12 Relationships Red Flags You Should Never Ignore

Tara Blair Ball

If they aren’t on their best behavior on date #1, what makes you think they’ll get any better later?


Photo by Alan Quirvan on Unsplash

Despite being a Relationship Coach, I didn’t have a list of red flags in mind when I started dating following the end of my first marriage.

This was stupid on my part. Without having some kind of list of what I should be actively avoiding, I kept telling myself, “Oh, that’s not so bad,” or “I bet that was just a one-time thing.”

I believe wholeheartedly in second, third, even fourth chances. But when it comes to dating, if people are exhibiting red flags as early as the first date, then that’s a sign that things will only get worse.

Most people are on their very best behavior until around the third month of dating (think still-holding-in-their-farts good), so if you’re seeing anything that seems off on date #1? RUN.

These are a list of the 12 most common dating red flags to notice when meeting someone new:

1. Poor Hygiene

The majority of us aren’t going to want to go on a second date with someone who smells, but you’d be surprised how many clients have said something to me along the lines of, “It must have just been an off day for them.”

I get that things can happen.

Deodorant fails. Your hot water heater broke. You’re nervous, so you sweat through your dress or suit jacket. If there’s a hygiene snafu, then you 1.) postpone/reschedule the date and/or 2.) apologize PROFUSELY.

If someone neither delays the date nor apologizes, they either don’t know or don’t care. Neither is a quality I suggest you excuse.

2. Poor Listening Skills

Long-term relationships are built on intimacy. We share. We listen. We grow. It’s beautiful and awesome.

But that can’t happen if you aren’t heard.

If someone:

  • asks you a question but doesn’t wait for you to respond;
  • routinely interrupts you;
  • continually turns the conversation back to themselves;
  • nods excessively;
  • hurries you along;
  • avoids eye contact;
  • fills in words for you that may not even be right; and/or
  • doesn’t seem to give you any opportunity to speak at all;

then you shouldn’t pursue a relationship with them.

3. Doesn’t Ask Questions or Only Asks You Questions

These may seem contradictory, but they actually both indicate the same thing: a one-sided relationship.

Either the person isn’t asking you any questions, so they are dominating the conversation and clearly not interested in learning about your past experiences, interests, family history, etc.

OR the person keeps making the conversation all about you by continually asking YOU questions. While it’s easy to mistake this one for genuine interest, it’s still one-sided: you’re not getting the opportunity to learn about them.

Conversations have to be a two-way street. If they’re not, it and your relationship potential are a dead-end.

4. No Long-Term Goals

If you have long-term goals for yourself, whether it be in your personal or professional life, then you shouldn’t date people with only short-term ones.

When someone only has short-term goals, it likely means they aren’t thinking too far ahead. If that’s the case, it’s also likely they don’t want a serious relationship or to make any big life changes (like a new job, etc.).

5. Nothing In Common

Yes, opposites can attract, but ideally you’ll have something in common. Maybe a similar upbringing, cultural background, values, beliefs, goals, etc.

If not…what are you going to talk about?

If you’re looking for something substantial, you’ll need some similarities to build off of. Without it, you’ll struggle to understand and relate to one another.

6. Overly Negative

Life was tough even before 2020. Your close relationships, particularly your romantic ones, should bring the light instead of the dark into your life. Your sweetheart should be the ONE person in your life you can count on to lift you up.

If your date tends to do a lot of gossiping, criticizing, or complaining, this is likely a pattern of behavior that won’t improve with time. Plus if they’re gossiping, criticizing, or complaining TO you, that likely means they’ll do it ABOUT you too, and who would want that??

7. Poor Manners

How someone treats others in front of you is often a great indicator of how they’ll treat you behind close doors.

If someone’s rude to the wait staff or has a road rage incident, don’t see that as a “they only do it other people” or “that was a one-time thing.”

People show you who they are if you pay attention, so if someone shows you they’re unkind, have anger problems, or can’t control their emotions, pay attention and get out early.

8. Selfish Behavior

One-sided relationships are like trying to paddle a boat with only one oar. Instead of you both getting to your destination, you’ll just end up paddling in circles.

A healthy relationship is one where there are equal parts giving and receiving. There is no hope for a healthy relationship if it’s always one person doing all the work and the other simply getting the benefits.

9. No Filter

Some people may mistakenly assume intimacy is created through mouth-vomiting their personal histories.

Their inner narrative is,“If I share my deepest awfuls with you and you share your deepest awfuls with me, that’s intimacy!”

Intimacy has to be earned by creating trust first. Trust can’t be forced.

If someone has no filter, aka overshares, they’re someone who doesn’t have or honors appropriate boundaries. Boundaries are necessary for any healthy relationship, so don’t pursue anything further with them.

10. Doesn’t Follow Through With Plans

If you’re just getting to know somebody and they’re already proving to be flaky when it comes to making or following through with plans, then how can you know that they’ll be reliable as your sweetheart? Answer: You can’t!

You deserve to have people in your life you can depend on.

If someone stands you up, shows up late without letting you know, or cancels on you last minute, they aren’t someone you should waste any further time on.

11. Passive-Aggressive Behavior

Passive-aggression is suppressed anger that ends up spilling out in small interactions. It often shows up in sighing, dirty looks, extended periods of silence, sarcasm, or being patronizing or condescending.

Someone has to be willing and able to confront situations directly in order for you to be able to work things out. If someone is refusing to address something from the very beginning, that’s not someone you should want to get any more involved with.

12. Distracted

You might be super excited to be out and about with them, but they can’t bother to meet your eye. Instead, they’re “phubbing” by constantly having their nose in their phone, staring at their food, or scanning the room.

You shouldn’t have to beg for someone’s undivided attention, and if you aren’t having it on date #1, what makes you think you’ll get it later on?

Having a list of behaviors you absolutely won’t put up with can save you the irritation and wasted time of continuing a relationship with someone who isn’t investing in you as much as you are with them. You deserve a healthy relationship. Any sign you can’t have one with this person is a sign to let go and look elsewhere.

Happy loving!

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Certified Relationship Coach and Writer. E-mail: tarablairball@gmail.com

Memphis, TN

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