10 Tips for How To Spot a Narcissist on the First Date

Dating is difficult enough without throwing narcissism into the mix. If you’re out in the dating world, whether for the first time or after a breakup, it’s important to watch out for people who really don’t have your best interests in mind. The last thing you need is to get into a relationship with a toxic narcissist, especially if you’ve just made it out of a relationship with one. Unfortunately, it’s all too common to fall into a pattern when it comes to toxic relationships, so it’s important to know how to spot narcissistic people from the start. Here are some tips for spotting a toxic narcissist on the first date!

1.Beware the Love-Bomber

One of the traits of a toxic narcissist is the charm — initially. At first, they will seem like Prince (or Princess) Charming. They will be complimenting you to the extreme and have an uncanny ability to hone in on your deepest desires, so they can do everything in their power to convince you they will fulfill all of them. You might wonder how to know you’re with a narcissist. The answer is that they will often start moving too fast, and they will say things that are almost too good to be true. Also, although they may seem charming and funny, you might notice they are dominating the conversation, likely critiquing everything from the meal to the wait staff. What typically happens if you fall for this is that the charm only lasts so long before the mask comes off and the wolf underneath is revealed.

2. Too Many Personal Questions

If your date starts asking about your worst fears or your biggest failures in life on the first date, that’s a big red flag. Narcissists like to gather that kind of information, so can likely use it in the future against you. This is a common characteristic of toxic people. They could also be asking those questions to appeal to your vulnerabilities and reel you in. The narcissist is very adept at making you feel like they are sensitive to your needs early in a relationship, but you’ll soon find out they’re only sensitive to their own needs.

3. It’s All About Him (or Her)

Although some narcissists might ask too many personal questions as a way to learn your vulnerabilities, others won’t ask anything about you at all. Instead, they’ll dominate the conversation by telling you all about them. This is because they want to show you how important, intelligent, and personable they are, but truly personable people will always ask how you are and genuinely want to know about you.

4. It Seems Too Good to Be True

Most narcissists look really good on paper, and you’ll hardly be able to believe your good fortune for running into such a great person. It will seem as though they’ve got it all together. They’re worldly, have all the same interests as you, and there’s that charm that’s so hard to resist. You’ll think to yourself that this person really seems to “get you.” If you can’t seem to find any flaws in that person, it could indicate they have carefully cultivated an appearance of perfection, but no one is perfect. The truth is that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

5. Derogatory Comments about Exes or Other Family Members

When you’re on a first date, you really don’t want to hear them talking badly about their ex, mother, or child. It’s one thing to note that they have a difference of opinion with an ex or family member, but if they resort to calling that person names, it’s a red flag. If they’re willing to do that to someone they used to love or even still do, you should be aware that they will likely treat you the same way. It also indicates unresolved anger and a lack of boundaries. Neither one of those are good for a budding relationship.

6. Extensive Date Planning

If your date planned everything to a T for your first date, it might be because they want to sweep you off your feet, but it could also be because they like to have control over everything. Open-ended plans to the narcissist can feel like they don’t have any control over what happens. This desire for control will eventually extend to you too!

7. Subtly Bragging

People who rate highly on the narcissism continuum find ways to brag about themselves covertly. The narcissist is nothing if not an expert in impression management — it’s all about image — and to that end, they usually learn how to keep their arrogance in check in the initial stages of a relationship. Instead of bragging overtly, they’ll casually mention something they think makes them look impressive. For example, they might slip into the conversation that they only fly first-class as a way to brag about how much money they make, or they could casually mention their Ivy League degree. They can often do it so sophisticatedly that you might miss it. But look for the pattern because it very well could happen again.

8. Long-Term Love, but Short-Term Past

Although some narcissists have managed long-term relationships, many don’t last very long in a relationship, since their partner leaves after discovering their true nature. If your date keeps insisting that they want a long-term relationship, but their past relationships have all been short-term, that’s a hint that something’s not right. Take the hint!

9. They’re Rude to the Wait Staff

Although the wait staff represents a new audience for their charm, narcissists can easily become annoyed if the service isn’t perfect, particularly if they’re trying hard to impress you. In that case, they can become very rude to your waiter or waitress. This behavior might also happen to other people attending to your needs, such as a taxi driver or cashier at a store. Anyone who treats people disrespectfully will likely treat you the same way if you upset them at some point in the future. It’s a signal of pent-up rage, and they will most certainly unleash it on you at some point.

10. Impatient, Entitled Attitude

Pay attention to how your date handles delays or interferences. If the waitstaff isn’t Johnny on the Spot when he needs something, the narcissist will have a fit. If the table isn’t ready when you arrive for your reservation, the narcissist will vent some rage. If anything goes wrong, watch for complaints of poor service along with a poor tip. All of these are signs of toxic narcissism, and that impatience and entitlement will bleed into your relationship too.

It’s also important to be careful of what you have posted online. Narcissists will do their research to find out more about you, so they can lure you in. If it seems as though your date serendipitously likes everything you like — I mean every single thing — it could mean they’ve looked you up online, and it’s a red flag for narcissism. They’re looking to impress you, but remember that it’s only initially. You’ll see their true colors soon if you continue the relationship.

One last bit of advice: narcissists will often try to get you alone on a first date. They might even use guilt as a means of getting you to agree to meet them at their home instead of in a public location. This is dangerous in any first date situation, particularly if you only know the person from an online dating site. Never meet anyone in a private location on a first date. Always insist on your own transportation and meeting in a public location. That’s the best way to stay safe.

These guidelines will help you identify individuals who might not have your best interests in mind. It’s difficult enough to meet someone you’re truly interested in and develop a genuine relationship with. A narcissist isn’t capable of that, and they will only waste your time and hurt you. By educating yourself on what healthy behaviors in a relationship and on a first date look like, developing a strong sense of self, and raising your self-esteem, you can then enter a first date, and a relationship, with confidence and a sense of security. You deserve true happiness, so don’t settle for less than someone who is really right for you!

If you would like to discover more about the relationship with a narcissist, check out the book that I wrote about my true love story.

Certified relationship coach, Psychotherapist and Author