Tips for spotting Tinder red flags after spike in searches for advice

Dating apps can be great for people looking for love, but they can also pose a significant risk to young people who cannot spot the signs of catfishing, toxic relationships, gaslighting, and other dating issues. 

Following a staggering 400% increase in searches for the term ‘tinder red flags’ over the past 12 months¹, we’ve gathered five top tips for spotting online dating red flags and highlight ways to protect yourself when dating online²: 

  1. You can tell a lot by someone’s photos 

When swiping through Tinder, profile pictures can be massive tell-tale signs of people you should avoid. Is every photo in a group setting? Is every picture of their body and no face? Are the images heavily filtered? These are all questions you should ask yourself when browsing dating apps, as pictures like this could indicate that they may not be who they say they are. 

  1. They don’t want to facetime 

If you’re planning on meeting someone in person, the first thing you should do is facetime them so that you can rest assured they are who they say they are. Phone calls are great, but you can never be sure who you are speaking to. Whilst not everyone enjoys facetiming, it should be a no-brainer if someone wants to meet you, and this would make you feel safe. If the person you’re messaging refuses to video call, unmatch!

  1. Sending sexual messages 

Receiving explicit messages and images or requesting them very quickly is a huge red flag. In doing this, the sender shows no respect for the receiver’s boundaries and will likely continue sending messages without regard for how they make you feel. If someone does make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable by either pressuring you to send explicit content or sending it to you without consent, there are options available on the ‘safety’ section of Tinder where you can report this person and seek help. 

  1. A vague and incomplete profile 

When completing a profile on Tinder, there’s lots of information to fill out about yourself. You can add pictures and videos, input hobbies and interests, and personal information such as name and job role. These are all ways to reflect your authenticity and create connections with people online. If someone has left these fields unfilled, you should question how genuine they are and swipe left. 

  1. Eager to move the conversation to another platform

If you’ve been talking to someone on Tinder for a brief period, and then they ask to move the conversation to another platform, this is a red flag. Commonly, culprits that ask this will suggest Snapchat, an image-sharing social media platform. If this is the case, it could indicate that they want nothing serious, to send inappropriate pictures, or have a one-night stand. 

Although all Tinder users should feel comfortable and safe online without having to worry about potential consequences, things you can do to protect yourself online or when meeting in person include using a nickname so that you’re harder to find on other platforms, ensuring that other people are aware of any communications with someone if it’s getting serious, facetiming before meeting up, meeting in a public space, and being in control of your transport. 

Real-life Tinder disasters 

Speaking on the topic of Tinder red flags, one Reddit user highlighted their concerns about people asking to meet straight away after matching on the app. The Reddit user commented: “I’m no longer on dating sites because I’ve met someone, but I was always got creeped out by the dudes who insisted on meeting right away/that same night or meeting at their house. No thanks.” 

In response to this post, another Reddit user commented: “Yeah, I literally had a date set up with a guy, picked a bar and a time, all set to meet up. And then two hours before, he’s like: ‘hey how about just coming over to my apartment, it’s cheaper’. I just nicely said that I wouldn’t meet up at his apartment and then I never heard back.”

The importance of researching red flags

Working with young girls daily, we hear so many stories about online dating and naturally, we find it quite concerning. 

Dating is normal and appropriate for teenagers, but only when you’re aware of who you’re speaking to (for example, you’ve met at school), but once this moves online and you’re talking to strangers, young people are exposed to so many more dangers that they might not be aware of or be able to handle. 

We’d encourage all young people to research online dating red flags for not just apps like Tinder, but for social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook too.

As a youth organisation, we work with young people across Huddersfield and the UK to educate them on social and cultural topics – like online dating. For more information on our educational workshops, please visit: 


  1. Search volume insight for the search term ‘tinder red flags’ correct as of July 2022
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