Abuse Safety: Reading Dating Profiles

This guide is aimed at people looking for a new serious romantic (rather than casual/sexual) relationship, and who are browsing sites suitable for finding such a partner – for people looking to make an emotional attachment (i.e. not just looking for sex). We’re not saying that everyone writing the kind of thing listed here is an abuser, just that these are the sort of details you might chose to be cautious about, particularly if several of them crop up in the same profile. It’s by no means an exhaustive guide, but these are some of the more obvious “red flags” that might make you want to think twice about ‘liking’ or contacting a particular person.

It’s written from the point of view of a woman reading men’s profiles, but it works for men reading women’s profiles too, or same sex relationships, so please switch “he” for “she” as appropriate. Please also add any warning signs of your own in the comments.

Details to be Cautious About:
  • he lists himself as “separated” rather than single/divorced/widowed. Unless he says something more about this in his description, you can’t tell if he’s been on his own for several years, or just a few weeks. Anyone who goes straight from one relationship to another (on the “rebound”) is unlikely to have got over the last one before embarking on a new one, and if he has got over it so quickly, how much do relationships mean to him? Is he just looking for someone to take over from the last woman, in bed and/or in the kitchen?
  • he only wants a woman who “looks after herself” or “dresses well” or “keeps herself fit”. There are usually tick-boxes to match “body type” and “dress sense”, not to mention photos. Will he want to change your clothes/body shape to suit his ideal?
  • he doesn’t want to “muck about with emails” and insists on meeting straight away. Anyone who respects other people will be happy to let a relationship develop at a rate that suits both of you.
  • he talks about being lonely: most people on dating sites are lonely, that’s why they’re there. Be cautious of men who want you to feel sorry for them.
  • he refers to women as “girls” or “ladies”. The first is patronising, the second seems forced. What’s wrong with “women”? Language can be indicative of how he expects you to behave.
  • he says he has “old fashioned values” and/or “knows how to treat a lady”. This could mean he likes to stand up when you come into the room, or hold doors open for you (fine if you like that kind of thing), but it might also mean he has out-dated ideas about “a woman’s place”.
  • he wants a woman to “share his passion” for sailing/skiing/golf/whatever. Fine if you already share that passion, but if not, will there be time and space in the relationship for you or your interests?
Details to be More Cautious About:
  • he writes exclusively, or almost exclusively, about his hobbies, ambitions, and what he wants from a relationship, without mentioning anything about his personality, or what he can give to a relationship. This man might be wonderfully kind, but he doesn’t sound like much of a “giver” yet.
  • he talks about his “passion for horse racing”. Is he a gambler?
  • he drinks alcohol “every day”, especially if he “likes to go down the pub” too. Does he have his drinking under control?
  • he talks about all the other women he’s dated. He might rate them against what he wants you to be.
  • he is looking for a partner in a particular area, noticeably away from where he lives. Is he looking for an affair?
  • he talks a lot about being “a good kisser,” liking “cuddles,” and wanting someone “tactile”. Doesn’t every emotional romantic relationship involve intimacy? This comes across as a bit needy. Be cautious about a man who wants “mothering”.
  • he has children, but never sees them, regardless of the reason(s) he gives.
  • he uses the words “weakness” and “dominance” in the same profile, especially if he also mentions being lonely.
  • He’s “bored and frustrated” with online dating and/or you only have until [whenever] to get in touch.
Details to be Extremely Cautious About:
  • he uses the expression: “I like my women to be…” or “she has to be…” or has a long list of requirements for his ideal match.
  • he wants someone with “no baggage”. Unless you’re an 18yo virgin, you’re going to have some kind of relationship history, and any decent new partner will be able to accept that. Avoid the man who is looking for a “perfect” woman.
  • he describes his children as “baggage”. Use of language is often indicative of attitude.
  • he blames his ex partner(s) for the breakdown of his previous relationship(s), or says things like “I’ve dated a long line of bitches…”.
  • he mentions the words “high maintenance” or “trouble” with reference to previous partners, or traits he doesn’t want in a new partner. Does he sound like he’s very caring?
  • he is looking for a much younger woman, but “doesn’t want children”.
  • he is looking for a “nymphomaniac domestic goddess” or someone who “loves ironing and cleaning,” or “a good cook,” (these are all genuine ‘ideal match’ requirements). So, he’ll say it was a joke. Really?
  • he admits to being 45 in his profile, but his picture is of a 30-year-old. Why doesn’t he post a recent picture?
  • he talks a lot about his high-flying job and/or his expensive sports cars/house/hobbies/holidays. Does he have anything to offer a relationship other than money, or is he trying to lure you?
  • he says he “won’t take no for an answer”. This man is not going to respect your choices.
  • he jokes about abusing people/drugs/crime involvement (other than looking for “a partner in crime” which is just a clichéd metaphor).
  • he refers to women as “fillies” or “bitches” or “whores”.

However much pressure you’re put under to do so.

There are plenty of non-confrontational men and women out there, people who don’t make you frown at their profiles. People who talk about “shared values,” “mutual support,” and “a relationship based on honesty and respect.” People who have completely freed themselves from their previous relationship (e.g. they’re not ‘separated’) before looking to start a new one. People who mention their love for their children, or how they like spending time with friends and/or family. People who want an equal partner, not a victim.

Related pages
» Abuse Safety: Writing Dating Profiles
» Abuse Safety: Early Warning Signs
» Abuse Tactics: Introduction
» The Cycle of Abuse

This page last reviewed: 23rd September 2016