Singles everywhere are told to keep an eye out for “red flags” when first getting to know a new potential partner — especially if they meet online or through a dating app. It’s always important to know your deal breakers, but some flags may not be as red as you think.
Take for example, a friend of mine. She texted me to get my opinion on something she had found while snooping through her boyfriend’s phone. Was it cause for concern? Maybe. Then again, I’m of the school of thought that almost anything can be read into when taken out of context. I understand where she’s coming from — letting go and learning to trust someone can feel really scary. But as I told my friend, there’s a fine line between looking for problems and creating them.
To get some insight, I turned to Celebrity Love Architect, Kailen Rosenberg. She is known for her work on the series Lovetown, USA with Oprah Winfrey as well as the E! reality show Stewarts & Hamiltons and Keeping Up with the Kardashians. She is also the author of Real Love, Right Now: A 30-Day Blueprint for Finding Your Soul Mate — and she has a few choice things to say about red flags.
When it comes to red flags, she says it’s important that people distinguish between actual red flags and self sabotage.
When you first go out on a date with a new person, you naturally look for clues about their overall “datability.” If you’re on a date, Rosenberg encourages singles to pay attention to their date’s behavior. “Are your date’s eyes wandering or are they on you? Pay attention to how they treat you, but also observe how they treat the server and other staff members,” she says.
Here are a few other things she suggests singles pay attention to when scoping out potential red flags:
Listen carefully to discern the truth behind what your date is saying.
Does your date keep saying that they really want a serious relationship, but throughout the date they mention how they need a lot of alone time “because the last thing they want is to be tied down” and how much they “love partying with the guys”? Do they make jokes about how “marriage is a bummer”? Listen to what they’re really telling you, not what you want to hear.
Pay attention to how you feel with this person. Do you feel safe and good, or is there a small inside you that says something is off?
Some of the best dating advice comes from within. “Honor your intuition and keep your “gut feelings” in mind to process later when you’re alone,” says Rosenberg.
While it’s good to be aware of these things, Rosenberg warns, “you’ll also want to watch out for any old, unhealthy behavior patterns you may be bringing into your current dating experience. What might feel like a “red flag” could really be self-sabotage.”
“You may be on a date with a great potential partner,” says Rosenberg, “but something about them triggers an unhealthy response within you that has you shutting down and shutting off the chance for healthy love.”
For example, maybe you’re default mode is to distrust people because of a bad experience in the past. If your last relationship ended because your ex was secretly texting other people, you might be tempted to snoop and distrust anything that you find on their phone.
“If he or she does something that reminds you of your mom or dad, your old boss, or an unhappy life event, try to notice if you go into immediate shutdown mode,” says Rosenberg. She also says, “if you find yourself thinking your date is too nice, too good looking, too friendly, or any other positive trait your brain quickly assesses as a negative, pause and ask yourself if you might be self-sabotaging.”
However, it’s not all bad news. “Just because they’ve triggered something in you that needs healing doesn’t mean they’re not a good match for you,” Rosenberg reminds us. “At the same time, you may need time to reflect on the things you’ve observed and determine whether you’re receiving a genuine warning from your inner knowing. Only you can know for sure.”