• Carolina Pataky

Does Something Seem Off on the First Date? Identifying Red Flags


A woman smiles at her dinner companion but looks for red flags while dating him

Nine red flags to watch for on the first date


Key takeaways:

  • Small issues at the beginning can translate to bigger issues down the road

  • Watch for red flags on the first date

  • Get to know yourself through therapy and reflection before dating

  • Watch out for people who participate in drama or repeatedly blame others for their problems

  • Avoid liars

  • Beware of people with significantly different sex drives or who are unkind during sex

  • Love bombing and rushing in may seem like love but they signify unhealthy patterns


When dating, we often come across people that appear to meet our needs and desires. They may be financially comfortable, look attractive, and share interests with us. Before committing to a relationship or even a second date, though, we have to consider what's under the surface.


You can learn a lot about a prospective partner on the first date but in addition to getting to know each other, you need to look for “red flags” (signs of problematic or possibly even abusive behavior). Red flags often seem like small issues at first but over time, they can become significant.


Many people overlook red flags while dating because they are used to certain types of behavior. They may only know unkind or abusive patterns from their childhood or previous relationships. They may see themselves as a hero/healer and fantasize that they can change a partner's problematic behaviors. Or they may simply not notice the extent of their partner's issues until they are intimately intertangled.


You become more effective at spotting red flags and choosing better intimate partners when you know yourself better – an accomplishment that many accomplish through therapy. This guide provides relationship coaching by going over nine red flags to watch out for on first dates.


1. Drama, drama, drama


People who are irresponsible and immature tend to have a lot of drama and crises in their lives. They struggle to maintain friendships, keep jobs, or make plans for the future. They spend a lot of their time and energy dealing with dilemmas in their everyday life and ultimately, this will translate to a lack of time and support for you.


These drama-addicted folks are still growing up and they need to finish the process before they can be reliable partners. Listen to the stories people tell as you play the dating game and watch out for people who sound like they have a lot of drama in their lives.


2. Lying


Some people lie because they are malicious while others learn to lie as a coping mechanism during their childhoods. People who lie aren't trustworthy and if you hear stories in which the pieces don't add up or there are lots of contradictions, run the other way. You can find better dating options.


3. Blame game player


Listening is key if you want to discover red flags on the dating scene. Watch out for people who play the blame game. They may tell you that their previous relationships ended because of their partners' actions, or they may complain about their parents, their friends, or their bosses.


A story or two that involves blaming another person is okay but if your date tells multiple stories that involve blaming other people, they aren't ready to be accountable for their actions or to another person. They may need relationship coaching before they are ready to date.


4. Love bombing


Love bombing refers to intense displays of love and affection right off the bat. It often feels good as it's happening but it's a red flag of potential emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse down the road. Narcissists, in particular, use love bombing to manipulate people into relationships with them.


A few compliments, of course, are great – if your date doesn't say anything nice to you, that can signal other types of issues. Watch for love bombing, though, in the form of over-the-top statements like "I love you" or "I've never seen anyone as perfect as you" or "I could spend my whole life with you" on the first date.


5. Significantly different sex drives


Look for compatibility in the bedroom when you first start having sex. A significantly higher or lower sex drive doesn't indicate abusive patterns but it can be a red flag that someone isn't the right person for your needs. People with significantly different sex drives often end up in relationships where one person does all the initiating and they feel bad when they are constantly turned down.


Sex is an important part of a happy, healthy relationship but there's no magic formula for how often you should have it or the way you express yourself. Watch for compatibility in your sex drives in the early stages of dating.


6. Mocking during sex


Mocking someone during sex is a very significant red flag. You are at your most vulnerable with someone when you are being physically intimate and if someone shames you for your body or the noises it makes, they don't deserve to be with you. You are worthy of physical affection and you do not ever deserve to be mistreated, especially when you're with someone who is supposed to be your lover.


7. Rushing in


A first date is a chance to get to know someone and if you've met on a dating app, it's a great way to see if you spark in person. A first date is not an interview for marriage or moving in together. People who want to rush into a commitment on the first date may be on the rebound and forming a trauma bond. They may also be a malignant narcissist. Don't ever move forward with anything faster than you feel comfortable with.


8. Making you feel stupid


Don't schedule a second date with someone who doesn't listen to your ideas, mocks your opinions, or talks down to you. These people don't value your perspective and if they are this unkind during a first date, they are likely to be a gaslighter – someone who lies to make you doubt your own sanity.


9. Asking for constant reassurance


People who constantly need reassurance are probably insecure. They don't have a solid sense of self and if they can’t stand on their own, they're probably not ready for a relationship. Their insecurity may not seem like a big deal on the first date but it will lead to insecurity and paranoia in your relationship down the road.


Get to know yourself before dating with therapy at Love Discovery


It’s very important to listen and watch on a first date to identify red flags. It’s even more important to truly know and value yourself before you even start dating. Your desires, insecurities, and patterns will play a significant role in the success or failure of your future relationships and working on yourself now is much better than blindly succumbing to a toxic relationship. When you know and love yourself, you will pick the person who will want to know and love you.


Love Discovery offers individual therapy, couples therapy, sex therapy, and more for people at every stage of the dating journey. Contact us today to learn more or schedule an appointment online.

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