7 major red flags to watch out for when choosing a lover

by Justin Brown | April 22, 2024, 11:16 pm

Have you ever looked back on a past relationship and thought, “How did I miss that sign?” Sometimes, when we’re in the thick of emotions and hope, it’s easy to overlook the subtle warning signals.

I know I’ve been guilty of it, and the hindsight always feels 20/20. That’s how those intense feelings of attraction and love cloud our judgment sometimes. 

But now I know better. With each relationship I’ve had, I’ve honed my ability to detect those red flags early on. No more brushing off questionable behaviors or making excuses for patterns that don’t sit right with me.

It took a lot of introspection and learning from past mistakes to sharpen my awareness. Now, when I sense a potential red flag, I trust my instincts and delve deeper into understanding its roots.

Because in the world of dating and love, being alert and proactive can mean the difference between heartbreak and finding a genuinely compatible partner.

Here are 7 red flags to watch out for when choosing a lover:  

1) They dismiss your feelings

Reflect upon the moments when you’ve tried to share your sentiments or worries with them – how did they respond? If their usual reaction is to belittle your feelings or dismiss them as irrelevant, consider this a glaring red flag.

Listen, your emotions are valid. They are a part of who you are, and they matter. It’s critical to understand that the right person will never make you feel otherwise. They will empathize with you and take your feelings into account.

If your potential lover disregards your emotions, it’s not a sign of their ‘straightforward’ nature. It’s a clear indication of a lack of empathy and respect for you as an individual.

You don’t need to convince someone to care about how you feel. It should be a given in any relationship – romantic or otherwise.

If it’s missing, you may find yourself in a perpetual state of emotional turmoil, which is hardly the foundation for a healthy relationship.

2) They’re excessively charming

Isn’t charm one of the qualities we seek in a potential lover? Indeed, it is. But when someone seems too good to be true, they probably are.

At first, you might be swept off your feet by their charisma and eloquence. You might find yourself completely enamoured by their ability to make you feel special and desired.

However, excessive charm can mask a multitude of sins.

The problem with overly charming individuals is that they often use their allure as a tool for manipulation.

They know exactly what to say and how to behave to make you overlook their flaws or transgressions.

They are masters at presenting themselves in the best possible light while subtly undermining your sense of self-worth.

To put it simply, excessive charm can be a sophisticated form of emotional manipulation. It’s designed to make you feel special and important while diverting your attention from their problematic behavior.

3) They’re never at fault

This point took a while for me to grapple with.

At first, it might seem impressive – your potential lover always has an answer for everything. They’re never in the wrong, and they have a knack for spinning things around so that they’re always the victim or the hero.

But let’s take a step back.

In reality, no one is perfect. We all make mistakes; it’s part of being human. It’s how we learn and grow.

Blaming others or external circumstances for our own actions and choices is not a sign of maturity or wisdom. It’s a clear indication of an inability to take responsibility.

If your potential lover never admits to being at fault, it’s a red flag that they lack self-awareness and accountability. Over time, this could lead to a one-sided relationship where you’re always the one apologizing or taking the blame.

4) They’re inconsistent

In the early days of a relationship, it can all feel so heady. You may be so taken in by the other person’s spontaneous nature. That’s how it was for me in one of my past relationships.

One day she’d be attentive and affectionate, the next she’d be distant and aloof. But it was okay, the unpredictability added an element of excitement to our relationship.

But – believe me, it’s just not sustainable. While it may seem thrilling at the start, the constant ups and downs can leave you feeling drained and insecure.

Inconsistency in behavior is not just about being unpredictable. It’s a sign of emotional instability. In the long run, it can leave you constantly guessing where you stand in the relationship, causing unnecessary stress and uncertainty.

When it comes to love, consistency is a virtue often underestimated.

The person who loves you won’t leave you in a state of constant doubt. They would be consistent in their actions and words. They will be there for you irrespective of the highs or lows, their feelings for you unwavering.

5) They disrespect your boundaries

Another problem I had with the person I mentioned above was that she found my personal boundaries amusing.

I had always been a strong believer in having some ‘me’ time, even when in a relationship. But every time I tried to voice this need for space, she’d laugh it off or claim I was being too rigid.

In the beginning, I laughed along, thinking maybe it was all in good humor. But as the relationship progressed, this dismissal of my boundaries became more frequent, and it started to feel like a blatant disregard for my personal needs.

Your personal boundaries, whether physical or emotional, are essential for your well-being and self-respect. If your potential lover consistently crosses these boundaries without any consideration for your comfort, it’s a significant red flag.

A healthy relationship is about mutual respect and understanding. If the other person finds joy in crossing these lines or dismiss your discomfort, it’s a clear sign of their lack of respect for you as an individual.

Sharing my experience, I’ve learned that love doesn’t mean having to compromise on your personal boundaries. The right person will understand and respect them, not ridicule or disregard them.

6) They’re secretive about past relationships

It’s common knowledge that how a person speaks about their past relationships can reveal a lot about them and how they handle relationships in general.

So, take note of this – If your potential lover is extremely secretive or vague about their past relationships, it might be a red flag.

Of course, some people prefer to keep their past private, especially in the early stages of a new relationship, and that’s absolutely okay.

But if they consistently dodge any conversations about their past relationships or react with hostility or discomfort, it might indicate unresolved issues or patterns you need to be aware of.

Being open about past relationships doesn’t mean they have to share every detail, but a general understanding of their relationship history is important. It can give you insights into their patterns, how they deal with conflict, and what they’ve learned from their past.

After all, you’re choosing a potential lover here. You need to pick someone who seems capable of handling issues and conflict in a healthy way. 

That said, be careful of people who seem to be the “perfect” package…

7) They’re perfect

This might seem strange. After all, isn’t finding the ‘perfect’ lover what we all desire? But here’s where things get a bit complex.

When I say ‘perfect’, I don’t mean someone who ticks all the boxes on your wish list or someone who never makes a mistake.

What I mean is someone who presents themselves as flawless, as if they can do no wrong.

It’s important to remember that everyone has flaws. We all have our quirks, our faults, and our weaknesses. It’s these imperfections that make us human.

If your potential lover seems too perfect, it might be a sign that they’re hiding their true self or being dishonest about who they are.

In a healthy relationship, both people feel free to be their authentic selves—imperfections and all. They acknowledge their faults and strive to improve, rather than pretending they don’t exist.

Bottom line: Love is a choice

Choosing a lover isn’t just about finding someone who makes your heart flutter. It’s about making a conscious decision to share your life with another person, with all their imperfections, quirks, and idiosyncrasies.

As renowned psychotherapist Esther Perel often states, “Today, we turn to one person to provide what an entire village once did: a sense of grounding, meaning, and continuity.”

This shift in relationships has put immense pressure on our choice of a partner. We’re not just looking for a lover; we’re seeking a best friend, a confidant, a sounding board, and so much more.

While it’s natural to have standards and expectations, it’s essential to remember that at the core of every relationship lies authenticity and respect. 

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