How to Spot Red Flags When You’re Dating Online

by Vondie on February 22, 2012

The most important thing to remember is to trust your gut!  If you listen to your instincts it’ll be much easier to spot the red flags.

How to Read Between the Lines

* If someone shares too much, it could mean they have bad boundaries. If they share too little, it might mean they’re not ready to put themselves out there. Or worse, they’re hiding something.

* Are they just looking for sex?  Do they describe themselves as “passionate,” “sexy” or “hot?” Or is that how they describe the person they’re looking for?

* Do they sound angry or insensitive?  ie. “I don’t want a woman with “baggage.”

* Are they overly focused on money?  ie.  “I want someone “financially secure.”  That’s not a bad thing to look for. But, that’s something you could talk about once you know each other better.

* Are they ready for love? Do they mention the “ex” anywhere? Are they “separated?” No matter how they try to sell it, separated is not divorced. If they’re not divorced or if they’re still talking about the “ex” that’s a red flag.

* Are there misspellings or mistakes in their profile?  That could mean they’re careless or they’re just not taking the process seriously at all.

Photos Will Tell You A Lot

* If they don’t post a photo, it could mean they don’t feel good about their appearance. Or they’re so attractive they’ve received a million responses and you’ll just get lost in the crowd. Either way, it’s probably not a good sign.

* Do they have a lot of photos of themselves? A few photos are nice. More than a few could mean they’re a little self-absorbed (read narcissistic).

* Do they have a photo of themselves with another person cut out of it? That’s not good for all kinds of reasons.

* Is there someone or something with them in all 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.

* Sometimes people post photos where you can see their whole body. That’s fine as long as it’s not too revealing. Posting a sexy photo is a red flag.  And so is requesting a “full body shot” from you.

Setting Up the Date

* When you start to email or talk, if they don’t remember who you are or what you’ve already shared, that’s a red flag. It means they’re juggling too many people and probably not looking for anything serious.

* Remember, just 3-6 emails before you chat on the phone.*  And just a quick call to set up the date. And don’t let them start texting you all the time (unless you want to be their girlfriend/boyfriend before you meet!)

* Your first date should be in a public place, with lots of people around, like coffee or lunch.  (No hikes!  The last thing you want to do is go out in the middle of nowhere with a stranger!)  And if  they insist on picking you up (or want you to pick them up), that’s a red flag.

Now, It’s Your Turn!

I’d love to hear about your online dating experiences, any red flags you spotted or missed, your dating disasters, and your successes of course! :)

*Thank-you Andy Whaling, MFT for letting me know to limit it to 3-6 emails before meeting!

Dr. Vondie LozanoDr. Vonda ("Vondie") Lozano is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She offers counseling, hypnosis and meetup seminars to help you find love. She's been featured in Cosmopolitan, the Wall Street Journal and on KABC Talk Radio. Get her *free* ebook, Date, Don't Mate!

Vondie's been in L.A. for 20 years and now she's in Ventura! Nearby cities include Camarillo, Ojai and Oxnard. Ventura is also accessible from Santa Barbara, Moorpark, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Agoura Hills and Westlake Village.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Janet June 7, 2015 at 11:17 am

Dr. Vondie,
I am a single female, who signed up for POF dating site. For the past week, I have been talking with a man who shows interest. We exchanged telephone numbers and have talked 3xs and he messages me daily, sometimes it gets annoying. I am wondering if this is a red flag……..he messaged me several times, “I’m thinking of you!” We both have a great sense of humor, and our conversation seems to flow without strain, but my gut is telling me that his “Thinking of You” messages are way too overboard for someone who has not even met me. We are planning to meet next Friday, but I’m slightly hesitant now. Do you have any advice you could offer me. BTW, he claims he is a stock broker and has been divorced for 10 years and is single.

Thank you, Janet


Vondie June 8, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Hi Janet,

ALWAYS best to trust your gut. And good to go slow in the beginning since you don’t really know each other. Could be that his boundaries aren’t that great and he’s just a little over-eager. This can sometimes be a red flag because he may expect instant closeness. (See Online Dating: How to Spot His Red Flags). Plus, the general rule is the faster someone comes on, the faster they tend to go away. But, most of all, you want to trust your gut and think SAFETY FIRST. So if you feel uncomfortable in any way, I would PAY ATTENTION. (see blog post, Guard Your Heart and Be Smart When You’re Dating Online

Take Good Care,

p.s. having technical difficulties and my website disclaimer is missing. so including it here until we can get it back up on my site.

Vonda “Vondie” Lozano, LMFT, Ph.D., 150 E. Meda Avenue, Suite 110, Glendora, CA, 91741, License #MFT28571, (626) 215-2527
This blog is for informational and educational purposes only. No therapist-client relationship arises. The information provided and any comments or opinions expressed are intended for general discussion and education only, even when based on a hypothetical. They should not be relied upon for ultimate decision-making in any specific case. There is no substitute for consultation with a qualified mental health specialist, or even a physician, who could best evaluate and advise based on a careful, considered evaluation of all pertinent facts. Likewise, it is understood that no guarantee or warranty arises from the information provided or discussed.


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