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Gaslighting and other dating red flags from 2022

Dating in the Bay Area can be tough. Here's hoping for a better 2023. | Getty Images

As 2022 comes to an end and your extended family has declared open season on the topic of your love life at the holiday dinner table, it’s time to reflect on a whole year of dating in the Bay Area—just maybe not within earshot of your judgmental aunt.

As you pause to reflect on the last 365 days of awkward first dates, getting left on read and bewildering mixed signals, you may find that even you don’t know how to explain this past year to yourself

According to an analysis of Bumble profiles, San Franciscans say they are interested in concerts, art, cooking, photography and video games.

But considering that Webster’s Dictionary picked “gaslighting” as the 2022 Word of the Year—and judging by a brief anecdotal poll conducted by yours truly—it seems relationship-seekers don’t know what they want in a romantic partner … and that those who do often have a hard time snagging someone who satisfies all their prerequisites.

Thankfully, as the third year of the pandemic winds down, the social upheavals of the recent past are bearing the fruit of self-knowledge, and many of us are better equipped to identify toxic traits in ourselves and others. In the spirit of self-discovery, self-improvement and finding a beau who won’t ghost us after the second date, we’ve assembled a few of the telltale red flags that locals encountered while dating in 2022.

So here’s to a happy, healthy and heartache-free 2023! And remember: If it walks, talks and leaves you emotionally disoriented like a situationship, it probably is one.

Couples at Friends and Family in Oakland | Courtesy Friends and Family

The ‘Talking Stage’

🚩 They aren’t taking the initiative to make concrete, in-person plans.

Cora Kyler has been single and dating in the Bay Area for the last four years. The 26-year-old is also the co-founder of Soon, a new dating app—which is making its debut on Valentine’s Day (naturally). While Kyler says there’s an upside to the Bay Area’s dating pool of ambitious, career-driven singles, there are some noticeable pitfalls, like hitting it off with someone who’s too busy to meet—also known as getting caught in the “talking stage.”

“When you start to get to know someone here, there’s a lurking suspicion that they’re trying to fit you into their free time as opposed to making getting to know someone a priority,” said Kyler.

In her professional and personal research, Kyler has found that the talking stage is a common cause of death for many a romantic entanglement.

A couple of tourists admire the Golden Gate Bridge from the top deck of San Francisco Deluxe Tours double-decker bus. | Camille Cohen

The Math Isn’t Mathing

🚩 You feel emotionally whiplashed by how they communicate with you.

The Standard’s arts reporter Christina Campodonico has actually really enjoyed dating in the Bay Area. What she’s not enjoying is a tale older than Bumble: mixed signals.

Campodonico is upfront about what she wants. She even lays out her relationship goals and intentions in her Hinge profile. Others are not so straightforward, leaving her entirely confused. 

“To this day I question, ‘Is this guy really into me?’” she said. “I have all this evidence to suggest he is, but I don’t know.”

Earlier this year, after five dates and what she thought was a strong connection, Campodonico was told—out of the blue—that the guy she was dating just wasn’t getting “best friend” vibes from her. To this day, she’s not entirely sure what that means.

Hey, You Do You

🚩 You’re not tryna pick up precisely what they’re putting down.

In 2022, Martin Foley was looking for love. In July, the 23-year-old from Oakland planned a romantic first date. He took his date to an Oakland driving range that doubled as a restaurant and bar—packing some White Claws, so they could sip between swinging their clubs. It went well.

Later on, she invited Foley to a party she was throwing. While there, he saw her flirting with someone else. She came up to Foley later to say hello, and then she and Foley made out.

“It was all very bohemian,” he said.

Foley wasn’t uncomfortable with the turn of events per se, but in the end he was looking for something less casual and perhaps less polyamorous.

Do you have stories about love and dating in the Bay Area?