Dating can be complicated and sometimes it’s difficult to tell if someone is right for you or not. Many people have experienced a relationship that didn’t go well, leaving them feeling unsure and wary of the dating world. In this article, we will explore some warning signs or “red flags” to pay attention to in the early stages of dating, online dating, dating in your 50s and beyond, dating a divorced man, dating a widower, and dating a narcissist. We will also provide a checklist of red flags to watch out for and offer science-based tips for making a successful first date. Additionally, we’ll share some stories from celebrities about their worst dating experiences.
Red Flags In Early Stages Of Dating
When you’re entering the world of dating, it’s important to be aware of the red flags that can appear in the early stages of a relationship. These warning signs can help you avoid getting involved with someone who may not be a good fit for you. In this section, we will discuss some of the red flags to look out for when you’re starting to date someone new.
1. Love bombing
If someone is showering you with excessive attention, affection, and declarations of love right from the start, it could be a sign of love bombing. While it may feel like a whirlwind romance, it’s important to be cautious. Love bombing is often a tactic used by manipulative individuals to quickly gain control over their partner.
2. Being disrespectful to exes
Pay attention to how your date talks about their exes. If they constantly badmouth their previous partners and paint themselves as the victim, it could be a red flag. This kind of behavior may indicate a lack of personal responsibility and an inability to resolve conflict in a healthy way.
3. Jealousy and possessiveness
If your date displays signs of jealousy and tries to control your actions or who you spend time with, it’s important to take notice. These behaviors can be early indicators of an insecure and potentially abusive partner. Healthy relationships are built on trust and mutual respect, not control and possessiveness.
4. Inconsistent communication
Communication is key in any relationship, and inconsistency can be a red flag. If your date is frequently vague or evasive in their communication, it could be a sign of disinterest or a lack of investment in the relationship. Healthy relationships require open and honest communication.
5. Lack of emotional intimacy
Emotional intimacy is essential for a healthy and fulfilling relationship. If your date is unwilling to open up and share their thoughts, feelings, and fears with you, it could be a red flag. Emotional distance can make it difficult to build a deep connection and can leave you feeling disconnected and unfulfilled.
6. Trust issues
Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship. If your date has a history of infidelity, struggles with trust, or exhibits secretive behavior, it could be a red flag. A lack of trust can lead to insecurity and anxiety in the relationship and may indicate deeper issues that need to be addressed.
7. Emotional unavailability
It’s important to be with someone who is emotionally available and capable of forming a deep connection. If your date avoids intimate conversations, refuses to label the relationship, or shows a lack of commitment, it could be a red flag. Emotional unavailability can prevent a relationship from growing and developing into something meaningful.
8. Lying and cheating
Honesty and trust are vital in a healthy relationship. If your date lies or cheats, it’s a major red flag. These behaviors indicate a lack of respect and integrity, and they are unlikely to change. It’s important to set boundaries and not tolerate dishonesty or infidelity.
These are just a few examples of red flags to watch out for in the early stages of dating. It’s important to trust your instincts and address any concerns or doubts that arise. Remember, a healthy and fulfilling relationship is built on trust, respect, and open communication. Don’t ignore the red flags – they can be early indicators of a potentially toxic or unhealthy relationship.
Red Flags In Online Dating
Online dating has become a popular way to meet potential partners, but it’s important to be aware of red flags that may indicate a potentially unhealthy or unsafe relationship. Here are some red flags to pay attention to when dating online:
1. They ask you for money
If someone you’ve met online asks you for money, this is a major red flag. It’s a clear sign that they may have ulterior motives and are not genuinely interested in a relationship. Never send money to someone you’ve just met online, no matter how well you think you know them.
2. They avoid sharing photos
When dating online, it’s important to establish trust and authenticity. If someone consistently makes excuses for not sharing photos or refuses to provide them altogether, it may suggest that they are not who they claim to be. It’s essential to see and verify the identity of the person you are talking to before getting too involved.
3. They exhibit controlling behaviors
Watch out for signs of controlling behavior early on in the relationship. If someone tries to dictate who you can talk to, what you can do, or continuously questions your whereabouts, it’s a red flag. Healthy relationships are built on trust, respect, and mutual independence.
4. They rush into saying “I love you”
Love takes time to develop. If someone declares their love for you too quickly, within a few days or weeks of talking, it’s a warning sign. Genuine love needs a strong foundation of trust, connection, and getting to know each other deeply. Rapid expressions of love may indicate manipulation or a lack of emotional maturity.
5. They exhibit disrespectful behavior
Pay attention to how the person treats you and others. If they consistently exhibit disrespectful behavior such as demeaning comments, rudeness, or belittling, it’s a red flag. Respect is a fundamental aspect of a healthy relationship, and disrespectful behavior should never be ignored.
6. They have a history of failed relationships
If someone frequently talks negatively about their exes or blames all their relationship problems on their former partners, it may indicate unresolved issues and an inability to take responsibility. It’s crucial to be cautious when someone displays a pattern of failed relationships and shows no willingness to learn from their past mistakes.
7. They engage in excessive sweet-talking
While compliments and admiration are essential in a relationship, excessive sweet-talking can be a warning sign. Someone who constantly showers you with compliments and acts as if you’re perfect may have ulterior motives or be trying to manipulate you. Healthy relationships are built on genuine, balanced praise and realistic expectations.
It’s essential to trust your instincts and prioritize your safety and well-being when dating online. Don’t ignore these red flags or make excuses for someone’s questionable behavior. By paying attention to these warning signs, you can protect yourself from potentially harmful or toxic relationships.
Red Flags In Dating A Divorced Man
When it comes to dating a divorced man, there are certain red flags that you need to pay attention to. While not all divorced men are bad news, it’s important to be aware of the potential challenges that can arise in a relationship with someone who has gone through a divorce. Here are 15 red flags that you should keep an eye out for:
1. He Never Stops Gripping About His Ex
It’s normal for a divorced man to have some lingering bitterness or resentment towards his ex, especially if the divorce was acrimonious. However, if he can’t go a day without complaining or bad-mouthing his ex, it may be a sign that he is still emotionally attached and not ready to move on.
2. He Talks Poorly About His Ex in Front of His Kids
A divorced man should prioritize his children’s emotional well-being and refrain from speaking negatively about their mother in their presence. If he disrespects his ex in front of his kids, it shows a lack of maturity and consideration for their feelings.
3. He Thinks He’s Blameless
Divorce is rarely one-sided, and both parties usually bear some responsibility for the end of the marriage. If the divorced man you’re dating refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing on his part and paints himself as the blameless victim, it may indicate a lack of self-reflection and an inability to take responsibility for his actions.
4. He Wants Too Much Too Soon
While it’s natural to be excited about a new relationship, if a divorced man is pushing for commitment or intimacy too quickly, it could be a sign that he’s using you as a distraction from his own emotional healing. It’s important to take things at a pace that feels comfortable for both of you.
5. He Sees You Through the Lens of His Ex
If a divorced man has been hurt by his ex-wife, he may be overly suspicious and paranoid in his new relationship. While it’s understandable to have some wariness, if he constantly mistrusts you and projects his past insecurities onto you, it can create unnecessary tension and strain in the relationship.
6. He’s Tetchy About All Divorce Talk
Open and honest communication is crucial in any relationship, especially when it comes to discussing past experiences and baggage. If a divorced man becomes defensive or evasive whenever you try to broach the subject of his divorce, it may be a sign that he’s not fully processed his emotions or is hiding something.
7. He Trafficks in Guilt
Emotional manipulation is a major red flag in any relationship. If a divorced man guilt-trips you into staying with him or uses emotional pleas to prevent you from ending the relationship, it’s a clear sign of unhealthy dynamics and a lack of respect for your autonomy.
8. He Uses His Divorce as an Excuse for Bad Behavior
While it’s true that divorce can leave emotional scars, it shouldn’t be used as an excuse for mistreating or disrespecting a partner. If a divorced man consistently blames his divorce for his bad behavior or refuses to take responsibility for his actions, it’s a major red flag.
9. He’s a Serial Cheater / Sex Addict
Infidelity is a common reason for divorce, and if a divorced man has a history of cheating or struggles with a sex addiction, it’s a major warning sign. Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship, and it’s difficult to build trust with someone who has a pattern of dishonesty and betrayal.
10. The Kids Are…a Problem
Dating a divorced man with children can be complicated, but if his kids consistently act out when you’re around or if they use you as a pawn in their parents’ conflicts, it can create additional stress and strain on the relationship. It’s important to consider whether you’re willing and able to navigate the complexities of co-parenting.
11. He Hides You
While it’s understandable that a divorced man may want to take things slowly when it comes to introducing a new partner to his friends and family, if he consistently hides you or keeps you a secret for an extended period, it may indicate that he’s not fully committed or serious about the relationship.
12. He’s Frustratingly Indecisive
Relationships require open and honest communication, and if a divorced man is constantly flip-flopping on his feelings or can’t make decisions, it can create a lot of frustration and confusion. It’s important to be with someone who is confident and decisive in their actions and intentions.
13. He’s Suspiciously Secretive
Trust is key in any relationship, and if a divorced man is consistently secretive or evasive about his activities or whereabouts, it can erode trust and create unnecessary doubt and anxiety. It’s important to address any concerns or suspicions early on rather than letting them fester.
14. He Expects You To Step Into the Mom-Role Immediately
While it’s natural for a divorced man with children to want his new partner to be involved in their lives, if he expects you to take on the role of a mother figure too soon or without considering your own desires and boundaries, it can create an unbalanced dynamic and put strain on the relationship.
15. He Doesn’t Have a Relationship With His Kids
While every family dynamic is unique, if a divorced man has little to no relationship with his children and shows little interest in fostering a connection, it may indicate deeper issues and unresolved emotional baggage. It’s important to consider whether you’re comfortable being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t prioritize their own children.
Dating a divorced man can come with its own set of challenges and red flags. It’s important to be aware of these potential warning signs and prioritize open and honest communication to ensure a healthy and fulfilling relationship. Remember to trust your instincts and take the time to assess whether the relationship is meeting your needs and aligning with your values.
Red Flags In Dating A Widower
When it comes to dating a widower, there are specific red flags that you need to pay attention to. These flags indicate that the widower may not be ready or suitable for a serious relationship. It’s important to be aware of these signs to protect yourself from potential heartbreak. Here are five red flags to watch out for when dating a widower:
1. The Widower Hides You from Family and Friends
If the widower is not introducing you to his family and friends or continually makes excuses as to why it hasn’t happened yet, it’s a red flag. You should never tolerate being treated like a secret. When a widower hides you and the relationship from others, it shows that he values the opinions and feelings of his loved ones more than he values you. It’s essential to be with someone who prioritizes you and is proud to have you in their life.
2. You Remind the Widower of His Late Wife
If the widower constantly compares you to his late wife or tries to mold you into a replica of her, it’s a red flag. While it’s natural for widowers to have memories of their late spouse, it’s unhealthy for them to idealize their past relationship and expect you to be the same. You deserve to be loved for who you are, not for who someone wants you to be.
3. After a Year Together, He Can’t See a Future with You
If you’ve been in a relationship with a widower for a significant amount of time, and he still can’t see a future with you, it’s a red flag. Widowers who are ready for a serious and committed relationship will have a clear vision of a future together. They will take actions to incorporate you into their lives and make plans for the long term. If the widower is unable to commit or can’t envision a future with you, it’s a sign that he may not be ready to fully invest in the relationship.
It’s crucial to pay attention to these red flags when dating a widower. Recognizing these signs can save you from heartbreak and disappointment. It’s important to be with someone who is ready to embrace a new chapter in their life and fully open their heart to you. Trust your instincts and prioritize your happiness and well-being in any relationship you pursue.
Red Flags In Dating A Narcissist
When it comes to dating, it’s important to be aware of red flags that may indicate you are dealing with a narcissist. While not everyone with narcissistic traits is a bad person, dating them can be challenging. Here are some red flags to watch out for:
1. Lack of empathy
One of the key traits of narcissism is a lack of empathy. If the person you’re dating seems unable or unwilling to understand and share your feelings, it may be a sign of narcissistic behavior.
2. Sense of entitlement
Narcissists often have an unrealistic sense of entitlement. They expect others to cater to their desires and may become angry or upset when they are not treated as superior or given special treatment.
3. Constant need for attention
Narcissists crave constant attention and validation. They become distressed when they feel ignored or when someone else receives more attention than they do.
4. Arrogant behavior
Narcissists frequently display arrogant behavior and attitudes. They talk excessively about their own successes, romantic conquests, or material possessions, often trying to impress others with their accomplishments.
5. Exploitation of others
Narcissists have a tendency to use and exploit others for their own benefit. They may form relationships or friendships with people solely for their own gain, without genuine care or interest in the other person.
6. Fantasies of power, success, or beauty
Conversations with narcissists often revolve around their own fantasies of power, success, or physical appearance. They may focus on materialistic things and avoid deeper, more meaningful conversations.
7. Feeling exceptional or “special”
Narcissists believe they are unique and can only be understood by other “special” individuals. They may seek out relationships with people they perceive as equally special or superior.
8. Envy and gossip
Narcissists may feel envious of others and engage in gossip to bring down those they are envious of. They may make up reasons or criticize others to enhance their own self-esteem.
These red flags can help you identify narcissistic traits in the person you are dating. It’s important to note that dating a narcissist doesn’t automatically doom the relationship. However, it may require adjustments, shifts in expectations, and a preparedness for potential toxic behavior. Many narcissists are unaware of their condition, so being educated and setting clear boundaries in the relationship is crucial.
Dating a narcissist can be challenging. It’s important to be aware of red flags that may indicate narcissistic behavior, such as a lack of empathy, a sense of entitlement, a constant need for attention, and exploitative tendencies. Recognizing these red flags can help you make informed decisions about your relationship and protect yourself from potential harm.
Checklist Of Red Flags To Watch Out For
The dating world can be exciting and full of possibilities, but it’s important to keep an eye out for red flags that may indicate potential problems in a relationship. Here’s a checklist of 15 red flags that you  need to pay attention to:
If your partner wants to be with you all the time and encourages you to cut ties with friends and family, it could be a sign of possessiveness and control.
Constantly putting you or others down, even if they claim to be joking, is a red flag that indicates a lack of respect and consideration.
3. All work all the time
If your partner consistently prioritizes their job over spending time with you and cancels dates without hesitation, it shows a lack of commitment and consideration for your needs.
Withholding affection or using it as a way to punish you is manipulative behavior that can be emotionally damaging.
If all the plans you make revolve around what your partner wants and they always get their way, it shows a lack of compromise and consideration for your desires.
Refusing to discuss important subjects and avoiding difficult conversations can lead to a lack of trust and communication in the relationship.
Saying “I love you” too quickly and expecting you to fulfill all their needs without considering your own feelings can be a sign of emotional dependence and potential codependency.
Constantly trying to change you and never being satisfied with who you are can erode your self-esteem and create an unhealthy power dynamic in the relationship.
Dismissing or being mean to your friends and family shows a lack of respect and consideration for your loved ones.
Constantly checking your private texts or demanding access to your personal messages is a violation of boundaries and a breach of trust.
Not being proud of your accomplishments and not sharing in your successes can leave you feeling unseen and unappreciated in the relationship.
Engaging in physically or emotionally dominating behavior, such as yelling, name-calling, or physical aggression, is a clear sign of abuse and should never be tolerated.
Feeling afraid to leave a relationship because you fear your partner’s outbursts or because dealing with their behavior is too exhausting is a dangerous sign of potential abuse. Seek help if you feel trapped.
14. Controlling Behavior
Controlling behavior, if left unchecked, can escalate into verbal or physical abuse. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you feel unsafe or trapped in a controlling relationship.
15. Dating a Narcissist
If your partner exhibits superiority, constantly makes the relationship about themselves, and displays a contemptuous smirk, you may be dealing with a narcissist. These red flags indicate a lack of empathy and a need for control.
It’s important to note that these red flags are warning signs that should not be ignored. If you notice any of these behaviors in your partner, it’s essential to address them and consider whether the relationship is healthy and sustainable. Trust your instincts and prioritize your safety and well-being above all else.
Recognizing and addressing red flags is crucial to entering into and maintaining a healthy and fulfilling relationship. Don’t be afraid to seek help or support if you find yourself in a situation where red flags are present.
Neal has more than 10 years of experience as a dating coach. He has guided 100+ men and women through the intricate art of courtship and transformed their love lives. Neal’s knowledge of dating strategies, coupled with his genuine empathy and understanding, allows him to help his clients foster genuine and meaningful relationships.