How To Spot Red Flags On Dating Sites

Although {promises made by various dating sites} give us all a bit of hope that our soul mate is out there, allow me to give you a bit of a heads up. For some of us, the search involves a twisted journey which consists of some very questionable “dating” experiences.

Depending on past experiences with dating and/or relationships, we all have our opinions about creating a profile on a dating site. For me, it was one of the few options I had if I wanted to find “that special someone”. As someone who has survived past abusive relationships, I knew how important it was to educate myself about how to recognize red flags in future relationships. Having a profile on a dating site gave me a bit of practice recognizing the red flags in potential suitors.

Women must be vigilant always, even during exchanging Instant Messages or texts. Admittedly, when I first created my profile, I didn’t know what to expect. Initially, I was way more polite for fear of scaring anyone off. As time wore on, I felt less afraid to tell people when they were overstepping the boundaries; doing so is a necessary skill on dating sites.  I wanted nothing to do with anyone who had issues with being told to back off. Truthfully, I felt abused by several of the men I spoke to. For some, it didn’t take very long to show who they really were; others were better at hiding it until I’d invested a fair amount of time. On dating sites, abuse is sometimes so subtle, you aren’t even aware that it’s happening unless you know what to look for.

What you must remember is this: when anyone sends you a message, they’re in your personal space; it’s the same as someone approaching you in a bar or club. If you consent to a chat through Instant messaging or text, you’re giving your time and attention to this random person and you have every right to expect quality conversation. Always, always imagine that what’s being said in IM/text chat as if it’s a real-life face-to-face conversation. What you wouldn’t tolerate in person, you shouldn’t tolerate just because you’re both behind a computer screen. Keep your conversation generic without offering too many personal details and remember ~ you are always in control! You can opt to end the conversation and block that person at any time, should you feel uncomfortable.

I once had a conversation with a man who approached, asking if I was open to friendship only. His message seemed sincere and up front, saying that he wasn’t available or on the market for a relationship but that my profile content “inspired” him to reach out. Being one who enjoys intelligent conversation, I figured why not? After first half-hour or so, he decided he’d gained enough of my “trust” to start asking very personal questions. I flat-out told him that I would end the chat if he didn’t stop, which he did…but not for long. When the personal questions resumed, I told him that I was no longer interested in chatting because he had zero respect for boundaries and wished him well. And then I blocked him.

The following is an excerpt of a conversation I had with another man:

Him: I really need to get going, but there are just things that need to be taken care of.
Me: Such as?
Him: I don’t think you want me to be THAT honest.

{Note: He had hinted around those lines in previous conversations, but I never took the bait.}

Me: You’re looking for a woman on here who will talk to you the way you want to be talked to. And that’s not me.
Him: I am respectful of your friendship.
Me: Uh, I don’t think so. You have been dropping not-so-subtle hints since we started talking and you obviously want the green light to talk about *that* with me.

{Note: At this point, he still insisted that he was all about friendship.}

Me: Look, I’m nice. But when you push against boundaries like that, I don’t like it. You’re not going to get anywhere with me. I don’t want to talk about that with you. You need someone who will indulge you in that sort of talk.
Him: Indulge. lol
Me: *block* 

I chatted with several men who offered to send me pictures and, from the “tone” of the conversation, I could tell they only wanted to “shock” me with pictures of certain body parts. It reached a point that, when anyone offered to send me a photo, I felt the need to preempt their doing so with, “If your photo is anything other than just your face, I will block you immediately.” Genuine men will understand. The rest will either move on or send one anyway

The following are red flags on dating sites and in relationships {based on my experience}.

  • No interest in you as a person. If he’s not interested in finding out more about you and seems way too focused on talking about himself, you’ll never connect with him on any level other than a superficial one. Genuine people who are serious about finding someone will show interest in a potential love interest. They’ll want to know what sort of person they’re talking to so that they can see if there’s something there. They recognize that it’s far better to show you their great qualities, as opposed to merely telling you about them.
  • Personal questions too soon. I’ve always said that the best way to get anything from me is to never demand or expect it. You want me to tell you more about myself, then tell me more about yourself. Don’t interrogate me. Don’t push me for answers about things I only tell people I trust. The less you ask, the more I’ll see that you respect me enough to let me set the pace.
  • “Separated” but still married. Sorry, but I think that people who aren’t yet divorced don’t belong on dating sites. While I understand the need to move on from a relationship that’s {emotionally} over, I think that most people won’t be interested in starting a relationship with someone who’s embroiled in an existing or impending legal battle with a soon-to-be ex-spouse. The process of divorce is chaotic even in amicable splits because of the emotions involved and the adjustment attached to changed dynamics and living arrangements. It isn’t the time to add a whole new person into the mix. If you must do this, please make sure you know what you’re in for before getting too emotionally invested.
  • Pushy for contact information. Anyone who insists on getting a phone number, home or email address or IM information to “talk further” is red flag material. Many scammers try to get you away from dating sites. Be cautious and only offer more contact information when you have an idea of the sort of person you’re talking to. Always exercise caution until trust is established.
  • Subtle sexual references. Let’s be honest. Any references to sex should not happen until later on. Much, much later on. Like, after you’ve had a few dates and it’s clear that things are going somewhere. During the first IM chat or first couple of weeks of texting, not so much. Some guys get around this by being subtle. They think that, as long as they’re not actually saying anything, it’s okay. If the man you’re talking to makes any mentions of something sexual before you’re ready, it’s usually a sign that it’s all they’re after.
  • Too, too “jokey” {a sign that he may not take anything seriously} or too, too serious {a sign that he may not be able to take a joke}. My point here is that having the same sense of humor as your partner is very important. Sometimes you’ll meet someone who never takes anything seriously. You can’t have a serious conversation because everything is turned into a joke. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you like joking around and being silly sometimes, someone who rarely finds humor in any situation and/or rarely laughs is probably better off with someone who is more on the serious side.
  • Too serious, too fast. I once connected with a guy who started planning the rest of our lives together after a week, without ever having met me! Another was saying “I love you” after a week of only texting {he got abusive when I didn’t say it back}. If you feel like things are moving too fast for you, remember that you control the pace and, if he doesn’t like it, consider why he wants a commitment too soon. Abusive men use their charm to make you feel loved and cared for. They’ll say all the right things and be whatever you want them to be to get you to commit to them as soon as possible because they want control. If he’s saying stuff like, “I’ve never felt like this about anyone else before” or “We were made for each other” or “You’re my perfect soul mate” while you’re trying to figure out how YOU feel about him, be very cautious. If it feels like he’s trying to convince you that you’re “perfect” for each other {and you feel pressured}, follow your instinct. You are not obligated to start a relationship with him.
  • Possessiveness without exclusivity. I once exchanged texts with a guy who accused me of talking to someone else when I didn’t answer him back right away. We hadn’t met. We hadn’t spoken on the phone. We’d been texting on and off for about a week. It wasn’t in jest…more like, “Well, I guess you’re too busy talking to someone else to be interested in ME.” Reality: I’d stepped away from my phone for a while to get some stuff done around the house or cook dinner. He wasn’t convinced even after I explained that I was busy. So I blocked him.
  • Any sign of “too much drama” in his life. Find out what the drama is. If it’s ex or family related and it’s happening often {and by often I mean daily, weekly or even every other week}, it means that you’re going to be sucked into the existing dysfunction of his family. Which also means that the drama will take his focus away from you. A lot. Who needs that? A little drama is to be expected, but if his phone is blowing up and he’s constantly having to “deal with stuff” outside of your relationship, there will be little time left to cultivate a meaningful relationship.
  • Hints of misogyny. If the man you’re talking to talks about his hatred for his mother, female family members or most/all of his former partners {particularly if he blames any of them for his baggage}, proceed with caution. Find out more about how he handles those relationships. If talking about any woman in his past elicits noticeable tension and a flared temper, it may or may not mean that he will react badly if you anger him. If he’s showed his temper once, he’ll most likely show it again.
  • His insistence that he’s not to blame for anything. If his troubles are always down to “everyone else”, run a mile. He will rarely if ever, apologize and you’ll find that he truly believes that he’s always right no matter what.
  • Broken promises. The first one ~ depending on the reason for the broken promise and whether there’s sincere remorse ~ may be forgiven. When it becomes a pattern, it won’t change. Ever. It means he has no qualms about disappointing you and that his apologies will be empty ones.
  • Conversations that happen only at his convenience. If he’s unavailable most of the time, except for the times he calls you, beware. If he never answers random calls from you, it means he can’t talk in front of the woman he’s with. Additionally, unavailability on all holidays is indicative of an involvement with someone else.
  • Refuses to listen when he causes problems or pain within the relationship. If he’s constantly doing something that’s offensive or upsetting to you but he won’t talk anything through with you, he’s only giving himself license to continue treating you badly. He doesn’t have to be particularly nasty. In fact, he can sound quite apologetic while he’s telling you that he “can’t have this conversation right now” and he might even tell you “I love you”…before leaving you hanging without any resolution. If you avoid talking about anything because you know he won’t listen or you’re afraid he’ll “disappear” until things cool off, you’re in a toxic relationship.

In conclusion, I urge you, my dear readers, to listen carefully to your intuition. If you feel that something isn’t right or doesn’t add up, proceed with caution or end contact. Don’t be fooled into thinking that things will get better or that they’re “no big deal”. Most importantly, you can’t get into a relationship thinking they’ll change their ideals just because they love you. A healthy relationship is between two people who fit together without changing who they authentically are.

Are there any red flags you would add to this list? Have you experienced abuse on dating sites? Anything so subtle that you questioned whether or not it was abuse? Please feel free to share your experiences.

Until next time…

*{Note: If you follow my other blog, Writeful Mind, you might recognize that I used a similar opening line on one my most recent posts, The Red Thread {Of Fate} Untangled. I changed the wording a bit because I felt it was a fitting opening line for this post.}


5 thoughts on “How To Spot Red Flags On Dating Sites

  1. Incredibly useful post Carol. This deserves to be shown to anyone interested in online dating. You bring up so many useful points here. It is sad, and unfortunate that these things happen, but this was so well put together I hope that this does well for you. It really is exceptionally written!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind feedback. It IS awful what people have to go through while they’re looking for their soulmate. If my post helps one person avoid such disasters, I’ll be happy.

      Liked by 1 person

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