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🚩Dating Red Flags On a First Date (Don’t Ignore These!)

By: Melissa Miller , June 28, 2024

As we know, one person’s trash may be another’s treasure, but when it comes to dating and meeting new people there are certain things that should be universally taken note of – the red flags. While these actions or behaviors should be treated like a little warning, there are specific first date red flags to look out for whether you’re meeting people online or IRL.

What are dating red flags in general?


Red flags have become such a popular social media term, we’ve even added green flags and beige flags as ways to categorize someone’s behaviors. The term red flag is used to describe behaviors that could be real potential deal breakers for dating or moving forward with someone. Although a first date may seem early to pull the plug on the connection, some things simply should not be ignored or overlooked for a variety of very valid reasons.

Toxic first date red flags you shouldn’t ignore


There are some first date red flags you should always be mindful of as you’re heading out for the first time with someone. 


1. They get really drunk quickly or show up to the date drunk. 

This is messy, and it seems like they either have a lack of control or are prioritizing drinking over getting to know you. You’re not a babysitter. Next!


2. They spend a lot of time venting and leave you feeling like a therapist. 

Not only is this one-sided (like a therapy session), but someone that just unloads all of their emotional baggage on someone they don’t know likely is an oversharer, can’t really read the room, and is missing some baseline unwritten rules around getting to know someone. It’s likely they’re searching for intimacy through spilling their guts, and it’s a little emotionally slutty.


3. They don’t ask you questions to get to know you. 

Another way to show the date is pretty one-sided is if they talk at you without asking any questions to get to know you or about your thoughts on whatever it is they’re monologuing about. A first date isn’t a speech or a podcast. A conversation engages both parties and includes curiosity about each other. 


4. They consistently talk negatively about multiple people.

When someone spends the majority of their date with you informing you about how they’ve been wronged by so many people and positioning themself as the better person in each circumstance – run. It’s likely they don’t self-reflect, take accountability or can acknowledge their role in their own life. 


5. They’re on their phone the entire time. 

Unless they indicate that they’re waiting on an important call or they have to be available for an emergency of some sort, it’s rude to be on your phone the entire time you’ve dedicated to getting to know or spending time with someone else. They aren’t present. 


6. They look drastically different from their dating bio photos.

If you connected on a dating app and they show up completely different from their photos, it’s a major red flag in dating. Not only is it a bit deceitful, but it also could be assumed that they are not comfortable with their appearance today as they chose not to show it. 


7. They talk about the exes a lot – either too positively or too negatively. 

There are plenty of reasons why this happens, but the bottom line is that they might be too hung up on them. If they just sing their praises and yearn for them, they may not have let them go yet. And, if they’re just trashing them, they might still be hung up on the breakup or relationship. Neither reflect well for the headspace they’re in right now. 


8. They’re rude to the server. 

Whether you’re grabbing coffee, at a bar or having dinner, if someone you go out with is rude to the staff, it’s a clear indicator of their approach to respect. They may be nice to you, but they’re also probably trying to get something from you or impress you. This is a telltale sign.

Beware these online dating red flags before meeting a match


Unfortunately (or fortunately), there’s an opportunity to gauge what you’re in for as soon as you match with someone. Online dating red flags are easy to spot and even easier to disconnect with. Here’s what to look out for. 


Love bombing behavior in the chat. 

Not for nothing, this person is essentially a stranger. Showing excessive attention, constant messaging, or compliments is love bombing, which is a manipulation tactic to get you attached to the attention. It’s normally unsustainable. 


They’re being extremely sexually forward without any consent. 

Again, you do not know this person. This is a common online dating red flag. Unless each of you indicates this in your bios or consent has been granted, being overtly sexual toward you says they’re probably like that with everyone on the app in an effort to see who it works for. 


They mix you up with another match. 

Sure, accidents happen. However, first impressions hold a lot of weight. Obviously, they’re on the apps to meet multiple people but the bare minimum includes keeping them straight. 


They ask you to meet in person too soon or with too much urgency. 

You matched 15 minutes ago and they’re asking if you’re free in an hour. It depends on what you’re looking for, but it seems this person is using the apps to meet their impulses. It’s important to do a little background check. 


They want to meet you at a place you aren’t comfortable with. 

It’s a big online dating red flag if they want to meet at their home or a remote location for the first time, but it’s even worse if you let them know you aren’t comfortable with something and they press it or make a big deal about your communicated discomfort. It’s dismissive of your comfort. 


They share everything they aren’t looking for to check if you are any of them. 

If you’re chatting with someone and they keep listing characteristics they aren’t into, it can come off negatively and a bit like a test. The only thing you can respond with is whether you are or aren’t those things, and you shouldn’t let anyone treat you like a laundry list of their desires. 


They lie in their bio. 

Whether it’s age, height, or something else, a lie is a lie, and it’s in their bio in an attempt to bring in matches that they think may not want whatever their reality is.

Texting red flags before first date


Before you even meet in person, there is an opportunity to gauge compatibility and discern whether you should meet this person at all. Red flags can also show up in texting behavior. These are some signs to look out for before meeting up. 


The conversations are extremely one-sided. 

This can show up in a few different ways. It may look like they only engage over text when they text you, and when you text them they’re unavailable or don’t answer. Or, it can look like them talking about themselves and their life a lot and not asking about yours or not engaging when you share anything. 


They disappear for days and pop back up without any explanation. 

This is also one-sided, but it’s when you text a lot for a couple of days and then they stop responding only to start up again after another couple of days with no acknowledgement. It’s typically giving mixed signals. 


They send unwelcome nudes or sexts before you’ve established that relationship. 

Sexting or sending nudes is technically sexual harassment as it’s defined by any unwanted sexual attention. Without consent, this is a clear overstep and lacks consideration and respect. 


They cancel plans last minute, multiple times. 

Someone that repeatedly cancels on you at the last minute not only exhibits poor time management, but they lack consideration. If they really wanted to see you, they wouldn’t disrespect your time like this. 


They criticize you. 

You barely know this person, so if they’re hurling insults – “jokes” or otherwise – it’s a big red flag in dating. It doesn’t lend for a safe space for you to be vulnerable and get to know each other if you’re being judged or scolded by someone that doesn’t know you. 


They overlook you or your boundaries.

As you get to know each other over text, it’s natural for things to come up that you are and aren’t ok with. Should you set a boundary and they make light of it or immediately cross it, it’s a red flag.

Are first date red flags always a dealbreaker?


Dating red flags aren’t always a dealbreaker. Sometimes they serve as warnings that prompt deeper conversations and understanding or reflections. While some red flags in dating like disrespect or dishonesty may be immediate deal breakers for many, others might be contextual or subjective. 


People grow and change, and sometimes what initially appears as dating red flags can be addressed through communication and understanding. Ultimately, it depends on the severity of the issue and the willingness of both people to communicate and meet the other person with curiosity. 


Since the connections are typically so new, it’s also imperative to not take these actions personally.

Avoid giving red flags on a first date

As much as a lot of red flags when dating should be taken seriously, sometimes we can misread something. That said, you may also be sending red flags without intending to. Consider these things in order to not be the red flag yourself. 


  • Confirm your date, time, and place to be considerate of their time and stay on top of your schedule. 

  • Listen actively to your date and be genuinely interested in their thoughts and feelings. Reflect that you heard them later in the conversation by finding a way to bring something up that they said. 

  • Avoid dominating the conversation or focusing solely on yourself even if you’re nervous. Remember you’re just trying to get to know someone and let them know you a little bit. No need to know everything or share everything during your first time meeting each other. 

  • Show respect by being punctual. 

  • Demonstrate empathy by being mindful of boundaries and sensitive topics.

  • Be authentic and transparent about your intentions and values without oversharing too much about your traumas and past.

Find green flag matches

Now that you’re up to speed on all the red flags when dating to look for that should make you pump the brakes, you can hit the gas towards some green flags. Use Instabang to cruise through potential dates and find whatever it is you’re looking for in a healthy, reciprocal match – serious, no strings attached or otherwise – as long as you’re both looking to be in the same lane.
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