Red flags when dating are stop signs that tell you to turn back.
If you continue going, you’ll probably waste your time or worse—get hurt.
Knowing red flags doesn’t guarantee we’ll head their caution. But it does make it more likely we’ll make better decisions.
Read on to learn 19 common red flags when you’re dating.
A red flag is a big no-no when dating. When you come across it, you turn back because you know it’s a signal of worse to come. (Of course, some of us dash right past the red flags).
There’s two main types of red flags when dating:
These are the bad signs to watch out for when you’re getting to know someone new.
If there’s any signs that someone is or will abuse you, run! It’s the #1, non-negotiable red flag for any type of relationship. Abuse should never be excused or tolerated.
For resources or help making a safe plan to leave, call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
If someone disrespects you, that’s one of the major red flags when dating to look out for.
Disrespect may be obvious. For example, the person may say something rude or hurtful. Or, they might behave inappropriately.
Other times, disrespect can be less obvious. It can be small comments or behaviors that undermine you. For example, let’s say you’re on a date and a guy orders for you without even asking what you want. Maybe you speak up and he insists that he knows what’s best. This may come off as just a weird way to order at a restaurant. Really though, it could be a sign that he values his opinion too much and yours too little.
When you first begin dating someone, pay attention to the small ways they compromise. After all, every relationship needs some amount of give and take. Unless you’re a carbon copy of someone, you’ll need to work through differences.
If off the bat, someone is unwilling to compromise on restaurant choices, you might want to reconsider.
Holding power over you is never acceptable. This can come in several different forms.
If someone is controlling aspects of your life, it could be or lead to abuse. That may look like jealousy and worry or blame that you’ll cheat.
Power could also be in terms of decision-making. If you feel like you have no say in the relationship, that’s one of the biggest red flags when dating.
One of the best red flags when dating to look out for is bad communication. This can come in many forms:
Consider that in every relationship, communication will be something you work on and tailor to each other. However, if someone has communication issues and is unwilling to fix them, run!
Communication problems mean that any other issue will be impossible to get through their hard head!
One of the most telling red flags when dating is a lack of effort. When you first meet someone, you’re usually on your best behavior and trying to impress them. If someone is already putting in no effort, they probably will contribute even less in the future. If they don’t have the incentive now, why would they after you’re already in a relationship?
Values and morals look different for everyone and that’s okay. The key is to find someone who matches you.
Let’s say you value the environment. Someone who litters can be a red flag. Or, maybe you aren’t religious. Someone who pushes religion on you might be a red flags.
It’s important to realize that you can respect people’s differences, but choose what works best in your life. In other cases, their beliefs might totally conflict with yours. For example, a big red flag that clashes with my values is sexism.
If someone is an angel to you but mean to others, they’re a mean person. Don’t be fooled by the mask they wear with you. Pay attention to how they treat others. This includes their friends and family. But it also means observing how they talk to people outside of their lives, such as salespeople or restaurant staff.
Of course, if you want a casual relationship, this might not apply to you. But if you’re progressing under the assumption that it will lead to a long-term relationship, you want to see signs it’s headed that way.
If a person refuses to call you their significant other or label the relationship, that can be a big red flag months in. While everyone is comfortable after a different amount of time, if the period of dating seems endless, the person might be more casual.
Not every relationship is smooth sailing all the time. If you’re in a long-term relationship, there will be times where things don’t feel great and you’ll work through them. If you feel that from the beginning though, that’s one of the obvious red flags when dating.
If the relationship is good one moment and bad the next, it’s a sign it will only get worse.
White lies—like saying you like someone’s outfit—isn’t a red flag. But bigger lies are something that should make you run.
This might include inconsistencies in someone’s stories. It could things that you have obvious evidence against. These things might seem inconsequential—but pay attention. Consider that if someone is willing to lie about meaningless things, they probably have no problem lying about meaningful things that they’d benefit from.
If someone has a habit of lying, it’s unlikely they’ll change it for you. And even if they will, is it worth waiting around for?
Yes, your confidence shouldn’t be derived from other people. And, it’s not other’s responsibility to make you feel happy.
However, it’s a big red flag if you experience a confidence drop as soon as you start dating someone. Sometimes, it may be because you’re intimidated by their success. That’s okay and something you can work through.
Other times though, your drop in self-esteem is caused by small comments they’re making or things they’re implying. You deserve to feel good about yourself. You deserve someone who makes you feel loved.
Let’s say you’re dating someone but you’re not yet exclusive. Even though you’re working toward being in a relationship, you’re not there yet.
While your partner may be free to date other people still, they shouldn’t make passes at other people in front of you. For example, checking other people out or flirting with them in front of you is disrespectful when you’re dating, even if you’re not exclusive yet.
Almost everyone has bad exes and it’s okay to tell the truth about the bad ones. However, if your partner says harsh things about everyone they’ve been with, look into it further. They might have bad luck, make bad choices or they might be the problem.
Further, name-calling exes or making demeaning comments is never okay. That could be you next.
If the person promises the world yet barely does anything, consider the mismatch. Sometimes people talk yet never act. These are two different things.
A trustworthy partner will be true to their word. What comes out of their mouth is backed up by action.
A popular annoying red flag is double standards. If you’re a woman and you date men, you probably know what I’m talking about.
If someone thinks a rule only applies to their gender, that’s not okay. If someone’s behavior is excused based on their behavior, that’s not okay.
If what’s okay for your partner isn’t okay for you, that’s a huge red flag when dating.
Love languages are the idea that people receive love differently. While some people love words of affirmation, others would prefer gifts or acts of service. You can find yours here.
No love language is better than another. But finding someone who can love you in your language is important. And loving others in their language is equally important.
You don’t need to share love languages with your partner. But you should understand—or at least work toward understanding—each others.
If your partner doesn’t care to understand your love language, that’s a bad sign. For example, if you need words of affirmation and your partner refuses to say nice things, you might not be able to change them. Accepting the red flag and moving on could lead to a healthy relationship sooner.
Your sexual needs might be for a lot, lesser or no sex at all. Whatever it is, it’s okay. You just need to find a partner who matches you.
If you have a high sex drive and your partner’s is low, that’s a red flag. It might be something you can work out, but it could also become an issue in the long term.
Sometimes two people are really into each other and they jump into a relationship quickly. If it’s one-sided though, that’s a red flag.
For example, if your partner wants to be in a relationship but you’ve expressed your need to slow it down, they should respect that. If they push to rush the relationship, consider why. It could be that they’re controlling, which is a bad sign for things to come. Or it could be that you’re a rebound relationship, in which case they might need time to heal alone.
Red flags when dating fall into two main categories: general and personal. General red flags are ones most can agree on, like disrespect and abuse. Personal red flags are those specific to you, such as someone who matches your morals or communication style. When considering your dating options, scroll the list above and consider which red flags are important to you.
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