Though they require minimal physical exertion, online dating apps are really hard to operate.
I'm going to go out on a wildly millennial limb here and say that swiping is a workout. From fielding weird messages to trying to determine if you're into someone from a picture, it's not an easy task.
At a holiday cookout this weekend, my friend pulled her Tinder up on the TV to show our happily coupled-up friends just how weird it can get. We group swiped on a big screen, and the pickings were quite slim. I'm pretty sure all of those curious couples in attendance are going to hold onto each other for dear life now.
Sometimes it's obvious when you've hit the opposite of a jackpot, like when his first photo is him wearing an "F.B.I.: Female Body Inspector" T-shirt. Other times, it takes some real digging around on his dating profile to know that there's nothing promising about it.
When you're sifting through the apps for your next hook-up, boyfriend, or forever boo thang, what are the major red flags to look out for? Elite Daily consulted Eric Resnick, dating coach and owner of ProfileHelper.com, and Gina Stewart, dating coach and owner of ExpertOnlineDating.com, to find out.
The bad news? There are plenty of them. The good news? Now you know what to keep an eye out for.
1. Their Biography Is A Total Sales Pitch
One of the biggest red flags Resnick sees is what he calls "the sales pitch."
The sales pitch is when a guy lists his best "assets" in the "about me" section of his dating profile as if he's a product that you might be buying.
"You see so many guys just listing a set of qualities that they think they are supposed to have to get the most responses," says Resnick. "They end up sounding more like a used car: 'I'm active, smart, funny, loyal, honest, caring, have ice-cold AC, and leather bucket seats.'"
Imagine if I sat down on a date and was like, "Hey, I'm cool, a little neurotic, but have a kind heart, an IUD, and no nutty ex-boyfriends." I would deserve a hard pass.
If a guy is telling you all of the things he "is," he's probably lacking in the self-awareness department. You should be able to learn who he is through your messages or eventual dates, not his proclamations in 500 characters or less.
"No one wants to be sold to," says Resnick. "It makes it sound like you think no one would like you without having to be convinced. Just talk about who you are. It will resonate with the right people."
Makes sense to me. New motto: Just say no to salesmen.
2. There's Immediate Comment On Female Looks
Another big red flag Resnick sees? "Talking about the woman's appearance."
I feel like I've been lucky not to deal with this one too often, or maybe I've just swiped left automatically when I see even a hint of this obnoxiousness.
"The fact that men (and sometimes women) think they need to mention in their profile that they are looking for someone attractive is something that still blows my mind," says Resnick.
Obviously, it denotes a shallow-minded person, but it also tells me that this guy has a weirdly high opinion of his own looks or is deeply insecure.
First of all, everyone is looking for someone they find attractive. Secondly, attraction is completely subjective to the individual. And finally, when you take time in your profile to talk about standards of looks for your date, you end up sounding like a superficial jerk.
It's so totally offensive and unnecessary. At least this is a brand of f*ckboy you can smell from miles away.
3. Their Photo Selection Is Quite Poor
Sometimes the photos a guy chooses, or the lack thereof, are the biggest red flag of 'em all.
"The biggest red flag pictures are men who don't post clear photos of themselves or no photos," says Stewart. "In other words, it may be a just a silhouette of him, or a shot from behind, or from far away. Men who are married or already involved often use these kinds of photos (or no photos with a promise to send them later) to avoid detection by people who know them."
Lack of pictures is a definite warning sign, but what about when a guy shows too much of himself on the apps? Like, every single ab? There should be a trigger warning on Tinder that reads "Swiping may lead your eyeballs to bleed from exposure to shirtless mirror selfies."
The reason these pictures are such red flags is that they are indicators of your potential date's values.
"If you see guys taking topless selfies in bathroom mirrors, with their pants pulled down so low you can tell their manscaping habits, it's a good sign you are not only dealing with someone who is not looking for a relationship, but they are potentially either a narcissist or have such a low perception of themselves that they think this is all they have to offer," says Resnick.
So when it comes to the shirtless selfies? Judge that book by its cover — hard.
But before I become just as shallow and judgmental as all of the aforementioned men, I have to acknowledge that yes, dating apps are difficult. You can't put every single guy in the same pool. Some guys deserve a break.
"It's easy to confuse what you think are red flags in men's profiles to men just not being great at creating profiles," stays Stewart. "Many men are bad at online dating, but not necessarily bad guys."
So basically, the biggest red flags are going to be obvious. You're going to notice them immediately, and they're going to rub you the wrong way.
On the other hand, some guys just aren't the best at crafting a dating profile. They have other, more valuable skills that they use in the world and should be given credit for.
It's not easy to show who you are in a few pictures and lines of text, so it's important to keep an open mind.
Still not sure about what constitutes a red flag? Pull up your Tinder on a big screen with your friends, and provide hamburgers and hot dogs.
Dating doesn't have to be a total bummer.