in: Dating & Relationships

Red Flags or First Date Nerves? Here’s How to Tell

First date nerves can get the best of anyone, but there are genuine red flags we’d be better off noticing. Here’s how to differentiate between the two.

It was the year 2010 when I first started using online dating. Fresh out of a relationship, I was ready to explore dating other men and kept an open mind because I wanted to find love before I turned 35. I was a dating optimist not yet jaded.

I was new to dating and didn’t quite know who would be a good match for me, so I went out with a long list of men to figure it out. Looking back, my lack of dating confidence prompted me to continue dating men I had a feeling were not right for me. I ignored the red flags that were right in front of me, thinking it was just my nerves. But after trial and error with endless dates, below were the red flags that indicated to me that they were not just first date nerves and that this person will not work out in the long run.

They were self-centered.

I met him on OkCupid and we chatted online. He was smart, witty, and had a sense of humor. On our first date at an Afghan restaurant, he talked about his impressive position and responsibilities at Google, the projects he was working on, and his strategies playing World of Warcraft ….nonstop for 2.5 hours straight!

Granted, I did ask him questions to get the conversation going, but I could not get a word in when he started talking about himself. I got talked over and interrupted when I tried. After a handful of attempts to steer the conversation to myself, I gave up. I have never been so exhausted afterwards on a date that I hardly said anything on. Never again.

He followed up the next day, but never got a second date.

I get it. People are nervous on the first date and they tend to ramble to try to impress you, but ramble on the entire date and dates thereafter?! There is a term for someone who is doing all the talking, the bragging, and fluffing up of their feathers. It’s called a narcissist.

Instead of getting to know you because that is what dating is all about they instead you use as a sound board to impress upon you their accomplishments as a one person show. They don’t take an interest in your interests or ask questions about you. Instead, they want a stage to brag about themselves.

You can give it to them. Just don’t give them another date.

They were focused on the negative.

This is one red flag I was most sensitive to when I dated new people.

There is so much dating advice out there that tells you to be yourself, be authentic, and if your date cannot accept you for who you are they are not worth a second date. Much of this is false.

If you had a bad day at work and complain about your boss or about your coworkers on your date, that is being yourself. Irritated because there is nothing good on the menu you like and you want to make sure they don’t take you back at this restaurant? You are also being yourself. All of this is “being yourself” but will it get you a second date? Probably not. Be your best self on your dates, not necessarily just “yourself.”

If this is your first date with this person and they are already focused on the negatives, criticize you (or anyone), and excessively complain… take it as a red flag. When they consistently put down their own life, job, and friends they are playing the victim card.

Not only do they not care about making a positive first impression, but their negative aura can drag you down emotionally. If they are full of stories about the ex who didn’t understand them or the boss who was out to get them, they definitely have a “woe is me” type of attitude. They play the unlucky card and won’t take any responsibility for their actions and for the events that play out in their lives.

They don’t care if they dump it on the person they are on a date with, just as long as they get to vent. If they are unhappy with their life and full of negative energy, it will only be a matter of time before they drag you down with them.

You cannot change them, you have to let them go on their way and say no to dating them.

They were rude in public and to other people.

Observing how your date treats others is the quickest way to determine what kind of character they have.

How do they treat the waitstaff and servers at a restaurant, bar, grocery story or any type of service related place? Do they get angry or become rude for having to wait for a table or when you cannot get seated for your reservation on time because the staff is behind clearing the tables? Do they not say “thank you” to the checkout people at the store or are not kind to people at the retail store when they need their assistance?

Take note of their behavior.

It’s important to keep in mind that even if they treat you nice and are the sweetest person on earth towards you, if they don’t treat everyone else the same way, eventually you will be the other person to them.

In this age we all can start to feel entitled, but someone who still has manners will definitely stand out.

Kindness and empathy are also the most undervalued traits people forget to look for in a partner. People have a long list of other items they would like their partner to have, but kindness is not to priority and they don’t realize it’s missing until they are locked down in a relationship. Repeatedly treating someone with a lack of respect is often a sign that they are not kind individuals.

This is just a very short list of possible red flags on first dates that will help you avoid potential disaster and dodge dead-end relationships to find love sooner.

Learning how to put your best foot forward in making a positive first impression is important to being successful in love. Your body language is an important aspect of your first impression since 70 percent of what you say is unsaid. Get your free guide on mastering and reading first date body language here.

About the Author:

Candace Wong

Are you using technology to find love? Feel like you are running out of men to date and frustrated by the non-committals but ready for a real relationship? My name is Candace, a love coach for single, professional women looking for real, long-lasting love. If you are ready for commitment, learn how to identify men who are ready too with my free online e-guide at


Join our Mindful Movement!


Sign up today, and we'll share bi-weekly Mindful Moments, full of helpful tips, tactics, and content to improve your life!


"Without a doubt, the most engaging written piece on mindfulness!"

- a Mindful Moment Subscriber


(We'll never sell or share your information, either.)

You have Successfully Subscribed!