The heart you save could be your own!

Dating Red Flags: Pay attention!

What’s that song? “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em … know when to fold ’em … know when to walk away … know when to run ….”

Many times I’ve worked with singles who have remained in a relationship for weeks, months, even years knowing someone was not right for them. What a sad waste of everyone’s time. But it’s even worse when a single doesn’t really know what to look for, or, sadly, ignores glaring red flags. Based on years of coaching singles, I’ve compiled a guideline to help prevent you from staying too long or wasting time on someone who is simply not right for you.

1. Begin with the end in mind by looking ahead to the future. The number one question you should ask yourself is, “Would I want to spend the rest of my life with this person exactly (yes, exactly) as they are today”? Think about it – dating begins like the job interview. Everyone is putting their best foot forward, trying to avoid pitfalls and hoping to make a good impression. The first few dates are as good as it gets. If you see anything that gives you pause in the beginning, it will only continue as you go forward.

Here are two very thought provoking questions. Even if you’re not thinking about having children, or if you’ve already had your children, ask yourself these two important questions:

  • Would I want this person to raise my child? This means, if something happened to you, and you were not around, would you want this person to be the sole caregiver, role model, and parent of your child/ren?
  • Would I want my child to be exactly like this person? Having a child with someone means you could clone your partner. Think about it.

2. Once you have thought about the future, pay close attention to the present! Ask yourself if you’re ignoring anything – and be honest. Are you talking yourself into a relationship simply because you want to be in a relationship, and being in a relationship with this person is better than being alone?

3. Are you attracted to the packaging? Are you focusing on the good qualities or aspects, such as money or sex, and ignoring unmet needs? Do you want to rescue them? Or do you see potential? Are you saying, “Everything would be really good if only ….”?

My mother always told me, “Never fall in love with a man’s potential.” Potential is the operative word here. Pay attention to details and don’t ignore that little voice in your head and heart that always speaks the truth.

4. Are you making a choice of convenience? Many people will settle because they can’t have what or who they really want.  this is a disservice to both themselves and their potential partner.  Settling sets you up for becoming dissatisfied with your partner down the road, engaging in affairs if the one you really want becomes available, or sadly, divorce when you and your partner realize that your heart isn’t 100% in the relationship.  Never settle.  It’s better to remain single than to settle for second-best.

5. And, finally, here are some danger signs that mean walk … no, run … as fast as you can. If you see signs of anger or rage, or if your partner blames others or circumstances for life’s situations, you are dealing with someone who will soon begin to direct this behavior toward you.

Another major red flag is anyone who tries to control everything, including you. Does your partner tell you what to wear? Do they ask you, in a suspicious or excessive way, where you’ve been and whom you’ve talked to? Do they question you? Do they read your email, or check your phone? These are all danger signs.

Look at unspoken or subtle character traits such as a judgmental or pessimistic attitude. Inability to listen, talking too much about themselves, or continually interrupting are all characteristics of someone who is more into themselves than to you.

Do you try to change yourself to fit into their lifestyle? Or, are you continually trying to change them? Is there emotional drama? Do they keep agreements? Do they accept feedback, take responsibility and demonstrate integrity?

6. Lastly, be sure your prospective partner is available for commitment! Are they married? (There is no such thing as “almost divorced.” You are either married, or not.) Are they emotionally distant or void of affection? Are they still pining for a former relationship? All these things mean they cannot commit to you in a healthy emotional way. If you’re attracted to someone who is unavailable, emotionally or otherwise, the best response is, “Call me when you’re available.” In the meantime, continue to date and expand your options. But don’t forget number 4.

Remember, as long as you’re in a relationship with the wrong person, you prevent yourself from meeting the one who is right for you! Remain available and open until you are sure it’s time to become exclusive and, most importantly, never talk yourself into a relationship. If you have to rationalize, make excuses or ignore things that really bother you, chances are, this is not the person for you. Just as a leopard does not change its spots, a red flag does not change its colors!

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