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Top 5 Red Flags - Online Dating

Updated on January 1, 2019
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Josie has had years of experience working with victims of abuse and also personally escaped psychologically abusive relationships

Online Dating

The Nightmare Of Dating Online

There are a growing number of stories these days about disastrous online dating experiences. Alongside these come storybook romances and fairy-tales of people finding their soul mate online. It seems we can't avoid it in the single world and I'll guarantee you even the most conservative minds may have drifted off onto an online dating app in a moment of loneliness. Companionship, relationships or just people looking for sex head to the countless dating apps to see if they can make a connection.

Regardless of whether you are there for a good time or a long time, there are weirdos and toxic people walking among us seemingly just like the normal people. So in an online world how do you tell them apart? Anyone can be behind that computer or phone pretending to be anything they want. Even if you are just looking for a one night stand you don't want to end up with a stalker on your hands!

The thing is there are indicators you can look for that a person is not what or who they say they are. Fortunately toxic personality types follow the same text book. It's always amazed me when you have a group of people who have been abused in a room talking about their experiences - you'd think their abusers were all related! The trick is to know the game, and from my own personal experience NEVER IGNORE A RED FLAG!

Online Dating Red Flags

1. Sexually Explicit

I know what you're thinking - some of you may be looking for sex and that's why you're there. People go online for different reasons. But let me put this in context; if you were at a pub and were just introduced to someone and they immediately unzipped their pants and showed you their private parts you'd run for the hills!

Regardless of intentions a person should respect the getting to know you phase.

The reason this is a red flag is that a controlling personality type or a person with a toxic personality disorder such as narcissism will make a graphic and too familiar comment early on in the conversation. This can be a conscious or subconscious (depending on their level of understanding of their own personality) test as to whether they can push boundaries with you.

2. Too Good To Be True

If you've put some thought into your profile online and made sure any potential date knows what you want in a suitor don't be surprised if a few turn up who have remarkably adorable attributes and appear too good to be true. Be wary! This is an absolute red light flashing red flag warning!

It's difficult because among a handful of bullshit artists there could be one genuine person who does share your interests. My advice is to not show your entire hand on your profile. Keep some secrets to yourself about what you're looking for. Compatibility can then be determined as being something that's real, not contrived.

Unfortunately toxic personality types will engage in what is known as "love-bombing." They will present as being everything you ever wanted in a person and the perfect match for you, all the while showering you with attention and making you feel like you are the only one they've ever truly loved. Hard to resist, alluring and addictive but very, very dangerous. Chances are they are not who they say they are.

3. My Crazy Ex

Beware of the "my crazy ex" stories. If all their ex's are crazy, I'll guarantee you chances are either a. they made them that way because of their emotional abuse or b. they need you to believe they are crazy so you won't listen to the story's they say about them being abusive.

Some people genuinely have bad relationship stories to tell, and sometimes a person's ex was crazy. Difficult to decipher whose who in the zoo, victim or perpetrator. If this person is really ticking the boxes and you are keen to give them a go be very wary. In my experience in the courtroom the perpetrator looks calm and well put together and the victim is the blabbering mess.

4. Suggestion to Change your Hair

You might think I'm joking, but I'm deadly serious.

My ex actually has what is referred to among my friends and family as the Sebastian issue hair cut. When his new girlfriend greeted me at the door one day with this do I almost threw up. I was nauseous. My eldest daughter got the cut last year. It's amazing how I always thought I had chosen the hair myself.

In it's infancy I will guarantee you a person will suggest you look better with red hair, long hair, short hair or anything you can imagine. This is a test. If you start to change yourself for them it reflects how much they will be able to control you.

It's the same with clothes. Wear jeans they might say, or put on a red top they like red. All about control.

5. Avoiding the Question

This is a tell tale sign that the person is not who they say they are. Manipulators have to get in your head. If you ask a question the answer to which will reveal their true nature then they won't want to answer it straight away. They need you to be invested in them first, start to like them, and they need you to have the backstory. They will need to tell you the reason what would ordinarily reflect bad character doesn't make them bad.

A classic example was when I started asking a guy about his kids. Now it turned out he had three kids with two different women. One child was with his mother in another country and the others with their mother in another state. He avoided the question until I had heard all the sad back story which he framed to somehow make him the victim. Truth up front is what you are looking for, regardless of how it reflects on them.

Toxic personality types are well trained manipulators. They can spin anything to make them the hero in any given scenario. This is a warning sign you shouldn't ignore.

The Final Test

If a person you are messaging online displays any of these red flags the simplest way to see if they are a potential abuser is to call them on it. That's right, straight up call them on it. A toxic person will have a tantrum akin to a small child.

If the person makes an apology they are not out of the woods. Don't forget what you saw. One red flag a stalker might not make, but there'll be more. I've ignored red flags too many times online and been burned every, single, time.

Online dating can be fun, but stay safe and remember you can keep one step ahead of the game if your switched on to toxic behaviors.


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