It can be tricky to identify red flags when dating someone new—partly because we naturally want to give people a chance and partly because the red flags we come across are not always obvious deal breakers.
First, let’s distinguish between red flags and deal breakers. A red flag is a sign interpreted by your intuition as a potential deal breaker, which is a behavior or lifestyle choice that you absolutely refuse to tolerate. Even though red flags can spring up very frequently when dating someone new, you shouldn’t give up without probing a bit further—unless your gut is screaming at you to run in the opposite direction.
If you’re dating someone new, watch out for all these subtle red flags that you might encounter so that you can determine whether to end the relationship or stick it out and see where it goes!
They always order for you at restaurants.
Although it might seem harmless for your new beau to order for you when you go out to eat together, this might be a sign of a controlling person. If they do it once or twice but not all the time, then you’re most likely in the clear. Especially in longer-term relationships, partners tend to develop a good sense of what the other likes.
This isn’t the case so much in newer relationships. So, if your new partner orders for you every time or nearly every time you go out together, pay attention to other aspects of the relationship to see if they’re exhibiting other controlling behaviors. If they are, you might want to get out of there sooner rather than later!
They frequently criticize past partners or the wait staff.
If the person you’re dating claims that all their ex-partners were crazy, you’re staring at one of the biggest red flags out there. If someone can’t take their share of the responsibility for a relationship ending, then they probably won’t take responsibility for themselves in most other aspects of their life, which means you’ll probably be at fault during most arguments and other situations.
In the same vein, a person who is overly critical of others is most likely going to be overly critical of you at some point. This behavior could lead you to lose confidence and self-esteem over time, which might make you feel compelled to stay in the relationship even if it turns abusive.
They bombard you with compliments and gifts.
This tactic is called “love bombing,” which is almost always a deal breaker right off the bat. If your new beau is constantly showering you with compliments and gifts, it’s because they’re luring you into a false sense of security so that they can manipulate you later on. Most people want to appease their partner when they go above and beyond to treat them well, which is an easy way for a controlling person to manipulate a victim into doing or behaving however they want.
Many psychologists link love bombing with cycles of abuse and tag this type of behavior as a serious red flag!
They’re often late or forget to show up.
If the new person you’re dating is constantly running late or forgetting to show up, they either just outright don’t value your time or they’re seeing other people and can’t keep track of their dates. Someone who is serious about you will go out of their way to make time for you.
On the other hand, they might just really be extremely busy with work, school, or another responsibility that interferes with their plans. Although this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, it’s still important insight into how they’ll behave throughout the duration of your relationship.
They often check their phone when you’re together but take forever to text you back.
If your new beau is difficult to get in touch with but they’re constantly checking their phone, texting others, or taking calls when they’re with you, they’re probably hiding something important, like another relationship!
It’s also not a great sign if they’re constantly checking their phone instead of giving you their attention. If they’re interested in you and value your time, they’ll check their phone later. If there’s an emergency or another legitimate reason why they have to take a call or text someone back, they’ll give you an explanation and apologize. If this behavior continues repeatedly, then they’re either lying or they’re legitimately too preoccupied for a relationship at the moment!
They pressure you toward intimacy before you’re ready and insist when you decline.
If your new partner constantly asks you to push the limits of what you feel comfortable doing, then they don’t respect you and they might just be after one thing. This behavior may also be a red flag that they’re a former or potential abuser.
Rushing a relationship forward too quickly generally means they’re on the rebound or they don’t have a great grasp on personal boundaries, which can become a major issue in the future.
They cancel plans with their friends to spend time with you.
Although it might seem sweet if your new partner cancels plans with their friends to spend time with you, there might be some underlying issues here.
First, they’ll most likely expect you to do the same at some point, which you’ll feel pressured into doing because they did it first. Second, they might not actually have any plans with their friends and they’re just trying to lure you into that false sense of security to manipulate you later. Third, they might be extremely needy and might start guilt tripping you into ditching all your plans to meet their needs in the future.
If they offer to cancel their plans once or twice because your friends bail on you or something similar, then don’t consider this behavior an immediate deal breaker.
They don’t have a strong work ethic.
There’s a difference between being a lousy employee and being unemployed. Some people are often in between jobs for various reasons, so don’t immediately write someone off if they happen to be unemployed at the moment. But you definitely don’t want to pursue a serious relationship with someone who is unmotivated and who under performs in the workplace.
People who lack a work ethic generally lack the qualities that are essential for making a relationship work. That lack of motivation, poor communication, and general laziness will all translate into their relationship with you!
They cheated on a previous partner.
Even if your partner is a changed person after cheating on a previous partner, they’ve established that they’re capable of betraying someone who cares about them. A person who turns to cheating instead of identifying the reason why they want to cheat and then working through whatever issues are there is emotionally troubled, self-centered, and narcissistic. This is not someone you want to be involved with.
If you truly believe they’ve changed and won’t betray you in this way, suggest that they go to therapy and have a professional determine the root of their behavior. If they agree to go or already have gone, use your judgment and proceed with caution. If they refuse, send them on their way!
If you don’t text back right away, they keep texting you until they get your attention.
If the new person you’re dating starts having conversations with themselves when you don’t text back, RUN. A chronic texter is a very needy and emotionally malnourished individual who will always want to know what you’re doing, where you’re at, and who you’re with.
Even if they’re not attempting to control you, this constant and forced communication will get extremely annoying very quickly!
Have you noticed any of these red flags in your new partner? Comment your thoughts below!
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Jamie graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She is an aspiring writer, professional editor/proofreader, and piano player. In her free time, Jamie enjoys reading classic literary works, composing music, and playing Xbox with her husband!