So you just met this guy. He’s smart and charming, and he’s asked you out for that first date. After spending hours rummaging your closet for that perfect first date outfit to look your best, you’re ready to meet him for drinks downtown. But when you get there, he’s rude, trash-talking his ex-girlfriend, not to mention he can’t stop checking out the other girls at the bar. That’s when it hits you: the guy you’re out on a date with is a total creep and it’s time you left him at the bar where you found him.
I’m talking about red flags: those tell-tale signs that your date is taking a turn for the worse and that your “dream guy” is really a smooth-talking (or not smooth-talking) jerk. Sometimes, we girls like to turn a blind eye to the warning signs, especially if he’s pretty cute or charming or whatever. But if he’s waving one or more of these in the air, trust me when I say, he won’t be worth your Friday night. We’re presenting HC’s Ultimate Guide to Red Flags including the biggest red flags that every collegiette should steer clear of – or you’ll be sorry later.
Red Flag: He’s already hiding stuff from you.
It’s hard to imagine that on a first date a guy could already be hiding things from you, but if it ever comes up that he’s intentionally hiding things from you or even lying about people he’s already dated, Julie Spira, dating expert and founder of CyberDatingExpert.com says that can be a bad sign. “When a woman is dating a guy and he keeps getting text messages from other women, it's a huge red flag,” Spira says. “Sure, he might say she's just a pal from the classroom or an old friend from high school, if so let her send an email instead of interrupting your date.”
“I've had a couple of friends who were hooking up with guys who blocked them on Facebook,” says Cari, a student from Boston University. “Even after that, they still continued things with these guys. I couldn't believe it! It sounds so silly (because Facebook isn't real life), but you should never be with a guy who'd consciously hide something from you. Sketchy!”
Red Flag: Your “dates” consist solely of boozy late-night texts.
Do I even have to say this? I hate to break it to you, but you’re not his girlfriend. You’re a booty call at best. You’ll notice on that first date when he buys you a round of shots and he sticks to his one beer. At this point, he’s most likely looking for more than dinner and conversation. If you end up “back at his place” almost every date night, don't expect a commitment anytime soon.
“Often a guy you're dating is playing the field, which is fine,” Spira says. “However, if you're jumping into bed with him on a Friday night and he doesn't reappear until Monday morning, you should wonder what he was up to on Saturday night and Sunday. Unless you're looking for a friends-with-benefits relationship, avoid thinking he's your boyfriend.”
Red Flag: He can’t stop talking about his ex-girlfriend.
This is a classic red flag. You’re in the middle of a first date dinner and instead of chatting it up over classes, your aspirations, finals… he's talking non-stop about a past relationship. Whether he constantly recalls “how great” she was or “how b*tchy” she was, either way, he is still hung up on her (and therefore, not into you). If he’s talking trash about his ex that can be another red flag for another reason. It doesn't matter how much of a b*tch she was, he should have the class to speak respectfully about her and accept at least some responsibility for the break-up.
“Nothing can ruin a date faster than a conversation about an ex,” Spira says. “If he's not over her, don't sign up to be the transition girl. It's not fun being compared to someone who's still on his pedestal.” And if you think to yourself, “If we broke up, he wouldn’t do it to me…” trust us when we say this — he will. If he doesn’t have much respect for her, how can he have any respect for you? And if you can’t cope with the idea of him trash-talking you as his ex later down the line, ditch him now.
Red Flag: He’s a little too excited about you.
It’s one thing if he has a genuine interest in you, but then there’s just being downright needy. Maybe it’s not as dramatic as proposing to you on the third date, but getting attached too quickly is a big red flag as Kristen, a collegiette from McGill, learned the hard (and awkward) way:
“I went on a couple of dates with this guy once but ended up turning down his invite for a third. He didn't take it very well and ended up admitting he had already told people, including his parents, that I was his girlfriend. Overzealousness: a red flag!”
Spira says there’s a fine line between being into you and being too into you, but it can set the tone for a fast-ending relationship if you’re not moving at the same pace as he is. “All women want to find a guy who's crazy about her,” she says. “We love to hear from men, either by texting, emails, and even a quick phone call to say hello. However if he's overwhelming you with too much too fast, you should be concerned about it crashing just as fast.”
Red Flag: He’s all about himself.
I don’t care how fascinating his life story is. If he’s rambling on and on about himself and not asking questions about you, then that is a red flag. “No one wants to date a narcissist,” Spira says. “If he consistently wants to be the center of the universe, it's time to walk away and find someone who cares about what happened in your day.”
Think of it this way, if you’re on your very first date and he’s not asking about you and you go out on a second or third date, he’s going to think you’re okay with his all-about-me attitude. Most likely, you’re not. Hearing about each other’s lives is obviously an important part of getting to know each other. The key is that it’s a dialogue… not a monologue by him.
Red Flag: None of your friends likes him.
Your boyfriends and best friends won’t always get along, but sometimes friends know best and listening to your circle of BFFs can come in handy; especially if they’ve already heard a guy’s dating history. Abby, a student at JMU, learned this the hard way when she started dating a guy she met at a party:
“My one friend came up to me and told me this story about him from her friend that used to date him and how he was kind of a jerk. He went to another college and so did my friend's friend. I just figured her friend was weird and he wasn't that into her and blew it off - he seemed really into me! Of course I kept pursuing him and later found out he was only in it for the physical aspect, nothing else, and got upset. I should've listened to my friend! But sometimes it takes figuring things out for yourself to learn a lesson.”
So if a guy is throwing red flags in the air… how do you handle the situation?
Spira says it’s simply a matter of moving on, “If your guy is screaming ‘red flags,’ I suggest you take the high road and move on. There's nothing wrong with letting him know that you are looking for a different type of relationship or feel more comfortable dating someone that you have more in common with. There's no need to say you just want to be friends. No one really believes that line.”
Even if a guy turns out to be the worst date ever, don't be discouraged! Dating is a (sometimes annoyingly long) process of learning what personalities you click best with. The plus about meeting guy after guy you don’t like is that it inevitably narrows it down to the type of guys you do like. In the meantime, pay attention to the red flags, otherwise, you’re in for a rough road of heartbreak.