When you’re spending a good amount of time on dating apps (and you should be, if you want to reap the rewards!), people’s profiles can sort of start to… all blend together. When I was online dating, I would find myself intrigued by people who I later realized, had clear red flags on their profiles or in their messaging habits. And who knows how many people I breezed right by who had all the green flags I was looking for? Let’s talk about green and red flags on dating apps.
Here’s my disclaimer: I’m all about matching with people who aren’t your typical “type,” giving people the chance to make a good in-person impression even if their profile isn’t the most amazing one you’ve ever seen, and generally looking for the best in others.
There are a bunch of ways that people try to start conversations on apps that are immediate red flags. If you’re someone who is taking dating seriously and you don’t want to waste your time chatting with people who are going to ghost you, or going out with people who aren’t actually interested in YOU as a person…. then read these 9 dating app greeting red flags, learn them by heart. In fact, don’t even bother to respond if someone tries to kick off a conversation with one of these.
Are you ready to read the most common Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge conversation starters and learn what they *really* mean?
1. “Hey” or “Hi”
In the voice of Chandler Bing: could this BE any more unoriginal or boring? To me, this is the reddest of all red flags. This is the sign of a person who is so disengaged with the apps that they clearly haven’t bothered to look at your profile beyond your first photo. They can’t even be bothered to ask you a generic question, much less a personalized one! If they’re this lazy with starting a “conversation” on the apps, you can bet they’re not going to be genuinely interested in you as a person. Steer clear!
2. “What’s up”
Oof! Never before has a blander question been asked (although people so often don’t even bother to add the question mark, can we even call it a question?). This is another stark example of someone putting only 1% effort into their dating life, and you deserve someone who’s putting in 100%. If this is the best question they can come up with to ask you right off the bat, you’re going to be in for a very cringey date.
3. “How are you?” / “How’s your Tuesday going?” / “How’s your week?”
Generic, generic, generic. Unless you happen to have something uniquely exciting happening the very day someone asks you this question, you’re going to wind up stuck in a polite small talk loop. You’ll say you’re fine, you’ll return the same question, they’ll say they’re fine, and then where can the conversation go? Someone who leads with this type of question on a dating app isn’t putting in effort to be an engaging conversationalist… and that does not bode well for the kinds of conversations you’ll have in person.
4. “You have a nice smile” / “Your eyes are beautiful” / “You’re cute/hot/sexy”
Beware the generic compliment about your appearance! This one isn’t just one red flag, it’s two. First, such an unoriginal and unspecific comment isn’t really about YOU—they clearly say this about everyone. Second, opening with something about your appearance—and nothing else—is leading things into sexual territory right from the start. I think it’s acceptable and even sweet to slip a physical compliment into an opening message if it’s tactful, respectful, and fits the context, but when that’s all the message is, then this person is indicating they’re not interested in your personality.
5. “So, what do you do?”
Save it for the date, man! I’m not at all a fan of opening a conversation by asking about work. Your vocation is obviously an important thing to talk about eventually, but you don’t want someone who treats your dating app conversation like a job interview.
6. “Want to get a drink?”
Let’s cool our jets here. For the record, I don’t think having lengthy dating app conversations before getting to the date is a good idea. When your match becomes your penpal, 9 times out of 10 you build up unrealistic expectations of each other and wind up disappointed once you finally meet in person. But that doesn’t mean you should launch into a date without speaking at all! I recommend having a conversation about 1-2 topics—let’s call that up to 10 messages each—before cutting to the chase and finding out if there’s compatibility in person. But someone who’s asking to jump right to meeting up, without chatting at all to see if your styles seem compatible? Bad vibes.
7. “What are you looking for on here?”
This is absolutely a great question….. on a date. But leading with this type of question is too invasive and intimate for an opening line with a stranger. Their heart might be in the right place by asking, but this displays a lack of tact you’re going to want to dodge.
8. “Do you believe in love at first swipe, or should I unmatch and swipe again?”
We’re too old for corny pick-up lines. Thank you, next.
9. Any type of negging or criticism
Pick up artists teach that “negging”—the act of putting someone down, giving backhanded compliments, or showing indifference—is the way to make a woman want to prove her worth to a man, and will make her attracted to him. How despicable is that!! If someone begins a conversation on a dating app with any type of content like that, RUN don’t walk in the other direction. I want your relationship to be based on positive affirmation and mutual respect, and I’m sure you do too!
Bonus: Pink Flag!
I won’t go quite as far as calling this one a red flag… but if someone greets you on a dating app without asking any kind of a question, your Spidey senses should be tingling. Asking questions is the universal way of showing genuine interest in getting to know someone, so if someone kicks off the conversation by asking you a thoughtful or funny question about something on your profile, that’s a gold mine!
When instead someone opens with a comment, make sure to ask yourself: is this comment engaging and interesting? Does it seem like they want to learn more about me, or does it seem like they’re just leaving a flippant remark in passing? If it seems promising, make sure YOU respond with a question, so that it’s abundantly clear you want to keep the conversation going!
Now: what SHOULD you be looking for when swiping through Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Match, or your app of choice?
Let’s get into all the green flags you can spot on people’s profiles, so you know who might just be a keeper.
1. Engaging and Insightful Prompts:
Hinge’s prompts give you a chance to display your character and passions. Be on the lookout for green flags in profiles where individuals have selected prompts that strike a chord with you. I always advise keeping an eye out for prompts that invite a conversation, signifying the person’s readiness to engage and connect on a deeper level.
2. Positive Photos and Energy:
A picture is worth a thousand words, and positive vibes shine through. Green flags on Hinge consist of photos that radiate warmth, joy, and authenticity. Watch for genuine smiles, intriguing activities, and common interests. Remember, visual hints can provide a wealth of information about a person’s personality and the potential for a meaningful connection.
3. Respectful and Thoughtful Communication:
As you chat with your matches on Hinge, pay attention to how the converse. Green flags entail respectful and thoughtful messages that display a genuine interest and effort to understand you better. This may be the biggest green flag of all: look for people who are asking you questions!! It shows they’re friendly, genuinely interested in keeping the conversation going and getting to know you better, and that they’re going to be a fun companion on a date (not one of those duds who can only talk about themselves!).
4. Matching Relationship Goals:
For those of you who are looking for a genuine relationship, a pivotal green flag on Hinge is finding a person whose relationship goals align with yours. Take note of people who respond quickly and earnestly, aren’t afraid to be open and even a little vulnerable, and seem to share your values. People who play games or don’t ask questions or make you feel anything less than heard and understood aren’t the ones who are looking for something long-term.
Spotting green flags on Hinge—and avoiding the people who don’t display them—is going to help you (dare I say it?) actually love online dating.
It really is possible!
By being mindful of authentic profiles, engaging prompts, positive energy, respectful communication, and matching relationship goals, you can traverse the Hinge terrain with confidence and self-assuredness.
And remember: the art of spotting green flags is reciprocal. Ensure that you project yourself as a potential green flag by curating an honest profile, engaging in kind, thoughtful, and fun conversations, and expressing your true intentions.
With these insights and a dating expert like yours truly by your side, you’re going to meet someone on Hinge who’s worthy of dating someone as awesome as YOU.
Alyssa Dineen has been an editor, stylist, and art director in New York for over 20 years. After she divorced at age 41, she began online dating, and rediscovered herself in the process. Through this journey, she found many people out there that could improve their dating profiles and while doing so, their understanding of what they want. Founder of Style My Profile, Alyssa now helps online daters transform their destinies by taking charge of their profiles and their dating experience with her unique approach of “intentional” dating and self-discovery.
An acclaimed stylist and dating expert, Alyssa has appeared in The New York Times, Today Show, Goop, and NBC.com. You can work with her one-on-one, and she also offers workshops and a membership to be part of the Style My Profile Community. You can find out more at stylemyprofilenyc.com