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3 Red Flags To Avoid On A First Date According To Psychology Research. A Social Psychology Podcast Episode.

3 Red Flags To Avoid On A First Date According To Psychology Research. A Social Psychology Podcast Episode.

Given how this podcast episode comes out on Christmas Day, I wanted to do a really fun podcast episode that covered social psychology and relationships for a chance. As Christmas is meant to be about happiness, laughter and even seasonal romances, I thought looking at first dates would always be a fun topic to investigate. Therefore, if you plan on doing much dating in 2024 then you want to bear these in mind so you can have a more successful first date. If you enjoy learning about social psychology, dating and psychology research then you’ll love today’s episode.

Note: as always nothing on this podcast is ever any sort of official advice.

Today’s podcast episode has been sponsored by Psychology Of Relationships: The Social Psychology Of Friendships, Romantic Relationships And More. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also, you can buy the eBook directly from me at 

3 Red Flags To Avoid On A First Date

I know in society there is a lot of pressure put on the first date and I originally saved a whole bunch of this research because I was going to ask out a friend of mine, and me being the upbeat person I am thought they were going to say yes. They didn’t but we’re still great friends. But as it’s the holiday season I wanted to use this research because the first date is very important. Since the first date allows you to explore any attraction you both feel, what sort of romantic connection you have and you get to see if you like each other as much as you think you do.

Therefore, it’s important to look at these red flags that you should avoid on a first date because the first date is important. And you don’t want to put up any obstacles in your way to finding that connection and romantic spark so to speak.

Also, if a romantic partner does do these things then these behaviours can create anxiety, discomfort and insecurity. Which let’s face it, is a great way to kill a perfectly romantic date.

Beware A Project Developer

I really didn’t understand this type of person when I first came across it but after looking into it more, I seriously understand why you don’t want to date these people. A project developer is when someone sees you as a project and they want to help you develop yourself to your full potential. For example, your partner might make a compliment about your potential that makes you feel great. This could be about your appearance and your date then starts talking about how you can modify and upgrade and update your appearance so you look even younger and more professional.

The problem with these compliments is that they can old because people want to feel like an equal and something that is liked and valued for being themselves. And even if a person was a project, no one wants to feel like a fixer-upper because that just makes people feel awful about themselves.

In addition, if you’re with a date that has a “build your own partner” mentality then this is a waste of time because you should be appreciated for you. Of course no one is perfect and I am seriously not myself, but even I wouldn’t want to be seen as a project that needs fixing. I want someone to value me for me, help me work on the stuff I want to work on and I just want to have fun with them.

To me, a relationship is about love, being an equal and just having fun. Not about fixing problems.

Don’t Live In The Past

Now this is a very interesting one I think because I do think a lot of people live in the past and up until recently I was the same.

Anyway, Cohen (2016) got 390 mainly heterosexual participants to fill out a survey to shed some light on people’s perceptions of first dates. Cohen found that when women saw their date talking about a past relationship then this was a sign of disinterest and this reinforces another finding of Cohen’s research. That women prefer date conversations to be focused on themselves.

Additionally, this finding wasn’t just exclusive for women because men didn’t like their dates talking about past dates either.

This is important to realise because we all need to remember that first dates are not rebound counselling sessions. As well as if you wear or model your appearance after what an ex gave you, why would you point this out to your date? That is hardly going to signal to them that you’re over them, you’re ready to move on and you’re hardly interested in your current date.

I just don’t think you should mention this whatsoever because if you talk about your exes then two things happen. It tells your date that you aren’t interested in them but it also implies that you might still be involved with them to some extent. And even worse, you’re just insensitive to their feelings and that could make you a horrible person in their eyes.

No one wants that for you.

Don’t Cross Boundaries Nor Invade Their Space

I admit that even I have never been on a date this question of boundaries is always a fun topic for me because there are times when I can be seriously bad at them. As well as I think for certain people that boundaries can be massive learning curves, but saying that, everyone needs to learn each other’s boundaries after a while.

Anyway, one of the aims of first dates are to create and foster a sense of chemistry between the two dates and this is partly done through selecting the right setting. Therefore, if a date chooses a wrong setting that is more formal and business-like will definitely send the wrong signals. As a formal setting implies a professional meeting, not a fun romantic date. Also, the setting of a first date is meant to allow the date to feel comfortable and you two to have an easy conversation without being too overfamiliar.

Personally, this is why I flat out hate pubs with a passion and clubs I hate too, because they are so loud and they aren’t the sort of place where you can have easy conversations. This is why I prefer restaurants and other quitter places.

On the whole, when it comes to choosing a place for a first date, make sure you choose somewhere that has a lot of personal space. Since you don’t want to choose somewhere that will invade the personal space between you and your date because they won’t appreciate that at all. You don’t want to be crammed next to each other or in a booth that is way too small because you’re both just exploring your new relationship and if you actually have a connection.

If this does happen then invading each other’s space will create a lot of anxiety and discomfort for both of you which definitely won’t help you create a sense of connectedness.

Social Psychology Conclusion

At the end of this podcast episode, first dates are always portrayed as fun, magical and really exciting things that can open the doors to love, magic and having a lot of fun and they can be. Yet there are plenty of errors and mistakes you can make on the first date that could affect your chances of getting a sense of connectedness. Sometimes you will go on dates that end awfully because you and the date just weren’t right for each other, but other times you will go on dates with great people.

Just avoid these red flags to prevent your first date going wrong for no reason, because 2024 might be your year for dating and exploring and having romantic fun. So I hope this podcast episode helped you learn a little more about the wonderfully fun, chaotic and even harsh world of dating.


I really hope you enjoyed today’s clinical psychology podcast episode.

If you want to learn more, please check out:

Psychology Of Relationships: The Social Psychology Of Friendships, Romantic Relationships And More. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also, you can buy the eBook directly from me at 

Have a great day.

Social Psychology References

Cohen, M. T. (2016). An exploratory study of individuals in non-traditional, alternative relationships: How “open” are we?. Sexuality & Culture, 20, 295-315.

Cohen, M. T. (2016). The perceived satisfaction derived from various relationship configurations. Journal of Relationships Research, 7, e10.

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