Pay Attention to the 'Red Flags' When Dating

One important purpose of dating, especially early on in the process, is to get to know each other and to see if you are compatible. It is a time to show the person you are dating who you are and to find out who they are. Often warning signs or ‘red flags’ pop up early on in the dating process. Unfortunately, all too often people ignore these ‘red flags’ especially if there is some attraction or ‘chemistry’ happening between the two of you. If these red flags are not addressed in the early stages of dating, then 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years later you’ll be faced with a relationship crisis on your hands saying, “I didn’t know that he/she would be so controlling/critical/self centered etc...“

Singles who ignore the red flags often minimize or deny the meaning of the behavior of the person they are dating. They say, “Oh that quality doesn’t really matter.” Or “It’ll work out somehow; love will conquer all.” Or “They will change.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

This problem highlights one of the fundamentals of dating success:

Don’t let your heart overrule your head

It is easy to get swept up in the emotions and passions when you are starting to date. Using your head before your heart means that you have to temper your emotional side with our rational side. If you don’t use critical thinking skills early on, you are more likely to find yourself in a relationship with someone that is not compatible. It is important to pay attention to these red flags before you fall in love. Ignoring these problems will only result in unnecessary suffering.

Here is the ‘red flag dirty dozen’. Qualities to pay attention to when the person you are dating:

  • Likes to be in charge, always. Never admits to uncertainty, vulnerability.
  • Is unable to manage financial life effectively. Unemployed or out of work often. Credit/debt problems.
  • Exhibits a victim mentality. Blames past relationship failures on past partners, doesn’t take responsibility for their own part in the relationship failure.
  • Shows excessive insecurity. Looks to others for validation. Excessive flirting. Needs attention from others to feel OK.
  • Exhibits excessive use of alcohol or drugs. Can’t be in social situations or have sex without being under the influence.
  • Has poor relationship with his/her own family. Either estranged from family; blames them for all their ills. Or is excessively connected to them; let’s them control his/her life.
  • Has unfinished past relationship. Still talks with ex frequently. Keeps this ‘friendship’ a secret or separate from you.
  • Avoids discussing the past especially about past relationships. Secretive about his/her life.
  • Is excessively self-centered. Doesn’t listen to you or regard your stated wants and needs.
  • Is overly attentive and possessive. Seems to be obsessed with you. Showers you with attention, gifts.
  • Demonstrates improper self care. Does not take care of health, diet, exercise.
  • Negative outlook on life. Very critical of others; sarcastic.
  • Is easily jealous. Has to have you to him/herself. Has a hard time being with you in social situations.


  • If you don’t ignore the red flags early on in dating, you are more likely to build a successful relationship. These red flags will not go away and need to be addressed before you get emotionally involved with this person. This may mean that you need to raise your concerns with this person and see how they respond. Ultimately it may mean that you need to stop dating this person and move on.

    Remember, people are on their best behavior when they are in the early stages of dating so if these warning signs show up, don’t ignore them.

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