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8 dating red flags you need to look out for

The Independent logo The Independent 14/09/2019 Olivia Petter
a person standing in a room © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

It’s important to be open-minded when you start dating someone. Sure, you might hate the way they cut their toenails in bed or leave dirty dishes on the sink like they’re curating an exhibition, but these things aren’t exactly deal breakers.

Real dating red flags tend to be a little more complex than habits you could pass off as behavioural quirks.

And in today’s love at first swipe culture, where apps and social media have revolutionised the way we communicate, they’re more nuanced than ever.

Video: New dating behavior alert: What’s soft ghosting?(Buzz60)

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According to dating psychologist Madeleine Mason Roantree, a red flag can be defined as “something your partner does that indicates a lack of respect, integrity or interest towards the relationship”.

From never initiating dates to refraining from posting a couples shot on Instagram, here are the eight red flags you really need to look out for and why, according to dating experts.

They don’t want to label the relationship after a few months of dating

If Shakespeare was still around, perhaps he’d be able to give us a hand when it comes to understanding the ever-expanding language of love.

Unfortunately, the famous Bard died in 1616, leaving us to make sense of lexical ambiguities like “seeing someone” and “hanging out” all on our own. 

Young couple sitting on a couch © Getty Young couple sitting on a couch We live in a world where there are now many words to describe one’s relationship that are conveniently non-committal and also, somewhat meaningless. 

But if after a few months the person you’re dating/seeing/snogging/pulling/spooning refuses to label it (i.e. call you their girlfriend or boyfriend), it could be a major red flag.

Not only might it signal a lack of commitment, explains Mason Roantree, but it may also suggest they are romantically involved with someone else.

You don’t feature on their social media accounts after a few months

This is niche and should come with a disclaimer: if you or your partner are not on social media, or you use Instagram solely to follow cat fan accounts, you can probably ignore the following.

But if you are someone whose partner scrolls through Instagram/Twitter/Facebook religiously and has a history of featuring exes on their profile, Mason Roantree says it might be bad news if they haven’t posted about you yet.

Sad young couple having conflict and relationship problems © getty Sad young couple having conflict and relationship problems “It might mean they don’t see you as a long-term option, or that they are not ready to show you to the world," she explains.

The one exception? If it’s a business account. In that case, not wanting to post selfies of you both in front of the Eiffel Tower complete with love-heart emojis and #CoupleGoals is kind of fair enough.

They never initiate dates

a person sitting at a table in a restaurant: (Getty Images/iStockphoto) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (Getty Images/iStockphoto) It might sound simple, but actually sticking one’s neck out to make a plan is pretty important when it comes to dating, says Mason Roantree. 

“If you always seem to suggest when to meet, this is a one-sided relationship,” she explains. “It requires you to do all the work.

"Someone who is really into you will contribute and be proactive in the relationship.”

Being proactive is attractive, sitting back and letting someone else do all of the legwork while you bask in the glory of not having to lift a finger is not.

There’s a power imbalance

a man sitting on a bench: (Getty Images) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (Getty Images) Dating is about working together to support one another in equal measure, says dating coach James Preece. Being in a happy relationship should feel like being in the best kind of team, he says. If it doesn’t, and it seems like one of you is constantly exerting control over the other, who is more submissive, consider it a bright red flag, he tells The Independent.

“Signs of a power imbalance can take the form of jealousy or controlling behaviour,” he explains. “Both can easily lead to the end of a relationship, so try to deal with this early on rather than bottling up emotions.” 

Couple strolling © Getty Couple strolling

As for how to handle it, Preece advises making your concerns clear and if nothing changes, it's time to reevaluate.

You express your feelings to one another differently

It’s a good thing to have a yin and yang balance in a relationship: what you lack, your partner provides and vice versa. But one instance when this could be concerning is when it applies to how you express your love and affection for one another.

It could be that you’re more of a romantic wordsmith – you constantly tell your partner you adore them and inundate them with compliments – while your partner is less appreciative of effusive compliments and favours kind-hearted actions.

“If you expect one thing and get another, you might not be as compatible as you hoped,” he adds.

One of you is keeping secrets

We’re not just talking about harbouring a penchant for pineapples dipped in marmite. If you or your partner is hiding something from the other, it’s going to do inevitable damage to your relationship at some point and is a definite red flag, says Preece.

Young man arguing with his girlfriend. © getty Young man arguing with his girlfriend. “We don’t need to share every little thought with our partner. But if one of you has something major on their mind that they are hiding, then it’s going to be problematic because keeping secrets can interfere with your happiness and the idea of getting ‘discovered’ can cause paranoia and arguments.” 

Recent research by dating website Elite Singles found that 34 per cent of people think sharing secrets is an important part of forming an intimate bond, so there are benefits to being an open book too.

They won’t compromise

a group of people posing for the camera: (Getty Images) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (Getty Images) You’re never going to agree on everything with your partner, that much is a given. For example, a recent study found that nearly one in 10 couples split during house renovations with 15 per cent claiming they were “constantly at each other’s throats”.

But learning to find a middle ground and ways to compromise on key issues is hugely important for a relationship to thrive, Preece explains.

“Compromise really is all about not standing your ground and keeping the peace,” he says.

If you notice that you and your partner are having an almost impossible time compromising, perhaps one of you refuses to budge on a particular issue, then there may be something very “seriously wrong with your relationship,” Preece adds.

Your friends or family hate them

If the people who know you the best do not like your partner, it’s an obvious red flag, says Preece.

“Sometimes it’s easy to get blinkered and only see what you want to see, but if your family or friends clearly don’t like your partner then you need to understand why.”

Gallery: 50 relationship tips that are actually terrible advice(Best Life)

Of course, not everything can be happy families and some people simply don’t get on. But if you start to hear more negativity from your friends and family members, you may want to reevaluate your relationship.

Preece adds: “Those around you can often see things you never will.”

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