10 Dating Red Flags to Look For in a Man

dating red flags

Have you had a lot of bad experiences when dating men? Do you find yourself asking why you attract such rotten boyfriends? I know I do!

If you haven’t had much luck with relationships, perhaps you just need to learn how to spot dating red flags. One silver lining of a terrible track record with dating is that you learn a lot of lessons along the way. I’ve delved into mine to give you my top ten characteristics to avoid.

1. He talks badly about other women

Lots of men will use the line “you’re not like other girls” as a compliment. That might have worked when you were a teenager, but now, it should have you wondering “what’s wrong with other girls?” Guys who say this are usually trying to play women against each other. If he uses derogatory terms to describe other women, this is also cause for concern. He should respect all women, not just the ones he’s trying to date or sleep with. If he talks badly about other women, he’s going to talk badly about you, too. Keep that in mind.

2. He tries to push your boundaries

The right partner will respect the boundaries you set for the relationship. Whether it’s about how much time you spend together or how fast your sexual relationship moves, there should be no pressure. For example, if you tell him that you’re not ready to have sex or that you need to use protection, there should be no questions. If he’s whining, complaining, or laughing it off, he’s not worth your time. A boundary is not a challenge. If he’s pressuring you to change your boundaries or trying to make you feel bad about them, ditch him.

3. He gives you backhanded compliments

Does he criticize the way you talk, dress, or act? When he compliments you, does it almost feel like an insult? Some men like to give backhanded compliments like ‘you’d look prettier if you wore less make up’ or ‘you’re actually pretty smart!’ This is called negging, and it’s a form of control and emotional manipulation.

Men do this in order to undermine a woman’s confidence. The idea is that after negging, she’ll seek his approval and begin to chase him. If you notice a man doing this to you, avoid him at all costs. A good man will try and build you up, not tear you down for his own benefit.

4. He’s rude or disrespectful to others

You can tell a lot about a person by observing the way they treat others. Look at the way he interacts with other people, as well as you. A dinner date is a great opportunity to do this. If he’s rude to waiting staff, that could be a problem. It’s easy to brush off this kind of mistreatment when it isn’t directed at you, but it will give you an indication of his character.

5. He wants too much too soon

There’s nothing wrong with being enthusiastic about a new relationship. However, if a man is trying to make things move too fast, you should take a step back. Some men will rush to get you to move in with them under the guise of being head over heels in love with you. In reality, it can be a tactic to isolate you from your friends and family. Know exactly what you’re getting into and take things at a pace you’re comfortable with.

6. He defends the bad behaviour of other men

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, there has been more and more conversation about rape, sexual assault, domestic violence and coercive control. When these topics come up, pay attention to how he responds. Is he open-minded and respectful, or combative? If he defends or tries to justify the behaviour of known abusers, you should be alarmed. These conversations will let you know if his values and morals are in line with yours.

7. You want to ‘Fix’ him

Women are socially conditioned to want to ‘fix’ their partners. Pop culture is filled with stories of bad boys being tamed by good women. However, reality is very different. If you get into a relationship for this purpose, you’re setting yourself up to get hurt.

When women see men with complicated issues, they often think they can change them. You can’t change anyone, people can only change themselves. Remember that, and you can save yourself some heartbreak later down the line.

8. He says all his exes are crazy

We’ve all heard stories of crazy exes. Most of us have one or two of them ourselves. However, if a man says that all his previous girlfriends were crazy, run for the hills. The common denominator in all of those relationships was him, so it’s likely that he was the problem. A man who talks this way has probably done zero self-reflection on what he could have done to upset those women. It shows that not only is he not able to take responsibility for his own impact on a relationship, but he’s also not able to talk respectfully about his previous partners.

9. He doesn’t do his fair share

A relationship should be a team effort, even from the start. When you’re dating, be aware of the amount of effort each of you is putting in. Do you always have to contact him first? Is it down to you to plan every date? Are you paying for everything? If so, you need to walk away.

This doesn’t just apply to finances and housework. It applies to emotions, too. Studies show that women are taking on most of the emotional labor in heterosexual relationships. They’re doing the ‘invisible’ work of planning events or activities, caring for others, and managing people’s expectations. They’re also putting in the effort to nurture and support their partners. In a healthy relationship, these tasks need to be divided equally.

He shouldn’t be reaping all the benefits of your relationship. If he’s learning and growing a lot from being with you, that’s great. However, it needs to go both ways.

10. He makes promises but doesn’t deliver

If a man is promising you the world but giving you nothing, how much does he really want you? If he tells you he’d treat you right, but doesn’t actually do it, it means nothing. “Actions speak louder than words” is a cliché, but it’s true.

Does he promise to take you out and then leave you waiting for an invitation? Perhaps he plans everything only to cancel at the last minute. He may give you a sincere apology and a convincing explanation, but don’t be fooled. He needs to follow through on his promises to be worthy of your time.

In any relationship, there is room for mistakes. We can’t expect everyone to be the perfect partner. Still, that doesn’t mean we should make endless allowances for mistreatment or poor behaviour. You can only give a prospective boyfriend so many chances before you jump ship. Plus, these little dating red flags will turn into major issues in a long-term relationship. Maya Angelou once said “when someone shows you who they are, believe them; the first time”. These are wise words to live by.

Emma is a writer, Muay Thai fighter and ESL teacher living in Bangkok. Occasionally, she’s also trying to navigate the minefield of dating as an expat. You can read more about her adventures in Thailand at Under the Ropes, or follow her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. 


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