I have an auntie that always says “red flags are roses.” What she means is that in the eyes of a new crush, it’s easy to overlook red flags. So easy, in fact, that you might even mistake those red flags as more redeeming qualities.
This is often what happens when we make excuses for a new partner early on in a relationship. We tend to interpret their behavior in a much too charitable way when we probably should have run away.
Once I owned up to the fact that I have this tendency to see red flags as roses, I started to think more clearly about the qualities I need to avoid. I find it much easier to draw up boundaries before I get too invested. The same might be true for you.
They never initiate dates
It might sound simple, but actually sticking one’s neck out to make a plan is pretty important when it comes to dating. If you always seem to suggest when to meet, this is a one-sided relationship and it requires you to do all the work.
Someone who is really into you will contribute and be proactive in the relationship.
Being proactive is attractive, sitting back and letting someone else do all of the legwork while you bask in the glory of not having to lift a finger is not.
They describe all their exes as “crazy.”
Some relationships end so badly that we’re still sour at an ex or two years down the line—but if your new partner spits venom at any and all of their “crazy” former lovers every chance they get, it’s a good clue that they are the problem.
I’ve met this kind of guy — maybe more than once. He takes no responsibility for anything in his life, and his past relationships all ended not because he did anything wrong (because he definitely didn’t) but because his ex-girlfriends were all “totally crazy.” RED FLAG! It’s likely that once he encountered problems, she just so happened to conveniently become insane because that write-off is easier than admitting that he may have been at fault in any way. Ugh, do better.
“CRAZY” LIKELY MEANS “REACTING TO SOMETHING IN A WAY HE DOESN’T LIKE.” I’m sure I have an ex or two who loves to label me as such. Are you in the same boat? Honestly, you can never know for sure that a person is trustworthy. You can know that it’s completely screwed up for him to lead you on or lie to you or confuse you… and then dismiss you as “crazy” when you call him out on it! This is a BS cop out that men have been using for centuries to distract from their own terrible behavior.
They have never really lived on their own.
There are some forms of life experience that you simply can’t “make up for.” A man who has always lived with parents, roommates, or partners often hasn’t had enough experience to do life with you. Not as equals, anyway.
It’s been a tired story for way too long. Men who don’t know how to boil water or do laundry. Men who don’t know how to manage a household because somebody else has always been there to do it. While some of that is to be expected in one’s youth, this is an issue that does not age well.
There are bound to be a lot of growing pains with this one. It’s not a woman’s job to teach a man how to function in the real world. As much as our culture might joke about bachelor pads needing “a woman’s touch” or men not knowing how to be responsible on their own, it’s not cute in real life.
They try to drive a wedge between you and your family and friends.
Anyone who wants you all to themselves is likely someone worth running far, far away from before they sink their claws in any deeper. CONTROL, CONTROL, CONTROL!! It is as simple as that. How are they supposed to have any control unless you are isolated from others? Typical pointers that could reveal this guy to be a narcissist.
They hold you to a double standard.
They beg you to never go out on the town without them, yet they want you to wait at home alone on the couch while they party until 2 A.M. with their buddies? See ya later Babe, you’re done out here.
You’ve never met their friends.
In all the time you’ve spent together, you’ve heard countless hilarious stories about your bae’s friends Jay & them man. So… where are they? If you’ve been dating for a while and still haven’t met their friends, that’s pretty suspicious. Your guy may not mean to hide you away, but if they make up sketchy excuses when you tell them you’d love to meet the crew, it might be a sign something’s not right.
Your friends or family hate them
If the people who know you the best do not like your partner, it’s an obvious red flag. Sometimes it’s easy to get blinkered and only see what you want to see, but if your family or friends clearly don’t like your partner then you need to understand why. Of course, not everything can be happy families and some people simply don’t get on. But if you start to hear more negativity from your friends and family members, you may want to reevaluate your relationship.
Those around you can often see things you never will.
Something in your gut feels wrong.
The first thing to look for is your own intuition and listening to your gut — if you have the feeling something is wrong, things aren’t adding up, then trust that. Past relationship history is key to understanding their behaviors, as is the way they talk about past partners. If everyone in their past was ‘crazy,’ that is a huge red flag.
They have you second-guessing their feelings toward you.
Games aren’t cool, especially when you’re dating in search of a serious relationship. It should be obvious that your bae is into you, or else what’s the point of dating? If it’s not so clear, that’s a red flag that merits a serious conversation.
It’s easy to look back upon a bad experience and point out the moments at which one should have walked away, but when you’re actually living it, it’s not that simple.
Some of those Red Flags will have gone unnoticed, or maybe they were mistaken for something innocent. But other times, we will have spotted them and ignored or downplayed them. Looking back on those cases, we’re identifying mistakes rather than missed opportunities. We will have known that something wasn’t right, and yet we didn’t act upon it.
It’s partly cultural conditioning and partly cognitive dissonance. Women have had it drummed into their heads that they must be nice, compliant, and not make a fuss. We’re also reminded constantly of the importance of bagging ourselves a man, seemingly at the expense of any other needs and desires we may have.
It doesn’t feel natural for many women to confront problems; instead, we try to make them better. We don’t stop and consider whether it’s our problem to fix, or even if it’s a problem at all. We make it our problem, and our business to sort it out. But someone else’s Red Flags are theirs to own. It’s their problem, and it only becomes ours if we don’t walk away. It sounds harsh, but it’s not women’s job to rehabilitate shitty partners.
Refusing to put up with Red Flag behaviour is a part of asserting our boundaries and identity. It’s a moment of growth, leading us to be complete, resilient versions of ourselves. It means acknowledging that we can’t always have what we want, and knowing how to deal with it — by accepting reality instead of sacrificing our dignity to chase a fantasy. It means taking no shit — including from yourself. It is a position of honesty and strength.
If we continue to assert our boundaries and standards, we’ll get used to it, and we’ll see over time that actually, it’s better to walk away from Red Flags than to tolerate them in the hope it’s a one-off.
Stay vigilant & take care,