They want advice on dating, marriage, break-ups, or just want some fresh ideas about where to hide the body (kidding, sort-of). It seems as though most people want to know specific relationship red flags ‘” those subtle clues that indicate a dating prospect is probably not the best catch ‘” and how to spot them before they are knee-deep in loserville.
I’m not just talking about the obvious and well-known red flags either. You’re familiar with the universal list: he’s married, she’s a gold digger, a 16-page criminal record or any outstanding warrants, gang affiliations (if he only wears red, that might be your first clue), addictions, multiple kids with multiple people (and when I say multiple, I mean like — eight), when you wake up the next morning with anything itching or burning, the phrase “I’m allergic to condoms,” controlling behavior, excessive jealousy or aggression, violent behavior, or when a person mistreats their parents. I could go on, but you get the point. Most people are already familiar with these red flags and avoid them like the plague and if they don’t, well — that’s a whole other article.
So, in the spirit of helping others maneuver through the proverbial mine field of dating and relationships, I have put together a list of some of the more subtle red flags from my own experiences (both personal and professional) as well as the experiences of my single friends and clients. Print it out; stick it in your wallet or purse. If you see any of the following red flags, run like hell in the opposite direction! (Or, just walk really really fast)
1. “I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me?”
Losers — we all know them and (hopefully) can spot them pretty quickly. They are 45, unemployed, living at home with their parents, have no transportation (in a city where it’s necessary), have never had a bank account, and are constantly borrowing money from friends. Most people will agree that this is a pretty obvious red flag; however, you’d be surprised how crafty and convincing they can be with their excuses. “I’m in between jobs, but I already have something lined up.” “I prefer to pay for everything in cash.” “I’m building a house and staying with the ‘rents in the meantime.” You get the idea. Don’t be sucked into becoming a sugar daddy ‘” or momma ‘” for a loser, no matter how cute they are.
2. “I’m separated.”
I personally have never had any experience with anyone who is either crazy or stupid enough to tell me that he is “separated, but not divorced” and is still living with or maintaining some kind of relationship with his ex. However, I have friends who have run into this type of situation numerous times. My darlings, if a person tells you they are separated, isn’t divorced yet, and is still maintaining some sort of relationship with their ex ‘” they are still married. Of course there are people who are separated and in the process of a divorce who are dating again. However, they typically do not maintain relationships with the person they are divorcing. I’m just saying.
3. “A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits.”
If a person is constantly spouting their goals, dreams, and ambitions but never seems to complete anything ‘” red flag alert. It’s one thing to occasionally set your goals a tad bit high or on the unrealistic side and find yourself having trouble reaching them; it’s another altogether to never accomplish a single thing you set out to do in your lifetime. If a person is constantly quitting or failing they either: a) are not aware of their own limitations, which is a red flag in and of itself or b) are all bark and no bite. Either way, these people are not ones I’d deem as having any serious long-term potential.
4. “Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?”
You know the type. Generally, if you have not been provided with enough information to give to the police, you are dealing with a shady individual. Additional clues might include the following: never invites you over, refuses to introduce you to friends or family, owns more than one cell phone, always puts their cell phone on silent or vibrate in your presence. This person might possibly be in the witness protection program ‘” it’s probably a safe bet not to get involved.
5. “See, what had happened was — “
Horace Smith once said “Inconsistency is the only thing in which men are consistent.” However, if you find that an individual never follows through, is always canceling plans, and frequently telling you stories that don’t add up, then you’re dealing with a little more than just coincidental inconsistency. Ask yourself if you want to spend the rest of your life questioning what your partner tells you. Chances are, you probably don’t.
6. “Technologically savvy aka cyber-whore.”
If the person you’re dating text messages, e-mails, or pokes you on Facebook more than they actually call or spend time with you, get the hell out of dodge. First of all, the advances in internet technology provide way too much room for people to maintain multiple “cyber relationships” at the same time. Secondly, if a person is genuinely interested in you, they are going to want to actually speak to you and will only settle for the phone if a face-to-face encounter isn’t possible. If you have any questions about this one, you probably need to read He’s Just Not That Into You. Fellas, the same applies to you.
7. “Not now, I’m busy.”
They’re never available, you can never get a hold of them, they don’t ever make an effort to spend time with you, they let you do all the work, and if they do spend time with you, they’re always texting or on the phone with someone else. Another possible clue for the “busy bee” is that they are always on the move ‘” to the next party or social event. If a person can’t make time to spend with you in the beginning, when they are still supposed to be riding that infatuated high, it will not get better over time. Trust me. So, unless you’re fine with being neglected, might as well opt for someone who actually makes some time to invest in you and the relationship.
8. “I’ve got a Stage Five Clinger.”
If it’s only been a week and she is already planning the wedding, if he is already calling you “wifey” and the first date isn’t over yet, if she’s already planning the color scheme for your future nursery, or if there are tampons under your sink after two days ‘” abandon ship. Jump! Enough said.
9. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
It is true that, when two people are in love, a little bit of distance and missing each other is completely healthy and can strengthen a relationship. However, if the only way you get along with your partner is when the two of you are in two different countries, you might want to rethink the relationship. It might be nice to date someone that you actually like having in the same zip code ‘” just some food for thought.
10. “So, back to ME — “
If every sentence out of a person’s mouth begins with “I,” they are self-absorbed. So unless you’re into worshipping someone with little-to-no reciprocation, it may be time to cut your losses. If someone wants to get to know you, they will ask questions about you and will be (surprise!) interested in the answers. If the only person they care to know is themselves, let them date a mirror.
11. “All of my exes are psycho.”
It’s definitely a warning sign of things to come when someone is on bad terms with every single one of their exes, when all of their relationships ended badly, and when they are constantly badmouthing the people they dated. Consider this: in a few months, that person that (s)he’s dogging may be you.
12. “Friends? What friends?”
If someone can’t maintain long-term relationships and has no close friendships, chances are they are socially stunted, emotionally unavailable, and/or ill-equipped for meaningful interpersonal contact. Or, maybe they’re just a jerk. Who knows? But one thing is for certain, there is definitely a reason if a person doesn’t have any close relationships and that reason probably doesn’t mean positive things for relationship possibilities of the future.
The “Compliment Hunter” is constantly seeking either approval or attention ‘” or both. They will always play the victim. They will make what I refer to as “fishing” statements, which are designed to evoke a complimentary response from you. For example, “I look fat in everything I wear!” would be code for, “Tell me that I’d still be gorgeous and thin if I was dressed in a garbage bag.” Don’t get me wrong, everyone wants to be complimented, but there is a very thin line between occasionally fishing for compliments and being attention/approval seeking. The thing about attention seeking people is that they are completely exhausting; having to reassure someone 24/7 takes a toll and gets old faster than you can say, “No, honey, you look great!”
14. “Do you really need another degree?”
If your partner doesn’t support your goals and ambitions, get rid of them. Unless you are completely out of touch with reality (aka delusional), your partner should be your biggest advocate and number one cheerleader. Period.
15. “And you say he’s just a friend — “
After you’ve begun dating someone exclusively, if they introduce you as “a friend,” that should send up a blinking neon red flag. If someone is into you, they are proud to let the world know it.
16. “Real love isn’t ambivalent.”
Ambivalence involves things like constant game playing and commitment phobia. It also includes being wishy-washy or sending mixed signals. If a person digs you, you’ll know it. You won’t have to scour through five books in the self-help aisle to figure it out. Although a little mystery and intrigue can be exciting, there is a difference between keeping someone on their toes and just messing with their head. Who needs that?
17. “I’m sorry, were you saying something?”
If your partner is unable to maintain meaningful conversations, you might want to envision the future. If the two of you stay together, what the hell will you do with each other when you’re 80 years old if you can’t talk? Read between the lines here, people.
18. “I must’ve left my wallet at home.”
Ladies, this one is for you. If your guy forgets his wallet or doesn’t offer to pay, politely tell him that he can also forget your number. Whereas I’m the world’s biggest advocate for women’s lib and equal rights, the chivalrous thing to do is at least offer.
19. “Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad.”
I have always said that people will do (to you) whatever you let them get away with. If a person hits below the belt or disrespects you during a fight, that line will be easier to cross with every argument. Put your foot down and set your boundaries in the beginning. Only you can decide how you’ll allow yourself to be treated and then hold others to that standard.
20. “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
It’s a cliche because it’s true. I’m not saying that you should break up with someone for having uneven ears if a person seems otherwise perfect for you. Just recognize that no one is perfect and although you may not be able to see someone’s flaws right away, everyone has them. You will have to decide which flaws are tolerable and which are non-negotiable and then — well, refuse to settle for less.
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