First dates should be fun, but they’re also an opportunity to weed out people who don’t deserve a second date.
While you don’t want to pass judgement too fast, therapists say there are some tell-tale signs your date is anything but The One. Below, some of the biggest first date red flags.
1. They badmouth their ex.
“Listen to how they talk about a significant ex. You can rest easy if they are talking and take responsibility for their fair share of the relationship going sour. Not more, not less. If they’re able to share what they learned about themselves in the process? Even better, and you can be more assured they’re invested in learning and growing. If not ― if they blame or bash that ex ― remember, you’ll be next if there’s conflict between you. First dates are a time to put your best foot forward and instead, they’re using the time to diss an ex. Take note ― and head for the hills.” ― Margaret Rutherford, a psychologist based in Fayetteville, Arkansas
2. They talk about themselves ― and only themselves.
“Who is your date spending most time and energy focusing on? If they’re talking only about themselves, that may be a sign that they’re self-absorbed or even narcissistic. If they ask you about you, rather than telling you about them, that’s a good sign. Are they attentive when you are speaking? Do they look you in the eye? Do they interrupt you? Do they follow the conversation or change the subject? Do you feel heard and like what you say matters to them? It’s important to take all of this into consideration.” ― Susan Pease Gadoua, a marriage therapist and the co-author of The New I Do, Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebel
3. They treat the waitstaff rudely.
“Is your date kind and patient with the other people you interact with? Do you get a sense of compassion, patience and empathy when you encounter a senior citizen or someone with a disability? Are they easygoing or do they have a short fuse when the waiter makes a mistake? What you see today may be an indicator of how they’ll be tomorrow or a year or a decade from now. You want someone who is fundamentally kind, compassionate and patient.” ― Jeannie Ingram, a couples therapist in Nashville, Tennessee
4. They go overboard with the cocktails.
“Watch how they drink alcohol. More than two drinks might be indicative of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, low self esteem or lack of social skills. One drink is preferable but a max of two is important early on. Also, watch how they drink: are they taking big long sips as if to catch a buzz quickly and take the nervous edge off or are they taking small slow sips in an effort to not miss a word you’re saying? If your date can carry on an enjoyable conversation without using any social lubricant, it may be indicative of above average comfort with themselves or well developed social skills. Pay attention.” ― Susan Pease Gadoua
5. They’re uncomfortable with differences in opinion.
“If your date is willing to be vulnerable and take a chance at saying something you may feel differently about, it’s a good sign. While rehashing Trump vs. Hilary or whether NFL players should stand for the National Anthem maybe too deep for a first date, having an opinion, expressing it and being able to back up why you believe something is a good thing. If they’re afraid of confrontation or differences or shy away from heavier topics, that may be a bad thing. You don’t want a people pleaser, placater, or someone who lacks a backbone as a partner. On the flip side, you don’t want someone who is argumentative or has to make their point just to make their point. Basically, how confrontation is handled can be very revealing on a first date and give you good information about the future.” ― Kurt Smith, a therapist who specializes in counseling for men
6. They refuse to admit when they’ve made a mistake.
“One of the most common sources of discord in relationships occurs when partners aren’t willing to admit when they’ve made a mistake. If there’s a moment during the date when the person you’re seeing slips up and doesn’t admit it ― or handles the moment poorly ― take note. Some of the smallest issues can destroy the love and connection between two people because one partner won’t admit when they’re wrong. Being able to admit when you’ve made a mistake requires humility and self-confidence, both of which are great qualities to have in a partner.” ― Kurt Smith
7. They admit to ghosting people.
“There’s a lot of commitment-phobia out there, and ghosting is rampant -– somehow having become an acceptable means of sending a ‘not interested’ message. If they laugh about doing it – about simply disappearing from someone’s life suddenly and with no warning ― then beware. It’s hard and takes maturity to talk with someone openly about the realization you’re not into them after all, but it’s respectful. The joke may be on the one ghosted (at least in the ghost’s eyes), but it reflects an overall lack of compassion for others, perhaps even entitlement.” ― Margaret Rutherford
8. They seem bored by you.
“Take note if your date shows a balance of curiosity and interest in you as a person. You want to know how capable they are of genuine listening to and learning about you. If they’re dismissive of you ― or seem bored by what you have to say ― it’s a red flag. If the relationship launches and you’re together for a period of time, you want someone who, in a time of inevitable conflict, can listen to you with respect, kindness and curiosity. Bottom line: You want someone you can trust to treat you well on the first date and the rest of your life.” ― Jeannie Ingram