As Dr. Seuss never said, “One flag, two flag, red flag, OK BYE.” My approach to first dates is to always have an open mind and never be too quick to judge. I’m a huge advocate of giving a guy another shot with a second date, but sometimes the flags can’t be ignored and you just know that he isn’t exactly right for you. These flags, some more superficial than others, but still deserving of attention, act as my guide through the awkward muck that is a first date.
The first red flag is that he doesn’t appreciate or respect your opinions, hobbies or interests. Notice I didn’t say anything about him having to agree. Always being in agreement isn’t necessary; it’s kind of boring, actually, but when I tell you that my all time favorite movie is “You’ve Got Mail” and you make a pretentious comment, I will not respond well! I’m not asking you to match my level of love and devotion for “Shopgirl” and “NY152,” mainly because that would be impossible and weird, but just for you to show genuine interest in what I like. I promise I’ll do the same and smile when you say you enjoy one or two Macklemore songs.
Red flag number two is there are too many awkward silences. It wouldn’t be a first date without a fair amount of lulls in the conversation, but if we’ve said more words in total to the bartender than to each other, this will not work. I prefer guys who are on the talkative side, so if our date turns into a glorified one-hour staring contest, I’m going to chalk this one up to an L on the dating scoreboard. Good game, good game, good game, great effort, good game…
The only thing worse than a guy who doesn’t talk at all is a guy who won’t stop talking about his ex. I don’t mention this because it makes me feel insecure (OK, maybe a little, I’m human), but because it’s not very interesting. I’m sure Julie was totally in the wrong when she ended things over email while you were studying abroad in Europe, but let’s not waste fun first date energy dwelling on the past. Running me through your entire dating history tells me one of three things: I’m a rebound, you’re not over an ex or you’re very bad at relationships. If you didn’t notice a theme, here’s a hint: they are all bad things.
Another red flag is when his phone is our third wheel, or maybe I’m the third wheel to him and his phone. Whichever the case, it’s extremely telling when someone can’t separate himself from his phone for an hour. Oh, you just want to check how your most recent tweet is doing. Oh wow, three retweets! Amazing. No, this is not okay. Be a normal person. Here’s how: Excuse yourself from the table and go to the bathroom to tweet, text your friend, call your mom, check your JSwipe messages or whatever it is that needs to be done right this minute. I’ll wait.
And finally, I’ll leave you with four completely superficial reasons I knew the guy was a no-go:
1. He thought Phoebe was the worst character on “Friends.”
2. He didn’t recognize the name Nora Ephron.
3. He told me that Panic at the Disco! was better than the Ramones.
4. He wore a gold chain.
I know I write a lot about the scandalous things I’ve done thanks to the wonders of Tinder, but you should believe me when I say I go into a lot of these dates with the prospect of finding Mrs. Hogan.
Obviously I’ve had other intentions for some of my dates, but the dating world gets old pretty quick, even for a guy like me. “Aw, poor Matt. He’s sick of going out with beautiful women all the time.” Yeah, as a matter of fact, I am. I want a girl with some substance who I can bring home to Mama Hogan and for once make her proud of me.
A few of the Tinder girls I’ve gone out with I’d consider as girlfriend material, but most of them, definitely not. I have a pretty extensive checklist of girlfriend deal-breakers. Here’s a look at the major ones on my list.
I’ve been “catfished”: It hasn’t happened often — maybe once or twice out of all the dates I’ve been on — but there are girls who sold themselves as models in their pictures and then ended up looking like the Lochness Monster when we went out. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m shallow. Sorry, but looks are important to me, especially if I have to wake up next to you every morning for the rest of my life.
She’s too trashy: You’d think I wouldn’t have boundaries like this, but I don’t want my future son to have to climb fake boobs and avoid nipple rings every time he has to breastfeed. And God forbid I should have a girl, I don’t want her saying things like, “But mommy has a tattoo of angel wings on her lower back!” FYI: I went on a few dates with a crazy girl who had an angel wings tramp stamp, 32 triple Ds (fake, obviously) and a tongue ring (not a nipple ring, but let’s not argue over semantics at this point).
She’s too nice: I know, I just said not too trashy, but there has to be some sort of happy medium here. I went on a few dates with a girl who was an absolute sweetheart. She had a good job, and she could cook, too, but she just seemed too sweet. I need a girl who will drop the occasional F bomb and say something sick and perverted every now and again. Susie Homemaker isn’t going to cut it.
She’s not a working girl: Sorry, I want a girl with a real job. I don’t want to end up marrying one of the “Real Housewives of Hell’s Kitchen.” And by work, I mean at somewhere other than Hooters. You don’t have to be my sugar mama — although I wouldn’t mind that — but I don’t want to be the sole breadwinner; it’s way too much pressure on me and writing just isn’t a steady gig … until a major studio decides to pick up my Tinder stories for a movie. (I see myself being played by Tom Hardy.)
She’s not the sharpest tool in the shed: I might have the maturity level of a 5-year-old, but I can hold an intelligent conversation… I’d like a girl who can do the same. Not like the time I went out on a date with a girl who played Trivia Crack all night and needed my help with every question. For example: “This planet’s nickname is the “Red Planet.” Her first response after looking at the choices was, “Well, it’s definitely not Mars.” My response: “That’s actually the only answer it could be.” I’d like to point out that her hair was also dyed bright red. #Irony
Head to amNY.com/dating every Friday, as Matthew and Kelly take on the realities of dating in NYC from both sexes’ points of view. To inquire about NYC dating advice, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your question may appear in a future column, but no names will be used.