5-relationship-red-flags-largeIn a way, going out on a date is a bit like walking on a flimsy rope bridge over a deep canyon: Risky. One reason it can be risky is that your intended date may actually be a stranger to you. Even if he/she is attractive, in reality they’re just a good-looking attractive stranger. By opting to go out on a date with someone you barely know, you are taking a calculated risk that could either pay off by introducing you to your future soulmate or could blow up in your face if this stranger turns out to be weird or even dangerous to know. Still, it’s possible to spot certain red flags before, during and after a date so that you take on less risk.

Before a date, it’s actually a good idea to do some research about your prospective date. Do you and he/she have some friends in common? Ask around casually and discreetly about what your prospective date is like in private or with his/her closest friends. You can even ask about their background, such as where they went to school, what neighborhoods they’ve lived in, and what kind of job they has. Hopefully there won’t be any horror stories about bad habits like drug addiction, but if there are you would do well to avoid dating someone with that kind of record. A side benefit of this kind of “data gathering” is that you can bring up some of these discovered during the actual date.

During a date, you can spot red flags by candidly checking out your date’s facial expression and body language. For example, if you’ve heard that your date used to work for the government but was discharged for some unknown reason, you could say casually “I heard that you used to work for the government. What was that experience like?” If your date seems to be hiding something from his/her past, questions like this can catch them off guard, and then you are free to read their body or facial expressions to gauge the truth. If this happens, stay calm, but keep that clue in mind in case he/she asks you out on future dates.

After the date itself, the behavior of your date will actually give you more clues that could be alarming to note. For example, your date might suddenly start sending multiple text messages that could leave you feeling harassed or maybe annoyed. If the texts continue without any apparent end, don’t reply. Keep those texts stored in your phone in case the situation turns dangerous because you might have to present these to the police as evidence.

No one likes going out on dates with strangers who have inexplicable behavior. By keeping yourself alert and attuned to what is going on before, during and after the date, you will be able to weed out the good dates from the bad ones. This leaves the door open for you to date only those people who meet your standards for normal or exemplary behavior.