You’ve Been Warned: Red Flags to Watch for on a First Date

[The following post was written by dating coach, Kira Sabin, a keg of dating and relationship wisdom. She’s been helping people find love for years so we thought we’d tap this keg and see what sort of brilliant advice she has for the CollegeCandy readers. Drink up, ladies.]

Have you ever met someone and wished you had a crystal ball to see into the future? Would there be a date?  Would he like your friends?   Would your parents like him?  Could a relationship form?  Does he have the potential to be “the one”?

“Love is blind” is a quote I believe in whole-heartedly, but in a little different way than most.  I find most people blindly look for love hoping to “bump” into the right person.  They look for the connection and attraction.  That’s all fine and good, but it’s not the stuff healthy relationships are made of.

It is great if you have chemistry and both of you like Lost, but if you aren’t aware of the all the other important stuff – core values, communication, deal breakers – you are probably going to wake up one day and realize you wasted your time.

I am not the dating fairy who can sprinkle magic dust and show you five, ten, or 15 years down the line.  But, by keeping your eyes open, you’d be surprised how much you can really learn about a person without spending the next six months wading around in a questionable relationship.

In fact, with a little know-how, you can learn a lot in the first 30 minutes.
Here are red flags you can watch for when you meet someone to realize if the have real dating potential.

Denny Downer Syndrome – He is a great guy but has been dealt a “bad hand.”  He works so hard at everything yet no one notices or appreciates him.  Life is always so tough.

I am getting depressed just writing this.  We all know at least a few of these people – the constant victims in their own life.  The people that never get a break.  Listen, we all have bad days and bad situations. But, the guy who is truly suffering from the “downer syndrome” is probably making choices that are keeping him unhappy.  Not only will his negativity rub off on you, it is exhausting spending all of YOUR time listening to his problems and telling him it will get better soon.  My guess is if he can’t figure out how to solve these problems, he isn’t going to offer much to a healthy relationship (much less to you, when you have an occasional bad day).

The Overachievers – He loves his life. When he isn’t studying like it is a full-time job, he is working just as hard at his part-time job or part-time business.  He also volunteers with kids in between hanging out with the guys.  It takes him two weeks just to schedule a date.

Many women who are excited about his motivation and full, exciting life miss this red flag.  There is a point that you will need to wave your arms and say, “Excuse me, but where would I fit in?”

It is great that he has so many wonderful things in his life, but with a schedule like that he has unconsciously decided not to make relationships one of them.  Healthy relationships are for real people who have balance in their life.  It is very important that your man has a life, friends, goals and passions. But, if this person doesn’t have time for dating, he isn’t going to have time for you and a real relationship.

Anger Management Needed – This is a classic red flag ignored time and time again.  I have heard women make all the excuses.  He just has a lot of passion or he is particular about the way he likes things.  Make all the excuses you want, but if he is yelling at the bartender that his drink isn’t strong enough, or is rude to coffee shop employees, you can safely peek into what the future might be like.

We have all seen the poor girl who spends half of her existence apologizing for her boyfriend’s rude behavior and unless you want to be that person, run – don’t walk – in the other direction.

Ex Trash Talker – She was absolutely crazy.  She was super clingy.  I had no idea she would back her car into my truck 26 times.  Ok, I am giving him the benefit of the doubt that it might even be true, but if he chose to date her for three years – heck, even six months – that was pretty much his choice.  In fact, if his ex was so bad, why did he even start dating her?  As my Grandma always said, it takes two to tango. If he let that person into his life and then stuck around for it, something just ain’t right.

Mr. One-Upper – You volunteer locally.  He did a month long relief effort.  You like R &B.  He is personal friends with Usher. It is great that he has travelled the world, had incredible experiences, and seems well connected. Unfortunately in Mr. One Upper’s eyes, your accomplishments will never be quite as good as his, your dreams not as big and your life not as important. He is never going to let you shine in the relationship and everybody needs to shine.

These are some pretty good rules to follow but, more importantly, if you notice that you keep getting that feeling of disappointment or find yourself feeling a little uncomfortable about some of the things your date is saying, listen to it.  That is your body being your very own dating coach – for free.

Now that you know all about Mr. Wrong, let Kira guide you to Mr. Right. Post your questions for Kira below and she’ll share her expert advice with you next week. And if all else fails, stick around for our Dating Makeover coming this fall.



  1. Rain says:

    What do you think of a guy who insists on paying for your meal/ticket/etc. even after saying you want to pay for it yourself? Is he a gentleman or not respecting your wishes?

  2. Linda says:

    @ Rain I would say he's just raised to be a gentleman, and is very traditional.

    However, if it really bothers you that much… sit him down and have a convo about it.

  3. Catherine says:

    Thanks for this list – I'll be on the look out!

  4. Joe says:

    Seems sort of hit or miss to me. The Downer and Anger Management ones are spot on, but I'm not quite sure about your assessment of the "Overachiever" or the "One Upper."

    I have to think that the person you describe as an Over-achiever is the kind of guy that does have his life together, and recognizes his priorities. There's nothing to guarantee he can't make time for you (Since time management is obviously one of his skills), but I'm sure you're right that in some cases they won't.

    And I've got to think that the "One Upper" is just a guy that's trying to impress you on the first date. Misguided? Yeah, but most guys suck at these things.

  5. Han says:

    Anger Management Needed – Yeah i'm always on the look out for those Spencer Pratts. You gotta make sure you pay close attention to how he acts around other people (mainly lashing out with anger) and then how he acts around you. If he is the sweetest guy ever to you that means nothing in the long run to the type of guy he is. Just the typical Spencer.

    I think over-achievers are hot. Even if they are busy, its hard to find guys with THAT much motivation.

  6. Kari- Florida State says:

    Great list! I literally LOL-ed at the Usher line for the One Upper. Reminds me of Penelope from SNL!

  7. Julie says:

    Overachiever victim over here. He was super studious, interned and volunteered while taking classes, was very involved in various extracurricular activities & school organizations, and acted as a research assistant for a professor on campus. Why was I blind-sighted when it didn't go anywhere? His schedule was jam-packed before I even had a chance!

  8. Megan says:

    Ex trash talker would be the subject of my problems, I met this guy, nice, lax player, easy to talk to. And I've dated him for 6 months now and I moved in with him, that was 2 months ago. Sadly now I'm really bored of him and I realize we dont have the same core values, and I'm stuck living with him until my lease is up in may. idn what to do, I really want to tell him I don't love him anymore but I also don't want to move..thoughts?

  9. […] * First dates are harder to analyze than advanced Sudoku. This could help. […]

  10. Lisa says:

    LOL – These are actually true. THE MR. ONE UPPER.. I dated this guy thought he was AWESOME.. but in reality He was so into himself! wouldn't stop talking about his great new pair of shoes.. UHM HELLLOO?! what about my new shoes !? Worst mistake of my life was dating him more than one date.

  11. Laura says:

    Theres this guy i know that likes me and he has lets say a dirty mouth. Idk if im just more conservative but if you just met a person would you say things like ohh "Ti-ts" or "vagina therapy" things like that on a first meet? i feel a little uncomfortable…is this normal?

  12. […] the fact that talking to your martini would provide more interesting conversation or that he hasn’t asked you about yourself once. Those are important things in determining your feelings, and your feelings for him should most […]

  13. […] if you do everything “perfectly” on your part – make yourself more approachable, ask all the right questions, reach out of your comfort zone – you still may get hurt. When it comes to love and […]

  14. […]  Even if you do everything “perfectly” on your part – make yourself more approachable, ask all the right questions, reach out of your comfort zone – you still may get hurt. When it comes to love and […]

  15. Anna says:

    Hi Kira, first-time reader…I started seeing a guy, very sweet, nice to everybody, great with kids and animals, doesn’t drink or do drugs, great in bed, etc. Unfortunately, he does seem a little full of himself– tells a LOT of “war stories” about his days as a teenage punk, even though he’s reformed now and doing much better for himself. Also, brags about his high IQ and is the expert at everything, though he does tell everybody– and not just when I’m there– that I’m smarter than he is. Friends adore him, parents are worried about him. Basically, I’m getting very mixed signals. What should I do?

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