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15 Warning Signs of a Bad First Date & Red Flags in the First Few Dates

It can be hard to read between the lines and figure out the subtle signs of a bad first date, but it does not have to be if you read between the lines.

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.

First dates are always pretty hard to nail down. You may have had a good time, but did your date? Or maybe you were miserable and they can’t wait to see you again.

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 taking my experience into account, there are some signs of a bad first date we overlook at first. [Read: How to calm your first date jitters]

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.

By knowing the signs of a bad first date you may think you are going into it with a negative mindset, 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.

This does not mean you should go into every date looking for bad signs. All it means is that when those signs arise, you will know how to spot them. [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.

#1 They ask you 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. I get that no one wants their time wasted, but 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. This is another red flag. Someone that 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. I’ve been on a specifically horrific date like this with a guy who went on about how he is so not into material things. Then, he talked for nearly an hour about which cars he loved and what he was going to spend his inheritance on. Not cool. [Read: 22 early warning signs of a guy who’ll be a bad boyfriend]

#3 There is a lot of silence. 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 failed before it began.

#4 They are on their phone. I know it is hard to part with our phones. 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 her to be a little more sarcastic than you, but if your date tells offensive jokes or finds humor is something you take very seriously that is a sign of an impending bad date.

#6 There are no 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 One of you offends the other. 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 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.

#9 You’re uncomfortable. 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 The ex is on the brain. 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. There is a time and place to share what happened in your last relationship. A first date is not that time or place.

If you notice that your date’s ex keeps popping into the conversation, that is a sign of a bad first date. They are likely still hung up or feeling bitter. Either way, you do not want a part of that. [Read: 13 warning signs that’ll always reveal a bad date no matter what]

#12 They leave early. I recently went on a decent first date. We had a good conversation, and things went smoothly. So I thought. Nothing felt wrong, but it wasn’t great either. But, before the date, he told me he didn’t have work until six pm. And even though he said he wanted another date, he ended things at three pm saying he needed to head to work.

If the date was going well, he wouldn’t have cut it short. Even if it felt just fine and you cannot pinpoint what went wrong, when your date leaves early, there is a reason. [Read: Ghosted after a first date? 13 steps to quell the rage]

#13 Constant complaining. With the news lately, it makes sense that we have negative topics on the brain. But a first date is a time for fun. A bit of complaining about your job or traffic is fine, but if the date becomes a competition about whose life is worse, that is not good. You do not want to start a potential relationship based on negativity.

#14 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 I wouldn’t expect a good outcome. [Read: 14 signs you’re unintentionally ruining your first date]

#15 You left feeling so-so. As I mentioned earlier, one sign of a bad date is the date not being good. Nothing went wrong, there wasn’t a problem. It just wasn’t a date you left feeling excited about.

[Read: Don’t ignore these subtle red flags on the first date]

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...