Getting to know a potential partner on an online dating site is risky business. There’s so much both parties need to learn about each other. Establishing trust is more important than ever in a world where not everyone is who they seem.

To help protect ourselves, we need to be aware of what red flags are out there and how we can use them to avoid a potentially disastrous relationship. Here are four crucial red flags you should be aware of when getting to know a man online:

1. Inconsistent online times

If a person says they’re available anytime to chat, but only appears online at odd hours of the evening and can disappear quickly mid-conversation, they might have something fishy going on. The last thing you need to worry about is whether or not a they are actually married when they say they aren’t.

2. Extreme pessimism

Everyone gets a little down on themselves from time to time, but if a person’s constantly berating themselves and saying negative things about themselves, there’s a good chance something’s going on. They might be extremely insecure or have emotional issues they need to work through.

3. Extreme competition/ego speak

On the flip side, when all a person can talk about is how he makes more money than all of his friends or how his team wins every basketball game, there’s a good chance he might be ego-driven and obsessed with competing and wining. A healthy competitive attitude can be a good thing, but not when it goes too far. If he constantly talks about himself and doesn’t seem overly interested in you, that’s one of the worst red flags out there. Run.

4. Being too vague

It’s often necessary to be a little vague regarding real life details such as last names, company names or addresses before the first date, but being vague about every little thing is usually a bad sign. When inquiring about what they do for a living, any sort of reply like “I’m in between jobs”, “I do a bit of everything” or “I keep busy” is generally code for them not having a job.

Watch out for vague statements regarding their living arrangements or their vehicle situation. If your partner doesn’t answer crucial questions directly, there’s a good chance they’re trying to hide something. And trust us – that’s the last thing you want to worry about in a relationship.