'I'm going on a first date, what red flags should I look out for?'

Mel Schilling is a relationship expert, confidence coach and TV presenter who is passionate about educating, motivating and inspiring people to be their best. Mel’s advice is backed by her 20 years spent as a psychologist and aims to improve your relationships in life and love.

Question: I'm going on a first date this weekend, what red flags should I look out for?

Ok, firstly, go you! You’ve got a date this weekend!

TBH, part of me is a little concerned that the first question you’re asking me is about red flags (what happened to optimism?). But, I get it, we’ve all been hurt and it’s a jungle out there so it pays to be a little cautious.

I’m going to break red flags into two categories so we’re all crystal clear about what we’re looking out for: *global* red flags and *personal* red flags.

Mel Schilling,
Mel Schilling is Yahoo Lifestyle’s relationship and dating columnist answering all the questions you’re too afraid to ask. Photo: Supplied

Global red flags

Let’s tackle the globals first because they relate to everyone. Global red flags are absolute warning signs in human behaviour - and these relate to all people and life settings, not just dating.

At their core, global red flags are indicators of danger - in dating, they typically indicate a risk to your personal safety or wellbeing.


Examples include unwanted aggression toward you or others (ever noticed how your date treats bar staff?), talking about violence or cruelty in a glorified manner, boundary-crossing with you (non-consensual touching or advances), or antisocial behaviour such as shouting, screaming, threatening others, vandalism, stealing… You get the picture.

These red flags may be signs that your date is not a safe person to be around and it’s time to go. Thank you, NEXT!

Personal red flags

Then we have the highly personal, customised red flags that are specifically YOURS. These are based on your core values and deepest beliefs.

For example, if one of your highest values is respect and your date uses discriminatory language, makes sexist or homophobic jokes or laughs at a racist situation, these would be red flags for you.

Or, if one of your highest values is health yet your date talks lovingly about sitting on their couch all weekend and eating junk food in their Oodie (when you’re out exercising, enjoying fresh air and eating healthy food) this could be a red flag for you.

Alignment of personal values is one of the strongest indicators of compatibility, so when you date someone who clashes with your values, it’s often a sign that things are going nowhere, fast.

Red flags.
Mel says there are two types of red flags: personal and global. Photo: Getty

So, whilst I’m a huge optimist and believe in going into every new situation with the underlying belief that ‘this is full of possibility’ I’m also a realist and deeply understand the importance of personal safety. And of course, dating is meant to be fun so whilst I want you to be mindful of the potential risks, go out there and enjoy yourself.

Mel's topline advice:

  • Watch out for signs of personal risk

  • Know your own top 3 values

  • When you notice a values clash - run

  • Enjoy the process!

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