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Red Flags Narcissists Give Off on a First Date

Gaslighters and narcissists can suck you in quickly. Learn the warning signs.

Photo by Jed Villejo on Unsplash
Beware of gaslighters/narcissists on first dates.
Source: Photo by Jed Villejo on Unsplash

If you're back out in the dating world after a divorce, breakup, or the death of your spouse, you are not alone. You may find that a lot has changed since you were single.

For example, online dating is now the most common way that people find a mate. However, there are people out there who don't have your best interests in mind. In a nutshell, gaslighters/narcissists are people who are focused so much on themselves and their needs that they don't consider how their behaviors harm other people.

With the advent of online dating, gaslighters/narcissists have found fertile ground for people they seek to drain emotionally and financially. Gaslighters/narcissists can pretend to be whoever they want to be online. Getting involved with someone who has abusive behavior can lead to heartbreak and worse.

If you have been going through a rough time lately, the gaslighter/narcissist hones in on this and may be focusing their attention on you, because you appear to be more understanding of others' differences and may have experienced poor treatment from others in the past.

Gaslighters/narcissists feed off of people's vulnerabilities. While most people are good and have your best interests in mind, some do not. Learn how to protect yourself. In my book Gaslighting, I devote an entire chapter to signs that your date is a gaslighter. I'll share some of that information with you now.

Beware of Moving Too Fast Too Soon

If you've been through a tough period in life, your brain may get really jazzed up by a whirlwind romance. But beware of "love-bombing," a strategy gaslighters/narcissists use to get you sucked into a relationship. They will tell you everything that you want to hear. Then, once you are in the relationship, their "mask" comes off. You then see who they truly are.

Beware of a Date Asking Too Many Personal Questions

A date that starts out asking you about your biggest fears or failures in life is a date you want to run away from. A date that is asking very personal questions is a date that may be gathering up information to use against you in the future. Another reason a date may ask intrusive questions is to learn your vulnerabilities and then try to appeal to them.

This behavior is different from, for example, someone with ADHD saying something that they shouldn't have due to impulsivity. Instead, this behavior is a calculated attempt to pump you for information.

Beware of Your Date Not Asking About You at All

The opposite of a date that asks too many personal questions too soon is a date that asks you virtually nothing about yourself. Your date tells you how important he or she is, yet doesn't even ask you a simple thing like if you had a good day. If your date later writes this behavior off as just being "nervous," watch to see if the pattern repeats itself. If it does, the chances are that it is more than just being nervous.

If It Seems Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is

Gaslighters/narcissists look "good on paper." They appear pulled together, worldly, socially adept, and seem to have all the same interests as you. You can't believe your good fortune.

You've never met someone who seems to "get you." However, be aware that no one is perfect. If you can't find any flaws in this person, it may be because he or she has carefully cultivated an aura of perfection.

Beware of What You Post Online

Gaslighters/narcissists will research you and look for your interests. This is different than simply checking to see if you are who you say you are. Gaslighters/narcissists mine the internet for information to lure you in and then later use that information to "punish" you.

If your date miraculously likes everything that you like, even that obscure band that you discovered in Piscataway in 1994, watch out. Chances are, they found that information online and are using it to create a false sense of "belonging" and security.

Beware of Derogatory Comments About Exes or Family

There is a difference between your date saying, "My mother and I have had some differences of opinion," and calling his or her mother a derogatory name. The same goes for exes. If your date says anything other than basic facts or even a compliment about their ex, beware. If your date is willing to say something demeaning about their ex or family on a first date, that is a sign that they may have unresolved anger towards that person and/or have a lack of boundaries.

Keep a List of What You Are Looking for in a Mate

When you have a clear idea of what your ideal partner looks like, you are less likely to fall for someone who isn't good for you. Make a list of what you seek in a mate. Phrase your list in positives, such as "Likes my kids," or "Enjoys the beach." Instead of "Doesn't like being late," write "Likes being punctual."

If you have a medical issue, you might want to add, "Understanding about my medical needs," "Is open and gentle with discussing concerns," "Sees my medication as a positive and something that is important to my treatment," and "Accepts me completely as I am." When you think you may have met someone special, go back to your list and see how many items your potential mate matches. It's a rational way to look at someone's suitability for you when your emotions are running high.

Listen to Your Intuition and Leave

If something feels "off" about a date, excuse yourself and go home. This is especially the case if a person's online profile does not match with the person in front of you.

While some may be concerned about looking "rude" by leaving, it is better to leave immediately than potentially get sucked into an unhealthy situation. Every minute you are spending time with a gaslighter/narcissist is another minute you may be getting sucked into potential emotional abuse. Put your well-being above concerns about politeness.

Beware of Meeting in Private Locations

If your date is pushing to meet at his or her home instead of in a public location, be very wary. For safety reasons, taking your own transportation to a first date and meeting in a public place are essential to your safety. Don't let someone pressure you into meeting alone with them for the first time. Gaslighters/narcissists even use guilt as a way to get you alone. Don't fall for it.

By following these guidelines, you will be better prepared to pick out who doesn't have your best interests in mind. Dating is enough of a challenge without getting sucked in by someone who will hurt you. Keep educating yourself about healthy behaviors and relationships. You will find that you will enter the first date with more confidence and security.

You can find an audio version of this article here:

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