You’ve probably heard everyone from your grandma to Dr. Phil warn you about red flags in romantic relationships, and I’ve got a few to add to the list! I’ve found in my clinical work with singles and couples that there are a few red flags that are more serious – or redder, if you will – than others. If you break into a mild sweat as you read the list below, it can’t mean something good!
Drinking too much. There’s no question that dating can be stressful and intimidating, and that a little alcohol can help grease the wheels and put you at ease. But what about the date who drinks too much? Walk away, period. There’s no need to expand any further – you’ll know it when you see it, and you have to kick that date to the curb right away. Don’t overthink it – just do it and thank me for it later.
Asking questions that are extremely personal. Saying “yes” to an invitation for a date does not grant your date a VIP pass to your most private thoughts and feelings. If it’s one of the first few dates, the questions asked and comments shared should be fairly generic. At this point, each of you is trying to get enough information quickly to determine whether there is sufficient interest, attraction and similarity to support having a full-fledged relationship. It’s natural to share some basic details of your life and to ask your date some basic details about his or hers, but going any deeper should be reserved for people whom you know well and trust.
Asking or talking about sex. If your date talks about what he or she likes sexually or asks what you like on one of the first dates, your date just might be a sex addict. (I wish I were kidding.) This is a serious red flag (showing no respect for boundaries) and you need to walk the other direction when you see it early in a dating relationship.
Acts rudely or disrespectfully to others during the date. It never fails: I hear people say every day that they didn’t see the warning signs until it was too late. Actually, what really happens is that the warning signs are noted but are then swept under the rug in an anxious plea to block out the negative and only see the positive. If you are on a date with someone who acts rudely to wait staff, cashiers, or others, don’t set off on a sermon about how to treat people – save your energy for someone better. Trust me: If you choose to continue dating, sooner or later you will end up on the receiving end of that nastiness.
Talking about an ex negatively. No joke: Head for the hills if your date starts mouthing off about his or her ex. Relationships rarely end because of the fault of only one member of the couple, so anyone who speaks badly about an ex on a date lacks insight into why the relationship really failed. When someone speaks badly about an ex so soon with someone new, it’s a clear sign that he or she is still bitter and angry. Starting a new relationship while you still feel bitter about your ex is like a carrying a suitcase of gasoline into the new relationship. A new relationship that is overloaded with negativity too soon will inevitably crash and burn.
Having a jealous streak. Believe it or not, jealous lovers are obvious from the start. If you’re on a date with someone who has a jealous streak, you can identify that streak by looking for the following signs: asking too many questions about your past relationships; asking too many questions about the type of person you’re attracted to; tracking your eyes when you’re out and following them to see who you’re looking at; and asking you questions that seem too specific about who you socialize with on any given occasion. I believe completely in the possibility for someone to change, but jealousy is one of the harder traits to treat and it takes a long time in therapy (often a couple years or more) for the jealous individual to understand what causes the jealousy and to learn how to let it go.
Too good to be true. Ever notice a pillow propped up on a couch that has a nifty little proverb stitched or needlepointed on it? Well, the world is littered with decorative pillows that offer some sort of expression about how things that appear too good to be true often really are too good to be true. It’s natural on a date to put your best foot forward, but it’s not natural to lie. In the best case scenario, the person who appears too good to be true is actually insecure and anxious, and feels that he or she has to embellish facts out of an underlying fear that he or she isn’t interesting enough. In the worst case scenario, the person who appears too good to be true is sociopathic. Either way, don’t pursue it!
In this article, I have captured only a few of the most serious red flags. Beware these red flags, in particular, and protect yourself emotionally with all your might.
Have you encountered any of the above red flags– and how did you handle it?
Dr. Seth Meyers has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve