7 Online Dating Male Clichés and Other Red Flags

Dena Landon

By Dena Landon | Jul 6th, 2021

This article was originally published in October 2018.

Online dating. UGH. Swipes right and left, and learning that half the men won’t ever respond. Spending nights wondering why you’re even trying at the same time you keep checking your messages.

Before my marriage, few people had smartphones, and ‘apps’ were something you ordered at a restaurant. Four years post-divorce, I’ve gained a lot of experience on dating apps, and a lot of great stories to tell. From the guy who told me how much he paid in child support on our first date to the man who tried to get me to join his illegal business writing term papers for university students, it’s been a wild ride.

If you’re new to online dating, or just need a laugh, let me spare you some heartache and walk you through the common types and warning phrases you’ll see online.

  1. The Eternal Boy

    First, there’s the guy with the Peter Pan Complex. He’s throwing up the devil horns on a friend’s boat, clutching a beer can. Or he’s forty-four, never been married, no kids, and just looking for fun. He might be jumping out of an airplane, skydiving. This guy still thinks he’s twenty-two years old, with all his hair, and can ‘score’ girls at the bar. Remember going out with your girlfriends in your early twenties and feeling mildly sorry for the old guy buying you drinks, wondering why he didn’t have a wife and kids to go home to? He’s this guy.

  2. The Caveman

    Next up, we have a type slightly more common in the Midwest than on the Coasts; the guy with a dead fish or deer. This guy is super proud that he can hunt and fish. He didn’t get the memo that we’re no longer a hunter-gatherer society so he wants you to know he can provide. Or he’s posing with a gun–because nothing says “This is going to end well” than knowing a guy could kill you before you’ve even gone on a date.

  3. The Cheater

    No list of types of men online would be complete without, sadly, the cheaters. There are two subcategories under ‘cheater,’ the cheater who’s hiding it and the blatant cheater. If he’s hiding it, the first picture is a group of guys. In fact, they’re all group shots, and you have no idea which one is him. Why? Because that way if a friend of his wife’s sees him on Tinder and reports back he can claim it was his friend Mike’s profile.

  4. The Blatant Cheater

    Then we have the blatant cheater. He’s in an unhappy and/or sexless marriage but doesn’t want to change anything. Because he’s a coward. So he’s cheating, but he’s going to weirdly judge you if you think what he’s doing is immoral. His profile usually has a comment like – I won’t judge you, if you won’t judge me. In my experience, FAR more common in the Midwest than on the Coasts.

  5. The “I’m from out of town but hiding it” man

    Related to cheaters, because they’re deceptive, but in a class of their own it the “I’m from out of town but hiding it” man. If you live in a town which hosts a lot of conventions or business travelers watch out for these guys. They’ll pay for the feature to either hide their hometown or change it. Once you learn to recognize the signs, it’s pretty easy to figure them out.

    They’ll insist on meeting within a certain number of days, maximum three, without giving you any good reason for it. If you ask what part of town they work in to try to pick a bar, they’ll get cagey. In any pictures from out of town sporting events, they’re wearing a non-local jersey. They might not even want a hook-up, but they do want to waste your time being shown around by a local.

  6. The “I want a golden retriever with boobs” man

    Are you an easy-going, laidback, no drama girl (never a woman), up for hiking, camping and boating, and love to cuddle? Then he’s the guy for you. But, does he want a girlfriend or a dog? Too many men want to bring a woman into their lives without making any space to accommodate her. They expect you to like all their hobbies, or at least try them, but aren’t willing to do the same for you. You’re basically another guy, or dog, but with boobs.

  7. The Career-First Guy

    Last on the list is the type I’ve ended up dating the most; the guy with a high-powered career who wants a relationship but…these guys suck. Not because they’re jerks, but because often they’re generally cool guys. They want to talk to you, and text. For the first few weeks, they’ll make time for you and take you on actual dates, without pushing for sex. But then…that high-powered career comes up.

    Simply put, they want a relationship but they’re not willing to make time for one – or for you. Their work-life balance is nonexistent. And it hurts to let them go because, often, they have a lot of potential. But take it from me; after three cancelled dates, it’s time to bail. They’re only going to waste months of your life and leave you hurting.

Those are the most common types I’ve seen online, but not all men fit into a box. Even if he isn’t a type, there are a few “red flag” phrases on profiles that are an automatic swipe left for me.

No dramaBecause baby, I’m gonna bring it.

Close with my familythere’s a strong possibility I still live in my mother’s basement. If not, I’m tied to her apron strings and she’s part of the reason I’m single.

No high maintenance womenYou aren’t allowed to have any needs of your own. Don’t ask anything of me, don’t express any emotional needs, and don’t expect regular dates. I want you to be on call for sex whenever it suits my convenience.

Undecided about kidsI don’t want kids. But I read somewhere that men who’re upfront about that on their profiles don’t connect with as many women so I’m going to lie about it and string you along for at least four months before admitting that, nope, they don’t want kids.

The only thing on their profile is “Ask me!” – If they can’t put in the work to write three sentences about themselves, you’ll spend the whole date directing the conversation. Any online interactions will look like a string of twenty questions. You’ll be responsible for all the emotional labor in your relationship and this will never change.

In my experience, the only time men are completely honest on dating profiles is when they say they’re just looking for sex. Which brings me to the final guy – Mr. Right.

He’s not your usual type, and the first date conversation might not flow for hours, but there’s something there that makes you say ‘yes’ to a second date. He might jump right in to help you solve an ex-problem, or deal with your kids. You’ll hear yourself laugh, and giggle, like you haven’t in years. And when he sends a text, you smile like you’re sixteen again.

The relationship might not last, but you won’t forget or regret it. Because part of dating post-divorce is learning how to set boundaries that might have been trampled on during your marriage. It’s discovering the joy of sex again and working through your issues. Someday, you’ll realize that love is out there.

Which is why, despite all the losers you’ll find online, most of us still keep swiping. Because hope is something you should never swipe left on.

Dena Landon

Dena Landon

Dena Landon's bylines have appeared in The Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, Salon and more. The proud mom of a boy, she specializes in parenting and divorce.


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