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5 creeps to avoid on dating apps

Mel is an example of an Exclusionist
Photo by Handout/Getty Images

If you have an account on a dating app or match site, chances are you’ve come across a wide gamut of people. Great guys are out there for straight women and gay men alike, but the land of anonymous men in cyberspace can sometimes be a house of horrors. You’ll notice similarities between guys who turn out to be creeps, as opposed to the ones you truly respect and enjoy. Here are 5 dating app personalities to avoid at all costs:

1.) The Headless Horseman

Specs: pictures include bathroom mirror selfies exposing a shirtless torso, or photos of him on a beach wearing a tank top that makes his arms look great. He crops the frame to remove his head from every shot or blocks his face with another confusing image, i.e. a cartoon ice cream cone, a barnyard animal, a smiling emoji.

Why Steer Clear? He’s literally—and figuratively—hiding something. A profile without a single face pic indicates red flags: he is ashamed to be associated with online dating; he is avoiding being identified by exes/coworkers/family members for whatever reason; he suffers from low self-esteem; or in the case of gay dating apps, he’s not out.

The Lesson: look for men who offer very clear pictures of themselves, most importantly their faces. Seek out diversity in photos, including a range of scenes, pictures alone and with friends (not all selfies), and shots of him doing activities he loves.

2.) The Ghost

Specs: whether you’re sending him a first message and hoping to initiate conversation, or you’ve been chatting with him for weeks, this is the guy who, without any discernible reason, stops talking to you. No explanation, just gone.

Why Steer Clear? While it’s good to talk to men who actually have lives and can’t always reply every day, don’t reinforce prolonged abandoning behavior. He's not that into you. However sexy the mysterious chase may be, a man who drops a two-way dialogue for a week or more, without explanation or apology, is showing you poor communication skills and perhaps a tendency to take others for granted.

The Lesson: give your time to guys who are interested in having actual conversations with you. This is a good indicator that they’re serious about getting to know you, but bring the conversation in-person sooner rather than later to avoid burning out on endless online chat.

3.) The Bugaboo

Specs: he continues to message you incessantly despite the fact you made it abundantly clear you do not wish to speak with him anymore.

Why Steer Clear? He’s desperate and/or insane.

The Lesson: first, make sure you actually did make it clear you’re not interested. If you become The Ghost and just stop returning messages without explanation, you can’t expect 100% of Bugaboos to get the hint. But if he continues to message you despite your request to be left alone, he isn’t respecting your boundaries. Use your profile’s Block feature.

4.) The Exclusionist

Specs: his profile is riddled with statements like “No fats,” “No femmes,” “No Asians,” or “sorry not into black girls/guys its just a preference LOL #notracist.”

Why Steer Clear? Even if you pass this douchebag’s minefield of fat-shaming, misogynistic, #yesracist requisites, you should not be flattered. He’s still a man who chooses to look for a mate by describing surface-level attributes of those he does not wish to date. Commit this red flag to memory, because it indicates this guy is a bigot, perhaps self-hating, and is single for a very good reason.

The Lesson: give up on men who describe what they don’t want and pursue men who describe what they do want. Statements like “I prefer in-shape mates of my own race” are a little suspect, but at least worth a discussion. Statements like “I want to build a life with a confident, intelligent woman” or “I’m looking for a guy to love and play MarioKart” are solid gold! The only excusable exceptions are age and sexual role. For better or worse, men will often include specific age ranges they’re looking for in a mate. This can be for truly healthy reasons or for really terrible life choices. Either way, let him see how it plays out. For gay men who strictly identify as 100% Top or 100% Bottom, they’re seeking someone who is sexually compatible with their preferred role (even if they’re missing out on half the fun).

5.) The Fetishist

Specs: his messages or profile indicate he’s only interested because you’re fat/feminine/Asian/black/white/a virgin/a vegan/an amputee/whatever.

Why Steer Clear? Obviously he’s using you for what you represent to him rather than appreciating you for all that you are. While it can be flattering to be praised for something you or society consider a uniqueness or even liability, a fetishist will build a relationship with you solely on that fixation and objectify you for it.

The Lesson: assess what attracts him to you the most. It’s important that he finds you interesting in multiple ways—and vice-versa—to spark a lasting connection. He likes your hairy body? Great, so long as he loves your values and sense of humor too. He’s obsessed with your tattoos? Awesome, but only if he sees and appreciates that you’re more than just inked skin.

Online media can make it difficult to gauge authentic chemistry, but consider these red flags to help you with that assessment. Remember, don’t become any of these characters yourself, as it’s important to put out into the dating world what you wish to receive. Be open-minded and discern for yourself who fits best with you!