Red Flags: The Importance of Dating Defensively

In the beginning of dating, when the love, infatuation and romance is out in full force, there is a strong desire to move closer and deeper as quickly as possible. The danger in this is that you really barely know the true person you are dating. “Dating defensivel” is a good idea, especially in the first few months.  It is essential that you determine how emotionally and physically safe you are with this person that you barely know.

The following is a list of the most common issues to be mindful of in your new dating partner. While none of these issues means you should immediately stop seeing someone, realize that the greater the number of issues your new dating partner has that are on this list, the greater your potential to be hurt. And remember that in the beginning of dating, this is as good as it gets! So if you’re seeing red flags during a time in which everything is set up to be easy and fun, it is not a good sign and you should proceed very cautiously.

The purpose of dating is to learn as much about the person as possible, and have fun at the same time. The following list will help you get a good sense about how safe this person is for you.  Read this list over after you start dating someone.  Refer to it frequently, so you don’t let denial set you up to get hurt.

Red flags should go up when the person you are dating…

  • avoids discussing their past or present life, or does so only vaguely
  • appears overly dependent on family members
  • seems to have few or no personal boundaries
  • exhibits excessive alcohol or drug use/abuse
  • exhibits frequent flirting or staring at others; seems to need constant attention
  • is not emotionally finished with ex-spouses/ex-lovers
  • is recently divorced or broken up from relationship
  • has credit problems, debts, shaky finances, undergoing a “temporary bad time”
  • seems to need to be in control at all times
  • never shows any fear or vulnerability
  • is unreliable; doesn’t follow through on prearranged plans; is constantly late
  • expresses an overfocus on sexual themes
  • has few or no long-term friendships or previous relationships
  • interrupts without listening; talks only about self and never asks you about you
  • is unavailable through overwork or excessive interests, family, children
  • has a negative, pessimistic outlook on life; constantly critical of others; sarcastic sense of humor
  • does not take care of self in diet, exercise, appearance
  • cannot tolerate feedback from others without getting defensive
  • exhibits excessive computer use
  • has inappropriate ways of handling conflicts, or avoids conflict entirely whenever possible
  • exhibits an inappropriate expression of anger
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