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10 Red Flags: Steer Clear of This Date!

By Andrea McGinty August 17, 2022 Dating

I was asked this question. Not once, twice, thrice – but four times last week. As I’m on an online dating site/app with a client, perusing potential dates for them (in my role as dating coach) this topic came up:

Is there a way to quickly identify a fake dating profile or an unwanted date?

The quick answer is yes, most of the time. Phew. Relief. Probably because we all agree that there is no bigger time sucker than online dating. The rabbit holes you fall down… The choices! How does one get to the “one”?

And, in under 90 seconds per person to be most time efficient? (This is a technique I use with my clients to show them they needn’t be online for hours.)

So, here are a few tips to steer clear of dating mayhem:

Tips in Regard to Photos

Lack of Photos

If there’s just one photo – in this digital age? – or no photo at all? Skip – no benefit of the doubt given as to maybe they are just a bit behind posting pictures. If they simply haven’t completed their profile yet – well, they should have hidden it until it was complete.

A good dating profile should include at least 4 photos!

Photos Look Old

Go with your gut – they are.

Oddly Positioned Photos

If you see only a head showing in a group shot, an arm dangling over their shoulder, an odd shaped photo… Who did they cut out and why?

No Full Body Shot

Uh-oh. Beware – there is a reason.

Photos Look Fake

90s’ clothing? C’mon.

Profile Information Tips

While photos are the very first item most singles look at in our chemistry driven world, next we get to the words, the profiles, the captions, the dating prompts.

Grammar and Punctuation Errors

You know the “you get one chance to make a good impression” and all that. Bad grammar is a quick turn-off sign.


Yes. I mean no. There will be many “no’s” in this profile, such as, “No short women. No overweight. No emotionally unavailable.” Personally, that last one scares the heck out of me – what happened to you to put that in your happy, loving dating profile?

Desperation Seeps Out

Lines such as, “Are there any good, honest women left who want a committed relationship” or “I’ve been on Bumble for a year, and what’s up with you women?” (Yes, two real ones we saw yesterday while online with a client.)

Incomplete Profile

Skipped many of the questions – was the bot confused? Or is this person really not into dating? Perhaps they should have hired a dating pro to write it all as many do for their LinkedIn accounts.


And not just general politics, but how about this: “If you voted for XXXX, don’t bother EVER contacting ME!” Hmmm, this is a real red flag when earlier they remarked about their unusual command of communication, curiosity and openness – and mentioned world peace would make them happy.

Bonus Tip

General statements, such as, “Like traveling, I look great in a tux and enjoy dining out” are certainly a steer clear sign. What could we possibly do with this information to make an informed decision?

Luckily, as online dating has evolved positively over the past 30 years (yes, it’s been around since 1992), so has some of the quality of online profiles.

In our one-hour coaching session yesterday, Libby, 66, a retired pharmaceutical rep and I were having a blast – and giggling often. But when I had her set her iPhone alarm to 90 seconds per interesting profile/person, we had our own game of speed dating on – skipping through the above timewasting profiles – and ended our hour with 14 unique messages sent. And by this morning, 8 positive replies.

Pretty good work for an hour!

What red flags are you looking for when browsing online dating sites/apps? How much time do you spend per profile? Have you noticed certain repetitive patterns that make you skip to the next one?

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Fakes have little imagination: in my experience, they pretend to be professionals (doctors or engineers are the most popular, but also military), they are on a mission abroad, they are single fathers with small children or adolescents placed somewhere and immediately ask your phone number to chat on WhatsApp. They obviously have few photos (or irrelevant photos) on their profiles. After three online encounters with three scammers, I developed an infallible flair. I uncover them immediately, and soon after their profile is no longer available. A sign that I hit the mark.

The Author

Andrea McGinty is the founder of It’s Just Lunch dating service. She sold it and founded so she could help singles navigating online dating. In the 2020s, she knows the best way to meet people is through online dating using a professional coach and specializes in singles in their 50s-70s!

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