Red Flags

Overlooking red flags is actually a red flag in itself. If this is you, you are likely conflict-avoidant. Okay! I am calling you out, so let’s work on that. Sometimes, the early dating, love drunk stage keeps us from seeing the red flags, but most of the time, we do see them but find too many other things we like and discount them. The chemistry is so strong that we pursue the relationship with wild abandon for red flags. Here is the thing about red flags: they are about compatibility. That compatibility will be more critical to the strength of the relationship as we sober up from our love-drunk chemistry high. We must distinguish chemistry and compatibility; they are different.

Let’s be clear: red flags are behaviors and not careers/jobs, hobbies, military background, geographic location, and so on. Generally, behaviors you experience from someone you are dating that make you feel inadequate, uncertain, or unsafe are red flags. A red flag is anything that makes you feel less than you. 

Here are some common red flags


  1. You are insulted and then your date says, “just joking,” or asks, “Can’t you take a joke.” You may experience a backhanded compliment. You feel the insult, and you may even laugh along, but you know it felt diminishing, so it needs to give you pause.
  2. Your date doesn’t take responsibility and implies it is your or someone else’s fault. For example, in mild indiscretions like being late for a date, your companion might say that you were unclear about the time to meet. More considerable indiscretions like flirting with others, your companion might say that you started it. Additionally, all their exes are crazy. 
  3. Being late for everything (all the time) tends to imply they are only thinking about themselves. The person who is less than 5 minutes from time to time is more of a yellow flag. The red flag person is the person who regularly keeps you uncomfortably waiting (more than 15 minutes) at restaurants, social events, church, and anywhere else that is important to you. Being late is more than just poor planning; it’s disrespectful with time.
  4. Your date solicits you for sex or sexual content. I say solicits because you don’t know this person well enough. (If you are in an exclusive and committed relationship, it’s relational or intimate and not soliciting.) Outside of a committed relationship, sex can feel cheap and vulgar and will devalue you. Deep down, you know this situation is just for cheap sexual thrills, so it needs to give you pause. The person soliciting you is disrespectful and will not value you because they only want sexual arousal from you. They don’t want to know you beyond it.
  5. The instability that shows itself as addiction, financial insecurity, explosive anger, aggressive tendencies, needy/clingy, and so on are giant red flags. These may seem okay initially but become problematic later on nearly every time. Addiction and financial insecurity are wildly different behaviors, yet they both create an unstable environment. Looking at who you are and if they fit with the life you want to live needs to match up. Instability is a prime consideration of compatibility. You’re not going to change them.
  6. Your date is not giving you the appropriate amount of time. Time and attention are the currency of love. If you don’t have it from the person you are courting, they are not investing. So, breadcrumbing you along gives you just enough attention to keep you hanging on, but a relationship could be more fulfilling and secure with an average amount of a couple’s time. I will add ghosting, zombies, and low-investment dates (Netflix and chill). Pause and ask what’s really happening; look at your standards. How can this meet them if you lower your standards? This person doesn’t value your time.
  7. A person’s background, including their family of origin and job history, could be a red flag. It would help if you’ve met the person to have a conversation and watch actions and behaviors when looking at the background. It could go either way. This is a long-term evaluation. Their troubled past could make this person a human being with rich experiences and beliefs that could affect them profoundly, either in a good way or wrong way. You will know if you talk about it.
  8. Love bombing is a red flag even though you feel good. Love bombers come on strong and often cannot keep up the time and attention they give. For a while, you feel special, like this person is exceptional. How the movies portray meeting your soul mate looks like a love bomber. While this may be your person, you need to slow things down to give it staying power. Avoid playing into the love bomb. If it’s a bomb, the relationship will explode soon. It will hurt if you are over-invested when the bomb explodes. If you invest slowly and it’s not a bomb, it may become a relationship—my applause for pacing your date.
  9. Showing a lack of kindness or compassion for others can be demonstrated by demeaning others, being unwilling to help others, or not tolerating an opinion other than their own. You see this person joking about the appearance of the slightly awkward sales clerk or bartender, or someone drops their purse, and they watch rather than asking if they can help. Differing opinions happen in relationships, so if this person cannot allow someone they do not know to have a different opinion, you will undoubtedly be next.

A red flag is not someone who disagrees with you respectfully, enforces their boundaries, won’t buy you something, or isn’t available 24/7 because of work structured time or other planned activities.

Refrain from explaining away or rationalizing the red flags when they pop up. There are two kinds of red flags. The first kind breaks the standard of caring, and the second one breaks the standard of stability and reliability. 

Address the red flag immediately. there is only one thing to do when you identify a red flag and that is ask about it.  Ask- do you think that is funny? Is this important to you? Have you considered the other person’s feelings or perspective? ask questions a lot of questions before you make a judgement. Be sure to see what happens next time. Did they make a course correction? Now make an evaluation on your compatibility.

Love raises you; it doesn’t tear you down.