The Red Flags to Look Out for When You First Start Dating Someone
By Callie Beusman
Everyone wants to be open-minded when they first start dating or talking to someone, especially if it feels like a good match. But it’s still important to look out for red flags and to know what behavior is unacceptable to you, so that you can build a healthy and respectful relationship. Here are some of the most common dating red flags to keep in mind:
Too much intensity way too quickly
If someone begins revealing intense, emotional truths about themselves before you’ve even started to form an emotional rapport — or asking prying or overly intimate questions of you — that’s a sign that something is off. It’s good to get to know someone on a deeper level, of course, but if someone steers the conversation there while you’re still in the early phases of talking on Bumble or a few minutes into a first date, that should give you pause. “You’re basically strangers, and they’re going too fast, too soon, too deep,” says psychiatrist Dr. Maria Sirota. This sort of behavior indicates that the person may not have much regard for boundaries, or they may not understand (or care) that building trust, intimacy, and an authentic connection is a process that requires an investment of time and care.
It’s the same with sweeping emotional declarations: Too much too soon is a warning sign. This is sometimes called “love bombing,” says psychologist Dr. Mari Kovanen. Love bombing occurs when someone showers you with affection to the point that it becomes overwhelming. If a person starts doing this either during the date or soon after meeting, without really knowing you, Dr. Kovanen says that can be an indication that they’re not being genuine, and may even be manipulating you.
Being cold, evasive, or standoffish when asked about themselves
The opposite could warrant caution, too: If someone shares next to nothing about themselves and is totally unwilling to get into deeper topics or their past, this could be an indication that they have something to hide, says Dr. Kovanen. Try to ask questions and be friendly; if you’re not getting anywhere, don’t put pressure on yourself to make the conversation work.
They talk over you, or don’t seem interested in what you have to say
If you’re in the process of getting to know someone, and they consistently cut you off, talk over you, or seem uninterested in your answers to their questions, it could show that they’re self-absorbed or just don’t want to get to know you in a genuine way. They may be going into the date “with an agenda,” as Dr. Sirota puts it. “They want sex, they want a partner, they’re lonely,” she says. “They want something, but it has nothing to do with establishing and maintaining a real relationship.” Plus, if someone is behaving in a way that feels self-centered and closed off right away, it’s unlikely they’ll change.
If they treat others poorly, or talk about others in a way that makes you uncomfortable
How someone treats and talks about others is a good indication of what their true personality is like. Any kind of communication that is offensive to you—or in general—is an immediate red flag, Dr. Kovanen says. If they make an insensitive joke, behave rudely towards a waiter, or keep disparaging their ex, they’re probably not worth your time.
Trust your gut, and don’t be afraid to end a conversation or a date
What constitutes a red flag will differ from person to person, but you’ll probably know it when you see it, or at least get a weird feeling. If something starts to feel off, pay close attention, says therapist Rossana Snee. “Move very slowly to figure out if it’s a one-time offense or a pattern,” she says. “Sometimes it’s hard to catch the red flags because the person can have a very charming side.”
Also, something that’s not a red flag for someone else might be one for you, and it’s still totally valid. How you react may change depending on how serious the red flag is. Maybe you feel comfortable making it to the end of the date, or if it’s a more serious red flag, Snee suggests saying: “You know, I’m not feeling too well. I’d like to call it a night.” Then, make your exit. Above all, remember that your boundaries are important, and you have the right to walk away from anything that makes you uncomfortable or upset.
For more resources and information on what makes a healthy relationship, visit loveisrespect.org. You can also call the love is respect hotline 24/7 at 866-331-9474, text LOVEIS to 22522, or visit the website and click ‘Chat Now’ at any time.