Yay! You’ve made a connection on Match, Our Time, Bumble, or eHarmony. You are ready to meet. So much of that first date is going to be about the “indefinable” – the stuff you can’t really put into words. But believe me, there are some very good words to describe a terrific first date, from “he made me laugh” to “she really understood me.”
When it’s not so good, it may be “just a feeling” too—or the lack thereof. But there are some clear first date snafus that warrant NMD (no more dates). If one of these happens… head back to your online connections and try again….
♥ Yesyesyesser. Yes people (in the dating world) are like panes of glass. You know they’re there but you can’t really see them that well. They reflect your light back at you but cast none of their own. Their heads nod. They agree with everything you say. They listen REALLY well, which is great, and sometimes, as if to prove how in tune with you they are, they try to finish your sentences for you—or with you—like the last five words, or even more, as if to say: “YES I’m so in tune with you that I already know what you are going to say.” Why is this a red flag? Yessers potentially lack substance or character and probably have low self-esteem. They are worried you won’t like them as they are, so they try to be you.
♥ Overtalker. Overtalkers are very different from yes people. Rather than having no opinions of their own, overtalkers are a know-it-alls and will not let you finish a sentence before interrupting, chiming in, adding on, or holding forth, often in a rather self-important way. The overtalker seeks to impress you with his or her status, knowledge, insight. Why is this a red flag? The overtalkers are often patronizing and may not respect you. The assumption is that you are there to learn, and if you’re not, well, you should be. Sometimes this is just a nervous habit, but one that does not bode well for true communication in the future.
♥ Oversharer. Welcome to the land of TMI. A common way that oversharers overshare is to fill you in on all the (inevitably gory) details of their divorce, which may in fact be ongoing. Or their health issues, or their horrid boss, or the really weird rash that appeared on their kid’s feet last week. Remember, this is a first date. Why is this a red flag? In addition to being uncomfortable and often embarrassing, first date oversharing indicates a lack of boundaries and simple common sense. Oversharers are typically pretty self-centered—they think that what is essentially a stranger they have just met is going to be riveted by the micro-details of the custody settlement/staff meeting from hell/topical ointment options.
♥ Grabby hands. You may think this is too obvious to go into, but wait. Grabby hands can sneak up on you. You’ve been talking for an hour already and suddenly your date starts talking about the profile picture of you in “those jeans” and the next thing you know his hand is on your… jeans, or whatever is covering your thigh, pretty high up there, and as he reminds you how hot that picture is he suddenly, wait, did he just cop a feel? Believe it or not these people can make it all seem so conversational and “normal” that you question yourself…. When the hand on your back becomes a downward stroke that never ends, or the amusing story about the minister taking off his collar is suddenly illustrated with—did she just pat your pecs? What? Why is this a red flag? I mean, isn’t it flattering to have a date who can’t wait to touch you? Yes, but this is another boundary issue—a very literal physical boundary is being “casually” and “completely unintentionally” breached. But not so unintentionally, after all. It’s is either 100% calculated or it’s this person’s everyday MO—either way it indicates a general lack of respect for boundaries. GONG.
♥ Rule-setter. When you get twenty minutes into your first date and realize you already have a list of rules you are expected to either adhere to or remember—it can be stressful. I’ve heard of a rule-setter who clarified how long before her date could expect a kiss, an invitation to dinner, and an overnight before the first cup of coffee was cool enough to drink. These folks may even tell you what they’ll tolerate or expect aka what the rules are relating to: weight gain, TV watching, snoring, flowering plants inside the house, pets, oral sex, well water, PDAs, cohabitation, you name it…on the first date. Why is this a red flag? Because it’s the first date. Boundary-setting is fine, but this person’s rigidity may reflect control issues, fear of the unknown, or both.
♥ Need-unlimited. First dates can be a little anxiety-producing and when we are nervous, it’s nice to be clued in that everything is going okay. (It helps if you can read body language.) But when someone seeks constant reassurance on a first date, it can be a little exhausting. If you hear, “I hope I’m dressed okay,” “Did you think I’d be taller?” or “Oh gosh I could never choose a wine… can you help me?” it may seem cute, or endearing, or honest, but it could also be a little desperate. When every third sentence is, “Do you agree?” or “Is that okay with you?” or “What do you think?” it may be a warning that you have met a needy soul. Why is this a red flag? If you are seeking a balanced relationship with an equal, be aware of early signs of neediness. It can be a black hole. Don’t get sucked in.
♥ Blob. The blob shows no initiative. This person will not actually resemble a blob, but will behave like one. You don’t converse with the blob, you interview, and may get only one-word answers. If anything is going to actually happen, you will have to suggest it, decide on it, make it happen, and then try to figure out what the blob thought about it. This person’s favorite phrases are “It’s fine” and “Whatever you think.” Why is this a red flag? Whenever you have to do all the heavy lifting, there’s not much hope for a relationship of equals. The blob does not have the self-esteem or confidence to offer an opinion or even a comment. There might be a lot going on inside that head, but you will never know.
There is a lot of nuance to consider when meeting someone new and (despite the slightly tongue-in-cheek list above) it’s not really easy to categorize or generalize. Just be alert to the subtle or not-so subtle indicators. Notice the warning signs telling you not to get caught up in a connection that won’t serve either of you. It is always kinder to say, “Nice to meet you and good luck in your search,” than to string things out and have to break it off after a few more dates. Smile kindly and move on.