Detecting Dysfunction: How to Tell If Your Date Is Actually a Cannibal

Which came first, the Hannibal or the Hammer? Hannibal, as in Hannibal Lecter, perhaps the most terrifying movie villain ever, with a penchant for eating his victims, brilliantly portrayed by Anthony Hopkins. Hammer, as in Armie Hammer, the A-list actor who starred in numerous big-budget films until it slipped that Arnie, like Hannibal, is a cannibal!

The Bible tells us to “love thy neighbor.” It doesn’t say diddly squat about eating them! Apparently, some folks didn’t get the memo. Amazon headhunters, Jeffrey Dahmer, Marilyn Manson (rumors, nothing substantiated), and the aforementioned Mr. Hammer.

Bottom line: Flesh-eaters are out there and somebody’s got a date with one tomorrow! Because we want to keep you from becoming someone’s “guilty pleasure” delicacy, here’s how to tell if your date is looking for love at first…bite.

Know What to Look For

Technology has changed the dating scene by leaps and bounds. Sure, “meet markets” (gyms, bars, grocery stores, car washes, the emergency room) are still in abundance, but the vast majority of today’s hook-ups begin online. Dating apps like Tinder, Raya, OkCupid, and a zillion others connect the masses 24/7/365, allowing users to create their own profiles — literary bait, if you will — to go along with their most enticing pics. Because most cannibals won’t just come right out and say: “Oh, by the way, I’ve got a thing for human flesh,” and probably won’t be wearing “trophies” from previous victims (ears, fingers, toes, teeth) in their photos, you’ll have to read between the lines and hope they’ve written something that gives them away. Things like…

Long Pig

This cannibal term for “human” is centuries old. While many non-mammal meats are said to taste like chicken, human flesh has been likened to “gamey pork.”

Soup’s On!

Lots of folks list cooking among their hobbies, or claim to be an obsessed “foodie.” But when they start mentioning specific dishes on a dating profile, that’s a red flag. And when those dishes include soups and stews, that’s a big red flag fluttering in the breeze! Even cannibals with zero culinary acumen can boil water and drop a human in the pot.

Flattery Will Get You Everywhere (And Possibly Eaten)

Everyone loves a compliment. Niceties from potential dates will put a smile on your face every time. However, when a prospective mate throws out praise accompanied by adjectives commonly used to describe food (creamy, tasty, sweet, salty), it’s time to swipe left. If you’re already out on the date, we recommend excusing yourself to the restroom and never coming back!

Canine Companions

A good set of chompers will serve you well, not to mention look great for your photos. But teeth can also be a dead giveaway, as many cannibals have been known to file down their canines into vampire-like points, making that first bite really count, just in case their warm-blooded “treat” is still alive and kicking.

Don’t Be A “Chicken”

Truth or Dare can be a fun way of learning more about your date or breaking the ice to usher in an intimate moment. But if your new friend continually refers to you as “chicken” (not “a chicken,” just “chicken”), it might be their subconscious talking shouting, providing you with a dire warning, not to mention a window to their soul, er, stomach.

Tools of the Trade

If the date has gone well enough that you’ve accompanied them home (their place, not yours), keep your head on a swivel and your eyes probing for telltale signs of human consumption. It’s doubtful you’ll see assorted body parts just lying around (if there’s an extra freezer or two, it wouldn’t hurt to have a look inside), so you’ll need to be on the lookout for the kind of paraphernalia a cannibal would use to prepare his or her meals. Extra-extra-large pots (cauldrons!); an abundance of oversized meat hooks; a butcher block and knife set for a living room centerpiece; axes, hatchets, and chainsaws (if your date is a lumberjack, check the blades for traces of hair or skin); plastic tarps on the floor or shower curtains hanging in places other than the shower…virtually anything could make its way onto this list. If it looks like it belongs in an industrial kitchen and not a bachelor or bachelorette pad, run!

The Nose Knows

Finally, wearing cologne, perfume or one of those snazzy body sprays is a great way to make a first impression. But if your date goes in for a hug, takes a big whiff of you, and lingers…and lingers…and lingers, chances are they’re envisioning you on a serving tray with an apple stuffed in your mouth. Conversely, if your date smells like alcohol—not booze, mind you, but rubbing alcohol, or worse, embalming fluid—or if you detect some funky combination of herbs and spices (Old Bay, blackened seasoning, Armenian sumac, wasabi, and fish sauce), it’s time to make like a banana and split!

Taking a date to dinner is a great idea. Becoming dinner on a date—not so much.

Be careful out there!

Cover Photo: Christopher Robbins (Getty Images)