10 Dating Red Flags You Should Never Ignore, Therapists Warn
You can pick up on them in the first 10 minutes of a date, experts say.
Putting yourself out there is tough. Not only do you have to find someone who's intriguing enough to go on a date with in the first place, but you then need to find a time and place, put together a confidence-inducing outfit, shuttle yourself to the venue, and prepare for small talk. And once you get past the awkward hellos, the real work begins. Now, it's time to get to know this person and assess if they're relationship material. Not sure what to look for? We've got you covered. Read on for the 10 biggest dating red flags you should never ignore, according to therapists.
They don't express any opinions.
If a person you just met agrees with everything you say, you may want to move forward with caution.
According to Tanisha Ranger, PsyD, CSAT, a licensed clinical psychologist, they could be doing this because they don't want to volunteer anything about themselves that might reveal an incompatibility between the two of you. They'll make it seem like you like the same things even if that's not the case.
A person who does this could also be trying to manipulate you into thinking they're the perfect partner. Or, it could be more harmless.
"The other concern is that they… truly don't have a lot of opinions and perhaps don't like making decisions," says Ranger. "And let me tell you, it can be incredibly exhausting to make all the decisions because the other person always says something along the lines of 'I don't care. Whatever you want to do.'"
They don't ask you any questions.
A good first date should have an even-sided conversation. So, if you notice you're the only one asking questions, you'll want to take note.
"It's important that both people on a date are not just listening to the other person talk in order to find something they can relate to and interject with, but to listen in order to truly get to know this person," says holistic therapist Megan Sherer. "Ideally you would want both people to be asking thoughtful follow-up questions to show their interest and engagement in what you've been sharing."
If your date isn't doing this, Sherer says it could just be a sign that they are nervous and in their head. However, it may also indicate a deeper inability to create true intimacy. "You deserve someone who is fascinated by your stories and eager to get to know what makes you you," she points out.
They ask too many questions.
On the flip side, asking too many questions is also a red flag.
"If you walk away from the date and feel like you talked about yourself a lot and you know hardly anything about them, it could be a sign that they are hiding something or are vetting you based on some internal criteria like your position in life, your wealth or friends group," says licensed marriage and family therapist Celeste Labadie.
Unfortunately, it's easy to walk away from these dates and feel they went extraordinarily well. "We all like to have someone show interest in us," notes Labadie. "But there's a tipping point on true interest and gathering information about you."
They interrupt you.
"Dates are all about clear communication and learning about one another. If it's a one-way street now, it's unlikely to get any better down the road," says Amber Brooks, relationship expert and editor-in-chief of DatingAdvice.com.
This is why, if your date talks over you or cuts you off mid-sentence, it could be a major red flag that they're not actually listening to you or that they believe what they have to say is more important.
They're pushy in any way.
Take note if your date attempts to push your boundaries.
"This might look like not taking the hint that you're not comfortable talking about certain topics, pushing the ordering of another drink, or being pushy around your boundaries on time, to name a few," says therapist Billie Roberts. "People tend to be on their best behavior when making a first impression, so sometimes suspicious behavior during a first encounter may just be the tip of the iceberg."
More intense boundary-pushing may lie ahead if you continue the relationship.
The date seems too good to be true.
Pump the breaks if you leave a first date and feel that you've just met your soulmate—or that the person you were with makes you feel special in a way no one has before. According to Julie Landry, PsyD, ABPP, founder of Halcyon Therapy Group, this could actually be a red flag.
"The problem is, it's too much too soon," explains Landry. "While this is typically an unconscious behavior, it's a manipulation tactic and often a sign of narcissism."
Love bombing could pave the way for an all-consuming relationship that includes elements of control, guilting, and codependency. "It's easy to fall into what feels like romance but is actually emotional abuse," says Landry.
If you think love bombing might be present in your partnership, consult a trusted family member, friend, or therapist to get their perspective.
They treat the waitstaff badly.
If you're grabbing dinner or drinks, it's key to pay attention to how your date interacts with the waitstaff. If they're rude, demanding, or dismissive, it's a big red flag.
"Your date may treat you as though you're 'the one,' but if they treat the server at your dinner date rudely, you're bound to be the one on the receiving end of that rudeness sooner than later," explains psychologist Craig Kain, PhD.
They speak about others poorly.
Similar to how they treat those around them, it's important to notice how your date speaks about other people.
"It may seem inconsequential to you how your date talks about others, yet, how someone talks about those that aren't present is a solid indicator of how they talk about you when you aren't around," explains Mark Verber, MS, LPC, owner of Epic Counseling Solutions.
Tone and context are important to note. It's normal to complain about a co-worker or a sibling in jest, but be aware if it seems to go too far. "The extent that it happens and the spirit with which it is said is important to pay attention to," says Verber.
They bring up an ex.
Once you get to know one another, it's perfectly acceptable to discuss relationship history and how it's affected your current views on dating. But if they start mentioning their exes on a first date it's a definite red flag.
"An ex should not be part of a new relationship," says Brooks. "It's inappropriate to continually bring exes up and make them seem relevant when they should be in the past."
An even bigger red flag is if they use words like "crazy" to describe their exes. "There's one common denominator here and it's your date," says Gabriela Reyes, LMFT, resident relationship expert for Match Group's Chispa.
They flake on you.
"If your date constantly does not show up, leaves you waiting, and does not follow through on their word, it's a major red flag," says Kiara Luna, LMHC, licensed mental health therapist at Knew You Psychotherapy.
This could mean that they're emotionally unavailable or are trying to keep you on the back burner. Moreover, breaking small promises at the beginning of a relationship can signal that they'll violate your trust even more in the long run.
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