The scene is set. You’ve been asked out and you’re getting ready to spend some quality time with hopefully someone who gives you butterflies. But not all gut feelings are a positive sign that your date is a success.

“First dates are often stressful and awkward—leaving both parties wondering how it really went,” said Jessica Holland, director of the UNM Women’s Resource Center (WRC). “The best advice we give is to trust your gut. If it feels wrong leave. There is no need to hang around to find out if your date’s behavior is really a red flag or not. If your intuition says something is a red flag, trust that it is.”

Recently, the WRC asked people which red flags they wished they had paid attention to when it came to first date behaviors. Here is a list of the top five answers and the advice from the WRC on how to handle the interaction.

Red flags:

  • Acts rudely or disrespectfully to others during the date.  
    If you are on a date with someone who acts rudely to wait staff, bartenders or others, don’t waste your time trying to correct their behavior—save your energy for someone better. If you choose to continue dating, sooner or later you will end up on the receiving end of that meanness.
  • Talking about an ex negatively.
    When relationships crash and burn rarely is it the fault of only one member of the couple, so anyone who speaks badly about an ex on a date lacks insight into why the relationship really failed. Disrespectful comments and name calling exes, so soon with someone new, shows they probably haven’t processed their past and should you continue dating, you too may one day become the “crazy ex.” 
  • Displaying jealousy and crossing boundaries.
    Watch for people who use too much physical touch or come into your personal space without consent. For example, inviting themselves over, asking who is texting or calling you, or worse picking up your phone to look through it. First dates are a time to get to know each other and anyone who emits a sense of possessiveness so soon is problematic. It’s best to say goodbye before feelings develop. Too often we misread this dynamic as someone caring, when it’s really about having control.
  • Your date shows up intoxicated or high.
    First dates are a time for best impressions and while they can be stressful, anyone who feels the need to alter their state of being with drugs or alcohol prior to meeting you could have a bigger problem. Addiction is a serious issue in our community and while we want to support those struggling, starting a relationship with them will most likely not be the way.
  • The “all about me” date
    Someone who solely talks about themselves and seems incapable or unwilling to learn about you. A healthy partnership is rooted in mutual respect and understanding. If your date shows no interest in getting to know the magnificent person you are, cut your losses. Again, nervous chatter is totally the norm but if your date leaves you feeling invisible or insignificant that’s a red flag.

The final advice from the WRC for students when it comes to dating, is best articulated by the quote from writer and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” 

The University of New Mexico is participating—with colleges across the U.S.—in Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). It’s part of a national initiative started by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). The NSVRC encourages people to use their voices to change the culture of sexual assault; and centered this year’s campaign around engaging new voices.