Lindsay Burgess
Updated Nov 28, 2016 @ 10:50 am
Credit: Khomenko Maryna/Shutterstock

As it turns out, around 4 percent of the population are sociopaths — and lately, it seems like they’re all on Tinder. Of course, most of the charismatic creeps you run into are just plain jerks. Luckily, if you know what you’re looking for, there are plenty of red flags before you find yourself in too deep.

Getting to know someone new is half the fun of a first date, but knowing the right first date questions to make sure they’re not a psychopath can help. We know that sounds crazy, but there’s a method to the madness. Sure, sometimes it’s hard to come up with questions that don’t sound straight out of a job interview. After all, you can’t just ask someone if they’ve mastered the art of lying or ever hurt small animals. Our best trick? Ask for stories, not answers.

If it turns out you’re dealing with a genuine sociopath, a run-of-the-mill heartbreaker or a primary psychopath like Sherlock Holmes (apparently), these questions should bring out the warning signs. Then you can cut things short and go chill with your cats — the only furry little sociopaths we’re okay with letting into our hearts.

Tell me about your worst date…

Bad date stories: we’ve all got ‘em, and we all love to hear them. Ideally, your date should keep it humorous and compassionate. Watch out for the warning signs: if your date gets closed off and secretive, or starts bad-mouthing a previous date, it might be time to call it an early night. They may not be a sociopath, but there’s no excuse for trashing someone to a stranger.

What’s the weirdest lie you’ve ever told?

There are little white lies — like when you tell your bestie you can hardly taste the extra tablespoon of salt in her carefully simmered turkey chili — and then there are big, scary, sociopath level lies. If your date has a “hilarious” tale of tricking people into thinking they’re someone else, or carrying out a long-term deception, be wary.

So, what’s your family like?

Some people get along great with their families. Some people really, really don’t. What’s odd is when someone has zero emotional response at all. Don’t write off your date if they clam up about their fam — there’s a chance you’ve just touched a sore spot. If, on the other hand, they don’t seem attached to anyone in their lives — friends, pets, mentors — you might want to avoid getting too attached yourself.

How did you meet your best friend?

Just like the family question, friendships can be a tough topic. Your date may not have a best friend, and that’s cool – not everyone does. It’s more of a concern if they don’t mention friends at all, or if names come up once but never again. You’ll want to figure out if this is just someone who enjoys their own company — and if so, how you factor in — or if they’ve actively alienated past pals.

What do you like best about what you do?

Look, we don’t all fall into our dream careers right away, but you don’t get where you want to be without realistic ambition and a good work ethic. If your date seems ambivalent towards their job — or wildly overreaching or ruthless in their goals — you have to wonder if they’re ever going to be happy with how they spend their days.

It can be tough to suss out the scary from the just-not-for-you when it comes to dating. But if you know how to get someone talking, it’s easier to see what you’re getting into.