How to Identify Dating Red Flags

The initial stage of getting to know someone is one of the most exciting times in a relationship.  Everything is new and we tend to be on our best behaviour. 

This stage also provides an opportunity to work out whether you have the building blocks of a healthy, long term relationship, or whether there are red flags warning you to walk away sooner rather than later. 

Whether you’ve been around the block a few times, or it’s the first time back on the dating scene after a long relationship, being able to spot red flags early on is a key skill that can save you a lot of time and energy. 

Every relationship has flaws, and none of us are perfect, but we have to balance being in the wrong relationship with having the courage to walk away and starting over, and not letting ourselves get stuck with the wrong person (again). 

Here are 5 key tips to keep in mind and help you look out for dating red flags: 

1. Trust and listen to your intuition.  This is probably the most important skill and yet the one we often ignore.  Maybe you’ve done this too?  Got into a relationship or even marriage when deep down you knew it wasn’t right for you, but still went ahead for some reason? I’ve certainly done that myself.  Make a commitment to yourself that you will pay attention to your gut feelings in future and walk away when something doesn’t feel right about a new person or a new situation. This will build your confidence in your gut. 

2. Work out your boundaries and deal breakers.   What were the warning signs that you ignored in previous relationships? And what was the outcome of that in the end?  What is it that you know you need to have a healthy relationship in future?  Know exactly what your deal breakers and boundaries are and be prepared to walk away if a new relationship is not aligned with that. 

3. Become a master observer and pay attention to how you feel. Listen carefully and take your time to observe how someone behaves right from the beginning.  Words mean little — behaviour means a lot more, but even more important than that are patterns of behaviour.  Look out for consistency.   Whether someone consistently invests time in getting to know you, or consistently blows hot and cold, over time you will be able to distinguish whether they are who they say they are and whether it’s worth investing your time too. 

4. Pay attention to how you feel the majority of the time.  Nobody is perfect and sometimes we all say and do things that can come across inconsiderate or thoughtless. But when you’re dating and getting to know someone, pay attention to whether being around them, and their behavior, triggers feelings of doubt, unease, insecurity and fear in you.  Do you feel able to just be yourself and be heard, understood and accepted for who you are? 

5. Recognise red flags for what they are.  Without making excuses or rationalising someone else’s behaviourWe tend to see what we want to see, or what we hope for, and this can often cause us to tolerate and accept poor, or toxic behaviour. 

Clarity is power, so be very clear in your own mind what kind of behaviour would be red flags for you, and see them for what they are — an indication of (another) unsuccessful or even toxic relationship and unhealthy love.  

Know what you’re willing to accept and allow in your life, and be prepared to walk away early on so that you can move on and find someone more suited to you and the life and relationship you want to have. 

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