9 Dating App Greetings That Are Immediate Red Flags

A dating coach with 20 years of experience shares red flags for boringness, disinterest and even cruelty or manipulation.

smiling girl looking at phone

Here's my disclaimer: I'm all about matching with people who aren't your typical "type," giving people the chance to make a good in-person impression even if their profile isn't the most amazing one you've ever seen, and you generally look for the best in others.

But! There are also a bunch of ways that people try to start conversations on apps that are immediate red flags — mostly for unoriginality, but a few of them are also troubling for other reasons. 


If you're someone who is taking dating seriously and doesn't want to waste your time chatting with people who are going to ghost you, this list is for you.

If going out with people who aren't actually interested in you as a person sounds awful, then the words someone chooses to communicate with you probably matter a lot. And they should, because they tell you a lot. 

With that in mind, the first rule of interpreting dating app greetings is to trust your instincts when something seems off.

If your eyebrows go up when read what someone wrote to you in an attempt to start a conversation on a dating app, you might want to let that person pass on by.


Chances are, we've all seen some of the awkward and off-putting dating app greetings listed below, after all, they're common. But what did they mean by saying it?

RELATED: The 3 Things People Immediately Judge You On When You First Meet Them

Here are nine awkward dating app greetings that are first-impression red flags

1. 'Hey' or 'Hi'

In the voice of Chandler Bing: could this be any more unoriginal or boring? To me, this is the reddest of all red flags, despite it seeming innocuous.


This is the sign of a person who is so disengaged with the apps that they clearly haven't bothered to look at your profile beyond your first photo. They can't even be bothered to ask you a generic question, much less a personalized one. If they're this lazy with starting a conversation on the apps, you can bet they're not going to be genuinely interested in you as a person. Steer clear!

2. 'What's up?'

Oof! Never before has a blander question been asked (although people so often don't even bother to add the question mark, can we even call it a question?). This is another stark example of someone putting little effort into their dating life, and you deserve someone who's putting in 100 percent. If this is the best question they can come up with to ask you right off the bat, you're going to be in for a very cringe date.

3. 'How are you?' / 'How's your Tuesday going?' / 'How's your week?'

Generic, generic, generic. Unless you happen to have something uniquely exciting happening the very day someone asks you this question, you're going to wind up stuck in a polite small talk loop.

You'll say you're fine, you'll return the same question, they'll say they're fine, and then where can the conversation go? Someone who leads with this type of question on a dating app isn't putting in the effort to be an engaging conversationalist ... and that does not bode well for the kinds of conversations you'll have in person.


RELATED: The 'Selfish' Reason To Ignore Your First Impression Of A Potential Mate

4. 'You have a nice smile' / 'Your eyes are beautiful' / 'You're cute/hot/sexy'

Beware of the generic compliment about your appearance. This one isn't just one red flag, it's two. First, such an unoriginal and unspecific comment isn't really about you — they clearly say this about everyone. Second, opening with something about your appearance — and nothing else — is leading things into sexual territory right from the start.

I think it's acceptable and even sweet to slip a physical compliment into an opening message if it's tactful, respectful, and fits the context, but when that's all the message is, then this person is indicating they're not interested in your personality.

5. 'So, what do you do?'

Save it for the date, man. I'm not at all a fan of opening a conversation by asking about work. Your vocation is obviously an important thing to talk about eventually, but you don't want someone who treats your dating app conversation like a job interview.


6. 'Want to get a drink?'

Let's cool our jets here. For the record, I don't think having lengthy dating app conversations before getting to the date is a good idea. When your match becomes your pen pal, nine times out of 10 you build up unrealistic expectations of each other and wind up disappointed once you finally meet in person. But that doesn't mean you should launch into a date without speaking at all.

I recommend having a conversation about one or two topics — let's call that up to 10 messages each — before cutting to the chase and finding out if there's compatibility in person. But someone who's asking to jump right to meeting up, without chatting at all to see if your styles seem compatible? Bad vibes.

RELATED: 10 Ways Men Royally Screw Up First Impressions

7. 'What are you looking for here?'

This is absolutely a great question ... on a date. But leading with this type of question is too invasive and intimate for an opening line with a stranger. Their heart might be in the right place by asking, but this displays a lack of tact you're going to want to dodge.


8. 'Do you believe in love at first swipe, or should I unmatch and swipe again?'

We're too old for corny pick-up lines. Thank you, next.

9. Any type of negging or criticism

Pick-up artists teach that "negging" — the act of putting someone down, giving backhanded compliments, or showing indifference — is the way to make a woman want to prove her worth to a man, and will make her attracted to him.

How despicable is that? If someone begins a conversation on a dating app with any type of content like that, run don't walk in the other direction.

I want your relationship to be based on positive affirmation and mutual respect, and I'm sure you do, too.


RELATED: Why Texting Causes Serious Damage In Relationships (And How To Fix It)

Bonus app greeting pink flag:

I won't go quite as far as calling this one a red flag, but if someone greets you on a dating app without asking any kind of a question, your Spidey senses should be tingling.

Asking questions is the universal way of showing genuine interest in getting to know someone, so if someone kicks off the conversation by asking you a thoughtful or funny question about something on your profile, that's a gold mine. 


When instead someone opens with a comment, make sure to ask yourself: Is this comment engaging and interesting? Does it seem like they want to learn more about me, or does it seem like they're just leaving a flippant remark in passing?

If it seems promising, make sure you respond with a question, so that it's abundantly clear you want to keep the conversation going.

RELATED: 5 Texting Strategies Smart Women Use To Keep A Guy Interested

Alyssa Dineen is a dating coach and stylist with 20-plus years of experience. Alyssa started Style My Profile to help people entering the modern world of online dating increase their matches and meet quality partners by perfecting their dating profiles.