As the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “Even a god finds it hard to love and be wise at the same time.” And he certainly wasn’t wrong! Though we’d all like to believe that we’re too smart to let our hearts rule our heads, too often do we let our emotions cloud our better judgment, especially when it comes to the people we’re dating.
But learning how to recognize the early signs that a relationship won’t work out or that someone is just too incompatible with you can save us a lot of pain and regret later down the road. So rather than simply forgiving and forgetting like we often do, here are 7 red flags in dating you need to start looking out for:
1. They always agree with you.
While it’s certainly nice meeting someone you get along with so well, you need to be wary of people who seem to agree with you on just about everything. Do they like all the same things you like? Or share all the same views and opinions as you? Be careful! They may not be telling the truth or showing you their real selves.
It’s likely that they’re just telling you all these things to make you like them more. Because the truth is, no two people will ever see eye-to-eye on everything because no two people are exactly the same — and that’s okay! That’s a good thing! Because these differences are what make us who we are. And if the person you’re dating feels the need to change who they are just to please you, then it’s never going to work out between you.
2. They hide things from you.
It’s been said time and time again that honesty and trust are the keys to making a healthy relationship work (Domingue & Mollen, 2009). So if you’re dating someone who hides things from you and doesn’t really communicate with you, then expect that there’s definitely going to be trouble ahead. Because if you can’t be open with each other about how you feel or what you think, then how is it ever going to last between you two? Do you notice your partner avoids talking about their feelings? Or doesn’t share much about themselves? Do they keep you away from their friends and family? Or always leave you guessing about what they’ve been doing? While everyone certainly has a right to their privacy, you can’t emotionally connect with someone who’s afraid to be vulnerable with you.
3. They don’t prioritize you.
Does the person you’re dating seem too busy for you sometimes? Do they spend most of their time with work, academics, or their other relationships? Do they often cancel on you at the last minute? Or take forever to return your calls and messages? While you certainly can’t demand anyone’s time, dating someone who can’t fit you into their busy schedule isn’t going to be easy. And the fact that they’re already struggling to juggle so many other priorities in their life is a clear sign that they are not ready for a serious relationship.
4. They’re dismissive of you.
Another warning sign you need to look out for is how the person you’re dating talks to you (Muller, 2011). Are they encouraging and supportive? Or condescending and dismissive? Do they always have to have their way and assert that they’re right? Or are they open to listening to your ideas? Having a partner who talks down to you and doesn’t take you seriously isn’t something you want for yourself. And even though they may try to pass it off as “knowing better” and encouraging you to “just trust them” and “go along with it”, you deserve to be with someone who respects your opinion and gives you a say in the relationship.
5. They easily get jealous.
While it’s never something we want ourselves or our romantic partners to feel, sooner or later, jealousy is bound to find its way into our relationships. And that’s okay! It’s not a deal-breaker in and of itself if your partner feels jealous or insecure sometimes. What really matters is how they deal with it. And if you’re dating someone who seems to get jealous all too easily, you might want to watch out. Because there’s a good chance that it’ll soon make them paranoid and controlling (Shulman & Knafo, 2017).
6. They make you second-guess their feelings.
Most of us know that when you’ve just started dating somebody, you need to be careful in how you navigate the waters. You don’t want to come on too strong or seem too needy, because you always want to leave them wanting more. But at a certain point in your relationship, they need to start making an effort to show you how they feel. Because if they don’t, they’re either too much of a coward; they’re not ready for a serious commitment, or they’re just not as invested in the relationship as you are. Whatever the reason may be, dating someone who plays games with your feelings is never a good idea.
7. They talk badly about their exes.
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, if the person you’re dating talks badly about their exes, then that’s already a definite red flag. Do they constantly bring it up during conversations and compare you to their latest ex? Or tell you all-too-private details about their previous relationship? You need to remember that, if you and this person ever did become serious and eventually break up, there’s a good chance they’ll treat you the same way. And the fact that they feel the need to bash their exes and make them all out to be the “bad guy” just goes to show that they’re still hurting over the breakup and may just be looking for a rebound (Hocutt, 2018).
So, do you relate to any of the signs we’ve mentioned on this list? Have you ever dated anyone who showed some of these very same warning signs? While it’s sadly inevitable sometimes that we’re going to get hurt and have our hearts broken when we pursue a romantic relationship with someone, you can still save yourself a lot of trouble down the road by recognizing these red flags in dating early on, before you’ve let yourself fall for the wrong person.
- Domingue, R., & Mollen, D. (2009). Attachment and conflict communication in adult romantic relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 26(5), 678-696.
- Muller, R. J. (2011). Failing Narcissistic Defenses Can Turn Love Toxic. The Humanistic Psychologist, 39 (4), 375-378.
- Shulman, S., & Knafo, D. (2017). Balancing closeness and individuality in adolescent close relationships. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 21(4), 687-702
- Hocutt, M. A. (2018). Relationship dissolution model: antecedents of relationship commitment and the likelihood of dissolving a relationship. International Journal of service industry management.
- Florsheim, P., & Moore, D. R. (2008). Observing differences between healthy and unhealthy adolescent romantic relationships: Interpersonal Processes. Journal of Adolescence, 31(6), 795-814.