When it comes to online dating, getting a match is the easy part. It’s getting from match to IRL date that presents a challenge. Quite simply, texting with a stranger is weird. It just is! Figuring out whether a person is worth three hours of your Thursday night when you could be at your barre class or catching up on your favorite TV show just by using short written messages on your phone is not easy.
Through a lot of trial and a lot of error, I’ve developed a pretty reliable “Spidey Sense” when I’m messaging with guys on Tinder or Bumble. To hopefully keep you from making some of the same mistakes I have, I’ve called out five of the worst messaging behaviors that will serve as your “do not date him” red flags.
01. You’ve been messaging for weeks, but he hasn’t suggested meeting yet.
Did you join a dating app just to have a handful of strangers as digital pen pals? I didn’t think so. However, a lot of us fall into the trap of leaning on dating apps for entertainment when we’re bored or need a distraction. I’ve been guilty of this more than once—I’d carry on a conversation within an app just because it was something to do, with no intention of going out with whomever I was chatting with. Beware of guys who seem perfectly kind and interesting while you’re messaging but make no allusions to ever meet up in real life.
Is he in a relationship? Is he bored? Is he waiting to see if someone better comes along? The reasons why don’t really matter. If he’s not moving the conversation towards an IRL meet-up after a reasonable amount of time, move on! (Chances are you won’t end up on morning television like that now-viral couple who messaged on Tinder for years without meeting up!)
02. He hasn’t asked you any nonresponsive questions.
What I mean by a “nonresponsive question” is one that isn’t just reciprocal of something you asked him. For example, if you ask him what he does for a living, he responds and then says, “How about you?” that’s a responsive question. Yawn. You want to go out with a guy who will take the reins and come up with some interesting queries of his own, too.
This is a point I’ve brought up again and again because I can’t stress it enough: Guys who don’t ask questions aren’t worth going out with right now. It’s a symptom of larger character flaws such as immaturity, insecurity, or egomania, to name a few. When it comes down to it, if he can’t message like an interested, engaging person, he certainly won’t date like one, either.
03. He makes condescending remarks or seems to talk down to you.
Be aware of the guy whose “sense of humor” feels a little too biting. If he talks down to you about your career, where you’re from, your taste in music, or anything else personal—let him go. Even if he says he was just kidding, just messing with you, or god forbid—tells you to relax? Unmatch him and forget him immediately. No guy should ever make you feel small or feel bad about yourself, especially a basic stranger. I don’t care if he didn’t mean to do it. I don’t care if he apologizes profusely afterwards. Guys who cut women down even in jest down are insecure and unhappy with themselves—or at the very least need to learn that’s not how to get a girls attention.
04. He constantly and consistently uses poor grammar, misspelled words, and acronyms—or refers to you as “ya.”
I have recently been in conversation with a few different guys whose texting language I found absolutely repulsive. These men referred to me as “ya” instead of “you,” would send entire paragraphs of text without a single mark of punctuation, or would throw a casual “lol” at the end of almost every statement. These were men in their late twenties and early thirties. What gives?
In my estimation, this type of language in text is a sign of immaturity. Sure, I can forgive the occasional misuse of their, they’re, and there in text, even as a professional writer. But if you can’t form a proper sentence or feel the need to pad everything you say with “lol,” it shows me that you’re probably lazy or dismissive toward a lot of other stuff in your life, too.
05. You just get a weird vibe.
Here’s some good news: Your gut works the same way when you meet someone online as it does when you meet them in person. Once you start engaging in a messaging conversation with a guy on an app, it should become clear rather quickly whether or not he’s worth your time. He’ll make a joke that doesn’t quite land. He’ll talk about his family in a way that doesn’t seem earnest. He’ll ask you a question that makes you pause and go, “Huh?” Trust your instincts in these moments. With so many worthy, wonderful guys out there hoping to match with you, there’s just no need to waste your time with someone you’re not excited about.