As comedian Jerry Seinfeld once observed, a first date is often like a job interview with the possibility of nudity at the end. Even if you and your date don't take it that far, the first date can feel like a friendly interrogation more than an organic conversation. But as awkward as the first date/interview/debriefing can be, you can indeed learn something about your date which lets you know this may indeed be the first and last romantic evening. There are a few dating dealbreakers which may be early warning signs of an impending train wreck complete with dinner and a movie.
- 13 different conversations about the same thing. In the classic teen romance "Say Anything", Lili Taylor's character spends most of her time composing painfully honest songs about her ex-boyfriend, Rick. You may experience a version of this on a first date with someone who has clearly not recovered from a bad break-up. If every conversation somehow manages to include the name of, personal anecdotes about, or veiled threats against a former boyfriend, you may have found a dating dealbreaker. You are clearly playing second banana to a creepy ghost who still has her heart and most of her No Doubt collection. If your date is still mentioning a former lover in more than one sentence, there is every chance they may reconcile and you'll be out in the cold. If they don't reconcile, there is also the possibility that "Rick" will pick exactly the wrong moment to use his old apartment key. "Rick" is almost guaranteed to be twice your size, and psychotic in the bargain. If she's not over him, you need to get over her quickly.
- "I'm not as hungry as I thought." or "Are you going to finish that?" If your date seems to have an unhealthy relationship with food, such as compulsive overeating or purging, it could be a sign of deeper emotional issues that need to be addressed. The eating disorder itself should not be a dating dealbreaker, but you must be prepared for the difficult emotional issues treatment can bring. You can't allow yourself to become an enabler, and you can't have unrealistic expectations about recovery. Some men find that dating someone with an eating disorder can be challenging, so you should decide early if you have what it takes to be the understanding companion she'll need.
- Dress (down) for (non) success. There are times when a date may feel over or underdressed for the occasion, but that's usually the result of a breakdown in communications. If you date shows up for the date with minimal makeup, disheveled hair or casual clothes, you may have to wonder how much interest she really has in you. There may be a perfectly reasonable explanation for her appearance, but if she doesn't feel compelled to offer one, it could spell dating dealbreaker. A first date is not the time for the first appearance of your date's ratty Van Halen 1984 t-shirt or torn jeans. It's not a question of personal style, but a question of respect for your date. If she's not inclined to make the effort to clean up for a first date, the second, third or fourth date won't magically improve the situation.
- "I really have to take this call." Beware of the five-minutes-into-the-date safety call, especially if she excuses herself to take it. Sometimes it's done for legitimate security reasons, but often it's the first opportunity your date may have to dish the dirt with her curious roommate. If it takes more than a few minutes, you may have the first signs of a dating dealbreaker. Accepting more calls during your date could also be a sign of things to come. Unless your date is a professional life-saver on call at the hospital, she should have the courtesy to put her phone on silent mode, turn it off completely or allow calls to go straight to voicemail. Anything less than that could be an early warning sign of skewed priorities, and you don't want to be competing with a BlackBerry or iPhone for her attention in the future.
- "Did you just say what I thought you said?" Almost everyone has a moment or two on a first date when they have a slip of the lip or make a weak joke. But if your date seems to have more than her share of inappropriate or strange moments in conversation, you may have hit a dating dealbreaker. If your date peppers her speech liberally with obscenities, or seems especially fond of telling off-color jokes, you may have to wonder what she is like away from a date. You might be interested in dating someone who shares your interests in sports or other pursuits, but you probably don't want to date someone who can't switch gears easily between Saturday afternoon football and a Saturday night date.
- "Don't call me, I'll call you." It's understandable when a single woman is reluctant to hand out personal information to a near-stranger, but there can be such a thing as too much privacy when it comes to dating. If you have been on several successful dates and she still remains secretive or overly cautious, there may be a potential dating dealbreaker on the horizon. If you have never been invited to her place for any reason, or if you still do not have any of her personal contact information such as an email address or phone number, you may be setting yourself up for a rude awakening. If your dating partner makes a concerted effort to remain mysterious, there is often a reason for it. You may be dating a married woman, or at least someone with an unknown significant other. She may also be living a double life for legal reasons, or she may be hiding from an abusive ex-boyfriend or husband. Whatever her reasoning may be, you probably don't want to continue dating someone who has difficulty being open or honest about aspects of her private life.
Sometimes your initial concerns about a potential romantic partner may prove to be unfounded, but there are times when your instincts are absolutely on target. People may try to remain on their best behavior during first dates, but it's nearly impossible to keep your true personality and character under wraps forever. Before you decide to invest your mind and body in a new relationship, take some time to watch for the early warning signs of a dating dealbreaker. You may be able to overcome the problem through open communication, or you may decide to break off the relationship before it becomes mortally wounded by a serious dealbreaker.