Stop Swiping: 20 Dating App Red Flags That You Should Be Looking For

  • Copy By: Beth Gillette
  • Feature Image By: Trinette Reed | Stocksy

My therapist recently described to me that she thinks of dating apps as meeting apps. It’s simply about meeting people, deciding if there’s a connection, and going from there. Typically, there isn’t all that much “dating” going on. When she said it, a lightbulb went off. I’ve always thought of dating apps as dating—which made me feel like I had to give everyone a fair chance. Even if someone exhibited things that I didn’t like, they swiped right—I had to at least give them a chance! But if I look at dating apps as simply meeting people, I have a lot of power in who I choose to continue relationships with. 

Once I stopped focusing on trying to please everyone I matched with on a dating app, I set some ground rules. These 20 red flags are a hard swipe left.

If your partner of five years had every single one of these in their bio and you live in a happy relationship, I am so glad for you. These are simply from my experience on dating apps seeking out men and women for approximately six years (that was painful to say). 


1. If they ask you what you’re looking for and your answers don’t align

Time and time again, we get ourselves in situations we could have prevented if we stuck to our guns. If they ask you what you’re looking for and you give an answer that doesn’t align with what they’re looking for, but they still keep talking to you, then they don’t respect what type of relationship you’re interested in. If I say I want a relationship and you say you want something casual but keep talking to me, you’re assuming that I’ll change my mind. Newsflash: I won’t. 


2. If their bio says they’re “not looking for any drama”

“Drama queens need not apply.” Yuck. Sounds like a sexist to me. I don’t want to know what you don’t want, I want to know what you do. 


3. If their bio says anything even remotely sexist

Oh, you “don’t want a girl who’s like other girls”? So… you want a man? I’m not understanding. Frankly, I don’t wanna see any of the “isms” on a dating app. If you have the audacity to show your racism, homophobia, fatphobia, xenophobia, etc. on an app, I don’t even know what you’d say behind closed doors. Next.


4. If they put their education or occupation as a joke

I want to be with someone who’s proud of their education and job, not someone who wants to say they went to Krusty Krab Academy.


5. “6’1’ because apparently that matters”

Anyone who says their height “because apparently that matters” has confidence issues. It’s just a fact. I know some people put this as a joke at this point, and I can’t even entertain it because I’ve been so burned by those who say it seriously. It’s like COVID-19 movies—too, too soon.


6. Making a very non-original thing your entire personality

Loving The Office or Beyonce or Harry Potter isn’t new or interesting. Making loving something that everyone on Earth loves your entire personality sets you up for failure. Saying you love The Office tells me absolutely nothing about you.


7. People who are embarrassed of meeting on a dating app and say “I’ll say we met at Trader Joe’s”

Dating apps have been around for a decade at this point. It’s not weird or embarrassing to meet your partner on an app; heck, I know about 10 people who met their spouse on a dating app! If you’re too embarrassed about being on a dating app to say it, perhaps you shouldn’t be on a dating app.


8. If they say they’re “looking for the Pam to my Jim”

Yet again, The Office people are not my vibe. Sure, it’s a good, funny, quotable show… but it’s not a fun fact to say you love this show that everyone in America loves. Also, to act like Jim and Pam’s relationship is like the #1 goal is odd. I would like to never be compared to Pam Beasley for as long as I live.


9. If they answer a prompt the same way everyone answers it

Every time I see someone (typically a man) say that they overly competitive about “everything,” a little part of me dies inside. Another one: “I quote too much from… Step Brothers.” Like, do a little bit of work here.


10. If their bio is “I don’t come on here much, so add me on Snap”

Why are you on a dating app if you’re “not on here much”? Make it make sense. I’d love to know how much clout you can actually get by simply adding your Instagram handle to your bio.


11. Following me on Instagram too soon

Or really at all unless we’ve gone on like six dates. Heck, I dated a guy for two years, and I never followed his Instagram (that might be a me problem though). It’s so uncomfortable to have all these random men I’ve shared around five messages with follow me and watch my Stories and respond to my polls for no reason. Especially don’t follow me on Instagram if I stopped messaging you. There is a reason we stopped messaging—let it be.


12. If they respond with one-word answers

Talking to someone on a dating app is, frankly, time-consuming and a little daunting. You’re meeting someone new! You want to find a mate! Of course, some awkwardness will ensue. However, I cannot simply be responsible for carrying an entire conversation on my back. I’ve worked all day. I’m exhausted too. If you can’t put in a little bit of effort to keep up the conversation with me, I can only assume you would do the same throughout the relationship.


13. If they say they’re “apolitical”

Listen, I’m very aware that it’s possible to have a relationship with someone if your political views differ (however likely quite difficult). But to outwardly say that you’re “apolitical” in 2021 is very strange to me. No one is “apolitical” when politics affects the daily lives of everyone in the country. As a queer person, seeing someone say they’re apolitical is honestly deeply offensive. 


14. If their bio says any of these cringey words:

  1. “Discreet”
  2. “Here to have fun”
  3. “Lover”
  4. “Nothing too serious”
  5. “NSA” (no strings attached)
  6. Anything else that makes your skin crawl


15. Talking about their ex too soon

Anyone who’s dated in the 21st century knows it’s a little taboo to bring your ex up too early. It’s awkward and creates a culture of comparison no one wants to deal with too early on. But the dating app equivalent to “you’re so much better than my ex” is immediately unloading every bad aspect of their last relationship onto you as essentially a primer for what they don’t want to experience again. Ma’am, this a Wendy’s; let me learn about what you do for a living before I know in your next relationship you want someone who won’t make you choose between your girlfriend and your mom.


16. Saying you were TIME’s Person of the Year in 2006

This isn’t funny anymore. Please, I’m begging you, stop. 


17. If they just don’t have a bio at all

Sure, you can not have a bio and be serious, but it’s hard for me to believe that someone who couldn’t take the time to just say a little bit about themselves would put the time necessary into a relationship. To me, it shows that you believe dating apps are strictly about looks because how am I supposed to know anything about you if all I see are a couple of pics of you? Another one I hate: “Just ask.” Excuse me?? Now I have to ask if I want to know anything about you? Pass.


18. Having unnaturally hot photos

If they look like a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model, they just might be. I’ve been burned one too many times by a catfish, so if they look too good to be true, I reverse Google Image search. Can’t be too safe!


19. They get too sexual too quick

If their first five messages to you are overly sexual, that’s likely what they’re looking for. If you’re looking for that, go right ahead, but buyer beware if your intent is much different. 


20. If they only have one photo

I don’t care if it’s one photo of the hottest person I’ve ever seen, how on Earth do you only have one photo of yourself? Sounds fishy.