dating

The early signs they’re not the right person for you, no matter how much you wish they are.

It’s their second date and Sienna has her legs pulled up under her, a scowl on her face, and her full attention on her phone.

When Matt’s flatmate arrives home the tension in the room is noticeable.

“I thought you were going out tonight?”

Matt rolls his eyes towards Sienna, sitting across the lounge from him. “She had a bad day.” He shrugs and his flatmate offers a sympathetic nod.

Four weeks later, Sienna is still in a bad mood. Even a wrong look from Matt sets off an argument and sends their date into cold-war zone.

Watch: What the horoscopes would be like dating. Post continues. 


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Matt’s friends could see from date number two that Sienna wasn’t the right girl for him, but it took him over a month to break it off. Like many of us, Matt is feeling lonely and, in his mid-twenties, he’s keen to find 'the one'.

The problem is the longer you spend dating the wrong one, the more time you waste. But loneliness is hard, so you stay in relationships you know won’t last. You stay because they’re attractive. You stay because you’re worried there won’t be anyone else. You stay because you’re sick of being single. All the while missing out on opportunities to find a better match.

Give people a chance (first impressions aren’t always right!), but be aware of the early warning signs that your date is wrong for you:

Your early dates turn bad

We put our best selves on display in the first few months of dating. It’s not pretending to be someone you’re not. It’s a normal reaction to meeting any new person you want to be accepted by. We do it with new friends, bosses, workmates, or when meeting our partner’s family for the first time...

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There’s a team development theory that calls this the “forming” stage in any new relationship. Everyone is a bit happier, friendlier, more polite and positive in this stage. When we like someone romantically, it’s supercharged. Just being near them puts us in a good mood and makes us want to be our best selves.

If you want to know if your date likes you, sexual psychophysiologist and neuroscientist, Nicole Prause, Ph.D. says you can tell by their behaviour whether or not they’re feeling any chemistry.

Couples who are into each other laugh and smile more, sit close, and want to touch each other. They make more eye contact and even their voice changes pitch. This can last for months. Unless, that is, your date’s not feeling it.

Sienna wasn’t having a bad day, she just wasn’t feeling the chemistry with Matt. She didn’t care if she made a bad impression or not. Perhaps she was dating him for the same reasons he was dating her: loneliness.

Someone who feels chemistry with you will:

  • Be flirty and happy around you.
  • Make eye contact and hold it longer than normal.
  • Want to touch you, sit next to you, talk with you.
  • Laugh and smile a lot.
  • Show you their best side upfront. They’ll want to make a good impression on you.

They don’t get you

Chemistry is important but compatibility is what makes your relationship last the distance. It’s going to be tough long-term if your date doesn’t understand where you’re coming from. It’ll be challenging if you mis-communicate often. It’ll be almost impossible if you have completely different values and personalities.

On one of my first dates with my fiancé Ben, we were driving to the movies. I sat in the passenger seat laughing so hard I was almost crying.

He looked over at me with a sweet smile. “I like that you get my sense of humour,” he said. We’d been friends before we started dating and I’d always had a lot of fun with Ben.

“Everyone finds you funny,” I said.

He shook his head. “Not everyone! I dated one girl I thought I really liked, but she just gave me a look every time I made a joke. She didn’t find anything I said funny. It ended up being a bit awkward.”

He knew he couldn’t make it work with someone he couldn’t laugh with. It’s important to Ben to have fun and laugh. It’s one of his main values.

You don’t need to date a clone of yourself, but you do need to be compatible in areas that are important to you. If you notice a mismatch early on, don’t wait around for them to change — when it comes to values and personality, what you see is what you get.

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Someone who’s compatible with you will:

  • Make you feel comfortable to be yourself.
  • Enjoy your company.
  • Be easy to spend time with. You have fun together.
  • Like you as a person.
  • Have similar values (or respect for your values).
  • Have a personality that matches well with yours. Extreme introverts and extreme extroverts for example would have to be very patient and understanding in a relationship together!

You’re hot, they’re lukewarm

There’s nothing wrong with falling for people quickly, being in love feels fantastic, but sometimes it blinds you to the obvious —

They aren’t into the relationship as much as you are.

I dated a guy in my early twenties and, because I love being in love, fell hard for him very quickly. He was a few years older than me and wore his hair a little long, his dark curls falling into his big brown eyes. I thought he was gorgeous. He had a cool confidence that drew me in from the start.

“You know, you look a lot like my ex. I think that’s why I find you attractive,” he said after a few weeks of dating. The way he said it made it clear he wasn’t over her. It should have been a huge warning sign, but I ignored it – people have a type, right?

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud discuss 'soft ghosting' in the modern dating world. 


We dated for a year, but it was always me making the effort. I rang him. I drove to his house to hang out. I bought him little gifts. If I didn’t make contact, there was none.

He never wanted to talk about the future or anything deeper than what had happened that week. We went on dates, hung out with friends, and kept conversation light and shallow. When he took a job in another town, an hour's flight away, I realised I’d been temporary company, nothing more. He didn’t see a future with me and he certainly wasn’t 'the one'.

Someone who’s into you will:

  • Make contact. They’ll make an effort to see you regularly.
  • Introduce you to friends and family.
  • Talk about the future. When they mention their plans, you’re in them.
  • Show physically they’re into you and not just in the bedroom. They’ll place a hand on your back when you’re waiting in line at the shops, give a little touch or smile when you’re out at a party with friends.
  • Remember little things you tell them. They’re keen to know what you think, to hear about your interests, and to talk on a deeper level.

The first few months of dating should be fun and easy. If things are heading in a negative direction from the start, move on. Yes, loneliness is hard but bad relationships are hard too. If you stay together — even when you know they’re not right for you — you waste their time and yours.

The right person will be into you, they’ll make an effort, share your values, and enjoy your company. They’re worth waiting for.

Kelly Eden is a writer and writing coach living in New Zealand. Ready to tell your own story? Get free weekly writing tips.

This post originally appeared on Medium and has been republished with full permission. 

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