21 Huge First Date Red Flags You Should Be Wary Of

Single and Dating | | , Psychologist & Crisis Counselor
Updated On: December 22, 2023
first date red flags

Dating red flags are warning signs that can indicate potential problems in a relationship. On a first date, it’s important to be aware of these subtle signs to ensure you are not wasting time on someone who may not be a good match. Pay attention to communication and behavior to avoid any red flags and make the most of your first date.

The University of Arizona found that communication is the most important factor in a successful relationship, making it a critical aspect to pay attention to on a first date. Is the person dismissive, possessive, or negative in their behavior toward you? These early signs can be an indicator of potential issues in the future.As the movie He’s Just Not That Into You tells us, it’s crucial to be aware of early dating warning signs and red flags. And we’re here to tell exactly what those red flags might be.

21 HUGE First Date Red Flags You Should Be Wary Of

First dates can be both exhilarating and intimidating and we could sometimes miss out on those major red flags staring us right in the face. As the famous quote from the movie The Wedding Crashers goes, “The first date is like an audition for a second date.”  

That’s why it’s crucial to be aware of early dating warning signs on a first date to assess if a person is right for you and if it’s worth going on a second date with them. The trouble is, most people are so caught up in trying to make a good impression that they may fail to pay attention to some worrying behavior patterns their date may be displaying. 

Know that feeling of coming back from a date where nothing really went wrong but you feel something isn’t right? Well, it’s your gut instinct trying to draw your attention to some of the first date red flags. Here we count 21 of them for you:

1. Talking about exes on the first date

A study published in 2019 found that discussing past relationships on a first date can impact the level of attraction and emotional connection felt between two people. The study surveyed 324 individuals and found that:

  • Discussing past relationships can create a sense of closeness and shared experiences between the daters, which can increase attraction and emotional connection
  • However, excessive or negative talk about past relationships can lead to a decrease in attraction and emotional connection. Women were more likely than men to view discussing past relationships as a negative sign

It’s not hard to see why this can be a subtle first-date red flag. Pay attention to how the person talks about their exes and if they still seem to be dwelling on past relationships or take a no-holds-barred approach to badmouthing an ex. Swinging to either of these extremes is a sign that the person isn’t ready and fully invested in getting to know you and starting a new relationship.

Related Reading: 6 Relationship Problems Millennials Bring Up The Most In Therapy

2. Showing up late without valid reasons 

A study published in the journal Personal Relationships in 2015 found that being late for a first date without a valid reason can be a significant red flag. The study surveyed 200 individuals and found that being late without a valid reason was ranked as one of the top five first date deal-breakers. 

Being late indicates that the person does not value punctuality or respect the other person’s time. In such a situation, it’s also important to pay attention to how the person handles being late and if they offer a valid reason for it. Anecdotally, showing up late without an excuse can also be a sign of disinterest or a lack of consideration for the other person’s schedule. 

3. Unresponsive or poor at communication

A study found that poor communication skills can be a significant red flag on a first date. The study surveyed 308 individuals and found that participants reported being less interested in a second date with someone who had poor communication skills, including difficulty in maintaining a conversation and being unresponsive to questions.

Here is what unresponsive/poor communication on or after a first date may look like:

  • Lack of follow-up: It’s a subtle first-date red flag if the person does not follow up after the first date or is slow to respond to messages
  • Disinterest: The person is losing interest in conversation or does not make an effort to get to know you
  • One-sided conversation: They dominate the conversation and do not allow for a back-and-forth exchange
  • Interruptions: Your date frequently interrupts you or dismisses your thoughts and feelings
  • Inconsistent: The person is inconsistent in their responses or shows a lack of interest

4. Non-committal about plans for a second date

Whether you’re looking for first date red flags for guys or girls, this is an important one. This can indicate that the person is either indecisive or not interested. To be able to interpret this first date red flag the right way, you need to pay attention to how the person talks about future plans and if they are non-committal about them. It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re on the same page about what you’re looking for in a relationship before moving forward with a second date.

5. Possessive or jealous on the first date

A hint of jealousy or possessiveness on the very first date is a huge, glaring red flag and a strong indicator that the person either struggles with deep-rooted insecurities or trust issues. Such behavior can be a sign of potential control issues in a relationship and it’s important to establish healthy boundaries early on. 

The movie, Fatal Attraction, illustrates how dangerous possessive and jealous behavior on a first date can prove to be and the importance of establishing healthy boundaries early on. 

But what does possessive or jealous behavior on a first date look like? Here are some things to take note of:

  • Overbearing attention: They pay are overly concerned with whom you are talking to or why
  • Possessiveness: Trying to control your actions or possessions
  • Negative comments: Making negative comments about the people you are close to 
  • Interruptions: Frequently interrupting conversations to redirect attention back to themselves
  • Protective behavior: Being overly protective of you, trying to tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing

Related Reading: 13 Encouraging Early Signs Of A Good Relationship

6. Critical or negative attitude

This can indicate that the person may not have a positive outlook on life or may not be easy to get along with. To be able to spot this red flag, pay attention to how they talk about their life and the world in general. Being overly critical or negative is an early sign that a relationship with this person could be riddled with issues. It’s important to make sure you’re compatible in terms of outlook and attitude. 

7. Unreasonably pushy or aggressive

This can indicate that the person may not respect boundaries or lack awareness of their own behavior. This type of behavior can be a sign of potential control issues in a relationship and it’s important to establish healthy boundaries early on. Some examples of pushy or aggressive behavior could be: 

  • Insisting on choosing the location, food, and activities despite your requests
  • Ordering for you 
  • They are not a good listener and they keep interrupting you when you speak
  • Not giving you a chance to express your opinions

8. Showing  passivity  or non-assertiveness

This can indicate that the person may not be confident or cannot stand up for themselves. See how the person interacts with you and others you come in contact with during the date – servers, valets, for instance. If the passive or non-assertive behavior is a constant, it could be more than first-date jitters. 

This can especially be one of the first date red flags for guys, although it’s not exactly an attractive trait in girls either. It can lead to a lack of balance in decision-making and power dynamics in the relationship, translating to: 

  • Lack of confidence in decision making
  • Difficulty in effective communication
  • Potential for being taken advantage of
  • Difficulty in setting and maintaining boundaries

9. Guarded or secretive behavior

Being guarded or secretive on a first date can indicate trust issues and it’s important to pay attention to this behavior. Research shows that it could be detrimental in a relationship, it’s important to establish trust and open communication early on and ensure that you feel comfortable and can trust the person you’re dating.

Related Reading: 13 Warning Signs Of Being Obsessed With Someone

10. Overly focused on physical appearance or material possessions

When it comes to building meaningful connections with others, it’s important to look beyond just physical appearance or material possessions. While it’s natural to take pride in one’s appearance or enjoy having nice things, fixating solely on these aspects indicates that the person is more concerned with superficial things than with deeper values and qualities –a definite first date red flag. Here are some behavior patterns to pay attention to:

  • They only talk about material possessions – designer clothes, expensive cars, luxurious vacations – and don’t seem to have an interest in deep conversation topics that can help you get to know each other 
  • If a person constantly brags about their wealth or status, they may lack values 
  • Another example is if a person on a first date talks exclusively about their appearance, such as how they maintain their physique or the latest cosmetic procedures they’ve had, it can suggest a shallowness of character 
dating problem

11. Dismissive or non-committal about future plans

If you’re looking for a serious relationship or a long-term partner, then a date being non-committal about their future plans is definitely one of the early dating warning signs. While there is nothing wrong with someone wanting to date casually, their being evasive about it definitely is. When two people come together, their goals and plans must align. Otherwise, it only leads to one of them getting hurt – and if you’re the one who is looking for commitment and stability, it’s going to be you. 

12. Concerning attitude toward substance use

This can indicate that the person may have substance abuse issues or may not prioritize their health and well-being. Pay attention to how the person talks about alcohol or drugs. If a lot of their anecdotes start with “this one time we got sloshed/high, and….”, it’s a definite first-date red flag. 

Likewise, if they drink too much on the date or show up drunk/high, it’s best to politely wrap up the date as soon as possible and let them know you’re not interested in taking things forward. Even if there are no clear indicators pointing to a tendency for alcohol/substance abuse, you can casually bring up the topic as a conversation starter to see where they stand on the issue. This is one red flag you must eliminate before agreeing to or even considering a second date. 

13. Dismissive of your interests or hobbies

 This can indicate that the person may not be interested in getting to know you or may not be supportive of your passions. This can be a subtle first-date red flag, but it’s important to pay attention to how the person talks about your interests and hobbies and if they are dismissive of them. This can be a sign of potential problems in a relationship as it can indicate that the person may not be supportive of you and your passions. 

14. Persistent dismissive of your values or beliefs

This can indicate that the person does not respect or share your values or beliefs. Here are a few examples of behaviors that indicate that someone is dismissive of your values or beliefs:

  • Refusing to listen to your perspective or cutting you off when you talk about your beliefs or values
  • Making negative comments about your beliefs or values or making jokes at your expense
  • Unwillingness to compromise or make an effort to understand your perspective
  • Ignoring or invalidating your feelings or opinions on important topics

Related Reading: 11 Warning Signs Of A Toxic Relationship

15. Overly flirtatious

This is a subtle first date red flag that can be hard to spot because flirting comes with the territory of a first date. However, if the person pushes the boundaries and flirts with you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, it’s an undisputed warning sign. Don’t let self-doubt about “Am I overreacting?” tell you otherwise. 

Excessive flirtatious tendencies can be an indicator that the person is not trustworthy. According to a study by the University of Kansas, overly flirtatious people may also be more likely to cheat in a relationship. 

16. Overly critical or judgmental

If a person is overly judgmental of everyone and everything – be it your life choices, the things you encounter during your time together, or just the general ways of the world – it’s not hard to see why being with them can be a stifling experience. It’s also a sign that they may not be able to handle constructive criticism. 

17. Being pessimistic

This is one of the more obvious first date red flags because a pessimistic person is not easy to get along with. If they find faults with or complain about every single little thing – their order, the place you’re at, the weather, the traffic, geopolitics – it can be hard to get through the date. And the idea of another evening with them may make you shudder. That right there is a relationship red flag telling you a second date with them is a no-go. 

18. An excessively dominating personality

While assertiveness has its charm, no one appreciates being dominated by another person, especially not on a first date. If your date insists on having the last word or is rude, condescending in their behavior toward you or others, you must recognize it for the first date red flag it is. 

Related Reading: How To Deal With An Alpha Male – 8 Ways To Sail Smoothly

19. Being evasive in their replies

If your date doesn’t share specific details or tries to evade even the most basic questions like “Tell me more about what you do for a living”, “Where did you attend college”, or “How long have you been single”, it’s time you smell a rat. They clearly have something to hide, and you cannot build a relationship with someone – whether a casual or a serious one – without honesty and some degree of transparency.  

20. Pushing physical intimacy too soon

A first date typically doesn’t lead to physical intimacies. At the most, you may hug or kiss at the end of the date unless there is fiery chemistry and you both can’t keep your hands off each other. But if that isn’t the case and your date comes on too strong and pushes you to be physically intimate when you clearly don’t want to, it’s a huge first date red flag that you should not overlook. No matter what, don’t cower down and agree to something you don’t want to do. There will be other romantic interests and first dates. 

21. Too fast for your comfort

If your date wants to take things forward at a pace that is too fast for you and feels almost heady, it’s a subtle first date red flag. Talking about the future even in hypotheticals, alluring to labels like girlfriend/boyfriend, hinting that you’ve swept them off their feet and they can’t stop thinking about you, bedazzling you with gifts and compliments – these are all classic signs of love bombing. 

While it may feel good to be so desired and wanted, there will be a tiny voice in your head telling you it’s all happening too fast. Listening to it, it’s your intuition drawing your attention to the most dangerous of all early dating warning signs.

Key Pointers

  • Pay attention to how the person talks about their exes, communicates with you, and values time, as it can indicate their emotional readiness for a new relationship and their level of respect for others
  • Keep an eye out for subtle red flags such as possessiveness, negativity, and dismissiveness, as they can be early warning signs of potential issues in the future
  • Look for consistency in red flags, as one instance of poor behavior may be a mistake, but consistent patterns can indicate deeper issues in the person’s character

It’s important to be aware of these first date red flags and trust your instincts. If you encounter any of these red flags, it may be a good idea to reevaluate whether or not this person is right for you. You deserve to be with someone who treats you with respect, values your time and opinions, and is genuinely interested in getting to know you. Don’t be afraid to set the bar of your standards high and take your time getting to know someone. It’s better to be cautious and wait for the right person rather than rushing into a relationship that may not be healthy or fulfilling.

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