Love is a form of insanity, and especially in pandemic times, the world is full of crazy. Whether you’re looking for a life-mate or a playmate, the delicate dance of love and dating comes down to doling out that crazy in manageable doses.
After all, love is the best drug around. It increases longevity and decreases depression. With something that powerful, it’s easy to lose our balance. I know that I have…
Having pinned the art of dating down to a science, here are the five red flags I’ve learned to avoid. They are signs that while there might be a spark, someone is going to get burned.
#1: Bad-mouthing your ex, in detail
John was gainfully employed and had a college degree. The banter between us was light and fun; he had already made me laugh. Perhaps that’s why it was so easy to notice the shift in his vibe when the topic of past loves came up during our first extended phone call. “Well, she’s totally insane!” He declared. “She ruined my life.” On and on he went…
If I’ve learned anything about love it’s that it takes two to tango, so when when a man details the myriad ways his ex is certifiable, such words tell me more about him than they do about her. We’ve all been wounded in love, and sharing war wounds can be a beautiful means for connecting. The question here is timing.
When I’m getting to know you, I want to know you.
What is more, I want to know that you’re ready to be meeting me. Going on at length about past relationships, especially when what you have to share is highly critical, lets me know that you’re not there yet. By calling her crazy, you’re telling me a lot more about your views on women and dating or about your own emotional availability, than you are about her.
#2: Call several times in one day, prior to the first date
In a pandemic, uber-digital world, the most recent guy who did this won serious points with me for striking up an in-person conversation, rather than relying on a dating app to get things started. He was cute and funny, and in our brief real-world encounter, I had learned the answers to all of my basic first date questions. We were off to a great start! It was Sunday. We had agreed to meet again for coffee Tuesday morning, and I was excited.
Then he called twice that day. Just to say hi. And see what I was doing. And two times the following day as well.
Cue sound of torpedo falling.
Calling several times a day, especially long before we’ve entered any sort of a relationship raises two important red flags for me. First, it shows me that you’re a pretty anxious person, needing reassurance every few hours. Second, it lets me know that however busy you might otherwise be, you have time to call me every few hours.
When looking for a relationship, I am seeking someone who has a life, and who knows how to draw support from that life. In 2020 anxiety is pandemic, but in order to give early sparks space to kindle, it’s important that you have self-soothing techniques that are not dependent on me, at least in the beginning. As a grown woman with an interesting life, I’m looking for someone who can say the same, not someone who can call me every few hours, just to say hi.
#3: Asking for measurements or details about personal hygiene
The dating world can be a harsh and ugly place, and with all due respect to those who are looking for a one-night-stand, I’m always upfront that I’m looking for more. And, don’t get me wrong, I value personal hygiene as much as the next gal. But, there is no better way for a guy to let me know that he’s all surface and no depth than when he asks detailed questions about measurements or personal hygiene before the first date.
Having been in the dating world for some time, I get the temptation to treat early dating like an interview process. There is no doubt that separating wheat from chaff early on can sometimes feel like a drag. But, there is no better sign that deep down, you’re looking for a prostitute or a new piece of arm candy than asking for measurements or about grooming habits before we’ve met. Yes, guys do this. Yes, it’s rude!
#4: Yell at me, especially by text
Of everything on this list, yelling at me by phone or text is the one that makes me saddest, because it tends to happen after at least a minimal emotional bond has formed, and each time it’s happened to me, it’s been followed up by a contrite “Oh no! What did I do?” conversation.
I’ve had guys get really mad about needing to wait a few hours for a text reply (prior to a first date), and others call me names for some view I’ve shared about politics or culture. Whether colloquial or personal, displaying anger before the first date is a red flag for me.
Healthy relationships give us the space to bring the fullness of who we are to the table. They are containers for our passion and the full host of our emotions. But, building that container takes time, and it certainly hasn’t happened before the third date. A man who yells at me before we’ve ever met is a man who may become emotionally abusive down the line. That’s not a chance I’m willing to take.
#5: Tell me you love me before the third date
This has happened to me twice, once during sex and once just following. Both times, having sex so soon was already a mistake, but a declaration of love was downright ridiculous. I might have been inclined to give Mr. Orgasm “I love you” another chance, but the second time he did it, I heard the words “I hate you” under his breath as well. Mr. Post-Coital Romeo was fully blissed out when he said it.
When we’re just getting to know one another, I want to know that you’re a relatively emotionally stable guy. New love is destabilizing in and of itself, and if I’m going to choose to go down that road with you, I want to know that you have the emotional fortitude to go the distance. Too early declarations of love let me know that your hunger, loneliness or past wounding have left you raw. You need time and healing. Not a third date with me.
The powerful forces of love require a sturdy container if we want them to nourish us.
Moving too fast or too slowly when tending the spark of a new connection is often a sign that someone is not ready. Maybe someone is still stuck on an old flame or needs some time for personal soul searching or therapy. Either way, the powerful forces of love require a sturdy container if we want them to nourish us, and not overwhelm us. Building that container requires patience and perseverance. It’s a sweet fruit, that must ripen in time.
So, if you think it’s love, take a deep breath. Go for a walk. Call a friend. Be brave, but give it time.