s it possible to predict future disappointment, heartache, and regret and then avoid it? When you’re young, you approach dating like a chef in a kitchen who isn’t able to taste. No matter how much heart you put into your cooking it still may not come out delicious, and in the end you might just get burned.
As you get older and have more dating experiences, you may be promoted to vet status and get a sixth sense for sniffing out red flags. Oh, you got out of a long-term relationship last week? You didn’t tip the waiter? You text me at 2 a.m. to “come over”? Thank you, next.
Yet, other signs are more…subtle.
Going on a plethora of dates may boost your expertise, but it can also lead to some dark places. Will I ever find someone? Will I be alone forever? Am I being too picky? Once a sprinkle of self doubt seeps in, it easily spreads and clouds your judgment. The ability to detect fault in others is hard when you are desperate to find (someone) good and if you distrust the soundness of your own judgment. Not to mention, some first-date actions sit on the fence between condemnable and brush-off-able – the gray area of dating.
But, what if we told you there was a way to make this gray area, black and white? That you no longer had to gamble on a date, but there was a strategy you could use. If you are wondering where to draw the line in acceptable behavior and what you should take note of during your dates, stay tuned because in this article, we plan on sharing the most important red flags to look out for.
1. They Order For You
It’s one thing for your date to have been to the restaurant before and have a favorite that they want to share with you. It is an entirely different thing for them to insist on ordering for you – or better yet, to do it for you while you’re in the bathroom.
Remember, a partner that takes charge can be attractive, sexy, and endearing. But, a partner that strips you of your freedom is not.
Showing that much control over what you do on the first date is likely a sign that there is more to come in the future. Big yikes.
2. Their Opinions Are Your Opinions
In an ideal world, our dates have a lot in common with us - favorite band, political views, stance on children, stance on dog vs. cats. Naturally, not everything will align and for the small stuff, that is perfectly okay.
However, if you’re in a constant state of ‘Me too!’ you may want to reevaluate. Whether you believe in soul mates or not, if someone has nearly everything in common with you to the point that only fate could explain it, that may be a sign that you’ve been cyber stalked. While it’s flattering for them to want to win your affection, doing so by deceiving you and manipulating the situation could be a real sign of someone who is controlling and dishonest.
3. Criticizes Their Ex (Or All of Their Exes)
In general, exes shouldn’t be brought up on the first date. However, there are a few exceptions, such as if the person acknowledges that the ex shouldn’t be brought up but does so for the purpose of telling a story that relates to the conversation at hand.
On the other hand, if the ex is brought up extensively and only to be verbally attacked and demeaned - such as by using derogatory nicknames - then your brakes should be on.
Also, if your date brings up more than one ex and consistently plays the victim to all of their past lovers’ bad behavior, you may want to do a full U-turn. Because if all of their exes are “crazy,” then you just might be next.
Besides, bringing up an ex(es) while at the cusp of a new relationship is a sign that they are not ready to start one because they haven’t fully recovered from their last one. And a person with only crazy exes may actually be a narcissist.
4. Criticizes Everyone
If your date spends some of your first moments together, especially the first date, ripping those around you to shreds with criticism – whether it’s the cute couple at the bar, the elderly couple next to you, or the server, this is a sign that there’s more to come. Not only does this distract from the sole purpose of the date - getting to know one another - but it exudes toxic energy, and you may just be on a date with a narcissist.
5. Romance Overload Too Early On
When you meet someone for the very first time - even if you’ve been messaging - you are just trying to feel things out. If your date quickly begins to give gifts, ask to meet your family, want to be near you all of the time, and excessively compliment you, you may initially feel that you’ve hit the jackpot because of the extra admiration and affection.
This is a tactic known as love bombing. When they begin treating you like the love of your life before you’ve even built a foundation, they are in fact luring you in with a false sense of security. The exaggerated and indulgent love you’ve found may seem too good to be true - too effortless and easy - and it probably is. In the long run, you will feel dependent on and obligated to this narcissist, abuser, or con artist that you call your partner, giving them the upper hand to control and manipulate you. Love bombing can be dangerous to your health and wellbeing yet it is hard to detect and suss out. To help, here are a few examples of what a love bomber might act:
- They will want your sole focus and attention. They may become angry if you are spending time with other people, and make you feel guilty for it. If you let this go on, you may find yourself isolated from friends and family.
- The love bomber will shower you in compliments and affection.
- The love bomber will try to persuade you to commit yourself to them early on in the relationship.
6. They’re late
We understand better than anyone that traffic happens, and that a party at 8 p.m. really means the party starts at 9 p.m. However, when it comes to dating you should really try to be prompt and on time to your meeting place and if you can’t be, you should let the other person know. So, if your date shows up late, never texted to say they would be late, and has absolutely no explanation or apology, don’t even bother with them. Not only are they displaying a lack of manners, but it shows that they don’t respect your time – or you.
7. Too Vulgar Too Soon
At a certain point in a relationship, both partners become comfortable being, well, human and all that entails. (Ahem, bodily fluids.) The key word here is ‘at a certain point.’ That time frame is not within the first couple of dates. It’s better to get an initial trailer of someone's attractive, clean side before you get a taste of the behind-the-scenes footage. Once you’re committed to someone, it won’t matter how loud they burp or how smelly their farts are, in fact it may be a relief to not have to bottle it up. But when you're still in the stranger zone, it’s too gross too quick. It’s a big turn off.
8. On Their Phone Too Much
On your first date with someone, they shouldn’t be checking their phone often – it’s impolite. If they can’t give you their attention for a few hours, then they’re wasting your time. After all, you’re as good as alone if the other person isn’t really present. If they truly wanted to be with you, listen to you, and value you, then they would give you their full attention. If they don’t do this, then they’re not right for you.
9. Unloads Their Emotional Baggage
If you’re on a first date and the person brings up emotional wounds from childhood, don’t walk – run. The first date should be chill and casual. There is no shame in opening up to someone new, but if your date can’t help but dig up old wounds, then they may not be emotionally ready for a relationship. If you were to try to pursue them further, you may find yourself suffocating under the weight of carrying their personal issues and as a vehicle for them to vent, rather than a partner and an equal. Bottom line: you should be their partner, not their therapist.
10. Gives You A Pet Name
Baby. Darling. Hunny. Sweetheart. Gorgeous. Are these nicknames, sexy or gross? Flattering or defensive? The answer is both. It really comes down to who’s saying it and how they're saying it. If you go on a first date and your date gives you a cute nickname that has you cooing, keep in mind that they’re probably giving that same name to every woman. The type of guy that loosely uses nicknames for women they just meet - say on a first date - is very different from the man that after establishing a foundation in the relationship gives their partner a nickname that is personal to them.
11. Orders Water
This is a tough pill to swallow, but – they're just not that interested in you. Ordering water on a first date at a bar is a tell-tale sign that your date isn’t interested or willing to give you a chance. Ordering water says, “I’m trying to get out of here fast, so much so that I won’t even need to pay a bill.”
12. Perseverates on Price Tags
If your date feels the need to comment on the price of literally everything - especially the costs associated with the date itself - consider that strike one. First dates should be about the other person, not about how much money they have or don’t have. First dates are just not the time or place to discuss personal finance – or the state of the economy (if we’re being honest). Also, if you are the type of person to be flexible with money in the name of life experiences and self-care, this may prove to be a larger problem in the long run.
13. Benching and Breadcrumbing
Hot and cold is only good if it’s coming from Katy Perry – not your first date. If your online love interest finally meets you in person, and afterwards shows no interest in seeing you again but continues to message you constantly – don’t ignore this. You’ve been benched. By not initiating another meetup and brushing off your attempts to, they show that they aren’t super into you.
But, by continuing the line of communication, they leave you open as a backup in case the rest of their lineup doesn’t pan out. As for you, it leaves you feeling confused and being used. You’re an option, but not their first option. We think you deserve more. If you’ve been messaging someone online for a while, so much so that you feel like you know the other person intimately and can even imagine their voice, but have never met – this is a sign. Do they say things like “I’ll take you there one day” but one day never comes? If so, you’re being breadcrumbed. Ditch the trail and take your own path.
14. Can’t Stop Talking About Themselves
Picture this: you sit down on your first date and ask the person a question about themselves to get the ball rolling. Except the ball never stops. The one question leads to them going on and on about themselves. But, the same kind of energy isn’t reciprocated when you talk about yourself and they don’t really ask you anything about yourself. They may even spin it to make all of your stories about them. This could get annoying really quick.
We know firsthand how easy it can be to go into a first date with rose colored glasses and how effortless it is to miss the small, subtle signs. There’s no shame in being a homeless romantic or wanting to fall in love, so long as it’s with someone who deserves all you have to offer. Otherwise, you become the victim of your own blind spots and we’d hate to see that happen. The alternative to rose colored glasses is overthinking everything your date does, and regarding their actions with uncertainty; Is it a red flag or isn’t it? It’s time to think smarter, not harder. Keep these red flags in your back pocket as you continue on your dating voyage as a guide to help you avoid future problems. And most importantly, remember: you deserve nothing but the best!