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Image / Self / Relationships

The dating red flags to watch for on your first date and what to do


By Hannah Kingston
19th Nov 2021
The dating red flags to watch for on your first date and what to do

First dates are the best.

It’s as good as it’s ever going to get. You have not seen the myriad of flaws that exist within one another. You are a blank canvas. You are sitting down to tell the glossy version of who you are, and essentially, why the other person should continue to fancy you, now that you are breathing beside them as opposed to deliberating over the best emoji to go with an “are we still on for tonight?” text.

I have been on a normal amount (a lot) of dates in the last year. Some have been magic, others have been so grim that I have deleted “the app” on the way home. I have met with a variety of backgrounds, professions, hobbies and haircuts. I know my way around a red flag, though I generally like to ignore them. 

Note that in the interest of objectivity, the red flags have been polled among my loyal fanbase (Instagram followers who were bored on a Wednesday evening and were willing to spill the tea.) 

Without further ado, here are the top voted red flags, and what to do if you spot them. 

They’re stingy 

Stinginess is top of the pops of red flags and with good reason. If you have suggested that we do something that involves spending money, why are you now acting like it is a shock that we do in fact need to spend the money? It’s just awkward, you’re making everyone (me) very uncomfortable, I don’t know why I’m here. We have all been in situations where we find ourselves getting a fourth round in and not knowing why. A picnic would have been fine, a walk would have been fine. It feels a little like moonlight robbery when someone suggests going out for drinks but doesn’t want to pay for any of them. 

How to deal:

If you fancy the person, be upfront. Maybe there’s a good explanation. If the person seems like they are just here for free drinks, get your friend to give you a bell and then promptly leave. 

They’re rude to hospitality staff 

Being rude to hospitality staff came in at a close second of the leading red flags, in fact, according to my poll results – being rude to staff is much worse than giving off the impression that you are here for one, and one night only, baby! (Read: The person in question wants to have sex with you, make an excuse in the morning, and delete your number, though the jury is out on whether it was ever saved.) 

As someone who waited tables for the entirety of their university years, I felt this one in my bones. Someone once handed me a glass of vomit. Another person once threw a tan loafer at my head as I struggled with a tray of pints. It’s so easy to spot a first date when you’re waitressing, mainly because women tend to play with their hair incessantly and men have suspiciously good posture. I have been the waitress that someone has been rude to, and I have witnessed the life drain from their date’s eyes. It’s not a look. 

How to deal:

Simply call it out, and see what happens. 

They keep checking their phone 

We’re all obsessed with our phones, I get it, but there is nothing more disturbing than someone you have just met sending a text while you’re trying to impress them with what a good person you are. Even worse, someone picks up their phone, sends a text and then puts it face down on the table. What.is.happening.right.now? 

How to deal:

Text them: “Do you want me to go?”

They bring up their ex 

When is the right time to talk about your past relationships? It’s a chat that never really has to happen unless you and the date have turned into a “thing” and you’re deciding to play with fire and discuss exes and potentially even body counts. Do those conversations ever make anyone feel good? 

Here are things you do not want to hear on a first date: 

  • “They were actually crazy though, so happy that it’s over!” 
  • “I always used to come here with my ex, oh look, they’re actually over there.” 
  • “You look kind of like my ex actually!!” 
  • “I just always thought we would end up together. You never know.” 
  • “God, I miss them.” 

How to deal:

Tell them that you’re going to the loo while ordering an Uber and then sashay, away. 

They’re obsessed with their job 

Option A: Being obsessed with their job was a very close winner against B – being obsessed with their mother. Apparently, it’s ickier to be enveloped by your profession. I guess there’s a fine line between being ambitious, which in my opinion is hot, and being too intensely in love with your job. There is something a bit “ugh” about someone showcasing avoidant tendencies from the get-go. This person is setting the seeds for unavailability, and no one wants to be trumped by a PDF. 

How to deal:

Tell them to live, laugh, love, a little. 

They are a Donald Trump supporter 

I am not going to unpack this one. 

How to deal:

I wish I knew. 

They don’t ask you any questions 

According to my poll results, we have a significant number of people who have not been asked a single question about themselves during a first date. I am one of them. On one date, I realised that I had not spoken for almost five hours. My neck hurt from all the nodding. 

How to deal:

Don’t sit there nodding, for five hours. 

They arrive at the date drunk 

Most of us have wet the whistle before attending a date on occasion. It can be nerve-wracking. I get it. It’s not a good idea to arrive drunk though. Primarily, because you are going to meet a stranger on the internet, but also because you will have the worst fear of your life the next day when you remember slightly slurring your words, or not remembering anything that they said. 

How to deal:

If it’s absolutely necessary, have one drink beforehand. I REPEAT, ONE DRINK. 

They have a velcro wallet 

I am visualizing Coppers as I type. The match is on. The floor is sticky with vodka and raz. The air is filled with drunken promise, but mainly Lynx Africa. The dance floor is awash with county jerseys, bootcut jeans, tan loafers, but nothing, nothing compares to what sits in the pocket of those atrocious jeans. It’s a velcro wallet.

There’s just something so vulgar about the sound of velcro being slowly ripped apart, and according to my survey, it gives 88.7% of people the ick. 

How to deal:

If they’re great, buy them a new wallet and move on. 

Semi-finalists 

    • They’re an open misogynist 
    • They’re racist 
    • They’re homophobic 
    • They’re an anti-vaxxer 
    • They don’t believe in climate change 
    • They showcase pictures of themselves holding a fish on their profile 
    • They litter 
    • They have dirty or long fingernails (chipped nail polish also frowned upon) 
    • They have yellow teeth 
    • They take pride in drinking lots of alcohol 
    • They take pride in doing lots of drugs 
    • They like Rick & Morty 
    • They suggest the first date takes place in your home 
    • They suggest the first date takes place in their car 
    • They’re fussy eaters 
    • They don’t like Shrek 
    • They don’t like Harry Potter 
    • They hate animals 
    • They only text you after 10 pm or when they’re clearly drunk 
    • They keep talking about sex, making inappropriate jokes or staring at your chest
    • They talk over you 
    • They’re wearing dirty clothes
    • They keep going to the bathroom (niche but okay?) 
    • They seem like liars (love this one) 
    • Flip-flops

Concluding statements: People of the world. Please do not cancel me. I am merely acting as a voice piece for “the ick”. Your gut will tell you what red flags matter, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll ignore these red flags anyway. Maybe I’m the red flag? Let’s unpack at a later date.