We Asked Vancouverites to Share Their Dating Red Flags: Here Are the Results

What are the biggest red flags for dating in Vancouver?

Last February, I put a call out on social media asking Vancouverites for their biggest dating red flags—partly so I could compile them into an educational post for Valentine’s day, and partly because I am a lover of drama. And folks, you delivered.

Like with any public survey, results varied. In fact, some directly contrasted each other. (For example, one response called “eating animals” a red flag, while another said “being vegan or vegetarian.” Um, okay?) These two responses bring up a question I’d like to address: What is a red flag, exactly?

Webster’s dictionary (seriously) defines a red flag as “something that indicates or draws attention to a problem, danger, or irregularity.” For the purposes of this story, a red flag isn’t just something that annoys you about a person—although we did get plenty of responses like that, from “slacklining” to “actors”—it’s a legitimate sign that this person is not someone you want to be dating.

Legitimacy is, of course, subjective. So we won’t dwell too much on this. But before we get started on Vancouverites’ top 6 dating red flags, I wanted to share a few specific one-offs that I found entertaining, if not particularly practical:

“At the restaurant, they order extra food for takeout and expect you to pay the bill.”
This is an extreme power move. And definitely not a good sign.

“When you can smell someone’s scalp.”
I actually debated even putting this one in because it’s so viscerally disgusting.

“They don’t own any furniture because they’re just renting.”
This brings up more questions than answers. No furniture? Like not even a bed?

“He vapes while he drives.”
Was this guy 16?

“Prefers to drink a glass of milk with each course during a tasting menu.”
I hate to yuck anyone’s yum, but this preference has a very specific bad energy.

Okay, and now for our top 6. These were the answers we got over and over, from folks of all genders.

Red Flag #6: They don’t care about the environment.

This came up lots of times in different ways: from not owning any reusable bags for grocery shopping to not owning a green bin or recycling, Vancouverites just don’t think killing the planet is sexy. Naysayers might point out that individual attempts to limit our carbon footprint are futile since corporations are responsible for basically all of our carbon emissions. But still: making no effort whatsoever to combat climate change? Ick.

Red Flag #5: They won’t go to the suburbs.

We love this city (obviously, we named our magazine after it) but, as one iconic wooden-puppet-turned-real-boy put it, “I’ve got the whole world to see.” From “they won’t cross a bridge or take a tunnel” to “they don’t leave the downtown core,” we got plenty of responses bemoaning dates who refused to explore other parts of world—or even other parts of the lower mainland. North Van is scenic, Steveston is the stuff smalltown Hallmark is made of (literally) … if they won’t give the suburbs a chance, they’re probably pretty closed-minded.

Red Flag #4: They talk about their ex, like, all the time.

This isn’t specific to Vancouver, but it was one of our most popular responses. People who can’t help but talk about their last relationship likely have some feelings they need to deal with, and should maybe be looking for a therapist instead of a new date. We also got lots of “They say all their exes are crazy,” which is a classic red flag. Look for the common denominator, buddy.

Red Flag #3: They don’t ask you any questions about yourself.

A first date is a spectacular opportunity to get to know someone, but apparently a lot of Vancouverites would rather use it as a chance to stage a one-person show of their life story. Starring: Them! For one night only! Hopefully. Because if they spend the whole date talking about themselves and don’t seem interested in you, they’re probably not worth your interest.

Red Flag #2: They take you to a chain restaurant on your first date.

No hate to chains. (We mean it. Chain restaurant, if you’re reading this, no hate.) This was our number-two response, though, and the folks who feel this way have no doubt had some not-so-great experiences. And unless you matched on Tinder because of your mutual love of chains (it happens), taking someone to a restaurant that they have inevitably been to before isn’t super brave. But even if you do pick a chain, at least don’t fly red flag #1…

Red Flag #1: They are rude to service staff.

Out of all the responses we received, this was by far the most common. Being a shitty patron at a restaurant won’t just earn you a strained smile from your server (who, by the way, has already dealt with three anti-vaxxers this shift): it will also earn you a terrible reputation with your date. Don’t be an asshole, especially to the folks who are serving you. Disrespect in this kind of environment is something that nearly every decent person sees as a huge red flag.

This story was originally published in February 2022.

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