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The Biggest Online Dating Red Flags

by on February 11, 2014
in Family and Parenting, Tips & How-Tos, Valentine's Day, Social Networking :: 132 comments

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happy coupleMore than one third of marriages in the U.S. begin online, according to a 2013 study released by the National Academy of Sciences. And, interestingly, marriages that begin online are less likely to result in separation or divorce, and those that remained married are happier than their offline counterparts. 

But while online dating may be a great way to find your soul mate, you’ll be confronted with thousands of candidates. And, like many other online offerings, the "product" received may not always be what was advertised. So improve your chance of success by keeping an eye out for the following red flags as you sort through potential date’s profiles:

Photos: Photos can tell you a lot about a potential date. No photo, or a grainy, out-of-focus or outdated photo, are a sign that the person probably has something to hide, or else is not really serious about the dating process. But Vondie Lozano, licensed marriage and family therapist, has some other not-so-obvious flags to add to the list.

  • If they have a ton of photos, it could mean they’re a little self-absorbed.
  • Do they have a photo of themselves with another person cut out of it? That’s a huge red flag on so many levels.
  • Is there someone or something else in all of their photos? It’s good to have outside interests. But if their dog, friends, boat or even their kids are in ALL their photos, it may tell you a little about where you’ll stand in the scheme of things.

Self-description: If the user name or headline is weird, overtly sexual or otherwise inappropriate — Bangyourdaddy, 69Reasons — you can stop there, says Trish McDermott, a founding team member of Also avoid people that disclose too much, whether it’s a recent staph infection, bankruptcy or bad breakup. And McDermott recommends steering clear of people who don’t have kids but use undue space in their profile soliciting information about the age and sex of your children.

Christan Marashio, founder of, adds that “it's normal for people to have some trouble crafting a profile and to use self-deprecating humor to lighten the mood. Too much humor is usually a sign that the person is insecure and uncomfortable with being vulnerable, which could lead to problems with emotional intimacy down the road. The humor is used to distract.”

Marital status: “separated”: This one isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. But Dan Neuharth, licensed marriage and family therapist, says “you need to find out just how separated he is. He may be legitimately finished with his marriage emotionally, but the paperwork isn't final. But many separated people are nowhere near done. They may be on a trial separation, seeking variety, or way too fresh from a bad relationship to date seriously.” And if the person is still talking about their ex, that’s a red flag.

What he/she’s looking for: Requiring too much or too little are both red flags. You’ll never live up to the laundry list. If the person really doesn’t care, they’re probably looking for a “date,” not a relationship, or he or she may be looking to scam you.

Neuharth also notes that while it’s common for men to want to date women younger than themselves, if there's too much of an age gap, it's a sign he’s probably not looking for an equal partner in the relationship.

Updated on 2/11/2014

Discussion loading


From Above Average in Every Way on March 10, 2017 :: 5:27 am

I didn’t know that small man syndrome was a “thing” until I was dating a body builder an inch shorter than me. He kept making references to our difference in height and annoying me by grousing about something he couldn’t change.

Thanks to his attitude and those other bitter ones I read about, I’m now wary of online dating a guy shorter or close to being shorter than me.
First, because he probably lied about his height, and second because of a lack of confident, self-accepting attitude.

With my curvy size and above average height, sometimes I feel like like a lumbering, slovenly beast while petite and compact ladies seem better put together and less sweaty.

But I don’t carry around with me the mark of shame that I’m not the masculine ideal of a tidy, big-busted Asian woman half my age with a man’s body fat.  I put myself out there honestly, trusting that my actual height and shape will be someone’s type.


Don't let anyone dull your shine...

From Marie on April 15, 2017 :: 7:49 am

That idiot sounded insecure with himself. Don’t let anyone make you feel inferior… for your height, stature or the way you vibrate. Fu&k em. From one tall beauty to another - don’t let anyone ever make you feel less than.


I'm classically 'attractive' (whatever that

From Kerry on October 05, 2019 :: 12:04 am

I’m classically ‘attractive’ (whatever that is) and, believe me, they don’t really want that either. Cos it scares the poor babies…


Most on dating sites, much like social media... are completely disconnected from reality.

From Marie on April 15, 2017 :: 8:30 am

I understand some of your points but as it relates to attempting to online date - current photos are necessary. People want to see current photos, while it does not need to be a ton of them, but photos with your dog(s), kids are good for someone to see.  It gives them a sense of who you are as it relates to your life.

Separated to me means no. I don’t want to ask and rely on someone being truthful about their preexisting situation. The problem now is that most people don’t put closure to whatever their current situation is before they opt to involve someone new. It’s too common and 99.9% online lie.

I do agree regarding those that want too much too soon right off. That seems common too, because many are accustomed to getting relationship, even marriage-type benefits without even being in a real relationship. Thanks to online dating and social media, we can thank those that have made it acceptable not to have to cultivate anything real.


This is what I've encountered with online dating and social media, being that both are interchangeab

From Marie on April 15, 2017 :: 10:41 am

Most of the males that I encounter do not grasp that for something to last, you need to cultivate it and let it progress - not hung it down like prey and expect it to work or last.

I keep encountering the same type of ego-driven males, that are NOT alpha males in my eyes.  Big egos and alphas are NOT synonymous, confidence is one thing, but cockiness is not confidence.

I cut someone off this morning. He has potential, but he started showing me the signs when he would challenge that I pay him more attention than my studies.  My studies are my priority and he is not, until he’s earned his time and priority in my life.  He can kick hot rocks barefoot. 

I have encountered those type of males that assume that they automatically should be a priority in your life even when they have not earned that right and vice versa.  I don’t want someone that right off the bat is going to make me his world until we have actually gotten to know one another enough to mutually feel that way.

I have learned to go with my instincts, especially when a guy shows me a sign of selfishness, because those are precursors and are small cracks to bigger sinkholes of their character.  Pay attention, if and when you feel doubt, you feel it for a reason.


to marie

From Frank Johnson on April 19, 2017 :: 9:41 pm

Since you are an expert on men, why don’t you tell the rest of the world what an alpha male is and a beta.  I would like to know this myself.  And how successful has your relationships been with either.


I'll help

From Teri White on April 19, 2017 :: 9:55 pm

I guess the alpha male in any animal society would be, among other factors, one that the females want, therefore a woman’s, and women’s opinion of what an alpha human male might be like is a pretty valid opinion, and worth taking into account. It doesn’t matter if he has the biggest muscles or the biggest muscle car if it isn’t what women want. In my own opinion, I find that signs of insecurity in a man, such as needing to be validated all the time, don’t make men very ‘alpha’. It is only an opinion, mind you, so please allow me to have one. It is very ‘alpha’ to be strong enough not to get too emotional over someone’s opinion.


I want to share something's

From Brian Knapp on February 22, 2022 :: 6:55 pm

I mean like real playa bull shyt
These people have no clue wtf is going on anymore

To frank

From Marie on April 20, 2017 :: 12:42 am

I never said I was an expert, but what I did say was that alpha males and not synonymous with cockiness.  I don’t know about beta males.

I don’t base my relationships on any of those things, as I’m not perfect like you or some of assumptive males that seem to have chimed in. 

Please re-read whatever reply that I posted to get what I said and maybe do your own research on what the differences on between alphs and betas.


I don't date men, so

From Frank Johnson on April 20, 2017 :: 7:39 am

I don’t date men, so I can’t tell you what an alpha vs a beta male is.  Jerks come in all sizes, but somehow it is assumed that a shorter man has some sort of complex, but never for a tall man.  Am I right on this?

love this post!

From Teri White on April 17, 2017 :: 6:27 pm

You’re awesome smile


Thank you Teri ☺️

From Marie on April 17, 2017 :: 7:14 pm

Appreciate that! So are you.



From Robert on May 20, 2017 :: 7:42 pm

I agree with mk an most of the comments associated with his comment. Children coming first is a given, having to state it seems more like it’s trying to throw it in the potentials face. If your kids are not first what type of mother are you to began with?  At my age of 37 almost all potential mates will have children, it would be questioning if you didn’t. Knowing the age of your offspring is nice but being placed in second place before “hi” is even said is a little over board. How about we put just a tad more thought into how we want to be marketed?


Re:Do they have a photo of themselves with another person cut out of it? That’s a huge red flag on

From mARY sMITH on September 23, 2017 :: 12:58 pm

I cut people out of all my photos on a dating site, not because I am hiding something, but because I joined the dating site, my family or anyone in a photo with me did not join.  I would never publicly post a photo of anyone without their permission. I would never put picture of my children or grandchildren on a dating site, this could possibly put them at risk. Pedophiles look for women with children, they date the women, even marry the woman, to get access to her children.

I actually think less of the men who do post pictures with their friends and family for all the above reasons.

So don’t presume there is something wrong if I or anyone else cut out someone in a photo.


Children first before men

From Richard Sieben on March 26, 2018 :: 5:02 pm

Let me share you my story. My step-daughter ruined my marriage. And regards to my Ex girlfriend wanting to get back to me? I will say no because of her controlling son. The whole outcome was better. I met a very nice lady with no kids of her own and never has been married. I had to move a lot of “dirt” to find my keeper.


If a woman is not

From Lexi Lovette on March 27, 2018 :: 11:49 pm

If a woman is not intetested in you because of your height, then they are really shallow people. 5’7” is by no way short. I was 5’4” all my life but now Im 5’2”. I cant change that unless I wear heels, but I cant do that anymore either. Keep looking and dont worry about your height.


One way interrogation on dating sites!

From Barb Adams on May 12, 2018 :: 1:06 pm

I have found that too many middle aged (especially) men ask questions that are none of their business or at least inappropriate to ask right up front such as,“How long have you been on such and such dating site?” “How many people have you dated?” It’s like an interrogation! And when you try to ask them similiar questions, they block you!

If they are so unrealistic and arrogant they think women just signed up yesterday and viola, found them, get real. Probably not gonna happen. It doesn’t mean someone is sleeping with everyone they talk to.

Hey, guys, you are probably NOT the first date if you’re going on dating sites. Just a reality check.


Many women on dating sites are getting around!

From MT on May 29, 2018 :: 2:22 pm

I was astonished to discover how easy it is to get laid on dating sites after re-entering the dating pool as a divorced man a few years ago.  A lot of women are offering unsolicited sex on the first date. I am not sleeping with any women who offers sex on the first date because any man with common sense can knows that he is not the first one to receive the offer. Let’s face it.  A lot of women go crazy when it comes to sex on dating sites.

With respect to height discrimination on dating sites, it absolutely exists.  I am 5’11.5” when measured in bare feet. I have listed my height as 5’11” and 6’0”.  The difference in the number of hits that I receive when I list 6’0” instead of 5’11” is fairly astounding.  We are talking about one inch of height, half of an inch in my case. The difference in height is barely perceivable when a truly 5’11” guy (i.e., one who is at least 5’11” when measured in bare feet, not 5’10.5” rounded up) stands next to a truly 6’0” man, especially when footwear is involved because different shoes have different size heels.  I can only imagine how bad things are for guys who are shorter than 5’10”, which my research has revealed to be the minimum male height on roughly 70% of female profiles on Match. 

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average American Man is 5’9” and the average American woman is 5’4”.  Both height distributions are bell-shaped curves with 50% of each population falling within +/- 2” of each mean.  A height of 5’10” is the 65th percentile for male height in the United States, meaning that 65% of the male population is shorter than 5’10” when measured in bare feet. A female height of 5’8” is the 95th percentile for female height in the United States, meaning that 95% the female population is more than short enough to date the average American man. 

One female poster alluded to the fact that a man closer in height is usually a better lover.  That is because a couple’s height and body sizes are better matched with a less of a difference in height, especially for positions such as missionary, which can be awkward to very uncomfortable for a man when he is 7+” taller than a woman because there is not only a large difference in height, there is a large difference in body size.


OnLine Dating Is Horrible

From John Doe on January 29, 2019 :: 6:00 am

Well there are many of us men that just don’t like the dating scene as it is, especially with so many very pathetic loser women nowadays that play so many games to begin with.  There are a lot of us serious single good men out there that really want a relationship, and don’t play games at all like many of these moron women today are doing.


If you're not having any

From Kerry on October 04, 2019 :: 11:53 pm

If you’re not having any luck with the girls, try looking at what you are. Re-read what you’ve written here for clues.


Spouse First

From Kevin Knight on March 16, 2019 :: 2:00 pm

I agree with Annie. For all the so-called Christians out there who want to reverse the word of God, that’s probably why there are so many single mothers out there. No man wants to enter a woman’s life and be her Second. With him providing and doing other important things, should he be last or first.
Growing up my motto was, “No Mothers, no smokers, no drinkers.” I have witnessed many guys who felt as if dating mothers the men have to compete with the children. Children not of their own fault, become Competitors, Foes, Rivals, Enemies, and become the Axe that splits or divides the relationship. If you believe in God whether Christian or Jewish, there is no problem when going by God’s design of marriage and the human family.
I’m grown and single, but my choices are few, because I very rarely meet single women that are not mothers of two or more already.


Spouse First

From Frank Johnson on March 18, 2019 :: 4:15 pm

Keven You also don’t know if a mother of children wants you or just your paycheck.  There is nothing to be gained by dating a woman with children.  You will be children +1 down on the list of importance.


You sound like you can't

From Kerry on October 05, 2019 :: 12:02 am

You sound like you can’t afford to be so fussy….


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From delete pof account on June 19, 2019 :: 12:15 am

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Red Flags

From Rebecca on July 11, 2019 :: 6:07 pm

So many:
1 My kids are grown.  I do not like to ever see someone’s kids in your pics.  That’s private.  My kids would kill me.
2 I am fit and healthy and have those pics.  No I will not respond to a man who is fat and sloppy.  And just because you say you are fit?  i can tell you are not and stop dating up bc I will not go out with you again.  Don’t want to be your nurse.
3.  Selfies or professional head shots?  You don’t have friends?
4. I say I am a professional and no I won’t date a guy in overalls and in front of his pickup. We have nothing in common.
5.  Make that in front of or in your car period.  I don’t date men because of their car or boat or motorcycle.  And then you complain women are after your money.
6. Whiners and complainers about life, hard knocks, your ex, women blah blah.  What a downer.


pictures with text numbers in them

From Michael on August 04, 2019 :: 5:36 pm

I received a number of invites form women with pictures that have a text number written in the photo…..does that usually mean its a scam?


Can't find good men

From Frank Johnson on October 04, 2019 :: 9:55 pm

Where Did All The Good Men Go?

Satire by AldenHamil

I am a woman of Generation Y, and I’ve just turned 29 years old. I’ve been looking for Mr. Right since I was 26 and there’s one little problem I keep running into: There are no Mr. Rights lining up to marry me! I know I’m not alone here, because I’ve seen plenty of articles on the Internet about women just like me having the same problem. I really don’t know what’s wrong with me, and why men aren’t more interested in me.

I’ll admit… I’ve made some mistakes. Like most women of my generation, I grew up being taught that I could do anything I wanted, and that there’d never be consequences for my actions. I was always taught that I deserved the world, and that my entire life would fall into perfect harmony any time I wanted it to, including marriage, promptly by the age of 30. You see, being taught these notions as a little girl, I decided to do what most of my girlfriends did: once I got out of high school, I spent the next ten years “finding myself” by spending all of my free time chain-smoking cigarettes and getting drunk in bars and clubs. There were many men I got involved with during this period of my life. None of them were the wholesome kind of men you could build a life with, but I didn’t care. I wanted action. I wanted excitement and drama. I knew those men never cared about me and only wanted sex, but I gave it to them anyway. Some of them hit me, and a few smashed in my car windows, but whatever.

There were a few really great men who came into and out of my life during this period, usually from outside the bar scene. They were men who really cared about me, who were concerned for my well-being, and who did the little special things to let me know they cared, but I ignored them. I did, I’ll admit it. Every man who came into my life who displayed these positive traits - the kind of traits that could have led to stability and happiness - I rejected. I found them boring. Honestly, I was having too much fun with my lifestyle to ever take notice of the men who actually treated me like a human being. I was addicted to promiscuous sex with bad boys who never loved me. Most of my girlfriends were the same way. Why settle for a good man before you have to, right?!

Now I’m 29 years old. I only drink on the weekends, and I’ve curbed my smoking somewhat, but it’s taken a real toll on my body. My looks are fading, and my biological clock is ticking. I am a single mother of one child born out of wedlock to an abusive, no-good father who never loved me or even had a relationship with me. Not that I wanted a relationship - he was just some guy I met in a bar and I liked how he talked to me like I was dirt. What can I say, it made me hot. He’s currently in prison for armed robbery, so he’s not coming back for another eleven years.

I guess it helps to know that I’m not alone in this. Nearly all of my girlfriends made the same decisions I made, and we’re all having trouble landing quality, marriage-minded men now that we’re getting older. Where did all of those good men go? Didn’t they realize that all we needed was a decade of promiscuous, no-strings-attached sex with non-committed, low quality men, after which we’d be ready to “settle” for a decent, stable man and a house with a white picket fence?

I mean what gives? I’m done chasing bad boys and now I feel like I deserve to have a kind and hard-working man to come and marry me and be a good provider and father to my son. I don’t care what he looks like as long as he’s over 6 feet tall, makes good money, doesn’t have kids, hasn’t ever been married, has a nice car, has his own house, is planning for the future, is confident, funny, independent (but not too independent), fashionable, suave, educated, cultured, and wants to treat me like the amazing, special person that I am. Is that really too much to ask? Why can I not find a man like this? Where did all the good men go?


The Women of Generation Y


Don't worry. You have just

From Kerry on October 04, 2019 :: 11:46 pm

Don’t worry. You have just proven you are not a “Good Man”. Maybe you’ll get lucky if you give up the INCEL attitude.


to Kerry

From Frank Johnson on February 16, 2020 :: 8:12 pm

Married, 4 sons.  the oldest married and 6’3”
Better luck next time on guessing on men



From Cheyenne Williams on February 15, 2020 :: 10:15 pm

I am 6 ft 1 so I can’t exactly be picky and frankly, I don’t care about height (one of my exes is 5’8). It is very difficult the other way around as well as it seems to take a guy with self esteem to date a woman taller than he is. Height is superficial and it’s genetic, nothing one can do about.


to Cheyenne

From Fraank Johnson on February 16, 2020 :: 8:14 pm

I wish more women were like you.  I dated women taller than me, and I could not care any less about it, but women in general that is another story.



From learning every day on August 20, 2020 :: 2:24 pm

what does “physical contact not possible” mean on a dating site profile


Read More Comments: 1 2 3

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