By Kristi Dosh
In a perfect online dating world, the narcissists, commitment-phobes and other undesirables would label themselves as such in their profiles. But since that honesty would ruin their chances of meeting mates, they hide their unappealing qualities-or at least they think they do. We asked online dating coaches to reveal the almost-undetectable clues that you shouldn't bother with a particular fellow. Spot only one red flag amidst an otherwise stellar profile? Then he's probably worth at least an email. See more than one of the below, though, and you may want to keep on clicking. Photo by Getty Images
1. He has only one picture.
"If he isn't willing to provide more photos, he may be hiding something about his looks, usually his age or weight," says Virginia Roberts, an online dating coach in Seattle. Or it could signal something more troublesome if the profile's also low on written details, cautions Laurie Davis, founder of online dating consultancy eFlirt Expert and author of Love @ First Click: He may not be taking online dating seriously if he's not devoting much time to his profile.
2. He didn't write a bio.
Most online dating sites allow you space to say more about yourself, in addition to answering the form questions and prompts. "If your match skipped this section, again, you should question whether or not he's actually looking for a relationship," says Davis. While she admits it's daunting to complete this part, Davis warns, "If you can't feel a connection with his profile, it may be challenging to feel drawn to him offline.
3. He describes himself as "loyal" and "trustworthy."
"These are things about which you shouldn't have to reassure people from the get-go," says Roberts. "Specifically calling out these qualities can signal that you're anything but." Don't immediately discard the potential match; instead, proceed with caution, suggests Roberts. "If someone seems sweet and decent in the rest of his profile, it's possible that he got terrible writing advice from a friend."
Related: Discover 10 big secrets men keep from women.
4. He has a checklist of characteristics for his ideal mate.
He wants a woman who likes hiking, spending time with family, dogs (specifically his two black labs), nonfiction, the mountains over the beach, traveling abroad and trying new cuisines. Not that he's picky or anything. Long lists "usually mean that your match has had a lot of bad experiences-and probably a terrible divorce-so he's looking to avoid these issues in the future," says Davis. In the end, however, Davis says it's perhaps the least egregious of the red flags. You're getting a glimpse of his baggage, she says, and everyone has baggage.
5. He uses words like can't, won't, shouldn't, couldn't, wouldn't and don't.
He doesn't want a woman who works long hours. She shouldn't have pets. He can't stand talking about politics. A cousin of the previous red flag, an extensive list of negative declarations could show the dater is set in his ways. Still, you shouldn't necessarily steer clear of this man. "Many people translate differently on the page from what they are in person," says Davis. The first couple of emails can give you a clearer sense of his flexibility.
6. He's overly flirtatious or sexual. Davis says this is a major red flag.
"Language is often indicative of someone's true intentions, so over-sexualizing a public profile shows he isn't selective and may be one-track minded." Roberts agrees, saying that kind of profile is "basically flirting with anyone who finds him," which doesn't make a woman feel special. It may also mean he doesn't know how to interact with women or pursue a relationship naturally, adds Roberts.
7. He wants a woman who "takes care of herself."
Translation: He wants a woman with a fit physique, says Davis. Or it may mean he likes ladies who enjoy getting dressed up and putting on makeup. Before you write him off, Roberts advises looking at the rest of his profile. Has he specified a body type he's looking for? Are his pictures all of him doing active things? If so, ask yourself if that's consistent with your lifestyle and what you're looking for in a match.
Related: Learn 10 things men don't think when they see you naked.
8. Most of his sentences start with "I."
It can mean this man is completely self-absorbed. On the other hand, "I" is the easiest way to talk about yourself in the narrative section of an online dating profile. So focus on the context and whether the "I" statements sound like bragging. If not, Roberts says, "It's way more telling whether his attention is balanced in messages and on actual dates with you."
9. You know exactly why his last relationship failed.
"Divorcees, in particular, often feel the need to divulge the details of their marriage," explains Davis. This could be a sign that their last relationship ended recently, and he might not be as ready to move on as he thinks. But don't dismiss him over a mere mention. Roberts says many online daters make the mistake of mentioning an ex or a trait they didn't like in a past relationship in their profile. The red flag is multiple mentions and excessive details.
10. He says he's "not like other men."
Comparing himself to other guys multiple times in his profile could be a sign of low self-esteem, perhaps from a lack of dating luck. Davis also warns, "Boasting that he's 'not like others' could mean he holds himself in high regard and expects you to stroke his ego." Roberts suggests you strike up a conversation if you like the other aspects of his profile and ask him to describe himself. If he continues to focus on comparisons to others, then don't pursue him.