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First Date Danger Zone

Going out with someone new can be exciting—as long as it’s the right someone.

There you are, checking your watch. It’s almost time for another first date to begin. As always, you have high hopes—or at least an open mind—that this one will be different from recent experiences. You mentally check off the ones you promptly inducted into your private First Date Hall of Fame (or is it Hall of Shame?). Here are a few candidates you’ll want to be on the lookout for:

The Ex Factor. This is the person who begins the evening by noticing (out loud) you are wearing the same perfume he gave his ex-girlfriend on their first anniversary. “Weird, huh?” By the end of the evening you will know everything there is to know about her—and almost nothing about him.

The Diva. She was voted most likely to succeed in high school; has trekked the Himalayas in Nepal; sailed solo across the Atlantic; developed a line of gourmet hotel pillow chocolates; and is preparing to audition for “American Idol.” You have no objection to someone who’s led a full and interesting life—but it would be nice to talk about something else during the evening. Anything else besides your date’s long list of amazing accomplishments.

The Digital Dynamo. She thinks “dating” is an app on her iPhone. Before drinks are served at the little bistro you’ve suggested, she’s already texted her mother that she’d love the decor; searched the Internet for food critic reviews; downloaded an article about the chef’s home town in France; tweeted her “friends” that she is sitting down to dinner with—“I’m sorry, what’s your name again? How is that spelled?” The person across from you is so busy pressing buttons that you feel superfluous to the process.

The Potty Mouth. This date is like being back in junior high with a kid who is dying to try out all the new words he’s learned in the locker room. Not to mention the racial slurs and the crude jokes. By night’s end you’ll feel like you’ve been mud-wrestling.

The Survivalist. Getting to know this ray of sunshine reminds you of watching a disaster documentary on PBS. You’ll learn all about the impending ravages of global warming, overpopulation, economic collapse, and killer solar storms—and all the reasons why he hates his job, his apartment, his roommate, and pretty much everything else. Yes, the world is full of problems and perils, but is it necessary to dwell on them during a first date?

The Mannequin. At first glance, he appears to have stepped straight out of GQ magazine. Well-dressed and well-mannered, he seems a refreshing departure from past experience—until you attempt actual conversation. Then it becomes apparent that you have almost nothing in common, in spite of his attractive appearance.

The Fast Tracker. She is intelligent, interesting, and witty—and in a desperate hurry to settle down. Her body language and your intuition combine to warn you that she has already moved past “dating” for its own sake and is ready to pick out “his and hers” bath towels with the first remotely suitable partner.

Of course, these descriptions are one-dimensional stereotypes, but you probably recognize some of your past dates in this list above.  You have had your share of first date disappointments, but there is no need for discouragement—all that experience prepares you for first date you’ve been waiting for. You’ve learned (the hard way) the kind of person you don’t want to spend an evening with, which better equips you to identify the kind of person you DO want to date.

The best part is: You’re more likely to know when you’ve found the right person for a second date . . . and third date . . . and beyond.

We’d love to hear about the red flags you have experienced!