Why Grand Gestures Can Sometimes Be A Big Ol’ Red Flag When You First Start Dating Someone

Landing that first date with someone is a fairy tale moment. Trash on 500 Days of Summer all you want, but that moment where everyone’s dancing after Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel do the deed? Valid.

If you’re looking to start 2024 by jumping back onto the dating scene, you aren’t alone. December is a huge breakup season, as the holidays confront people to check in with their long-term goals and lives. I counted seven relationships in my social circle that ended suddenly before the new year alone.

Some have immediately gone onto dating apps and found rebounds to welcome in their new freedom (and numb the pain). But at some point, they’ve all asked the same questions. “How do I approach another person? How do relationships even start? Do I have ‘game?’”

I’m going to make a generalised statement, but recently single people are some of the most ill-adjusted people to enter the dating scene. But don’t hold it against them. They’ve had a routine to show gestures of love, show their special someone they care for them, be it through gifts, dates, plenty of personal attention, you name it.

If they find that spark and motivation with someone new, it’s valid for them to fall into old habits, and maybe project that onto someone. And with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, you can be sure heaps of folks are catching the love bug and searching for someone special to celebrate the day.

If you’re in the process of dating again, here’s how to not overdo it with a grand gesture.

Expensive Gift Giving

Image Credit: Barry / HBO

If you’re a romantic type, you may have picked up the idea that to win someone’s heart, you need to open with a grand, expensive gesture.

This can range between a spenny mall date, sending luxury gifts and flowers to them, or offering to pay for expensive dates. A great example of how this interaction can play out in real life is shown in the first season of Barry.

Barry (Bill Hader) shows up to his love interest, Sally’s (Sarah Goldberg) party with a new Macbook Pro after she mentioned feeling frustrated about needing a new computer. While Barry had good intentions, this action immediately soured Sally on Barry, as it was too grand a gesture and way too soon, and Sally pushed for a break so they could re-align their intentions for what was happening between them.

Whether you’re looking for love or have been in a long-term relationship, if your love language is gift-giving, it doesn’t hurt to find options for small gifts — like taking a walk in a nearby park and having a homemade coffee. You’ll immediately get involved in the process of making what they like.

If you’re looking to level up your home coffee beyond instant, Grinders Coffee batch roasts specialty coffee beans, carefully selected by a master roaster. Whether it’s grinding beans at home to make your own batch brew or using your french press with that perfect ground coffee, you can make your gift-giving experience an opportunity to get to know more about your date’s taste and show you care about their boundaries and preferences.

On the other hand, if you’re past the second date, and your housemates are terrible at giving you privacy, cosying up in a Grinders cafe and shouting their coffee order is always an option as well.

Saying “I love you” too early

You’re so real for this. If you’re just coming out of a relationship that wasn’t particularly healthy, finding someone new can be so exciting. It’s not rare to fall head over heels for someone quickly and wanting to share that it’s natural.

There isn’t an exact time frame for when you should say “I love you”, but once you say it, you’ve put it out there, and can’t take it back. Admitting love for someone is a declaration that you want to take the relationship to the next level. If it’s too early, you run the risk of alienating your partner, who isn’t ready to make that commitment just yet.

Introducing them to your family early

This one is a yikes on so many fronts. But let’s talk pros of this before diving into the many cons. The pros? It shows you’re family minded and ready to take the relationship seriously. From your date’s perspective as well, they get to know more about how you’ve grown up, and what family they might be joining in the long run.

But introducing that perspective right at the start of your relationship could be too fast. Similar to saying “I love you” too early, it drastically moves the relationship into a new area and pushes it into being exclusive too soon for some.

If your family’s approval of your partner is serious for you, check in with your date and ask them if they’re ready for that step and build towards that.

There’s no perfect blueprint for how a relationship should work, and what time frames people need to work on. But communication has to be key, and assumptions can’t be made. If you want to buy the person you’re new to dating an expensive gift, ask them before doing so.

If they say no, respect that, and understand why that gesture might make them uncomfortable. The more time you spend together, you’ll get to learn their life goals and intentions sooner, and eventually, you’ll be able to take those steps to a more official relationship.

Fancy Restaurant Dates

Much like expensive gift-giving, bringing your date out to a fancy and expensive restaurant can be a sweet gesture, but it can also put your date into an awkward situation. Even if someone offers to pay for the meal, that hefty price tag can make that kind gesture feel charged (no pun intended).

At the start of dating, it can come across as an intense act to show-off wealth, and perhaps a level of serious commitment the other party might not be ready for. When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, expensive dinner dates can be really cute — but they need to be discussed with a partner, especially if money is a pain point in the relationship.

Dedicated quality time is the most popular love language, and food dates are a great way option for finding quality time with someone. What’s better is that you don’t need always to hit up the most authentic Italian restaurant, or expensive fusion restaurant.

Great small options can be breaking from your regulars and going to a smaller restaurant or bar in a new suburb. Or even enjoying a Sunday sit down at a coffee spot like your local Grinders Coffee cafe is a comfortable date idea regardless of whether you’re newly dating or have been together for a few years. Having a nice cozy chat over a rich coffee and croissant, and giving your brain space to breathe is a great low-stakes way of spending quality time together.

Image Credit: Say Anything