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Red flags to watch out for when dating

by Gaby Agbulos

WHEN you start dating someone, the start of a relationship is pretty much like something straight out of a movie. Think of how the movie “500 Days of Summer” began. 

(“I love her smile. I love her hair. I love her knees. I love this heart-shaped birthmark she has on her neck. I love the way she sometimes licks her lips before she talks. I love the sound of her laugh.”)

Everything about them feels perfect; they’re caring, kind and sweet. They buy you flowers even when you don’t ask for them and take you out on fancy dates just because. 

But as time passes, more flaws shine through. The positive exterior quickly falls apart to reveal several unpleasant characteristics. Once again, it’s like something straight out of a movie; think the latter part of “500 Days of Summer.” 

(“I hate her crooked teeth. I hate her 1960s haircut. I hate her knobby knees. I hate her cockroach-shaped splotch on her neck. I hate the way she smacks her lips before she talks. I hate the way she sounds when she laughs.”)

As the rose-colored glasses start to fall off, you realize that your relationship was never really perfect, to begin with, and you might start to wonder why you ever thought it was. Red flags are often hard to spot early in the relationship, but it gets much harder to ignore them down the line.

If you’re clueless, here are some red flags to look out for before you enter a relationship. 

  1. They’re mean to their family (especially their moms).

The way your partner treats you is important, yes. But what’s really telling of their character is how they treat other people.

How do they talk to waiters? How do they talk to their friends? More importantly, how do they talk to their families?

Yes, not everyone has a good relationship with their family. Some people have parents that are assholes. But if you’re at your partner’s house and you see that their mother’s treated like she’s a helper or they get unnecessarily angry at their siblings, then that’s a red flag.

You want someone who treats you well but if they’re nice only to you, chances are they’re putting up a front. The things that go on in one’s household, behind closed doors, are much more telling than the front they put up when you’re out on dates or posting about your relationship on Instagram.

  1. They don’t like to post on social media.

This is on a case-to-case basis. While it may not be important for you that your partner posts you on social media, it’s important to know why they don’t want to do it.

If they claim that “they just aren’t into social media” or “bumebwelo lang ako” or they start to ask you why it’s such a big deal, reasoning that social media shouldn’t dictate anything in your relationship, then that could be a red flag.

It’s definitely a red flag if you tell your partner that you like being posted about on social media, and they either argue with you about it or tell you that it’s not their thing. Posting someone to your social media, no matter if you’re into it or not, takes less than a minute to do. 

If it’s such a big deal to them to do something that small for you – especially if they know that it’s going to make you happy – what more when the bigger things come? 

  1. They shower you with a lot of affection early on. Like, way too much.

While it may feel good at first, remember that love bombing is a very real thing.

If you don’t already know what it is, love bombing is when very early into a relationship, a person bombards you with way too much attention, admiration and affection. You’ve been dating for a few days and yet they’re already telling you that you’re the only one for them, or that they are ready to drop the L-bomb on you even though you haven’t met in real life yet.

Being love bombed will often lead you to feel special and needed by this person, but you need to be cautious because many times, those sweet messages will quickly turn into angry, jealous ones, and with every gift they’ve given you, they’ll start to expect something in return. 

This may not be the case for everyone. Maybe you’re just dating someone who falls in love fast. But know that love bombing is a tactic often used by narcissists and abusers so it’s best to keep your guard up, no matter how much their messages may make you swoon.

  1. They don’t have any female friends.

This point is more applicable to heterosexual couples but it can be a great measure of one’s character in any relationship.

Some girls might be happy if their boyfriend has no female friends. Having a boyfriend with a girl best friend can, at times, feel like hell on earth. But it’s just as weird if they don’t have any female friends.

What’s the reason for this? Is it just a coincidence? Do they just feel awkward around girls? Or is it something more sinister – that they can’t be trusted around other girls, or girls don’t like being around him? 

It’s fine if your boyfriend doesn’t have any close female friends but to not have any at all? Is that just a coincidence, or do they just not like women? 

Either way, this can be considered a red flag because it means that they don’t know much about women; the things they talk about, the things they like. While this is more of a “to each their own” situation, you should find it weird if your boyfriend’s making friends based on gender.

  1. They don’t have a political stance on anything.

Something you should do early in the relationship is to ask them about their thoughts on everything. What is your stance on the conflict between Israel and Gaza? What are your thoughts on same-sex marriage? Who did you vote for in the previous election? Answer – and quick!

If you aren’t a political person, then at the very least you should get to know their stance on causes that are close to your heart. If you are a political person, then it’s important to discuss these matters with them because why would you want to stay with someone who isn’t able to talk to you about these matters, much less challenge you intellectually? 

Remember: everything is political. Even if you say that you aren’t very involved in politics, you need to remember that everyone is affected by everything, all the time.

If you have a partner who doesn’t seem to be interested in talking about anything happening in society, then how long is it going to be until the conversation well dries out?

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