Is it just me or is dating getting more and more complicated? All of this online swiping, liking and texting has thrown a wrench into the traditional rules of dating, not to mention given us a whole host of other things to worry about. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial for you to be on high-alert when it comes to finding that perfect someone. So with that in mind, I decided to put together a list of online dating red flags.

Notes from MTV’s Catfish Season 7

By no means do I consider myself an expert in dating, but much like anything these days I figure it’s something you can learn online. So I decided to scour episodes of my favourite reality television show (and honestly the only reality show I watch) MTV’s Catfish: the TV Show and come up with a list of online dating red flags so we can all avoid getting bit.

I conder myself a selective fan of Catfish. Most of the time I forget about it until the day I don’t and watch all 24 episodes of a season in 24 hours. And this week happened to be one of those weeks where I remembered about the show and lo-and-behold they have an entire series for me to binge… er, I mean study (currently on episode 14 #LetsDoThis).

Online dating red flags

What are online dating red flags you may ask? Online dating red flags are things to look out for when it comes to sparking up a relationship with someone online. They’re words and actions (or in a lot of cases the lack of action) that happens in the online space that indicates that someone might not be who they say they are.

There are plenty of things you can look out for when it comes to online relationships. But in the interest of time and not making everyone paranoid and suspicious of everyone and everything, I’ve simply assembled the top 4 most important ones to BOLO.

“He tried to have his cake and eat it too, and he went home cakeless”

Max Joseph, Season 7, Episode 4

No Google Image search results, no problem

Fine, it’s not that cut and dry. But doing a Google Image Search on someone and coming back with a whole host of the same images is an online dating red flag. Typically, this means that the same images can be found all over the internet — so either your online BF is an internet celebrity (99,999 times out of 100,000 they are not) or there’s a creep somewhere out there stealing pictures and trying to romance his (or her) way into your heart.

On Season 7, Episode 2, Tyler’s pictures seem way too hawt, as the kids would say,  to not be suspish. So our super dating dick-tectives, Nev and Max, decide to type in “how teenage guy abs” (for 100% legit purposes, just to clarify) and come up with the exact picture that Tyler has been using. Also, the picture is of a guy named Michael. Suffice to say, Tyler is not who he says he is.

Solution? Try that age-old kidnapping trick where you ask for a picture where your subject is hold up a newspaper with a date, and perhaps get them to scrawl your name (or account username) on it for good measure. #TakeThatCatfishes

No video calls, big problem

One thing that all of the Catfish cameos have in common is the lack of video chatting. The common theme is people don’t have access to a camera or their camera is broken (and apparently they have no friends good enough to let them borrow their webcam for a two-minute call).

Let’s talk real for a second: every single device that you own — desktop, laptop, tablet, phone, you name it — has a camera. Seriously. Chances are you are within a foot of a device with a camera right this second (I’ve got four within arm’s length). It’s 2019, so not video chatting has no actual excuse.

Now, I get it if someone is particularly shy. But if someone says they love you and they really do, chances are they’ll be okay with what you look like. And if they’re not, wouldn’t you rather know now?

The money ask

Never send money online. I’ll repeat for effect, never send money online. If someone asks you for money, tells you they need money or in some way tries to convince you to give them cold hard cash (or items that cost cash) the answer should always be no.

Kiaria learned this the hard way in episode 11 (season 7) when she sent what seems to be over $1,000 to her online girlfriend “Courtney” (spoiler alert: it wasn’t Courtney) so they could set up a fund to hire a surrogate so they could have a baby, then “Courtney” went along and had a baby without her. Long story short, there was no baby and “Courtney” got her car fixed instead…

The moral of the story is that you work hard for your money, and no online romance deserves to have it. If you’re dying to spend your money on someone else donate it to charity (seriously).

Bonus online dating red flag: If they ask you to have a baby with them without meeting it’s a serious red flag.

Talk about the triple Cs

Cancer, car accident, coma… you name it. Any big life event that starts with a “C”, prolonged sickness or other reason why they can’t meet up should be a big red flag when it comes to online dating. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that people can’t be sick, get into a car accident or have a coma (though I’m not sure what the last one has to do with anything) but nine times out of 10, it’s probably not true. Sorry.

… sometimes it works out

While it might seem rare if you take all of your online dating data from Catfish, sometimes people are exactly who they say they are. Or are at least relatively close to it. Occasionally we get a cute happy ending on Catfish, and there are other factors that contribute to the catfish vibe that goes on. Exceptional shyness, self-confidence issues, fear…

I don’t personally do a lot of online dating anymore (unless I feel like my online FBI skills are getting rusty) but with those self-confidence issues I had, there were probably so many dudes out there that thought I was a catfish back in my teenage days. So while you’re keeping your eyes open for some of those online dating red flags, make sure to also keep a mind open (but not your wallet, definitely not your wallet).

But people still lie

That said, everyone lies. Psychological studies tell us that the average person lies two times a day — I think that’s absolute bullshit, which makes sense considering the studies are all self-reported.And while I’m willing to bet that your online love is probably going to be normal and relatively close to how they describe themselves, they might drive a Volvo not a Ferarri, live in a one-bedroom apartment and not the penthouse or spent their last summer vacation in Idaho Falls and not a private island in the Maldives (not that there’s anything wrong with Idaho Falls).

Dealing with online dating

While there are definitely online dating red flags that you should keep in mind when it comes to find that special someone, you also don’t need to be paranoid. The majority of the time, your online dating experience probably won’t be the kind that should, could or would end up as an episode of Catfish. The most important thing to keep in mind is to have fun and play it safe.

Happy online dating!

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Wondering what red flags you should keep an eye out fore while you're online dating? I've watched pretty much every episode of MTV's Catfish and here's what I've learned...

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