These Are the Red Flags to Look Out for on Dating Profiles, According to a Therapist

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If you’re single—or have been in the last, oh, decade—you’ve swiped through it all: bathroom selfies, shirtless selfies, gym selfies. You’ve seen bios that are sorely lacking in detail and some that overshare to a fault. Of course, you don’t want to completely rule someone out for something superficial. Yet as anyone who has watched an episode of Catfish or gone on a bad online date knows, certain profile choices can be a sign to proceed with caution.

To learn more about the red flags we should all be looking for, I consulted  Sarah-Rose Marcus, a PhD candidate at Rutgers’ School of Communication and Information who specializes in, you guessed it, online dating.  Here, she outlines six signs that your match may not be an ideal relationship candidate—all of which you can use to fine-tune your own dating app presence as well.

On the fence about a dating app match? See if their profile contains any of these 6 red flags, as pinpointed by an expert.

Dating profile red flags: What to look for

They've got nothing but selfies

You’re scrolling through someone’s photos and every single one is a selfie—no shots of them snuggling with a dog, hanging with their grandparents, or out with friends. Sound familiar? “That demonstrates to viewers that you are self-involved and one-dimensional,” Marcus says. “It's okay to be good looking and to show that off, but it’s a red flag if that is all you are showing off.” Some people are private and don't want loved ones to feature on their profile, sure—but that's what the crop tool is for.

They only share group pics

It’s definitely a good sign when someone has friends, but a profile full of group shots should be cause for concern, according to Marcus. “This suggests that you do not know what your identity is outside of your friend group," she says. It can also signal that someone is insecure, she adds, which could be problematic in a relationship. (And here's another conundrum: What if one of your potential suitor's friends appeals more than the person in question?)

They don't have any pictures at all

If you land on someone without any photos, consider why. “It implies that the person has things to hide and also demonstrates that they aren’t completely ready to put themselves out there in the dating world,” says Marcus. It could also mean the person is hiding their identity because they're married or in a monogamous relationship. Pass.

Dating profile red flags: What to look for
Stocksy/Mauro Grigollo

They're spouting too much negativity

We all have things we *don't* want in a partner—like, must not go barefoot on airplanes—but that doesn’t mean we should overshare them in our dating profiles. Your future significant other doesn’t have to say they love everything, but they shouldn’t have a laundry list of dislikes, either. “This person is probably closed-minded in their everyday lives,” says Marcus. So if your match rails on about their distaste for Snapchat filters, cats, and The Bachelor, proceed with caution—even if you kinda agree with them.

Their profile is missing...a lot

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but that doesn't really apply to dating apps. It’s tough to get clues about someone’s personality from photos alone and it isn't a great sign if the "About Me" section comes up blank. “It shows that the person did the bare minimum to set up their profile and will probably do the bare minimum in their dating behavior,” says Marcus. (And no, the fact that they're a mysterious Scorpio doesn't let them off the hook.)

They're *too* specific about the kind of date they want

People are on dating apps for a variety of reasons. Some are looking for “the one” while others might be looking for a one-nighter. But stating intentions specifically—like, "Looking for a Pilates-loving, guac-obsessed partner-in-crime to drink Scotch and watch Game of Thrones with"—is limiting. "People may join the app and think they are looking for one thing, [but they] might change their mind after meeting the right person," Marcus says. Instead, seek out matches whose profiles reveal bigger-picture things like their passions, their core values, and their favorite travel destinations—and that are open-ended enough that you can see yourself fitting into them. (And seriously, don't be afraid to make the first move.)

Originally published on February 28, 2018; updated on August 12, 2018. 

Want to win on dating apps? Send GIFs. And definitely don activewear on your first date. 

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