Dating someone new? Look out for these red flags to save yourself unnecessary heartbreak.
We’ve all been there. Looking back, stunned, on a failed relationship… and suddenly the red flags are popping up all over. How did you not see it at the time? You ask yourself, your friends, your bottle of cheap Merlot. You were so blind!
Hindsight may be 20/20, but if you’re willing to look hard enough you can spot these six hidden Dealbreakers before it’s too late.
Dealbreaker #1 – You Need Alcohol to Have Chemistry
It’s a fact proven by Science: we all get wittier, more attractive, and funnier with alcohol. But if all of your dates seem to involve a well-stocked bar, be wary.
Why it’s a red flag: The beginning of your relationship sets the tone for the rest. Do you really want the bottle to become your third wheel? While there’s nothing wrong with meeting at a bar, if you can only bond while sloshed you may not have any real common ground.
Test: Try a sober date and see if the sparks are still flying. If a mid-afternoon coffee sounds like too much booze-free facetime, go for an “activity” date: scale an indoor rock-climbing wall or take in an outdoor concert. If you can still have fun together, you might share more than a passion for happy hour margaritas.
Dealbreaker #2 – The Ex-Files Keep Opening
Did (s)he mention an ex on the first or second date, or just keep bringing up that old flame? Time to take a step back.
Why it’s a red flag: If “The Ex” is making repeated cameos in conversation, take it as a warning sign that your new boo may not be ready to jump into another relationship. We all need time to ourselves after a breakup to let the emotions settle, but too often we get swept up in something new before assessing if we’re really ready. Eventually the excitement wears off and is replaced by a sharp sense of panic…and followed by the dreaded “I’m not ready for a relationship” talk.
Test: While the “DTR” conversation may seem heavy-handed, don’t hold back on real talk. Go with a variation of: “I’m really enjoying your company and I don’t want to rush anything, but I do want to know if you can see yourself in a relationship anytime soon.” You might not want to hear their response, but ultimately you’ll be better off.
Dealbreaker #3 – Plans? Who Makes Those?
You kiss a sweet goodbye… and that’s it. No mention of when you’re going to see each other again. What gives?
Why it’s a red flag: If your new friend is cagey about making plans that means that (s)he is hesitant to commit. By not locking in a “next time,” they’re keeping themselves firmly free of any future anything with you… a sign that you could be ghosted at any moment.
Test: Take the initiative. Instead of waiting to hear it from them, the next time you part simply say, “I don’t know if you’re around this weekend, but if you are we could hit up that X.” You’ll learn a lot from their reaction. If they enthusiastically agree or regretfully refuse, they’re probably just not the planning type. But if they act awkward or evasive, you’ll know that they aren’t keen on making you a real part of their life.
Dealbreaker #4 – Radio Silences Abound
I was just so busy and so overwhelmed and so tired that I just couldn’t bring myself to compose a sentence/move my thumbs/face the deep philosophical quandaries posed by autocorrect. Does anyone really need a full 24 hours to respond to a text message?
Why it’s a red flag: While it’s fair to stay away from constant communication, if your new interest consistently leaves you hanging after you reach out that means they aren’t interested in deepening the relationship. The reasons for this could be many, and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with you, but in the end it’s the same deal—and it doesn’t bode well for you two as a couple.
Test: Don’t text first. It’s not going to be easy, but curtailing your impulse to contact a person is the best test to determine if they’re really interested. If you don’t hear from them in several days or weeks, don’t write them— write them off.
Dealbreaker #5 – The Foul-Weather Friend
A lot of storm clouds have rolled in with this new person in your life. Things may have started out smiles and banter, but now it’s all breakdowns and Klonopin. Help!
Why it’s a red flag: While relationships aren’t always rosy, if you’re not having fun with a new crush… what are you doing? If someone you’re just getting to know starts unloading his or her anxieties on you, you may be tempted to play the supportive friend. But you’re not a therapist (maybe you are a therapist, but you’re not their therapist). Don’t be the victim of someone else’s emotional baggage!
Test: Monitor both your feelings after a date and your conversation during it. If you feel more troubled than fulfilled afterwards, and if you realize that (s)he poured out their sorrows but failed to ask you how your weekend was… refer them to your shrink and move on.
Dealbreaker #6 – They tell you point-blank that they’re not looking for anything serious.
You remember the Ikea scene in “(500) Days of Summer,” don’t you? Summer tells Tom she’s not “looking for anything serious.” Five hundred days later, he’s writing greeting cards that read, “Roses are red, violets are blue, fuck you, whore.”
Why it’s a red flag: It seems obvious when we look at sad, angry Tom, but we’re all too prone to say “sure, whatever you say!” when we’re caught up in the giddy good feelings of a budding relationship. You may tell yourself that you, too, aren’t looking for anything serious (We’re just friends! It’s just sex! We’re keeping it casual!) But guess what? If you keep seeing someone, your intimacy will inevitably grow, feelings will rear their buzzkilling heads, and you’ll find yourself getting thrown out of a relationship that you were never officially in. And crying about it.
Test: You don’t need to test this one to determine whether it’s a flag. Cut and run.
At the very least, keep going on dates with other people. It’s not foolproof, but it’ll at least create an emotional buffer so you don’t get too invested too fast.