Swiping through people is all fun and games until you actually get a match with someone who seems...promising? Maybe? On one hand, sacrificing a guaranteed cushy night in for a potentially dicey human interaction isn't exactly the best gamble in the world. On the other hand, you also know that being in a relationship means you have to actually meet the person.
While you can't weed out things like chemistry or your date claiming Nickelback is the best band of all time, you can sniff out some early warning signs in your little pre-date messages on Tinder. Here are some pre-first-date red flags that mean you should just eat a burrito in bed tonight instead:
The conversation has been dry as hell.
Yeah, talking to a stranger over text isn't ideal when you have no vocal or visual cues to go off of, but there's a limit to the awkwardness. If the person is giving you one-word responses and asking you the same generic questions they ask everyone else ("what do you do for fun?"), then you're not in the wrong for thinking the real date will suck just as much. "Stilted, vague answers to your questions coupled with disinterest in getting to know you is time wasted at best, not to mention predicting a boring date," says Dr. Wendy L. Patrick, author of Red Flags: Frenemies, Underminers, and Ruthless People, "[It also] calls into question the motives for wanting to meet with you." When you think about it, a guy having a lukewarm conversation with you makes so much more sense if he auto-swiped on everyone and can barely remember one woman from the other.
Nailing down a location and time is already work.
This is someone you keep chatting up on Tinder from time to time, but when it comes to actually planning the date, they either "don't know when they'll be free," take forever to respond to a proposed date and time, or keep flaking on the plans you do manage to set. You enjoy talking to them and genuinely want to meet them, but at this rate, you'll be 80 years old and still sending them memes while dropping hints that you're free this weekend.
"Significant delay in responding signals the kind of foot-dragging that might very well predict their approach to dating," says Dr. Patrick. "Either their schedule is packed, or their issue is not free time, but freedom—which is inconsistent with devoting time to a relationship." Regardless, if you want someone who'll reliably be there for you, you should rule out this person (for now, anyway).
They open up a LOT before they meet you.
Being able to have a real conversation on Tinder is like eating a salad you actually enjoy: extremely rare and very nourishing. But there's a huge difference between a natural back-and-forth about your freakishly-similar tastes in true crime podcasts and the person sending you long paragraphs about the dark parts of their life.
"Good pre-dating manners involve focusing on getting to know the other person, not looking for a willing listener to unload on," says Dr. Patrick. Whether it's ranting about the ex whose elbow is in their profile pic or detailing their childhood trauma when you simply ask about what it was like to grow up in Cebu, this person thinks a shortcut to intimacy is immediately unpacking your biggest secrets. Even worse, someone typing so much can make you feel weird for only sending a short sentence back. "Beware the expectation of reciprocity," warns. Dr. Patrick. "Remember that you do not have to share anything with a stranger."
Basically: No, this person isn't "deep" and if this is the precursor to an IRL date, run.
They insist on this "great" bar that happens to also be around the corner from their apartment.
First off, anyone who knowingly picks a spot that's super close to them but a trek for you (instead of looking up a spot halfway between you both) is legitimately inconsiderate. They're either too lazy to make an effort for a date, or want to pull the "well, my apartment IS right there" move, or, honestly, probably both.
Dr. Patrick warns that the "We HAVE to go here!" aspect of a bar invite is something to look out for on its own. "If they 'insist' on any location for your first date, take a pass. Control issues are often evident early on in relationships, where ironically both parties are supposed to be on their best behavior, projecting themselves as polite and accommodating."
It's awesome when a date wants to plan a good night out, but them pushing for their go-to neighborhood spot is not that.
Their messages are already way too sexual.
Unless you're both clear about this being a hookup sitch, it's presumptuous and gross to get asked about what you're doing after the date punctuated with a winky face. "Pre-date flirting should...always be respectful" advises Dr. Patrick. "It does not assume the date will yield anything other than great conversation."
Him asking you what you're wearing when he's literally never seen you in person before means he's already 100 percent expecting sex out of this first encounter and will push for it, regardless of how you feel.
You Googled them and they've posted some garbage things in the past.
If a quick search for their name yielded a tirade of sexist, fat-shaming jokes on their Twitter, you're not at all in the wrong for judging them on that and calling it quits on the whole first date-thing. After all, they chose to post it!
"It is absolutely fair to change your mind about wanting to go out with someone who posts distasteful, off-color content for the world to see," says Dr. Patrick. "Consider yourself lucky that you saw it before you wasted your time with someone who would not be a good fit."
They preface the date with "BTW, I'm not sure what I'm looking for."
The irony of them acting super chill about wanting a relationship is that they already had to assume you'd fall in love with them by the first date. It's one thing to be upfront about just having gone through a breakup or not having time for a fully-committed relationship. The problem here is the blatant uncertainty, and stating said blatant uncertainty. "It could throw a wet towel on your first date before there is even a chance for sparks to fly," says Dr. Patrick.
If you also don't know what you're looking for, it can work because you're both going in with low stakes. But wanting a relationship and having someone preemptively tell you that they may not want to date you is a self-protecting buzzkill and bonafide fuckboy move. Pass. Stay home. You know what's consistent? Your favorite TV show. Skipping the date and watching it will 1000 percent make you happier than any of these guys.
Follow Julia on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.