Dating in the digital age is all about quantity. With both the real world and dating apps to tend to, there are a lot of opportunities to meet people. Things don’t always turn out to be ideal, but it’s not until we actually meet up with someone for a date that we start to check them out and see if they’re worth keeping around. And sometimes that means we’re giving too much weight to minor red flags on a first date that actually aren’t all that bad.
Remember how on Seinfeld, Jerry was always dumping women for quirky character traits? Wearing the same clothes every day, eating peas one at a time, or thinking she got an STD from sitting on a tractor? Those are ridiculous situations, but also sort of legit reasons to not see a future with someone. They could be signs of things that could snowball into bigger signs down the road. (We’re kidding. Kind of.)
But not every minor imperfection displayed on a first date is worth writing someone off over. After all, first dates are hella stressful, and who among us is at our very best when we’re under stress and meeting someone new (and possibly getting a little drunk)?
The truth is, there are some red flags you might want to ignore on a first date.
To be clear, this is *not* about settling for someone you just know in your gut you won’t be able to get along with. Your gut is usually right — so listen to it. Never, ever settle.
But first dates are scary! Here are some things you might want to let slide.
1A weird laugh.
Hey, first dates can be nerve-wracking. If someone has a nervous laugh, that might not be their normal laugh. They could just be trying so hard to make a good impression on you that they fail. Hard. Give the Weird Laugh Date another go. You never know — it might grow on you.
2Showing up late.
Being consistently late can be a frustrating quality in a friend or partner. But mistakes happen. Also, it’s not like you guys are close enough that they could have texted you about being held up at work because of a project they’re stressing over or mistakenly taking the wrong exit on the way to the restaurant. Forgive, forget. This only becomes a real crime when it becomes a pattern.
3Being really quiet.
People respond differently to social situations. It could be that they’re totally shy and showing up is a big enough challenge in and of itself. Help them out by offering up your own witty banter or admitting that you, too, find first dates terribly awkward.
4Talking too much.
Ah, well, this is sort of the same thing. Some people clam up when they’re nervous. Others try to do anything to fill what they think could be an awkward silence. Help them out by interrupting and seeing if you can get a word in. If they do it again, that’s your call to determine whether that’s what you want from a conversational partner.
5Checking their phone.
If they’re just straight-up Snapchatting during Wonder Woman, leave them right then and there. (Keep the popcorn.) But you just met this person. Maybe they’re expecting a certain work email they can’t miss, but they don’t want to seem weird about their career in front you, lest you judge them for that too. Maybe it’s a nervous tick — Twitter addiction is real. Maybe they asked their friend to send them a good excuse text to ditch you, just in case you turned out to be a Loud Laugher.
6Playing with their food.
Dinner dates can be a little aggressive for a first date. An entire meal at a restaurant leaves a lot of time for awkward shenanigans to ensure. But be compassionate: Some people feel weird eating in front of others. If they don’t finish their spaghetti bolognese, don’t make it weird.
Seriously, how embarrassing would that be if it happened to you by complete accident? Proceed with caution and kindness. Same goes with any other uncontrollable body issue, like a huge zit or sweating profusely in a crowded taco joint in the middle of July. Bodies don’t know our dating schedules.
8Picking a place you don’t like.
If it’s a dinner or drinks date and they pick a place that isn’t exactly your “scene,” take it for what it’s worth. They might have been trying to impress you with something fancy or trendy. Or “playing it cool” by picking a low-key place for the same exact reason. They could just be that person in the group that’s really bad at choosing places. Make a joke if you can, or take planning into your own hands next time if it matters that much to you, and see what happens.
Red flags are different for everyone, but all too often, we judge people way too quickly for things that might just be symptoms of first-date jitters or bad luck. You know what’s going to work for you, so make your own rules. But don’t take a person off the roster for things that could be flukes. You never when you’re going to meet your person.