holding hands
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First dates are full of mystery. For many people, part of the fun of meeting someone new is uncovering the unknown with high hopes of discovering something wonderful. Getting to know a person who may potentially be a new love interest is an exciting time. Typically a first date is accompanied by a flurry of anticipation. Visions of kindness, fun, and other positive attributes are usually imagined prior to the big day.

Unfortunately, the reality does not always match the fantasy. Sometimes lurking behind the mystery are personality traits that are not so favorable and bear no resemblance to initial fantasies and high hopes for a potential good relationship.

A first date is a good time to get to know someone better. No decisions about partnerships have to be made, pressure is generally low and yet, at the same time, get the opportunity to feel someone out. If you pay attention, you can get an up close and personal glimpse of how the "real" person is, not just what you've seen in the fantasy.

While abusive attributes may or may not emerge during a first date, there are some tell-tale signs which may indicate a new potential partner might have some abusive tendencies.

Body Language

An individual's body language is usually a pretty good indicator of personality traits. If you watch your date's body language carefully you'll probably be able to pick up a few vibes on their true self. For instance does your date's body language indicate he or she feels superior to others? Does your date's body movements dominate and appear overbearing to you? If a person you barely know is protective of you to the point where it is uncomfortable, this may be a red flag.

Is Invasive of Personal Space

A first date is not a full-blown relationship, and if your date spends an inordinate amount of time analyzing your routines, personal habits and space, this may be another bad sign. This isn't necessarily the sign of an abuser, but it might show the person might be easily sparked with jealousy and suspicion of what you do, where you go and who you you go with.

Extreme jealously could be a sign of future abuse if the person gets easily angry with his or her partner's friends, family, personal routines or activities. If any of this type of behavior shows up on a first date, this is not appropriate and is a big red flag.

It is one thing to be truly interested in a date's lifestyle, however anything that extends beyond curiosity and "getting to know you" could be another thing entirely. If someone becomes too invasive of personal space on a first date - run the other way.

What Do His or Her Eyes Say?

It is often said eyes illuminate one's soul. Studying your date's eyes is another good way to identify a potential abuser. Do his or her eyes shift or appear to be hiding something? Is there a coldness, angry or emotionless (a "dead" look) in his or her eyes?

Angry eye
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One thing to especially look out for is whether or not a person's expressions do not match impeccable behavior or good manners. This may show there is something he or she is trying to hide.  It is normal to be on one's "best behavior" on a first date, however eyes often will betray and/or expose any hidden agendas or bad traits.

How Does Your Date Speak?

The words your date chooses when he or she speaks is another good thing to watch. Is your date critical of others either directly, subtly or have a tendency to put others down in any shape or form? Since an abusive person tends to put others down in a mean way in a veiled attempt to be humorous, this could indicate abusive tendencies, especially if a constant stream of belittling is present during the date.

Does your date casually mention he or she has a temper? This is something to consider - why would he or she mention it on the first date? You might want to ask a few more questions about this, Madame Noire notes it may lead to talking about needing anger management classes. 1

Also be on the lookout for any types of lies or inconsistencies when your date speaks. While this may not mean he or she is an abuser, it could also be a red warning flag. Relationships are better when built on trust.

Treatment of Others

Abusers treat other people badly, but it may not be obvious at first. On a first date a person is typically out to impress, so his or her behavior may swing to the other side of the pendulum and shower you with kindness; it is important to see how your date treats others you encounter during the date. Does he or she come across as kind and empathetic or dismissive and a lack of respect? Is your date callous in attitude towards taxi drivers, wait staff in restaurants or other people met during the course of the date?  

Even if your date is treating you with the utmost respect, this could be a guise to cover abusive tendencies. Any nasty or terrible treatment of other people is another red flag.

red warning flag
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Former Relationships

It is not uncommon to discuss past relationships in the "getting to know you" phase, and sometimes this topic may come up on a first date. If it does, listen carefully to your date's tone about his or her ex(es). How he or she speaks about previous loves may give you insight to his or her personality when it comes to relationships.

Even relationships that ended very badly can be spoken with civility or at least dismissed as being too difficult to talk about. Look for issues of rage, extreme anger or similar signals if an ex is discussed. If all your date's breakups seemed to end badly or still appear to invoke anger - watch out - there may be a good reason all those people are no longer in a relationship with your date.

Abusers who don't even make an attempt to hide their behavior are sending you a strong message, listen to them! Anyone who verbally or physically lashes out or acts inappropriately with no sense to try and hide it is telling you he or she is abusive. In this kind of scenario, run as fast as you can.

Attitude Towards Pets and Animals

Talking about pets can offer a good deal of insight to your date and provide some idea of his or her personality. Does your date like animals? People who exhibit signals of outright cruelty to animals may not be good relationship material either. Indifference to pets or animals isn't necessarily a bad thing, but meanness would be. Any malice shown to animals is telling. On the other hand if your date seems to be caring and kind to animals, and perhaps has pets of his or her own, could be a good sign.

Puppy in carpet
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Go with your gut instinct, most of the time it is a good leader to follow. If something about your date doesn't sit with you right from the get-go, make your break as soon as you can and be careful not to put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation.

Each of the above attributes doesn't automatically mean abuse, however they are signals to watch to help decide whether or not a date is an abusive person.