How to weed out flakes and players on dating apps

Flakes. Players. Hookup artists. Whatever you call them, they’re out there, lurking on dating sites and dating apps and threatening to ruin what could otherwise be an enjoyable experience. If you’re an online dating veteran, you know that good dates are the exception not the rule. Maybe the relationship didn’t ultimately work out, but you have nothing but positive memories about some of them.

The rest, however? Those are the ones you want to avoid at all costs  —  especially now that you’re using a dating app for people who want kids (or already have kids) in their life. There’s no time to play around with playas, deal with the games and drama, and try to figure out what it all means. You’re in it for real, and you want someone who’s interested in the same thing.

So what’s the secret to weeding out the usual suspects so you can focus on the real deal prospects? Think of it as a project! Navigating free dating sites requires a little bit of work to make sure you aren’t wasting your time. Where serious-minded folks and single-parent dating is involved, it’s actually quite a bit easier. Here are some suggestions to help you remove drama from the experience. 

1. Filter Based on Opening Messages

We know, we know. It’s hard to come up with clever openers that wow total strangers online. But listen, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Cringe-worthy messages — of the “Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?” variety — are best avoided. They aren’t cute, funny, or appealing, and they’re usually indicative of someone who isn’t really in it for anything serious. And that’s not what you’re after on a dating site where people are focused on a future family. 

Use your personal filter to internally weed out the ones who don’t have a clue about how to talk like an adult. Is that a little OTT? Well, maybe — but at a stage in life when you’re either thinking parenthood or potential new stepparent for your kiddos, you’ve gotta be hardcore about it. So what are you looking for exactly? Civility. Tact. Politeness. A friendly line or two that sounds like a natural conversation starter. No games. If you can tell that the person read your profile and actually showed some interest based on that, even better. This is definitely the time for everyone to step up their game, and opening messages are usually a pretty good giveaway of the person’s intentions.

2. Ask All the Right Questions

The first few messages should be light and friendly. A comment or two about the person’s interests is a good way to get the ball rolling and see how the conversation progresses. Keep your own responses positive and friendly, and expect the same in return.

Your questions should be leading so that the person has an opportunity to respond thoughtfully. You’re both using an online dating app for the same purpose, so your motivations are already known. At this point, it’s more about being authentic and sharing a little bit about yourself. Use your digital exchanges as a guide. Are the person’s answers underwhelming and barely interesting at best? Do they keep going back to how “hawt” you look in your profile picture? Are they all about hooking up and less about getting to know you? Yep, adios.

3. Trust Your Intuition About Them

What happens next can be pretty telling. Does it take a week to send back a lame reply? If it’s the latter, then it’s time to show this particular candidate the door. Don’t waste time on something that clearly doesn’t matter to the other person, unless there’s a completely valid and believable excuse that you, in your gut, trust to be true. (Note: All adults, especially parents, are super busy. So there are many excuses that are perfectly understandable and valid in the world of serious dating and single-parent dating.)

Otherwise, move on. Online behavior serves as a powerful indication of a person’s character, so trust that intuition. Flakes need not apply when your goal is to find a life partner who’s the parent you always dreamed of for your future kids, or the right partner for your children now. That’s a tall order, but it’s worth quickly separating the yays from the nays to save time, stress, and heartache.

Another trick? Stick with a dating app or site that’s designed to help connect you with like-minded people so you can skip the noise and focus on the good stuff. On heybaby, you’ll find people who have kids or want them, so that often-tricky conversation won’t be so tough after all.

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