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Warning Signs of a Bad First Date & Red Flags to Look For

Spotting the signs of a bad first date can be hard when you’re so invested in it. However, understanding the first date red flags helps you avoid disaster. 

signs of a bad first date

We overthink and overanalyze so much when it comes to a first date, but it is easier than you might think to see the signs of a bad first date. Picking up on those signs gives you time to turn the whole thing around – if you want to, that is.

The first date is usually when we’re all on our best behavior, but some traits can’t be ignored. If you spot any first date red flags, such as major rudeness or a lack of effort, you might want to run for the hills! Being aware of these red flags stops you wasting your time. [Read: 15 things to do on a first date to make your date fall for you]

Why you need to know the signs of a bad first date

You might think that you would immediately know if a first date is bad or not. And when it is horrible, you probably will. But there are some signs of a bad first date we overlook at first.

Being able to spot the signs of a bad first date right off the bat is important. You do not want to waste your time or theirs. You also don’t want to miss red flags that could cause serious problems down the line.

It’s also very likely that you’re so nervous and focused on what you say or do, that you’re totally missing out on the negative things they may say or do.

By knowing the signs of a bad first date you may think you are going into it with a negative mindset, but you are simply being realistic. First dates will not always be good, they will not always be bad. So, it is important to be able to see the less obvious signs of a bad first date. [Read: 18 things you have to avoid doing on a first date]

The signs of a bad first date

Now that you see why knowing the signs of a bad first date are important, you need to know what they are. These can be subtle or more blatant.

Keep these in the back of your mind to ensure you make the right choice when it comes to a second date. [Read: How to calm your first date jitters]

1. They ask too many questions

Having a first date with someone interested in you will result in questions. How else do you get to know someone new? But, if those questions spill out like they are interviewing you for a job rather than a back and forth conversation, that is not good.

Either they do not want to talk about themselves or they are very picky and want to ask you every single dealbreaker right off the bat. While no one wants their time wasted, you can at least try to have a good time, even if you’re not soulmates. [Read: 20 ways to perfect your first date conversation]

2. They don’t ask you any questions

Someone who asks you zero questions about yourself, especially on a first date either has a serious lack of interest in you or a huge interest in themselves. People who never ask you anything on a first date usually spend the entire time humble-bragging.

They talk about their car, job, or their time in Cancun last summer. Put simply, it’s one of the signs of a bad date because they’re not really that interested in you at all. [Read: 22 early warning signs of a guy who’ll be a bad boyfriend]

3. Many silences

It is normal for a good first date to have a couple of awkward silences. You’re nervous, it happens. But if there is more silence than chatting, something is off.

Even if you aren’t a perfect match you can usually get along and talk for an hour or so.

When your mind just goes blank on a first date and neither of you is putting in the effort to try to get to know each other, it has failed before it had chance to begin. [Read: 8 easy ways to avoid awkward silences during a date]

4. They seem more interested in their phone

If either you or your date can’t look away from a screen for an hour, that is not a good sign. If you feel the need to reach for your phone throughout the night, not because you’re a doctor on call, but because you are bored, it is a bad first date.

And unless they have a child they are worried about, or are expecting a call from the Queen, neither of you should be giving your phones any attention.

5. You don’t like their jokes

Even on the best date, you may not laugh out loud at every joke. If your date’s sense of humor does not align with yours on night one, things will not change.

It is one thing for them to be a little more sarcastic than you, but if your date tells offensive jokes or finds humor in something you take very seriously, that is a sign of an impending bad date. [Read: 15 types of humor and how it affects relationships]

6. You take offense at their lack of manners

Once you have been dating for a while, manners can go out the window. You burp in front of each other and don’t say thank you when they hold the door. On a first date, you should both be on your best behavior.

If your date lets the door close on you, is rude to the waiter, or wipes their nose on their sleeve, you will surely have a bad taste in your mouth. If someone’s manners aren’t on the up and up on the first date, just imagine how much worse it gets. [Read: 12 important dating rules all classy men and women follow]

7. You keep misunderstanding one another

Misunderstandings happen when you get to know someone. Someone may interpret something in a way it was not intended or someone misspoke due to nerves. But if your date says something that goes against your beliefs, religion, or race or anyone else’s, it was a bad date.

Even if this person checks all of your boxes, this sort of thing should not be overlooked just because they have other great characteristics.

8. It’s clear you want different things

It is unlikely that before a first date you spoke about your intentions. Are you looking for a relationship? Something casual? A hookup?

Even if the date essentially went well, if you both want different things in the long run, even the best date will not change your minds. [Read: What does being compatible mean in a relationship?]

9. You feel uncomfortable in their company

We all get nerves on a first date. That is normal. But, there is a difference between nerves and actually being uncomfortable.

Whether your date said something weird, implied something you didn’t like, or even just gives you an off vibe, bad date signal.

Even if you cannot put your uneasiness into words, you have the right to say it was a bad date just because you felt weird. [Read: How to tell if there’s no chemistry and if you should stop trying]

10. Your mind is drifting

A good first date requires attention and focus. If you find yourself thinking about work, what you’re going to do when you get home, or really anything off topic, the date cannot be going that well.

A bad date can simply mean you were not into it.

11. Your ex is on your mind

Exes. This is such a taboo topic for first dates. And even the slightest mention of an ex can take a first date from good to showing signs of a bad first date.

Mentioning that your last relationship was so many months ago and briefly sharing what you learned from it is totally fine. The point where talking about exes goes awry is when it becomes a complaining session, a therapy session, or the focus of the conversation. [Read: 13 warning signs that’ll always reveal a bad date no matter what]

12. They leave early

Sometimes things crop up out of the blue and it cannot be helped. However, the likelihood of this happening on your first date are low. If they suddenly decide they’ve got to go, it’s probably because they weren’t feeling the date.

This is one of the signs of a bad first date because they should be enthralled by your company, not desperately looking for an excuse to run. [Read: Ghosted after a first date? 13 steps to quell the rage]

13. There was too much alcohol involved

If you drink, having a drink on a first date can calm any jitters. But, once that drink becomes four, five, or six, things turn ugly for everyone involved. Whether it was you, your date, or both of you who drank too much that was a bad first date.

It doesn’t mean you can’t have a do-over, but we wouldn’t expect a good outcome. [Read: 14 signs you’re unintentionally ruining your first date]

14. Zero chemistry

You’re at a romantic restaurant, the lights are dim and the music is sensual but there’s no chemistry between you and your date. Like zero chemistry.

If you’re not feeling any attraction towards this person, there’s no point for a second date. [Read: How to tell if there’s no chemistry and if you should stop trying]

15. You can’t wait for the date to end

If you really liked this person, you wouldn’t be thinking about what you’re going to cook for dinner or how you’re going to divide the bill. If you’re not enjoying yourself, then why are you on this date? This is a good moment to ask yourself why you’re feeling these emotions. 

If you’re looking at the clock all the time and trying to survive the date rather than enjoy it, that’s one of the big first date red flags.

16. It’s all about getting laid

We all know dating means finding someone you’re sexually and emotionally attracted to. But the entire date shouldn’t have an underlying tone of getting laid at the end of it. It’s a date.

If your date wanted to get laid, then they shouldn’t have asked you out and vice versa. [Read: 17 sordid signs you’re just a hookup and nothing more]

17. They’re dating other people and you’re not happy about it

If your date tells you they’re seeing other people, you may be fine with it, but you might also feel awkward. We get that it’s the first date, but no one wants to know they’re just another person.

If they’re telling you about other people they’re seeing, it’s quite likely they’re not looking for something serious. If you are, it’s one of the signs of a bad first date.  

18. You have nothing in common

You should have things in common. Of course, you don’t need to have everything in common, but if they don’t like anything you like, what are you going to talk about?

Don’t waste your time with someone that doesn’t make you feel good when you are in their company. [Read: 14 signs you’re unintentionally ruining your first date]

19. They’re pushy

They’re too touchy like they’re trying to get a full-on makeout session at Starbucks, and you’re not having it. Listen, the first date should have no physical contact unless you are both hungry for each other.

If they’re too touchy and you’re not comfortable, leave. [Read: How long should a first date last? Your guide to timing it right]

20. They’re easily distracted

Nervousness can make you a little jittery, but if they seem to be enthralled by everything but your conversation, that’s not a great sign, is it?

If they can’t give you the basic respect to pay attention to you, the rest of any future relationship is going to feature more of the same.

21. The conversation was dull

If you find your mind wandering the entire time and nodding along because you have no idea what they’re talking about or it’s just not interesting, chalk it down to experience and forget them. Life is far too short for dull conversation. [Read: How to be more interesting – 21 tricks to go from boring to lovable]

22. The vibe was insincere

If your date appears insincere it’s quite possibly because they’re going on regular dates and they’re not serious about any of it. It could also be that they’re totally about themselves and any attention they try to show you just isn’t real.

A second date with an insincere person isn’t going to change who they are. It was just a bad date.

23. They don’t mention another date

While you might not sit down and make plans for the second date, if neither of you even mention it, that’s probably because it’s not going to happen.

Even in brief passing, one of you should say something like, “oh, that sounds great, we should go sometime!” You don’t even have to mean it, but if there is no mention, that’s a telling sign. [Read: How to ask for a second date and not fumble or appear too eager]

24. You immediately get into an argument

Now, this is nothing to do with nerves and everything to do with just not getting along. It’s not only one of the signs of a bad date, but a sign that the two of you just aren’t meant to be!

If you can’t be nice and agree on your first date, can you imagine what the rest of the time is going to be like?

25. You can’t remember your date’s name

Oh come on, surely you know that it’s a bad date when you can’t even remember their name! [Read: How to tell a guy you don’t like him]

26. You feel happy when the date is over

There is a difference between feeling relieved that it went well and feeling happy to get out of there. The latter is one of the huge first date red flags and means that you probably shouldn’t even attempt a second.

27. You go a whole day without a follow up

Either you don’t feel inclined to text them, or they don’t bother to text you. Either way, it’s definitely one of the signs of a bad first date. If you vibed and enjoyed the date, you’d be happy to talk and say how much fun you had.

Radio silence simply says that you’re both glad it’s over. [Read: 15 of the most memorable things to do on a first date]

What are first date red flags?

We’ve talked about the main signs of a bad first date, but what is the difference between those signs and general first date red flags?

These red flags are more about the personality and traits of your date, as well as the things they do. If you see any of these first date red flags, consider yourself to have had a lucky escape and don’t plan date number two!

1. They turn up late and don’t apologize

Sure, everyone is late on occasion. Maybe they got stuck in traffic. But nowadays there is no excuse for not sending a quick text explaining.

If someone is late and acts like it doesn’t matter and don’t explain or apologize, they probably don’t appreciate your time or presence. For a first date when most people are on their best behavior, this is a major red flag. [Read: The 15 types of toxic daters you have to keep an eye on!]

2. They’re overwhelming and seem too into you

We have all been nervous with someone right off the bat, but being too eager too soon is a major first date red flag. Not only is it insincere to like someone that you barely know, but it can also be a form of manipulation, called love-bombing. 

If your date falls all over you with compliments and makes romantic plans for the future, slow things down or end them right there. [Read: What is love bombing and ways to spot the manipulation instantly]

3. They’re obviously problematic

If your date makes a racial slur, says they don’t believe in feminism, or even makes a sexist joke, it is a bad sign. These are views they hold deep within them and they’re not going to change just because you don’t like it.

Simply wave goodbye to this problematic person and find someone with more decency.

4. They’re rude to waiters

If your date is rude to the waiter, valet, or even to you, that is not a good sign. We’re not saying they need to lay down the red carpet for you and be the most polite person in the world, but they should be respectful to those around them. 

Saying please and thank you to the waiter is not too much to ask. If they can’t even mutter up basic manners now, don’t expect them to get any better from here on out. [Read: 13 warnings signs to look out for after the first date]

5. They seem very obsessed with their ex

If your date complains about their ex, it’s not a good sign. It shows that they may not be over them and that they are bitter.

If your date mentions how their ex cheated on them briefly, it is fine. But, when they go on about how crazy their ex is, it is a major first date red flag telling you that they are probably the crazy one.

6. They’re closed-minded

Everyone disagrees. You may not want to date someone with opposing beliefs, but if you only slightly disagree about something you should both be open to hearing the other out. If they cannot handle your stance on something: major first date red flag.

For instance, if you are Catholic and your date is an Atheist that shouldn’t matter. You can respect one another beliefs, but if they attack your religion just because they don’t agree, that is not healthy at all. [Read: 22 early warning signs of a person who’ll be a bad partner!]

7. They outright admit to cheating and ghosting

Sure, openness and honesty are what we all want. However, it is rare someone admits to ghosting and genuinely feels bad about it. If someone on a first date tells you they have cheated or ghosted, they straight up tell you what sort of person they are.

Unless they say they did these things in high school or college and are a changed person, take what they say as the truth and run. 

8. They’re too neutral/have no opinions on anything

Someone with no opinions is not too easygoing. It says they just don’t care. If you ask your date how they feel about what’s going on at the border or what they think about this country’s healthcare and they just brush it off as something that doesn’t affect them, it is a major red flag.

It tells you they don’t seem to care about what’s going on around them or to anyone else. Think about if that is someone you want to share your time with. If they don’t care about the bigger picture, will they care when you’re struggling? [Read: How to not be annoying and be everyone’s best friend]

9. They disrespect your needs

Before any first date, it’s a good idea to lay ground rules. For instance, maybe you don’t allow anyone to pick you up and you always meet them out. Or, you always like to meet someplace semi-busy and in public. These are just minor safety precautions anyone should take. 

But, if your date shuts that down and doesn’t understand why you would be wary, they are not someone you want to date or even meet. 

10. They say “I’m not like other guys/girls”

This is the kiss of death in terms of dating. Anyone that says this tends to have a precedent, e.g. they are most likely exactly what they claim not to be. [Read: What makes someone a player?]

11. They’re weird about the bill

The bill is always an awkward part of a first date. Neither person has to pay, but there shouldn’t be any arguing.

If they reach for the check and you offer to split it and they politely decline, wonderful. If they accept, wonderful. But, if they brutally insist on paying or insist you pay, something weird is happening.

12. They’re judgmental and over-critical of people

This can show up in many forms on a first date. It is unacceptable. If your date mocks someone in the restaurant that is overweight, it is not only a first date red flag but a reason to get up and leave.

Not only is it rude, but come on, it’s surely a sign of a person you really don’t want to spend a lot of time with? [Read: Is your date a toxic person? These signs will show you the truth]

13. They don’t care about their appearance

When you’re out on a date, you would, of course, want to look presentable. You’d wear something clean and appealing like a crisp shirt or a cute dress. But if you start to notice that your date doesn’t put the least bit of effort into their appearance, then that’s a huge red flag.

It’s not just the clothes that you have to watch out for. You should also be on the lookout for clues about your date’s hygiene.

Dirty nails, gunk between the teeth and consistently greasy hair are just some of the telling signs. Horrible body odor is another reason to run the other way. [Read: How to be more attractive – 31 ways to play up your best features]

14. Arrogance

There are just some people who can’t help but brag about their accomplishments. They can talk about how much money they make or how many awards they’ve received or how heavy their weights are at the gym.

Sometimes, these things can feel like genuine pride in what they’re good at, which is perfectly fine.

But if you notice that your conversations always seem to revolve around what they’re good at, then you should watch out, lest you be blown away with all the hot air your date is spewing! [Read: Confident or cocky? 16 subtle signs that split an arrogant and modest man]

15. Low self-esteem

This is the opposite of the above red flag, but it can be equally annoying. There are some people who always seem to talk about themselves in a way that makes you feel sorry for them.

Signs of low self-esteem are frequently downplaying their achievements, always making you feel sorry for them or always acting like the victim of everything.

Watch out for these types as you may end up being exhausted in trying to make them feel better about themselves all the time. [Read: 12 things to look for in a guy before you date him]

16. Always needing help

This can often be mistaken for low self-esteem, but the difference is that your date is looking to you to get them out of a rut. Warning signs include asking you for help with the smallest things, asking you for money or asking you to take them out of a bad situation.

At first, it may feel good to be helpful, but you may soon notice that it’s not you that your date is into, it’s what you can do for them. [Read: 11 signs to know if you’re being used for sex or money]

17. Over-sharing

Some people feel the need to share the most intimate details of their lives with you to feel like they’re making a connection. Sharing too much too soon, however, is not healthy dating behavior.

There are some things you’ll definitely want to save for future conversations or for the time when you feel completely at ease with the person you’re dating.

18. Audience seeking

Have you ever been out on a date where you can’t seem to get a word in whenever your date starts talking? Audience seekers are people who always want to find an audience to tell about whatever’s going on in their lives. They couldn’t care less about your life because it’s all “me, me, me!”

These people just love hearing the sound of their own voice! [Read: 16 attention whore signs to watch out for on a date]

19. Their life appears far too interesting to be real

Take note, there are a couple of people out there who live genuinely interesting and thrilling lives. But if you’re out on a date with someone who’s “in between jobs” and can hardly afford rent, what are the odds that this same person goes for wellness and spa vacations to Europe every three months or rubs elbows with Hollywood stars?

Either you’re on a date with someone who’s a pathological liar that’s trying hard to make their life seem more interesting, or you’re dating someone who’s downright delusional!

Our advice? Quit while you’re ahead. [Read: The biggest signs of a pathological liar and how to easily spot one]

20. They’re clingy from the start

It feels good to know that someone is really into you, especially if you’re also into them as well. But when they start to put a fence around you to make sure you’re theirs and theirs alone, then this can be a clear sign of clinginess.

Other wanting signs include incessantly texting you, being inappropriately jealous or picking mock fights so you’ll give them attention. [Read: The 15 types of toxic daters you have to keep an eye on!]

21. “I technically haven’t broken up with my partner yet”

Note the use of the word “technically.” How much more technical can a breakup get? Either they’re still together or they aren’t.

If you hear this uttered during any of your dates, take it a sign that your date isn’t ready to break up with their significant other, but they still want to give it a shot with you.

22. They have no direction in life

It’s fine for someone to be stuck in a bit of a rut and be exploring their options. However, it’s not fine for someone to have no interest in finding direction and simply allowing life to push them along.

It’s not attractive, it’s not interesting, and it’s one of the first date red flags, for sure. [Read: What am I doing with my life? 23 ways to start living without worry]

23. They’re negative and complain about everything

If every single thing they say is negative and all they can do is complain, it’s going to drag you down in a very short amount of time. By halfway through the date, you’ll probably start wondering if it’s acceptable to make your excuses and leave.

Do it. This date is going nowhere.

24. Something about them makes you feel unsafe

The first hint of this, you should get up and leave. No questions asked.

Your safety is more important than anything and you should always trust your gut. [Read: Should you trust your gut? How to choose to listen or ignore it]

Is a bad date always a lost cause?

Not necessarily. Remember, nerves play a huge part in causing a person to sometimes act a little out of character. But you’ll be able to get a vibe as to whether this is the real them or not.

If you’re on the fence about the date, give it a second go and see if anything changes. If not, put it down to experience and realize that this person simply isn’t for you.

[Read: 12 things about love you’ll only learn from experience]

The signs of a bad first date can range from horrific and disastrous to mediocre and dull. Although most bad first dates end in a hug and ghosting, a bad first date can be redeemed with a bit of conversation.

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Samantha Ann
My name is Samantha Ann. I am 28 years old. It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding...