A couple weeks ago, xoJane had a terrific Google Hangout where we talked about red flags in dating. Why? Because I might as well rename my dating profile Mandy “Red Flag” Stadtmiller.
But that’s OK, I like my red flags. They have a wonderfully vibrant fuschia color to them and look quite stunning in the silhouette of mid-summer moonlight.
Anyway, despite my potential disqualification from being able to talk about this — on account of being so flaggy myself — these are 10 that for me spell a strong likelihood of certain relationship doom down the road. (And please substitute “she” for “he” on all my little flags below as the situation is fit.)
Red Flag #1: He tells little white lies.
This is big for me as honesty is one of the most important parts of a relationship. In my experience a white lie as seemingly inconsequential as listing a distorted age in an online dating profile can spell bad news if transparency is important to you.
Red Flag #2: He makes you ask him out.
“I’m around this weekend,” the dude text reads.
Oh good God, pick a date and activity already. I had a cognitive psychologist teach me this trick several years ago, and I’ve never looked back. Helps separate the men from the boys, and it’s awesome.
Red Flag #3: He starts critiquing your body, thinking this is a helpful thing to do.
Don’t even get me started. I once had a guy tell me what specific arm-toning exercises he was going to teach me after we slept together for the first time. Lovely.
Red Flag #4: He teases you in a pickup-artist (PUA) negging way, rather than a way that lets you know he has underlying respect for you.
I love to be teased, especially if the person is funny. But I think we are all savvy enough by now to know what a “neg” is. That is, a compliment that really is a dig disguised to make you insecure. Like, “You have the cutest little overbite.” Blargh. I hate this crap. Not only is it cowardly, it’s obnoxious.
Red Flag #5: He can’t make a decision to save his life.
I once did a quick imitation of a dude I went on a date with to a friend of mine about the 10-minute soliloquy my date had given me about what kind of a sandwich he might order — for himself (not me). Her response? “Oh my God, I dated that guy.” Not like, I dated that Everyman Archetype of This Guy. She literally had dated the same guy from Nerve. Which she could tell from my spot imitation I did on the phone. Shudder.
Red Flag #6: He is not considerate or thoughtful.
Of course this doesn’t matter if these qualities aren’t important to you, but for me, they absolutely are. Every little gesture or action communicates how the person feels about you. Does he text you after a date to say what a nice time he had? Does he ask questions, listen and implement what you’ve told him? I went on a date the other night with a guy who after I mentioned a crappy day that my dog had, he brought him a box of treats to cheer him up. That’s considerate and thoughtful. Women notice.
Red Flag #7: He criticizes you over minor things.
Of course, criticism is a healthy part of any relationship. But I prize empathy and compassion and feeling like someone is on my side very highly. When a man feels extremely comfortable dishing out unasked-for advice on my life, I cringe to think what is in store for me down the road.
Red Flag #8: He majors in the minor.
This is just one of my favorite sayings in general. Do you really want to make your life be about the cabbie who turned down the wrong street — and let your blood pressure get raised over that? I think life is about constant triaging, and trust me, I can be as petty as the next guy, but patterns and “tells” do emerge. If someone is losing their patience over something as minor as an extended cab ride, how will they handle a real conflict or crisis? Is this really where the person chooses to expend their energy and priorities in life?
Red Flag #9: He is way too pushy.
I once had to tell a man 20 times I was not going to go home with him, and even then he didn’t get the message. Eventually I just left him mid-21st-ask and hailed a cab. I love dominant, confident men, but aggression and presumption is not a turn-on, it’s absolutely a turn-off.
Red Flag #10: He starts talking about why this won’t work or what will happen if this doesn’t work from the get-go.
OK, it won’t work. I’m happy with my life, thank you. I have a theory that if you can just maintain that first-date exhilaration throughout a relationship, you are going to be golden. There’s no reason that a relationship has to devolve into a to-do-list of “pick up the groceries” and “I’m fertile right now so hurry up.” Think about the wonder of that first awesome great date together. There’s no reason it has to go away if both of you have a great attitude about being together.
But the immediate discussion of, “Well if this doesn’t work out…” to me is indicative of a larger world view. I’m a “relieve yourself or get off the relieving receptacle” type woman. Don’t date me. Tell me that. Be upfront. Don’t kid me. Don’t kid yourself. But there’s no reason to torture one another with drama queen antics about what-if’s when you aren’t even certain the other party wants to date you in the first place.
Anyway, those are mine. I’m sure anyone I’ve been on a single date with or has, uh, Googled me could give me about 1,010 red flags when it comes to dating me, so take these all with a grain of salt. But my job over the years has required that I become an expert of sorts on dating and love and sex and relationships, so I do know a little. (Besides, the best of this is cribbed from relationship experts who have helped ME get better at dating myself.)
So, what are your red flags? Do tell.