8 Dating Profile Red Flags You Should Run From, Relationship Experts Say
Here's the therapist's guide to swiping left.
It's no secret that online dating can leave you feeling worse for the wear. After all, many people put themselves out there and swipe right with the best of intentions, only to see their matches repeatedly fizzle out (or worse—go down in flames). In fact, according to a 2022 survey conducted by the data analytics company Singles Reports, roughly 80 percent of 18- to 54-year-olds surveyed have experienced emotional burnout as a result of online dating. But experts say that by identifying the signs of a mismatch sooner—for example, by spotting red flags on a dating profile—you may be able to avoid that feeling of fatigue and find better connections.
"Trust your instincts," says Kayla Crane, LMFT, a marriage and family therapist and the owner of South Denver Therapy. "If something feels off about a profile, it's worth considering why you feel that way. Communication and honesty are the foundations of any relationship, and these should be evident right from the start, even in a dating profile."
Wondering which profile features are almost always red flags? These are the eight signs that you should swipe left, according to relationship experts.
The profile uses aggressive or negative language.
When you read an online dating profile it's important to take note of not only the words on the page but also the tone of what's written.
"Pay attention to any aggressive tones or overly demanding language—like a long list of must-haves or deal-breakers," Crane says. "This could indicate a controlling personality, unrealistic expectations, or an inability to compromise, which are not conducive to healthy relationships."
It looks too good to be true.
When you date, you're looking for someone who's perfect for you—not necessarily someone without flaws. Crane suggests that if a person is presenting themselves authentically on their dating profile, you should be able to notice some of the little things that make them them.
"If a profile seems overly polished or seems to check every single box a little too perfectly, proceed with caution. While it could simply be a well-crafted profile, it might also be a sign of someone misrepresenting themselves. Catfishing is more common than you think," she warns.
It overemphasizes physical appearance.
Attraction undoubtedly plays a role in dating—especially in its early stages. However, if you notice that someone's dating profile emphasizes their physical preferences, this could be a red flag that this is their sole interest.
"A profile focusing predominantly on physical attributes may indicate superficiality or an inability to engage in deeper emotional connections," explains Judith Zackson, PhD, a psychologist and the founder of Greenwich Psychology.
It states a "no drama" policy.
Another common but toxic trope on dating profiles is requesting a "drama-free" partner. Rod Mitchell, MC, MSc, a registered psychologist and the owner of Therapy Calgary Emotions Clinic, says that a profile that emphasizes "no drama" can ironically signal a predisposition for dramatic situations.
"For example, if a profile states, 'Tired of drama and games,' it might indicate the person's recurring involvement in tumultuous relationships," he explains. "A more positive sign is a profile focusing on future goals or hobbies, like 'Looking forward to new adventures and meaningful conversations,' which suggests an orientation towards positive experiences and growth."
The profile lacks details.
Sometimes it's not just about what the profile says, but also what it doesn't say. If you feel that someone's profile is light on details, this could be a sign that something is amiss, the experts warn.
"A profile that's sparse or vague, with very little personal detail, can be a red flag. It might suggest the person isn't taking the process seriously, or they might be hiding something," says Crane, adding that openness is key in starting any relationship.
In practice, this may mean the profile has only a few vague sentences or generic statements, Mitchell explains. "A well-rounded profile, in contrast, might include specific interests ('Passionate about trail hiking and classic literature') and some personal reflections ('I value honesty and kindness in relationships'), indicating a more genuine and open approach," he notes.
It idealizes their partner expectations.
Some people approach dating with an open mind and open heart, while others believe they know exactly which qualities in a partner will make them happy. While there's nothing wrong with knowing what you like, Mitchell says that it can be a red flag if these qualifications are "overly specific or idealized."
"Instead, look for profiles that express flexible preferences and a willingness to explore diverse qualities in a partner, reflecting a more open and realistic approach to dating," he advises.
It contains conflicting information.
A dating profile serves as an introduction, allowing you to gather the basic information you need to determine whether you have enough compatibility to begin a conversation. If you notice conflicting information in such a concise format, you're almost certain to notice many more later. Zackson says that discrepancies in a profile signal a lack of self-awareness at best, and dishonesty at worst.
"Inconsistency in profiles, such as fluctuating details about age, interests, or career, raises red flags about a person's honesty," agrees Mitchell. "A trustworthy profile maintains consistency in shared information, presenting a coherent narrative about the person's life and interests. For example, if someone mentions being a vegetarian in one section but then talks about their love for barbeque in another, this inconsistency warrants caution."
They're evasive about meeting up.
Crane says the final red flag may not be immediately evident right from the profile, but it's still important to look out for.
"This is probably the most common issue I hear with clients," she says. "If you notice through initial chats that they are consistently unavailable or evasive about meeting up (even virtually), this could be a red flag. It might suggest they are not as single as they claim or are not serious about starting a relationship."
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