How to navigate the red flags of digital dating

red flags online dating article on Silver Magazine

Thinking about online dating as the evenings draw in? How to spot and navigate the red flags of online dating. Hint, it’s not just about catfishing

Have you heard about ‘cuffing season’? As we say goodbye to summer and enter the colder months, many of us singletons will be thinking about buddying up for the winter.

According to Psychology Today, cuffing season is all about partnering up instead of playing the field. Essentially, while the rest of the year is great for dating and hooking up, winter is when people start to think about relationships.

It makes sense. With days growing shorter and darker, people don’t tend to socialise as much, particularly if their friends are in relationships. It’s cold. Our friends in relationships are staying in watching a film with their partner most evenings, warmly wrapped up under a blanket. Pair that with the social responsibilities of family gatherings, which can make even the most resilient of us feel lonely. It’s not hard to see why there’s a trend in subconsciously seeking romantic company during the winter.

…despite the many benefits to online dating, there are things to be wary of

With the aforementioned darker days and plummeting temperatures, many of us are opting for the ease of online dating. Why would we put ourselves through the motions of piling on the layers to go out and meet a potential match when we can do it from the comfort of our sofas?

However, despite the many benefits to online dating, there are things to be wary of. It is so different to meeting someone in person, where you’re usually able to pick up any sketchy behavior right off the bat.

Even if you are just chatting online, you want to be able to spot these red flags before you get too attached to someone. Sometimes we may try to look past it because we are enjoying the connection, or we may actually be completely oblivious to it.

Two glasses of wine on date - online dating red flags for

9 red flags to watch out for…

1. They have a very limited selection of photos

Whether it’s a case of their profile only having one or two photos, they refuse to send you any other photos of them, or they never want to video chat, it’s suspicious. The main reason behind this behaviour is often because they are using someone else’s photos. This is widely known as ‘catfishing’, where someone is pretending to be someone they’re not in order to gain something, whether it’s money or just conversation. Don’t forget that reverse image searching on Google is a thing. If in doubt, check it out. (Check out the TV show Catfish for some truly scandalous dating mishaps!)

2. Their profiles are overly private

No social media accounts? Profiles that don’t give anything away except a name and an age? Ask yourself why people are so off the grid if they’re trying to date online. There’s a number of reasons why they may be extra private. Maybe they’re married and are looking for an affair, but don’t want their partner finding out?

3. They don’t want to meet in person

If this person doesn’t ever want to meet in person or something always ‘comes up’ very last minute. It may be that they are a catfish, that they are simply looking for a quick fling online or they’re not who they say they are.

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4. They’ve made a list of dos and don’ts

We’ve surely all refined our ‘types’ by now, and we definitely know what we’re looking for in a person. However, this is not a reason to shut down potential matches before we’ve had a chance to speak to them. If someone is actively complaining about certain ‘types’ of people and demanding a list of qualities, it’s safe to assume what type of person they are. Entitled, rude, disrespectful… Avoid them.

5. They ask for money

This is a red flag that you really can’t ignore. Someone asking for money is a big sign that they are talking to you for all the wrong reasons. Similar to those emails or text messages that you might get saying you’ve got a parcel stuck at customs even though you haven’t ordered anything from overseas, it is probably some sort of scam. Unfortunately, there are people out there who prey on other’s kindness for their own gain.

6. They try to turn every conversation into sexting

Someone that makes sexual advances from the start or somehow always steers the conversation in a sexual direction is another sign that this person isn’t really looking for someone to have a genuine connection or a relationship with.

Of course, if this is what you’re interested in, by all means continue. Just be aware that not everyone will make their intentions clear from the start.

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7. They’re overly secretive

Of course we don’t want to put everything on full blast the moment we meet someone new, but someone being overly secretive can raise suspicions. Particularly if they’re being secretive about the mundanities of everyday life, such as what they do for a living, or what area they’re from. Ask yourself, what are they trying to hide?

8. They talk about their ex

If the person you’ve just met still seems to be hung up over their ex, save yourself the heart- and headache of being in a love triangle. If they relate every conversation back to their ex-partner, or worse, compare you to them, they’re definitely not over the relationship. Don’t get involved.

9. They’re overly clingy

If you meet someone and they get aggressively clingy early on, you might want to take a step back. From constantly messaging to wanting to know where you are and what you’re doing, this behavior isn’t healthy. This person could be relying on you for emotional support, or something more sinister. Proceed with caution. If you are sensing any danger, be sure to trust your instincts.

Only you know what you are looking for. Just make sure to stay vigilant, be caution, and most importantly, have fun!

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