, the more there are the more you must filter the list and remove that which you think you will not like.
    -
    If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing properly and not being rushed. You clearly do not feel that you simply must enter a new relationship or you’d be less “picky” about it.

  3. cjw666 says:

    Since you ARE literate then, although some absolutely wonderful people are not, it is unlikely you’ll find someone who’s not of interest to you. There’s nothing wrong with liking what YOU like – you just DO – period!

    Good, well thought out list, although I’m not sure about the photo one. Some people just don’t like having their picture taken, or are simply not photogenic. Plus, of course, there’s always the possibility of Photo Shop having been used! However, I guess you’re right since, if THEY can’t be bothered to do the best that can be done, then I suppose they’re probably not worth bothering with in return.

  4. bobbyjensen says:

    I think it’s great to know what one wants and doesn’t want! I believe that far too many people either don’t know what they want, or aren’t all that honest about it.

  5. genesisrocks says:

    I think it’s great that you post these things online for others to read. Personally I don’t date online because I have the worst luck with stalkers in real life so I really don’t want any virtual stalkers.

  6. SINgleGIRL says:

    I think bobbyjensen hit upon a key point. A lot of people don’t know what they want or aren’t that honest about it. I see that a lot in profiles, the super generic ones that don’t seem to be saying anything about the guy except that he’s “nice” and “hot” and any woman would be happy to have him.

    My profile is written with a pretty specific audience in mind. Like Darkheath says, it’s a lot like resume writing. And I do take my search for a partner as seriously as I do my search for a job (something that catches me some serious shit out here, from the “take it easy – have fun” crowd).

    cjw66, I am actually one of those people who hates to have their picture taken (clearly I’ve gotten over it now that I’ve entered the blogosphere – though it’s been a while since I’ve done a HNT). I just think that everyone owes it to themselves to take the leap. To say, OK, I need to do this because it’s part of the game. Like Teifion said, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doin properly.

    -genesisrocks,
    Thanks for joining the conversation. I know that online dating is not for everyone and am certainly not trying to convert anyone to my way of thinking. Thank you for mentioning stalkers. You’ve reminded me to write about today’s topic.

  7. bellaressa says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. This was very good and it really helps me. I am considering doing an online profile and reading your blog is helping lean in that direction.

  8. SINgleGIRL says:

    -bellaressa
    Good luck. As I’ve said many times before, I don’t pretend to be an expert. I can only tell people what has worked for me. My attitude is, what have you got to lose?