10 Seemingly Minor First Date Red Flags That Are Actually A Huge Deal

If you’re really tired of being single or have just been on a big string of awful dates, you might not catch some red flags with the most recent guy you grabbed drinks with. Even though nobody is perfect, here are some subtle signs that this guy is not your ideal match.

  1. He orders a ton of unnecessary food and then tries to split the check. We’ve all been in a situation like this, where you end up paying $20 when you only had a salad and a soda. There’s nothing wrong with splitting the check, but that should be decided at the beginning of the date. Using your date just as an excuse to get a discount on his four Long Island Iced Teas shows he’s not very considerate when it comes to other people.
  2. He talks over you. When you’re nervous, your conversation may get a little jumbled. But if he keeps interrupting you to talk and you can barely get a word in, he really doesn’t care what you have to say. Instead, he just likes the sound of his own voice. A trait like this won’t get better overnight and it’s bound to lead to a ton of disagreements.
  3. He zones out. It happens to all of us, but this is a first date — and if he zones out on someone he just met and can learn so much about, it doesn’t bode well for your future. Can you imagine how frustrating it’d be when he doesn’t listen to you and doesn’t remember details? It’s also a little rude. Even if he apologizes for it and continues on with the date, it’s hard to get over. You might think you were boring him.
  4. He’s really late and doesn’t give a reason. If the date is at 6 and he shows up at 6:20 without saying a word, you can’t rely on this guy. These days, everyone can text. Saying “I’m so sorry, traffic is awful” at least proves that he’s acknowledging the issue. Remember, your time is worth something. This won’t be the first or last event your date will be late for if you continue on with him.
  5. He’s rude to the wait staff. If he’s mean to a waiter simply because he’s a waiter, that’s a huge sign that he has no clue how to treat people. Waiters and waitresses often get disrespected daily for low pay. Even if something about the way he talks when placing his order seems off, it should be noted. He’ll get way worse as time goes on.
  6. He leaves either a super high, or super low tip. If you’re out and he’s treating, you might want to keep your eye on the tip. There’s nothing wrong with a large tip (especially if the service was great) but if he makes it obvious that he’s setting down a ton of cash, he could be doing it just because he thinks you’ll be impressed by his money. An empty gesture like that is a little odd. You’d expect him to tip high solely based on the goodness of his heart. If he doesn’t tip at all, that’s another red flag (and you should be ready to jump in and offer to cover it, if this happens.)
  7. He’s a little too touchy-feely. Even if you were hoping that the date would end with a hookup, it can be a little alarming if your date won’t stop touching you throughout the date. It’s nice to know that he finds you sexually attractive, but it can often be difficult to tell him that you’re uncomfortable. A great guy will respect your boundaries and not get too clingy and close the second you meet him.
  8. He’s really negative. Sometimes, people have bad days. We can’t always be “on.” But if he has nothing nice to say about anything or anyone, he may be a total downer throughout your whole relationship. Surely something good has to be going on in his life, right?
  9. He smells like alcohol before he sits down. If he’s in his twenties, this might just be part of his current lifestyle. Maybe he just wanted a beer to calm him down before the date, and that’s fine. But if he continues to drink a lot during the date, he may have a troublesome relationship with alcohol. If he wants to drive himself home after having a few, that’s another scary and dangerous sign, especially in a world where driving services are readily available. People with addiction issues deserve love too. But maintaining a good relationship with someone like this will cause a lot of unknown stress and worry. It’s something that you can’t change.
  10. He asks you really personal questions. You shouldn’t be talking about your number of sexual partners during your first date. If it’s a topic that you wouldn’t want to talk about with your parents, it should be off-limits for this first meet-up. This guy might not have the best social skills. But he could also be looking for incriminating information from you if things turn sour.

More first date red flags

couple on autumn outdoor date

provided by iStock

  1. He tells you not to call the number he called you from because he lives with his “sister” and she’ll get mad if you call their house. Dude, do you think we’re all stupid? “Sister” in this case clearly means wife or girlfriend. Get your cheating ass out of here! Also, get a cell phone like a normal person.
  2. When the check comes, he immediately asks the server to split it without even discussing with you. First question, did he ask you out or vice versa? Even the most independent woman tends to live by the “you ask, you pay” rule unless financial difficulties are discussed ahead of time and you agree to go Dutch. It’s common courtesy to allow someone to opt out of a date if they know it’ll be coming out of their pocket. Unless you really need some D and don’t care where it comes from, run!
  3. He complains about being ditched constantly because he’s such a “nice guy.” While this may seem like a dude to feel empathetic towards, it’s actually a type of emotional manipulation similar to gaslighting. The “nice guy” complex is something you don’t fully understand until you’ve been eaten alive by it and discovered that the actual nice guys are the ones who don’t brag about how nice they are or attempt to emotionally manipulate women they don’t even know. Don’t fall for it, just run!
  4. You know his ex’s name and life story before the first round of drinks arrive. We all know the rule about talking about exes on the first date: don’t do it; or, if you must mention them because of an incredibly defining moment in your life, make it brief and to the point. If he’s rambling on about his ex instead of trying to get to know you better, he is clearly not over her and should go drunkenly throw beer bottles at her window instead of wasting your time. Save yourself a lot of time and heartache and just run!
  5. He asks you out for drinks, but then he suddenly doesn’t drink. When someone asks you out for drinks, you assume you’ll both be drinking at least one round together, even if he is the DD and cuts himself off early. If he chooses to wait until you’re already at the bar or restaurant to divulge that he doesn’t drink, there’s something off about that situation. He just wants to get you drunk and lower your inhibitions because, for some reason, he feels that there’s no way you’d sleep with him sober. Whatever that reason is, either run right away or stick around for a couple free drinks and then tell him you have to work early and catch an Uber home.
  6. He has no career goals, no hobbies, and no plans for his future. Yes, he has a job, but he hates it and doesn’t have a clue what he’d rather be doing with his life. In his off time, he has exactly zero interesting hobbies. His future is a black hole of nothingness because he doesn’t want a wife, a house or kids, and has no idea what he wants out of his life in general. As women, we can’t even comprehend this kind of dude because we consider it a privilege to be goal-driven. There’s nothing good here for you, sister, so just run.
  7. He has money and he thinks anyone who doesn’t just isn’t trying hard enough. This is the dude who thinks his farts smell like roses. It’s all because he paid cash for his house and has plenty of money in the bank. As soon as you start a conversation with him, you realize why he’s alone. This dude thinks he’s perfect. That, and anyone who isn’t as rich as him is just not trying as hard. Enjoy your free dinner and get the hell out of there. He’s probably judging you too for not being rich.
  8. He’s condescending towards you because you’re a woman. He calls you honey and sweetie. He veers away from intelligent conversational topics. That’s because he assumes your tiny female brain can’t comprehend them. Yes, he will pay. But he will also expect repayment in other forms later. Dudes like this can’t be changed, so don’t waste your time. Get yourself home as quickly as possible before he can possibly degrade you anymore.
  9. He suggests takeout and a movie at his place as a first date rather than actually going somewhere. That’s perfectly fine once you’re dating someone, but it’s a red flag on the first date. He doesn’t want to take you out in public. He wants to spend as little money as possible while hopefully getting your clothes off, and he probably wanted take-out food anyway. Once again, if you really need some D and don’t care where it comes from, go for it but otherwise run!
  10. He mentions that his ex-wife stabbed him twice. Maybe it’s not this exact sentence, but you get our drift. This is one of the biggest first date red flags there are. Sure, it’s possible that she’s just nuts, but it’s also possible that he’s an douchebag who treats women so terribly that they have no recourse except physical violence. In either case, you’re best to steer clear of him and his unstable, knife-wielding ex-wife. Run!

The bottom line

The goal of dating is to find someone who is right for you. You don’t simply want someone you can tolerate with enough glasses of wine. As scary as it is, the extreme examples here are based on reality. This means that you can’t be too careful about who you let into your life. It’s far better to watch a Netflix miniseries by yourself with a carton of lo mein than to attempt to share that exact evening with someone who isn’t right for you. Be careful, be discerning. And of course, don’t ignore red flags when they wave boldly in your face. Future you 20 years from now will thank you for it.

Karen Belz is a New Jersey native who is currently living in Maryland. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication with a focus in Broadcasting and Print Media Studies from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Since graduating, she has written for sites like LittleThings, HelloGiggles, and Scary Mommy and is currently an e-commerce editor at Bustle.

When she's not writing, she enjoys making her phone run out of memory after taking too many photos of her dog. You can find her on Twitter @karenebelz or on Instagram @karenbelz.