13 Red Flags You Can Spot On A First Date

First dates can be daunting – you never know what to expect, and you can't help but hope that after searching for love, this time, you've found the one. But knowing if someone is worth a second date is not always easy to work out. In fact, looking for love has become even more challenging, with a Pew Research Center study revealing that almost half of Americans say dating has become more difficult in the last decade.

So what's a good way to approach the first date? Dr. Marisa T. Cohen, a relationship scientist at Hily, an online dating app, told The List that going into a first date is all about being in the moment. "It is important to be present and learn about the person you are with. This allows you to learn about your date on a deeper level and assess compatibility," said Cohen. "Remember that early dating experiences can create a lot of anxiety, so give the person the benefit of the doubt (unless they do something that you find problematic) and consider going on a second date to continue to learn more about them." 

But how do you know if something is a red flag or if your date is just nervous? We've put together an expert-based guide to navigating the first date and identifying any red flags that will save you from heartache later on.

They start to get pushy (or touchy) with your boundaries

First dates are uncomfortable enough, but if the person you are with is trying to invade your space or being too pushy, run, don't walk. "It's a red flag if your date doesn't respect your limits for physical intimacy. If they're trying to escalate to something you don't want to do, that's a major reason not to go on a second date," says Jack Hazan, a psychotherapist and the founder of Modern Therapy Group.

You should feel safe and in control on a date. In addition, Jacqueline Fae, a relationship expert who is the CEO and founder of IDL Match Club, says pushing your boundaries is a sign that the person you are with is a poor listener. You, too, can avoid making misreading them by observing them closely. "When you're dating, it's really important to listen to what your potential partner is saying to you and their body language. It's an art form to understand someone's body language," Fae told us.

Fae adds that if there is a genuine connection between you and your date and they are enjoying themselves, their body will open up to you: "They won't cross their legs and arms, and they likely will be leaning into you. It's important to pay close attention to it before jumping to any conclusions, especially making any moves such as a kiss. If your date just goes straight for it, they aren't listening to you."

They proceed to talk about themselves the entire time

Being stuck on a first date while your date talks about themselves the whole time is awful. If you find yourself just sitting there and staring at the exit while your date rambles on about their life, experts say that person is not worth dating.

Instead, according to Cohen, your date should want to get to know you. "A caring partner will take an active interest in what you need from the relationship to be fulfilled and to feel a sense of security. They will also be interested in where you see yourself (in terms of your personal goals) so that you can grow together rather than grow apart," Cohen told The List.

Opening the door for someone too self-absorbed can lead to problems down the track, and you will ultimately feel dissatisfied and unseen. Fae says if your date talks about themself all the time, they are displaying narcissistic behavior. "This is a major red flag because you are setting yourself up for a relationship with a narcissist."

Your date is aggressive toward service or staff members

You can tell a lot about someone from the way they treat others. The first date is a great time to observe how the person you are with treats those around them. If they have good manners and are respectful of those working in the hospitality industry, that's a good sign. However, if your date is rude to others, that's something to consider before arranging a second date. 

"A major red flag is when someone is aggressive to service or staff members. The sudden outbursts or impatience gives you a glimpse of the future and that this person could easily fly off the handle, even at the smallest inconvenience," cautions Fae.

It can be very uncomfortable to sit there and watch your date order the wait staff around rudely. This is a very telling sign that your date may not be a kind partner in the future, particularly if their behavior is uncalled for. "Seeing someone treat others for less than what they are is a disgusting feeling. Witnessing your date act this way is a deeper reflection of who they may be as a person," says Hazan.

They talk about their ex a lot

When you are on a date, you want the focus to be on you and your date, not a third party. However, when the person you are with is constantly talking about their past or an ex, this is not only boring, but also a sign they may not be over that person — and the last thing you want to be is a rebound. 

"Bringing up past partners is never a good feeling, especially when you just started seeing someone new. However they bring up their partner on the first date, whether it's good or bad, is a sign they're not ready for a relationship," says Hazan.

According to Fae, if your date is talking a lot about their ex for almost the entirety of the date, that's a red flag, and you should reassess your compatibility with the person. "I would think they are not ready to experience other people because they still may be dealing with the trauma of the previous relationship or grieving that it actually is over." In addition, if you find that you try to change the subject and your date still talks about their ex, this is a clear sign that the person you are with is not ready to move forward with you.

They don't respect your opinion

If you are engaging in an interesting conversation on a first date, that's great! However, if you express that you might disagree with your date's opinion and they are not open to your perspective, that's a red flag. 

Fae says her number one tip for approaching a first date and life, in general, is to respect other people's worldviews. "Respect where they are coming from and what their opinions may be. Instead of ruling them out immediately on the first date, try and listen to what they have to say and understand the background they may be coming from." 

Just as you should have an open mindset, your date should try to understand your opinion and be curious to know where you are coming from rather than dismiss your ideas. Cohen says you should feel comfortable expressing your opinion. "If the person shuts you down from expressing yourself, essentially meaning that they aren't allowing for open conversation, this indicates that communicating with this person will be a challenge."

They are on their phone during the date

Having a conversation with someone who is constantly checking their phone is frustrating, but when you are on a first date and the person seems perpetually distracted, that's a sign the person is not valuing you or your time. After all, the first date is the best time to get to know someone in a romantic way — and if either party is constantly using their phone, the mood is ruined and no one is really in the moment.

"If your date is on their phone the entire time you are together, such as texting or taking pictures of themselves or food, that is a red flag," says Fae. "Why would you want to be in a relationship with someone that is more focused on their phone than spending quality time with you?"

If you truly want to be with someone who will give you their undivided attention, then consider opting out of a second date if the person seems too distracted on the first date. Hazan says your date should not be on their phone unless it is urgent. "A date being on their phone the majority of the date is just rude. They're not respecting your time, energy, and feelings."

Talking down to you or others

If you are on a first date and the person is making you feel like you are not worth listening to, ordering you around, or making you feel like you are not smart enough during a conversation, you are with the wrong person. If your date has a patronizing tone when talking to others, this displays that the person lacks empathy. 

According to Hazan, this type of behavior is a red flag. "Talking down to anyone isn't a good look. This could look like jokes or backhanded comments or compliments as well," Hazan told The List. "If your date says something that offends you, even if it's small, you have the right to stand up for yourself. Being disrespectful is never a good sign."

Fae says that this red flag is one you should not ignore. "In all honesty, if someone talks down to you or is rude to someone else early on in the dating process, you are in for a lot of trouble," warns Fae. "Within the first few months of dating, everyone is putting their best foot forward, especially on a first date. Once the veil drops and the honeymoon phase is over you will soon be the target of this person's disrespect. If they are talking down to you or others early on, it's a glimpse into what your future may look like."

They are bad at listening and fail to validate you

Their eyes are looking away, their body has shifted, and it seems they're just not listening to you — these are the tell-tale signs you are on a first date with someone who is not worth meeting up with again. 

"If the person shuts you down from expressing yourself, essentially meaning that they aren't allowing for open conversation. This indicates that communicating with this person will be challenging," says Cohen. Meanwhile, if a person is a good listener, they will respond to what you are saying and make you feel heard. "If a partner is able to pause and take in everything you say, as well as validate you, it shows that they care to learn and understand your position."

Meanwhile, Fae advises that listening skills should be at the top of your list if you are looking for a future partner. "If someone is bad at listening and validating you, it's going to be very difficult to make that relationship work," says Fae. "Listening and communicating is how you not only grow together, but evolve as individuals. A relationship that doesn't include communication will be extremely difficult to sustain."

They bring up sex and misread your body language

Talking about sex is essential, but there is always a time and place — and the first date is not the best time to broach the topic. If your date only wants to sleep with you, touches you without your consent, or keeps bringing up uncomfortable intimate issues, you are not on a first date with a keeper. 

"If someone is bringing up sex repeatedly, that typically is a sign that they are not looking for a real relationship," warns Fae. "Dating isn't all about sex, especially when you are looking for commitment. It requires vulnerability and communication, so they probably only want a one-night stand." 

As Hazan puts it: "Everyone has different ways of reading cues. However, everyone has different boundaries. In the beginning dating stage, exploring these boundaries in a healthy way is normal. But if you're being gaslighted or pressured to have sex, that's a major flag. There is no respect for you or your boundaries." So, if you want more than a fling, sex should not be part of the conversation on the first date. With so many topics to explore first, some things can wait — and if your date doesn't think so, their intentions might not match yours.

You both want something different in the future

Although first dates shouldn't be too serious, establishing what the person you are with wants from the future will save you a lot of heartache later in a relationship. Cohen told The List that it is a potential red flag if you and your date have different expectations — for example, if your date "has mismatched relationship goals, such as they indicate that they are looking for something casual when you are looking for something serious (or vice versa)."

According to Fae, having a similar vision for the future is essential. "It's never going to work if you both don't have the same end game. Both people need to want the same things out of life and the relationship," says Fae. "Say if one person doesn't want kids, and the other really wants to start a family, it's just not going to work. Before you build an emotional connection, it's important to communicate your desires and end goals in the very beginning. This also goes for timing as well." 

So, if you are tired of first dates, it might be worth sharing your intentions with your date and asking what their relationship expectations are. That way, you'll know what you're in for before things go any further.

They are already too into you

We all want to feel loved and appreciated, but if your date is coming on too strong, this could be a red flag. If you feel like your date is already too into you or they are "love bombing," be cautious. "The idea of love bombing is to make you feel really appreciated really quickly," says Hazan. "This is to reel you into their facade that their love or affection is genuine, when it's really for an ulterior motive. It's an attempt to ensure manipulation or abuse in the future. If it looks or sounds too good, it probably is."

Fae agrees, and says when someone is extremely into the other person and those intense feelings are not yet reciprocated, it can be a major deterrent. "Love bombing is typically for the wrong reasons. The intensity is not based on a real relationship, because both parties haven't had the time to actually get to know one another. It's critical that you take your time with the person you are dating and not move too fast." 

According to Fae, love bombing can be a narcissistic trait used by a person to manipulate someone else to emotionally connect with them for the wrong reasons. "Typically it comes from a place of insecurity because they are scared of losing someone, even if they showed them the smallest amount of affection."

They admit to ghosting people

Being ghosted is terrible. Imagine feeling a connection with someone and then discovering they are purposely trying to avoid you. If your date is boasting about having ghosted someone, experts say that is a clear red flag. 

"If somebody tells you on a first date they've ghosted a previous partner or date, they are instantly telling you they are not a good communicator," says Fae, who adds that there's no reason to ghost anybody in the modern digital age. "In the end, we appreciate honesty more than anything. So, if someone tells you they are a ghost on the first date, remember you are about to enter a relationship with someone who could ghost you at any moment."

Hazan agrees, and says if your date is proud of ghosting someone that is a sign of disrespect. "The idea of possibly being ghosted can instantly put you on edge. When someone mentions ghosting, it's a clear sign that they're unreliable, not interested in talking with you, or don't care to show an interest in you." According to Hazan, it's important to choose someone who communicates effectively and doesn't throw in the towel if the going gets tough. After all, you want to share a future with someone who is brave enough to share their true feelings with you.

They are too vague about meeting you for a second date

After a romantic first date, you might feel excited about the next steps and can't wait to meet up with the person again — but if they don't commit to a second date, this may be a red flag. 

Hazan says that ideally, your date should be eager to meet for a second date. "If your date is purposefully being vague about meeting again, beware," says Hazan. "Unless they genuinely don't know what their schedule looks like, this shouldn't be ignored. It's not something you want to rationalize or justify away."

However, this also goes both ways. According to Fae, you should also be direct with your date about whether or not you want to see them again. "If you want to go on a second date, great, but if you don't, that's okay, too! It's better to cut it off early than down the line when emotions have been built. Never lead them on, both for your time and theirs."