Dating is a delicate balancing act that requires you to manage your expectations in order to evaluate matches objectively. Being too picky, especially about the wrong details, can end up driving away Mr. or Mrs. Right. However, this doesn’t mean that love is entirely blind, as you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for some red flags when interacting with potential partners to avoid getting scammed, heartbroken or worse. In this post, we’re going to go over common red flags online daters might see during initial contact, on the first date and, if they get far enough, in the early stages of a relationship.

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What to look for before you start dating

While the stigma behind online dating sites has rapidly declined in the past few years, it’s a medium that’s not without its pitfalls. Here are the signs you should look out for when you first make contact with someone:

It feels like something doesn’t add up

It’s not you; it’s them. Either their profile lacks details (even though your chat logs are filled with wit and banter), or you learn exciting details about their life that you can’t corroborate. Or maybe you’re getting along a little too well for two people simply communicating over chat? Regardless of what it is, don’t feel bad about having suspicions, as they might save you from a scam.

Common signs:

You spot potential signs of incompatibility

You’ve found the profile of someone who looks friendly enough, but you have to wade through a sea of clichés, listed likes, dislikes and demands for hypothetical partners before you can actually read about who the person is and what they’re doing with their life. Alternatively, you spot a profile that’s full of information but is overly cheeky, leaving you clueless as to who the person actually is.

Common signs:

When you read their messages, you see another side of them

It could happen at any time – either from the start or right in the middle of a great conversation – the person you’re talking to says something that seems off or is an immediate red flag.

Common signs:

What to look for on your first date

You may have scored the coveted first date with someone you’re really into, but your work is far from over. Watch for these three things when you meet:

What you see isn’t what you get

Someone’s profile seems so full and organic, yet when you meet, it’s like they’re an entirely different person. Maybe your expectations were too high, or perhaps someone embellished on their profile.

Common signs:

They don’t seem invested in the date

You can’t tell for sure, but your date seems distracted or otherwise not engaging you with their full attention. Whatever the reason is, this might be a problem.

Common signs:

You’re not in sync

While you’re having fun on your date, there could be signs that your date wants something different out of your outing or out of life in general.

Common signs:

What to look for when you enter a relationship

While entering a relationship is exciting, it doesn’t necessarily mean your work is over. Sometimes the fault lines for the most volatile relationships have long been present, but were ignored until it was too late. To make sure you’re in a good relationship consider the following:

You notice subtle personality issues or conflicts

These are pretty self-explanatory, but you’ll want to pay particular attention to how well your partner handles differences of opinion and conflict.

Common signs:

For more details and advice about online dating websites, take a look at our online dating site reviews and our online dating blog.