Gay Dating 101: Ten First Date Red Flags

That First Date

You are getting ready to meet that handsome guy you met online or through a close friend for that all important first date. Feeling excited and a little nervous, you look hard in the mirror and think to yourself:

Will he like me? What should I wear? Does my breath smell?”



Seriously, going on a first date can be a bit of a challenge. This is particularly true for gay men who are new to the dating scene or have been off the market for an extended period of time.
After consulting with a number of gay men who were formerly single and now long-term partnered … plus a few therapists who specialize in couples counseling. Here are some gay dating red flags:

10 Red Flags for Gay Men on a First Date

What follows is a list of 10 “Red Flags” for gay men on a first date that should be thought of as potential warning signs that the guy may not be a good fit for you. Some of these red flags are obvious. Some are funny. Others are ones you may not have heard before and should not ignore. The list is by no means exhaustive.
Disclaimer: Not every point here may apply to your situation and is not set in stone. Think of these as general guidelines as opposed rigid rules.

1. He just got out of a long term relationship

This point may seem particularly obvious but the truth is that many gay men fall into the trap of ignoring this red flag. In gay years the phrase “long term” can often differ from straight folks. A long term relationship for a gay man can be subjective at best. As a rule of thumb, 2 years or more is a good yardstick go by, give or take.
What is important is this – the amount of time he has been out of his same sex relationship. If he was in a five year relationship and is now out on the market six months after the breakup, he is very likely not going to be emotionally available or emotionally capable of a real relationship again for some time. And if he still lives with his ex and is claiming, “We still live together but are not in a relationship” or anything like that, you need to run.
Here are some more tips under this point:

  • He says you remind him of his “ex” several times during first date
  • He talks about his ex the entire date or calls you by his ex’s first name (run!)
  • He tells you he wants a serious relationship (remember, he just broke up)
  • He is just coming on too strong and acting like you two are a serious couple.

2. He’s checking out other guys and flirting

Yes, this is one that should seem obvious but is ignored more than folks might think. If you are out on a real date and you are noticing that the guy you are out with is continually checking out other dudes, flirting or both – it is probably a good indication that this guy is not for you. There is an off chance that he is trying to impress you by demonstrating how he can attract other people but do you really want to deal with that?
And here is another possibility …he just isn’t into you. Instead of manning up and telling you that, he is flirting with other dudes. This point sucks and not something you want to hear but checking out other guys on a first date really is not a good sign for something long term.
Other tips under this red flag during the first date: 

  • He keeps going on Facebook or twitter or some other dating app
  • He talks about how hot another guy is on your first date

3. He wants to go to a bar

Perhaps another obvious warning sign but worth mentioning. If he wants to meet you at a local gay bar for a first date, he probably isn’t the right guy for you. The same goes that if after your official first date activity, like a coffee or a dinner, he wants to go to “the bars” .. it should be a warning sign that this guy is not long term material. The reason being is that the first date should be about getting to know one another. If he is already needing to go hang out at a bar on your first date, he likely is not ready to focus on you or a relationship. Some may disagree with this point. You decide.
Some other tips under this red flag: 

  • He tells you he meets all of his dates at bars
  • He seems to crave attention and needs an audience
  • Most of his pictures are of him at clubs and yeah … bars

4. He drinks too much too fast

Obviously, this is a subjective warning sign however, there are tell-tale things that you should be looking for under this red flag. One of them is the amount of alcohol he is consuming and the speed in which he is doing it. If you notice that he is pounding back glass after glass of wine (or some other drink) and that he is encouraging you to do the same – run.
Look, there is nothing wrong with a few drinks on a first date however, when it gets to the point that he needs to get bombed in order to function, he’s likely not going to be a good match for you. Same holds true if he shows up at your first date stoned. Run like hell. 
Other under this red flag: 

  • He wants you to get high with him
  • He talks a lot about how much he “parties” or “parTays”

5. He has less than 1 year of sobriety

A guy who is in a recovery program for drugs and/or alcohol should be applauded and supported. That however does not mean he is ready to start dating. As a general rule of thumb, people in recovery programs, like a 12-step program (AA, CMA, NA…) are encouraged to stay away from the dating scene for 1-year.
This is not a hard and fast rule but is generally encouraged. The reasons are plentiful but the primary one is that the guy needs to be focusing on his recovery. A debatable “red flag” perhaps but one that cannot be ignored.

6. He is rude to wait staff and others

If the guy you are with on the first date treats wait staff, box office attendants or others disrespectfully or rudely, he is showing his true colors. He is also demonstrating that he is a jerk and is likely unaware of how uncomfortable his behavior makes you feel.
If the guy you are out on a first date with is treating people like crap, how do you think he will treat you down the road?
Other tips under this red flag:

  • Seems to have a quick temper and goes off on small stuff
  • Does not say “thank you” or “please” when speaking to you or others
  • Orders people around like he owns the place

7. He says he is straight acting

Whenever you hear a gay man suggest that he “acts straight” or is “straight acting” you need to be concerned.
There is a difference between being masculine and “acting” hiding who you are. And what exactly does “acting straight mean” At its core, it’s called internalized homophobia when a gay dude says this.
There are many gay men who are masculine and their sexual orientation is not readily obvious.
With that shared, if your first date makes it a point to say he “acts straight” and goes out of his way to identify as straight to others around him, you really need to carefully consider if this person is for you.
Other points under this red flag:

  • He emphasizes his religious beliefs that are known to be anti-gay.
  • He identifies as a die hard republican and supports anti-gay candidates
  • He shares that he is “confused” about his sexuality (run!)

8. He is looking to hook up immediately before or after the first date

If you are getting the vibe on your first date that the guy is looking to hook up or otherwise mess around, this may be a fairly good indication that he is really not interested in dating. This particular point is not to judge but instead, to act as a potential red flag for his agenda. And hey, there is nothing wrong with hooking up – but aren’t you wanting something a little more?
Other tips under this red flag:

  • During the goodnight kiss his hand reaches towards the southern regions
  • He talks too much about bedroom positioning (top drawer/bottom drawer)
  • He can’t look you in your eyes when you kiss (umm, yeah that is a red flag)

9. He talks too much about himself

On your first date, it is only natural and human to talk about oneself a little. If however the guy you are going out on a date with is going on forever and a day about his life, his job, his car, his family, his dogs …his, his his …. There is likely going to be problems with compatibility. 
Other tips under this red flag:

  • He asks very little about you during your first date
  • He makes you feel like you are being qualified for a car loan
  • He starts to immediately playing the game of materialistic comparisons
  • Name dropping of celebrities or well connected people in town
  • He’s looking waaaay too much at his reflection in his stirring spoon

10.You ignore these red flags and others because you are hooked on his look

Do his muscles, charm and smile blind you to some of the red flags mentioned here or perhaps other red flags that you have heard of in the past? Does he make you feel overly insecure because you feel he is just too good looking to be with you? Does anything about that first date make you experience negative, familiar feelings from the past where you were in a space that was not good for you? If so, these are important warning signs.
Too many get hooked on the look and find themselves in impossible, painful, one-sided and one way relationships. Pay attention to how his physical appearance causes you to feel. If you come away from that date feeling “less than” or “ugly” then you are the person who is not ready to be in a relationship.
Other potential red flags:

  • You won’t talk about yourself because you feel “less than”
  • You feel the need to brag or go out of your way to impress him
  • You’ve dated his type before and you keep repeating the cycle
  • Can you name some other red flags that you ignore?

Have you found the right one, or are you still searching?


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