11 Points

11 Red Flags You Should Be Able To Spot Within Three Dates
written by Sam Greenspan

So thanks for sticking with me while I took a little time off from writing to recover from my ACL surgery. Oddly enough, during this week where I didn't write on 11 Points... the site blew up. It started getting linked everywhere and my traffic's exploded. Which, you know, is kinda cool and the reason I write and all that so... welcome and thanks!

It's been very interesting to see which older posts have gotten the most reads now that I actually have a massive influx of people to the site. The most popular? The list I wrote about the 11 meals you should eat on your first 11 dates.

I can't really explain this other than... well, maybe people want to read my thoughts, advice and/or opinions on dating. And I might as well oblige. I've been wanting to write more lists like that for the site anyway.

So today, we dig into the single most important aspect of dating: Knowing when the person you're dating sucks so you can cut bait. Here, in no particular order and for no particular gender, are 11 dating red flags that you should be able to spot fairly early on.

  1. Beware the multiple cats.
    Cats. Buying a cat is a serious statement. Cats are an antisocial animal (versus dogs, who are the ultimate social animal). Cat allergies are extremely common. And there's a huge, widely-recognized stigma about cat ownership (women who own cats are spinsters, men are creepy).

    So when you choose to get a cat, you're acknowledging all of those things and saying, "I don't care."

    I don't trust cat people. And it's not even because of the reasons I listed above (although those contributes). It's because cats are assholes. I know there are occasional exceptions to this, but: Dogs run up and love when you pet them, a cat plays hard to get.

    So when I see a cat person, I see someone who doesn't have the emotional development to be in a real, reciprocated relationship... it'll always be an unhealthy chase or conquest to earn minor tokens of affection. The person's compulsively lonely and desperate for you to fill the void, and fill it ASAP.

    That, or the person could become a crazy cat lady or man if like two or three things quickly go wrong in their life. And you can't be on board for that.

  2. Suspect photos in the room. Photos I don't trust in their room? Several prominently displayed photos of the person with their ex... a photo of the person posing by themselves when they're not on vacation just, like, around the house... or more than three photos of the person with their grandma.

  3. Toothpaste tube roller = incompatible.
    Insane signs of over-organization. Here's one from my personal experience. In my adult dating life, I've dated two women who've had this device on their toothpaste tube. It's a little plastic clip that you put at the end that keeps it tightened and flattened as you squeeze out toothpaste, ensuring none is wasted.

    This tool is, to me, the ultimate sign of cartoon villain-esque over-organization. Anyone who's willing to buy a toothpaste clip... and then religiously use it... has already planned out your relationship on a calendar.

    And, if that's not scary enough, they're also already secretly judging your lack of organizational skills. Straighten up your place for the first time they'll come over? They'll still spot the signs of messiness that most people can't see.

    It's too much. I'm telling you right now: It's not going to work between you two. Incongruous standards on organization and cleanliness are a bigger relationship deal breaker than political views, opinion on having kids and incompatible genitalia -- combined.

  4. Ex doppelganger syndrome. The person shows you a picture of their ex. And after you silently judge how fat the ex is, you say, "Shit... their ex looks A LOT like me."

    There's having a type... and then there's trying to completely replace an ex or exes. So, if you look like their ex, ask to see a photo of the ex before that. If you look like him or her too, it's time to leave.

  5. Unibrow guy!
    Basic, basic, basic grooming failures. Another personal story. I was on a date with a girl and she was wearing very short sleeves; one of those t-shirts women wear that have sleeves that barely cover the upper arms at all.

    At one point, when I was next to her, she raised her arm... and my eyes caught something. An incredible hairy armpit. Like, one that must've taken a few weeks to grow, minimum.

    And that was it for me. Because while I get that it sucks being a woman and there's all sorts of grooming stuff that men could never dream of... armpits are a basic, basic, basic one. I'm not asking for pristinely plucked eyebrows or painful waxing jobs.

    If someone neglects basic grooming during the dating phase -- the phase when you're trying to impress at all costs -- imagine how much they're going to go to hell if you settle down together.

    The male equivalent of this would be a glaring unibrow, visible stains on a shirt or giant ungainly fingernails. If you can't nail those basics on an early date, you don't get it.

  6. Dangerous frugality. No one has any money anymore. I get that. But there's a difference between scaling back and being compulsively cheap.

    So watch out for these: The person tips less than 20 percent... they show up for the date wearing clothes clearly from Eddie Bauer's 1996 collection... when the waiter says "bottle or tap" for the water choice the person instinctively responds "Ha ha, um... TAP, obviously!"... you drive around for more than 10 minutes looking for a spot to avoid the valet... or the person pulls out a flask under the table so you can just order sodas and turn them into homemade whiskey-Cokes.

  7. Habits that are too cool. Going to the gym for more than 90 minutes a day, every day. Going out crazy at least three weeknights. Name dropping and then picking restaurants or bars that have been open for less than four days. Exclusively listening to NPR, refusing to watch TV and only watching movies at theaters whose concession stands serve things made out of carob.

    Yeah, don't get mixed up with that person.

  8. Using your date to run errands. From the Sam personal vault again. Many years ago, I went on a date. As we were walking from the car to the restaurant the girl dropped an envelope in a mailbox. "What was that?" I asked. "My taxes," she replied.

    That's right: She brought her filled-out tax forms on our date.

    Dates aren't a time for errands. When you're getting ready to go out with someone, your mind should be on that person. It shouldn't be: We might pass my bank so let me bring three checks to deposit, let me drop off my taxes right quick, and if we go past a Rite Aid I definitely need to pick up some razor blades. You shouldn't have someone multitasking on your dime.

  9. Ends more than two stories with the phrase "No, but, really, it was soooo funny at the time." Can you really go on multiple dates with someone who tells bad stories? Even if they're super hot, that's only good for buying them clemency of like a month. After that, it's just a good looking person boring the crap out of you.

  10. Country music. Shouldn't be playing in the car when you get in. Sorry.

    On this note, you should also be wary if any of the following are true: They have more than one personalized hockey jersey... a collection of miniatures... the book "Dating for Dummies" prominently displayed... or voodoo dolls that aren't kitschy souvenirs from a trip to New Orleans or Haiti.

  11. Sex talks with parents. I don't get adults who consult with their parents about early relationship stuff or, even worse, about sex stuff.

    When I was with my ex-girlfriend, I was at her mom's house one day and overheard a conversation between her 20-year-old brother and her mom. He was complaining because his girlfriend wanted to get a lower back tattoo. And he said to his mom, and I quote, "I don't want to look at that when I'm fucking her from behind."

    Do not date someone who's comfortable saying that phrase to their parents. In fact, don't date someone who's comfortable with the notion that his or her parents are aware of the concept sex from behind.

This post was originally published on Monday, March 2, 2009 at 12:01:00 AM under the category Dating & Sex.

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