11 Controlling Behaviors I Noticed On Our First Date

A few months ago, I thought I’d made the ultimate Tinder match. We were messaging non-stop, which I initially thought was a great thing, but after our first in-person date, I saw things totally differently. Here’s how I realized this guy wasn’t attentive, he was controlling.

  1. He was always messaging me in the lead-up. Trying to get the guys I’ve dated in the past to text me back was like pulling teeth, so when this guy was into regular messaging, I was game. It was great… until one day I didn’t message him because I was busy. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but it made him become strangely upset and clingy. Still, I let it slide since he was a welcome contrast to the non-communicators in my past. I guess I let myself feel flattered that someone really wanted to hear from me. In hindsight, it was the first red flag.
  2. He was really insecure. As soon as we walked up to one another in the bar in that awkward way you always do on a first date, he coolly looked me up and down and mumbled, “Not that much taller than me I suppose.” At an occasionally-dumpy 5’5″ I’m not going to be appearing on any catwalks any time soon, so you can quit with the small man syndrome.
  3. He bought me jewellery. To be fair, he messaged me before the date and asked if he could bring me something. I thought this was a bit awkward and unusual, but I’m terrible at receiving gifts so I thought what the hell, why not? I figured he’d bring something low-key and traditional like chocolate or flowers. Most guys I meet online these days offer me unsolicited dick pics, so it wasn’t going to be hard to improve on this. Instead, I opened a box to find a copious amount of bling. Perhaps he meant well, but it felt like way too much way too soon.
  4. He was presumptuous and inappropriate. As if the jewelry from a total stranger wasn’t intense enough, he presented it with a gift tag which thoughtfully informed me that I should “feel free to give [him] a hug or a kiss to show [him] how much [I] appreciate it.” Yuck. Hard pass. This solidified in my mind that he hadn’t made an innocent mistake with the jewelry.
  5. He sulked when I called him out on his BS. A PhD student at a top university, I suspect he was accustomed to being viewed as the smartest person in the room. But every so often he would veer onto a topic I also happened to know a lot about and would talk absolute BS. When I eventually queried a couple of totally erroneous “facts,” he was so certain he was going to give me a lesson in things that he literally Googled them. Lo and behold, I was right all along. Instead of being gracious about the situation, he repeatedly went quiet, sulked, and had nothing further to say. He couldn’t stand that I wasn’t falling for his know-it-all schtick.
  6. He undermined me. Since the conversation was going nowhere, I whipped out a little game my friends and I sometimes like to play. We pick someone nearby and challenge the other to tell a story about them. He instantly got snarky, clearly not keen to step outside his comfort zone. I offered to go first, at which point he snorted. “If you want to be a writer, “you’re going to have to get a lot better than that,” he said. Charming. I’m well aware I’m no Oscar Wilde, but we don’t know each other and I’m not OK with you putting me down, dude.
  7. He watched me like a hawk. I tend to take forever in the ladies’ room when I’m out for some reason, but I’m hyper-aware of not being away too long when I’m with someone new. When I got back to the table, he coldly told me that I took a long time, which I found rude and tactless. What if I was ill or had my period? What if I didn’t want to talk about my bathroom habits with a stranger? I tried to laugh it off but he wasn’t having any of it. WTF?
  8. He didn’t care about what I wanted. The day we went on the date, it had been raining all day, but for some reason he decided he wanted to sit out in the garden. My shoes instantly absorbed the water in the AstroTurf, but when I asked whether we might be able to sit inside instead, he had a terrible attitude and acted like I was causing a major inconvenience. Here’s the thing: I don’t need to be treated like a princess; I just need the guy I’m on a date with to be polite. He was totally inconsiderate and domineering about it being his way or the highway.
  9. He made it all about him. He asked me lots of questions, to be fair, but never took any interest in what actually makes me tick. Maybe I was reading too much into it since I had already concluded he wasn’t looking for an equal partner; he was looking for someone he could dazzle with his frankly underwhelming abilities. He couldn’t have cared less about getting to know what I aspire to in life, the places I want to see, and the passions I have and want to develop, but apparently it was perfectly OK for him to bang on about his.
  10. He followed up with a barrage of snarky messages. Despite being rude, ungracious and arrogant, he managed to pick up that I wasn’t having a good time, which was made doubly apparent when I ended the date early. I hadn’t even reached home, though (just a 10-minute train ride away) before I had received multiple messages reeking of sour-grapes, all along the lines of, “Well, I guess you don’t want to see me again then.” He couldn’t have been more right.
Laura is a freelance writer originally from London. In a bid to become even more of a millennial cliche than she already is, she's given it all up for digital nomad life. When she's not travelling, reading or writing, she's catching up on Netflix series that everyone else has already seen. Overall lover of cocktails, ancient places, and correctly-used apostrophes. Not usually at the same time. Instagram: @lbtravelswrite