For a long time, online dating carried a stigma which made many people embarrassed to say they met their significant other online. Have a swipe through Tinder profiles and you will see many people suggesting, “We’ll say we met at the movies” – anywhere else but on Tinder, POF, Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other places people have begun relationships online.

While many of these statements are meant to be comedic, it reflects an underlying problem with how people view online dating. My mother told me flat out in 2013 that online dating is for people with mental issues who can’t land dates in real life. I have befriended and dated several people I met online and can attest to the fact that none were any worse than the people I met through work, friends, or school. In fact, on average I had far better relationships with these people – whether as friends, or while dating.

But this was because I had my red flag detector set on high at all times. I knew what to look out for, who to stay away from, and what messages to ignore. So if you’re considering turning to online dating to find your potential Mister Right, go right ahead. I did – and couldn’t be more happily married than I am today. Here are some pointers on how to spot and weed out the thorns, to make room for roses.

  1. Promiscuous Pictures and High Sexual Content. While there is nothing wrong with the occasional shirtless selfie or bathing suit picture, too many of them is a red flag. So is boasting about their privates and sexual prowess. Men and women who project half-naked bodies and their sex lives ahead of their smashing personalities, usually do not have much else to offer in a relationship. This may be due to personal insecurities, self-centered thinking, or an overwhelming focus on the physical. I also noticed that men who do this tend to expect sexual favors early on, and may react violently when told ‘no’. Be careful with these types as they may break a bit more than just your heart.
  2. Derogatory Terms and Jaded Comments. In this case, they may refer to men as ‘dogs’ and women as ‘hoes’ or… well… ‘female dogs’. For the younger generation, this might not seem like a big deal. They hear it in music every day, and it has desensitized them to the disrespect and danger behind it. For men especially, referring to women by derogatory words often comes from a lack of respect, which sometimes translates into violence against women. Additionally, if the person believes that men or women cannot be trusted, head for the hills. Trust issues often translate into jealous, possessive, controlling and obsessive behavior. The last thing you need is an obsessive partner tracking your whereabouts, and demanding to know where you are, what you are doing, and with whom.
  3. Professional Photos. If a person has their photos all professionally taken and edited, it might not be them. I had one friend who spoke to a 21 year old Aussie for a few weeks before she became suspicious. When she confronted the man about it, he confessed that he was actually in his 40s, American, and – after taking a look at a picture he sent of himself – he looked nothing like the guy he impersonated. Even so, sometimes the person just may be a model or an aspiring one. Yet, if average un-touched and un-photoshopped pictures aren’t good enough, what are you really hiding? What do you even look like in real life? Will they always be hiding behind a facade? It’s never a good idea to date someone who is not comfortable in their own skin.
  4. Always Posting Pictures of Money and ‘Bling’. When I saw this, my first thought at all times was that (a) the money wasn’t earned legally and/or (b) it won’t be spent legally. If you’re okay with drugs and guns and hooker-friends, then it’s your life to live. But if you avoid these things as I do, stay away. That’s way more life drama than any mature person needs or has the time for. In some instances, the money is earned legally. However, I question the moral compass and priorities of anyone who believes and portrays money as the most important thing in their lives.
  5. Too many Group & Party Pictures. While it’s great when people show they go out and have a great time with family and friends, too many party pics should be a red flag. This person might still be caught up in the hype of the college life, and not serious or ready to settle down. If they have a lot of pictures with the sex/gender they date, then keep in mind that they may have been around the block a few times, and could still be making rounds. Not only does this create problems in many relationships as exes and potential kids resurface, but it might also pose health risks for you. In addition to this, I believe that it shows the person spends and/or places too much value on social events. What about their alone time? If you don’t enjoy being alone with you, why should I?
  6. Defensive/ Competitive during Conversation. The bantering is fun, but if he or she never knows when to turn off the competitive streak, then prepare for drama throughout the relationship. I noticed this mostly in men who didn’t finish college, and/or who have strong insecurities. The super secure men I met with (and without) masters degrees and exec jobs laughed in the face of competition, and humor the person trying to paint them in a bad light. To me, that is true confidence. They have nothing to prove to anyone and are more likely to take a joke, than take offence.
  7. They Didn’t Read your Page. If you didn’t fill out your bio, then the joke’s on you. But if you took the time to fill in all the information, and the person doesn’t read it, they probably have no idea what they are looking for in a partner. They basically gambled with a message, based on a good picture. When a man or woman is ready to settle down they take the time to learn a little about who you are – your interests, education level, relationship intentions etc. It’s the online equivalent of asking a mutual friend about you, before rushing over and making a move. It’s easy to figure out if a potential partner has read your profile or not. He or she will ask you all the questions you already answered on your profile, just to make conversation. What are your hobbies? What are you looking for? What kind of work do you do? Be reasonable though. Don’t expect the person to remember everything you wrote, but if he or she mentions some of it while making conversation, that’s a good sign. It means they want to see beyond the pictures and get to know the real you – which is exactly what you should be looking for in a partner.

 

I hope these tips help you online daters to take one step closer to finding the partner you’ve been searching for. It’s not always easy, but when you find that person – online or off – you will realize it was all worth it.