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I spent most of my 20s grateful to be out of the dating game. I didn’t foresee my divorce and reentry into said dating game in my 30s.
It’s a different world out there.
In the decade that I was married, a lot changed. Social media became prevalent, online dating became the norm and phones became platforms for texting and emojis more than actual conversation. I began navigating the new dating environment with a sense of trepidation, but also adventure.
In order to ensure that we have positive dating experiences, we need to be on the lookout for red flags. Certain behaviors are warning signs of potential problems. By learning to recognize the warning signs, we can often avoid the relationships that won’t be healthy for us.
Here’s a list of some of the red flags that have come up in the dating scene for me. May they be of benefit.
1) Avoiding questions.
If the person we’re getting to know avoids certain questions, there’s probably a good reason. I had a date refuse to give his last name. All I could think was, “Are you married with 10 kids on Facebook, and you don’t want me to see? Is your name on a sex offender registry? Have you recently been featured on America’s Most Wanted?” For me, avoiding such a basic question was highly suspect. Perhaps there was a good reason, but his refusal to even acknowledge the question seemed shady.
2) Texting inconsistencies.
We all have lives and jobs that keep us busy. However, if we notice that sometimes our text messages are completely ignored, this could be a warning sign. I had a potential date ignore all text messages after work. To me, this signaled that he had a relationship and couldn’t be responsive when at home, and I later confirmed that this was the case.
If we’re being made to feel that we’re crazy when in fact we are being perfectly rational, run!
4) Always the victim.
When the object of our interest seems to cast him or herself as the victim of a string of psycho exes, this may indicate that he or she is in fact the problem.
5) Never answers the phone or returns calls.
If someone is interested in us, they will make themselves available. If we can never reach them by phone, or find our calls screened most of the time, this may be an indication of emotional unavailability.
6) Half-a**ed apologies.
When we’re dating people who refuse to take responsibility for mistakes, we should beware. I spent time talking to someone who made insensitive jokes, but then blamed me for being hypersensitive when I expressed my discomfort. His apology essentially accused me of being the problem, and was a sign I needed to end the interaction.
7) Beware the general texts and endearments.
It’s so nice to receive a “Good morning, beautiful” text, but in my experience these types of messages are often mass texts sent to the many beautiful potential love interests in this person’s life.
People who are indiscreet about past sexual relationships are letting us know that they will be indiscreet about our own. We should think carefully about this before proceeding.
10) Relaxed attitude about contraception.
Yes, we all hate to have those conversations, but as women in particular, we need to be vigilant about protecting ourselves. People who have a relaxed attitude about contraception and display a lax attitude about protection may not be looking out for our best interests.
11) Won’t take no for an answer.
Many instances of rape are of the date rape variety. We need to be on guard against people who won’t take no for an answer. Even if they mean us no physical harm, this type of person has poor boundaries.
12) Already shows signs of wanting us to change.
If someone wants us to change at the beginning of the relationship, they’ll probably never be truly satisfied with us. Sometimes the indicators are subtle. For instance, I had a conversation with a potential romantic interest where I mentioned going out with friends and drinking. He asked if I planned to “slow down” now that I have kids. The implication was that I needed to slow down, when in fact the night out was a rare event, and my children were with their father. However, the question was loaded with judgment and indicated that this person might have different expectations for a relationship.
13) Suspicious and jealous behavior.
This is always a red flag. Lots of people have trust issues, but we should take this into consideration when dating someone who immediately displays a lack of trust based on past experiences.
14) Shows massive insecurity.
It’s not our job to give someone healthy self-esteem. In fact, after being in a long-term relationship with someone with low self-esteem, I can tell you that it’s impossible to convince someone of their worth when they don’t love themselves. Be kind, but move on.
15) Makes demeaning comments.
We need to take note of these types of comments and get out. Comfort levels differ, but if we feel that someone is being demeaning, that is reason enough to take some distance from the relationship.
16) Moves too fast.
When someone we date immediately talks marriage, moving in together or other serious relationship steps, we should heed it as a warning. Perhaps it’s over-eagerness or insecurity, but it may also be a red flag of instability. We can take the time to figure it out, but we need to be aware that it’s there.
17) Has never maintained a serious relationship.
When dating in our 30s, I think it’s important to figure out if the other person has ever maintained a serious relationship. While it might not be an indicator of anything, it’s always good to take into consideration. There may be red flags embedded in their story.
While this list may appear daunting, I’ve found that most of the men in the dating world are kind, intelligent, considerate people. (Of course, I’ve monitored red flags and not gone out with anyone who has raised one, so that has skewed my experiences to make them more positive.)
I feel strongly that by paying attention to the signs early on, we may avoid difficulties down the road.
This goes back to being attentive to our own intuition. By acknowledging red flags, we’re not making a judgment about the other person, but we are recognizing that there may be cause for concern—or even signals that this is not the person we need.
While the dating world is certainly an adventure, we can do our best to eliminate some of our discomfort just by being aware.
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” ~ Maya Angelou
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Toby Israel
Image: Insomnia Cured Here/Flickr