In our Love App-tually series, Mashable shines a light into the foggy world of online dating.
Thanks to online dating, you and your soulmate could be mere swipes away from finding each other. There’s just one thing standing in your way: a bio.
Before you can start scouring dating apps for love, you’re tasked with writing a perfectly witty, informative, one-of-a-kind bio that will hopefully grab the attention of other users and encourage a heavy streak of right swipes. A dating app bio might not sound like a big deal, but since apps are filled with a sea of faces, your profile — the bio you craft, photos you feature, and prompts you choose to answer — is your chance to stand out and make a lasting first impression.
This may be a shock to some, but many app users rely on cheesy, tired, and predictable jokes, phrases, and references when composing their bios. And bad adult dating app bios can be a major turnoff.
We put a call out to online daters, asking for the biggest dating app red flags. From that, we compiled a list of 32 common profile mishaps.
From writing no bio at all to including one too many shirtless photos, here’s what to avoid when building your online dating persona.
1. A photo of someone holding a baby coupled with the clarification, “Not my baby”
What are you trying trying to prove here? That you’re not a parent but a baby can stand to be seen with you? That you’re capable of holding a child and therefore should be considered as a romantic prospect? Please stop using other people’s cute babies to make yourselves look good and then clarifying they’re not your babies. It’s played out! If you want to get creative and pose next to a horse and write, “Not my horse,” however, we will allow it. That’s funny.
2. The phrase “I’m looking for someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously”
As Mashable’s Senior Culture Reporter Rachel Thomson explained, this phrase is a serious red flag that screams, “I’ll make offensive jokes and say ‘ugh, chill’ when you don’t laugh” or “I’m emotionally unavailable.”
If you’re on a dating app looking to form a romantic connection, one would HOPE that, at the very least, you’re taking yourself and others seriously.
3. If someone says they’re “not looking for any drama”
People who feel the need to type some version of “I’m not looking for any drama” in their dating app bios are likely no stranger to drama. Perhaps they’ve caused or attracted drama in the past, or perhaps this is code for “I’m going to gaslight you and treat you like crap, but I don’t want to be called out on it.” Either option seems bad!
“I want to be free to treat you as horribly as I want without you calling me out on it”
— Kimberley? (@kimberleyhomer) January 25, 2021
4. Too many shirtless pics
Several people who responded to my call for red flags said they’re definitely swiping left on anyone who has more than one topless or revealing profile photo. One shirtless pic? OK. But if your profile looks like a collection of press images from Magic Mike, it’s a left swipe. However, if you were in Magic Mike, right swipe.
5. Men holding fish
Men, if you sincerely love to fish, this red flag sucks for you and I’m sorry, but pay very close attention. A Man Holding A Fish is a near-universally hated dating app photo. Unclear if you think holding a giant fish is cool, or hot, or shows that you’re a talented and strong provider who’s great at successfully casting a line into a body of water (I have clearly never fished) but it’s a weird, uncomfortable trend. It’s also such a popular profile photo that it’s been called out on TikTok. Fish pics are not original, and because there are plenty of other fish in the sea people will not hesitate to swipe left on you. Women, you may be able to get away with holding a fish. Unclear!
6. The phrase “good vibes only”
“Good vibes only” is a horrible relative of “I’m looking for someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously” and “no drama.” It basically means you are not allowed to have any negative emotions ever. A person with this in their bio likely isn’t ready for mature commitment. You want someone to have and to hold in good vibes and in bad.
“Good vibes only” ? really just means “I’m only interested in sex, please don’t bring any feelings into my life”
— Emma (@emmalinnankivi) January 25, 2021
7. If they majored in a joke school
Thinking of listing your education as something quirky like “graduated from the school of life” or “the school of hard knocks?” The consensus seems to be that it’s not as funny as you think it is, and it’s better to be honest about your education.
8. Men who say they never message first so if you don’t message you’ll be unmatched
Women simply don’t have time for this nonsense. Semi-related, if a man’s bio is a straightforward list of requirements he’d like to find in a woman, such as, “I’m looking for a girl who likes to take care of herself,” “Must be physically fit,” or “looking for a girl who can hold a conversation” that’s also a major turnoff.
9. Someone’s height followed by “because apparently that matters”
Another one of the most common bio red flags that popped up when researching this piece is when people write their height followed by a snarky version of “because apparently that matters.”
Just list your freaking height! Or don’t! But don’t list your height and act visibly annoyed about it. Be better than that.
This tweet needs a trigger warning
— Kimberley? (@kimberleyhomer) January 25, 2021
10. Making a love of non-original food and drink your entire personality
A bio that states a love of tacos, pizza, sushi, or coffee? Who doesn’t love those things? This is your chance to be original, not say, “Hi, my name’s Nicole and I, like so many others on this planet, love pizza.”
11. People who only have one photo
If you only have one photo on your dating app bio, I’m sorry, it’s a left swipe. Adjacent complaints include “one far away pic and four nature pics” and “when their first pic isn’t their face.” Please take note.
12. Saying “I don’t know why I’m here”
Sweetie, we actually DO think you know why you’re here.
13. People who are a little *too* hungry for adventure
Most people love a good adventure every now and then, but are you talking about jet-setting to France after work or making spontaneous snack runs at midnight? Be specific, please. Looking for an adventure buddy is cool, but are you also looking for someone to eat chill dinners with and a partner to cuddle beside you on the couch and binge Netflix together?
I’m always like “What kind of adventures?! Like, be specific! Are you talking about hiking? Traveling?”
— Katherine D. Morgan | Forever a Bookseller??♀️ (@blktinabelcher) January 25, 2021
14. When someone writes “Looking for my partner in crime”
You have to recognize that this is similar to looking for an adventure partner, right? Like, what crimes are you planning to commit here? You couldn’t think of anything less cliché to write?
15. Poor-quality profile photos
Before we take a break from profile photo red flags, we want to remind you how important it is that you choose high-quality, flattering photos that clearly show off your face and aren’t hella filtered. Mirror selfies? Bad. Photos with cutesy Snapchat filters on them? Bad. Photos that are so low-quality that they look like — as my friend so delicately put it — “they were taken on a potato or something” are also bad. As she explained, you “CANNOT TRUST SOMEONE WHO WILLINGLY BROADCASTS BLURRY-ASS PICS.”
16. Bragging about or requesting sarcasm
If you consider yourself a sarcastic person, I fully support that. I dabble in sarcasm as well, but not to the extent where I feel the need to mention it in a dating app bio. Sarcasm is not that great of a character trait when you think about it. Being witty is fun, but do you really want the first impression you make on someone to be an emphasis on your sarcastic side?
Consider leaving phrases like “fluent in sarcasm” or “looking for someone who can compete with my sarcasm” out of your bio. To some they come across as another way of saying “I’m a dick to people and think it’s funny.”
any emphasis on “sarcasm” being a personality trait they think is important enough about them to put in their very short bio. usually just means he’s mean to people to be funny.
— Amanda Jacobsmeyer (@JacobsmeyerAJ) January 25, 2021
17. Choosing to answer certain Hinge prompts
Each individual answer to a dating app prompt, like the ones featured on Hinge, has its own red flag potential. But some people view the sheer act of choosing to fill out certain prompts — such as “Change my mind about…” or “I’m overly competitive about…” — as red flags no matter the answer.
18. Saying “work hard, play hard”
Some people think this phrase is synonymous with “I enjoying wearing a Patagonia vest on the weekdays and acting like I’m at a college rager on the weekends.”
19. Stating facts like “I have a house” or “I have a car”
As Shania Twain would likely say, “That don’t impress me much.”
20. People who try to get you follow them on social media
If you have something like “Add me on Snapchat” or “DM me on Insta, I don’t check this” in your bio, odds are it’s gonna be a left swipe.
21. Overly (or underly) political bios
In 2021, some find the words “moderate” or “apolitical” in bios to be a red flag. And if you proudly listen to Joe Rogan, are holding a gun in every photo, or are posing with Trump flags or MAGA hats — especially post-election — there are more than a few people who would not take a second glance before swiping left. That said, if these are your views and they’re important to you, you might as well come out and say it, so everyone knows.
22. Overusing emoji and/or making typos
Sprinkling an emoji or two throughout your bio can be fun, just don’t go emoji overboard. Also, if you’re old enough to use a dating app you should be able to ensure your bio is typo-free. Come on, people.
23. People who note their Myers–Briggs Type Indicator
If your bio says you’re an INFP personality type, congrats, but from the looks of my Twitter notifications, no one cares.
If they have their MBTI results in their bio. Pass.
— Adhika Prasetyo (@adhikapp) January 25, 2021
24. Photos with exes or possible love interests
It’s great to include a photo or two with friends on your dating app profile, but if the same friend is in all of your photos, it’s going to raise a few questions. Is that your ex? Your adorable best friend who you’re secretly in love with but don’t think they like you back? We need answers.
25. Any of these cringey words
We’ve talked about a few phrases you should keep out of dating app bios, but individual words can raise red flags as well.
Any variations of “nothing too serious,” for instance, “chill,” “casual,” “no strings attached,” or “here to have fun” are definitely not ideal. The words “average” or “normal” in bios are also concerning, as are the words “masculine” or anyone who solely refers to women as “females.” A few other common red flag words are “discreet,” “lover,” “sensual,” “massage,” and “I’m not like other ___.”
26. Being outright negative
Dating app bios are part of the first impression you make on people, so try to make them positive. One popular bio red flag was including too much negativity, showing bitterness, or listing things you aren’t looking for in a relationship.
When someone starts by talking about everything they DON’T want in their next relationship
— Phil Berne (@philipberne) January 25, 2021
27. Throwing out trust issue vibes
We’ve all been hurt at some point in life, but dating app bios that scream “I HAVE TRUST ISSUES” aren’t super popular among users. People aren’t into bios that mention recent break-ups or divorces or ones that have too many mentions of a desire for trust, loyalty, or honesty in a partner.
28. When a bio is neglected
If there’s one thing worse than cheesy, misguided, or downright bad dating app bios, it’s a profile with no bio at all.
If you can’t even take a few minutes to craft a bio how can you be expected to put effort into a relationship? And before you try to get away with lazy phrases like “I’m an open book, ask me anything” or “I’ll finish writing this later,” know that those are just as bad.
I tend to avoid people who write “I’ll finish writing this later.” Like, you can’t even commit to your own page for a few minutes? They’re not serious about what they’re looking for and they will put you off too.
— Limoncello? (@FlorEnfadada) January 25, 2021
29. Tired pop culture references
Are you just a Jim looking for his Pam? Join the club, there’s an overabundance of Jim Halpert wannabes on dating apps these days.
Several people are tired of seeing popular references to The Office or Harry Potter in bios. Same goes for references to fictional couples like Jim and Pam, Ross and Rachel, or Leslie and Ben.
30. When working out seems like a sole personality trait
Making time for exercise and living a healthy lifestyle are both positives, but if someone doesn’t appear to have a personality outside of going to the gym, that’s a red flag.
31. Too much nostalgia
Dating app bios can have a little nostalgia, as a treat, but not too much. If you still regularly use a VCR that’s cool, maybe just ease into it.
I avoid anyone trying to make “90’s kid” connections like the plague it is so boring and annoying e.g. “looking for someone to reminisce on VHS tapes with” ?
— badelaide (@addievibez) January 25, 2021
32. Sounding overly pretentious
Are you a sapiosexual? Is your favorite book Atlas Shrugged? Are you a music snob? Do you self-identify as a “bitcoin enthusiast” or use your bio to praise Elon Musk? Maybe reconsider! If it’s something that would show up on the @beam_me_up_softboi Instagram account, avoid including it in your bio at all costs.
A caveat to all of this: What may be a red flag for some won’t be a red flag for others. If you truly are a Jim looking for your Pam and don’t care who knows it, go right ahead and own it. If you love romantic trips to the gym, are majorly obsessed with pizza, or want to flaunt your biggest catch, don’t feel pressured to omit those things from your bio. People who consider your interests red flags may swipe left, but your Pam Beesly who adores fish may be out there waiting to swipe right.
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