Bartenders share 3 red flags they see on first dates

“If you show up to a date dressed nice and the other party is wearing sweats, it’s not really saying first date, but more like hook-up or friend zone.”

Love is in the air, and the hunt is on for singles to find a date for Valentine’s Day.

A popular choice for a first date tends to be a bar, and bartenders have a front-row seat to many awkward conversations — from icebreakers to heartbreak adventures. This Valentine’s Day, they’re sharing some insight about what can goes wrong on a first date, from the first impressions, drinking and attire.

“We had a regular who rotated women; on the dates he would look like a slob. One day he came in wearing a button-up shirt, and we (behind the bar) knew this girl had to be special. Long story short they got married,” Sascha, a bartender at Yardhouse who, like many bartenders, doesn’t use a last name, told The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. “So if there’s no effort on the first date, there won’t be much later on.”

Here are three things that might not seem like a red flag but are, according to dating experts and bartenders.

Pressure to drink

“It is a red flag to pressure anyone on a date to do anything they might not be comfortable doing,” said Connell Barrett, author and dating coach to Business Insider.

Imy Brighty-Potts, who has been in the service industry for more than nine years, said she notices subtle changes when dates pressure the other to drink more, she recalled to Business Insider. Brighty-Potts said she’s noticed dates where someone would say no to another drink, then leave to go to the restroom, only to return to a drink in front of them — they don’t refuse and end up drinking more than they should.

Dressed for different dates

First dates require a bit of effort, as first impressions are important. A suit and tie aren’t necessary, but you can gauge what someone’s mindset is and how they will look for future outings based on the first date.

“If you show up to a date dressed nice and the other party is wearing sweats, it’s not really saying first date, but more like hook-up or friend zone,” Chris, also a bartender at Yardhouse, told the AJC.

First impressions are important, especially when meeting up at a bar,” Meghan, a bartender at Outback Steakhouse, told the newspaper. “I’ve seen a girl walk out on a guy for wearing flip-flops. He ended up staying and turned out to be a sloppy drunk.”

Brings you to his favorite bar

“Here’s a tip, if he walks in a bar and the bartenders know him by name and he doesn’t work there, you should run for two reasons,” said Ashley, a bartender at Applebee’s. “First, he might be an alcoholic, and second — which is most common — he brings all his dates there. You aren’t the first one and probably won’t be the only one that day.”

If you’re on a date that makes you uncomfortable, ask the bartender for an “Angela” or “Angel Shot,” which are code names made popular on TikTok to help people escape situations at a bar when they don’t feel safe.

Being aware of red flags can help you navigate the dating scene, especially on Valentine’s Day, when first dates at a local bar are common.

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