Throughout the years, I have proudly collected a long string of romantic could-have-beens. These are men who for a period, sometimes brief, personified my lifelong vision of happily ever after. Blinded by unrealistic expectations and relentless infatuation, I kept them on the relationship shelf far past their expiration dates.
Looking back, it appears that all my efforts to explore the male species (from Cuban to Italian to Moroccan to Greek to… Jewish?) have concluded in one disappointing and shameful truth: It’s me, not them.
What I mean is that I’d be lying if I told you they didn’t give me a fair warning. In fact, these men were so gracious that they let me in on their “issues” from the very beginning. The flags came in bright, blazing and bold shades of crimson and were stamped on their foreheads for my convenience. You couldn’t really miss them. Unless, of course, you’re me.
But hindsight is 20/20 and today, I offer you a comprehensive list of the many red flags I’ve ignored.
Red Flag 1: Baggage
Talks incessantly about everything that is wrong with his ex-girlfriend, still in love with her
This is probably one of the more frustrating red flags that exist. There have been books written and movies made about the apocalyptic journey that occurs when a girl falls for a dude who is still in love with his ex. Yet I chose to ignore this red flag because I opted to be “understanding,” which is a nice euphemism for being in denial. So I stuck around and listened to him rant about his ex-girlfriend till 3 AM. The Friend Zone dangerously loomed over us but I thought that by painting a sharp contrast between myself and his neurotic ex-girlfriend, he would be left with no other choice but to pick me, choose me, love me. Unfortunately, my real life isn’t a medical primetime drama. And he didn’t choose me.
When you hear someone say, “I still have feelings for my ex,” understand what they really means is well, exactly that.
Red Flag 2: Controlling
Doesn’t let you order the calamari, suggests going to the gym
If you don’t have a gym membership, dating a personal gym trainer is a big red flag in itself (for both parties involved). Despite refusing to eat items that contained high fructose corn syrup, I gave him a chance. This was a stupid thing to do for 100 reasons — beginning with the awkward moment the waiter asks if you’re ready to make your order.
I fucking love calamari. It’s the only seafood I eat and if a restaurant offers it, I’m ordering it. So imagine my horror when personal trainer dude tries to get in between me and my eight-armed delicacy. “Fried calamari, again? Ugh. No. We’ll have the fruit salad.”
We broke up two months later when he proved to also suffer from Red Flag 4 (see below). Never trust a man who orders fruit salad.
Red Flag 3: Devoid of common sense
Buys you schnauzer bookend for your birthday, you don’t own a schnauzer
See, I’m not a dog person. I mean, I love dogs but I don’t love them enough to buy a plate set with paws on it or a “gal’s best pal” picture frame. So when the guy I had gushed about to my friends gives me a schnauzer bookend for my birthday, I was confused. I made excuses for him like “aww, he was just so overwhelmed with trying to make my birthday special.” But really, he was just absolutely clueless. After four months of dating, he didn’t know me. At least not well enough to know that I grew up with a shih tzu, not a schnauzer. He offered me this red flag with 4 legs and a tail and I still ignored it.
Red Flag 4: Unstable
Calls you half an hour after making plans to tell you he can’t make it, has booked flight to Detroit instead
After an already rocky start, this guy I was sort of seeing finally began to give me a glimmer of hope. The mood swings that resulted from his case of Red Flag 1 seemed to have gradually subsided. In a shocking turn of events, this person managed to pick up his phone and actually initiate plans to see me. Yes! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! 30 minutes later and with just two more coats of mascara left to apply, my phone rings.
“Hey! What’s up?”
“Hey. I need to tell you something.”
“What is it?”
“I’m going to Detroit.”
“Oh, cool. That’s awesome.”
“Haha, what? Have a flight to catch in an hour?”
(He’s in Detroit right now)