If you asked my single self if I would rather give up a kidney or have a guy I was seeing say I wasn’t chill, I would be at the nearest surgeon’s office before I could even respond to your question. Oh, how I longed to be the cool, chill girl. And, to a certain extent, I succeeded. The problem is that for me, it meant putting up with a lot of bullshit I most definitely should have shut down.
Hopefully, if you’re reading this, you won’t repeat my mistakes and let the following behaviors go.
1. Treating Others Rudely
When the guy Michelle*, 25, was seeing snapped his fingers at a waiter who wasn’t even theirs as a way to request they put an order in, she immediately ended things. Similarly, 22-year-old Lola broke up with a guy who drove eight hours to be at her birthday dinner because, in her words, “he acted like a complete dick to the waiter” at said dinner. Both women likely dodged bullets.
“If someone you’re interested in treats a clerk, server, or another individual unkindly, it’s a definite red flag,” warns Amy Morin, LCSW, psychotherapist and author of “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.” “Kindness, patience, and tolerance are important factors in successful relationships. If someone is rude to others, they likely lack those qualities.”
2. Having A Total Lack Of Accountability
When Gillian, 33, called out someone she was seeing for coming up with an excuse to bail every time they had plans to hang out, he responded by telling her it was all in her head and that her brain was “messed up.” Fran Walfish, Psy.D., says this isn’t unusual — people like this often refuse to admit their flaws, even when they are super clear to the outside world and you point them out.
“If your date always blames traffic for being late or their boss for ruining their day, it’s a sign that they lack accountability,” Walfish says. “It’s important to be with someone who accepts personal responsibility for their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Otherwise, you’ll likely get blamed for making them feel bad or forcing them to do things they don’t want to do.”
3. Constantly Bashing Their Exes
“When I date girls who call their exes crazy, it makes me feel like they may not totally be over that relationship,” says Anthony, 26. According to Morin, bad-mouthing exes is also a poor reflection of the person’s character.
“If someone insists all their past partners are ‘crazy’ or that they were all bad people, [it suggests] they either make poor relationship choices or things always end badly, which doesn’t bode well for your future with them.” It’s normal for exes to come up from time to time, but bashing them is totally unnecessary. “If [an ex] does come up, the person should just say, ‘We were together for X years, and it just didn’t work out.’ That’s it,” Jennifer Aull, LMFT, of North Brooklyn Marriage & Family Therapy, previously told Swipe Life. “No unnecessarily weird, salacious details of the breakup and no character assassination.”
4. Wanting Too Much Too Soon
In a world where it feels like people are often jumping from one situationship to the next, it might feel refreshing to meet someone who’s not afraid to be all in from the get-go. But Walfish warns that someone who feels comfortable making any sort of large romantic commitment as soon as the first date probably doesn’t have a tight grasp on how much time and effort it really takes to build a strong, healthy relationship.
Karen, 25, recalls noticing these tendencies in a guy on their first date when he gifted her a hockey stick signed by a player on her favorite team and told her he wanted to marry her. “I politely said ‘no,’ got out of the car, and barely talked to him again,” she recalls.
5. Subtly Putting You Down
Dylan, 26, casually dated an older man who constantly gave her unsolicited advice “in a very patronizing way.” When she tried to speak, he tended to cut her off with a superficial compliment or a kiss. “I ultimately stopped answering his texts to go on dates and things fizzled out, but hey, he got what he asked for — no more talking from me!” she says.
A patronizing comment here and there may seem like no biggie, but Morin says it’s worth taking seriously. “Beware of anyone who makes condescending comments about you,” says Morin. “Even if they insist they’re ‘just kidding,’ snarky comments are a sign that someone may be insecure, jealous, or angry. Their passive communication is likely to create problems and get worse over time. You’re better off with someone who can communicate their feelings directly, effectively, and kindly.”
6. Not Respecting Your Boundaries
Lizzy, 26, told a guy she was seeing that anal sex was a hard no for her — it wasn’t something she was interested in or with which she felt comfortable. “He said he had done it with another girl and that he would get me there eventually,” she says. “I was like, ‘hm, I don’t imagine this happening.’”
Referring to past partners and asking why you can’t be more like them is a way of twisting your arm, says Walfish. It is a baseline expectation that anyone you are dating respects your wishes and understands no means no. Period.
7. Giving The Silent Treatment
Namit, 20, has been on both sides of the silent treatment with people he’s dated. When he’s been on the receiving end, he’s felt helpless and angry. When the tables were turned, he admits sometimes instigating the silent treatment out of spite to those who weren’t talking to him as much as he wanted.
When you’ve just started dating someone, the silent treatment can be so subtle you might not even notice it, but keep an eye out. “It functions to keep the receiver in suspense of what will happen and unsure of what they did wrong or how bad that thing is,” says Walfish. Healthy relationships include equal individuals who can communicate openly with one another — don’t let someone use the silent treatment to give themselves unwarranted power over your emotions.
8. Talking Negatively About Their Friends And Family
Ed*, 22, chose not to see a woman he was into again after she spent their first date telling him she was “much smarter” than her two siblings. “For me, family is everything, so I think it’s quite unattractive to make yourself seem smarter by putting down your family members,” he says.
Whether or not you value family as much as Ed does, Morin advises you to take seriously how people speak about their loved ones. “If someone makes fun of their friends and complains about their family, don’t think they won’t do the same about you,” she says. “Anyone who constantly speaks negatively about the people they supposedly care about the most won’t hesitate to say negative things about their partner.”
If you see any of these behaviors right off the bat, think carefully about whether this is someone you want to keep seeing. If you’re already more invested, consider initiating a conversation. “Point out what you see,” says Morin. “Behavior speaks louder than words. So while someone might insist their behavior isn’t a big deal, their actions may be a problem you don’t want to tolerate.”
*Names have been changed to protect innocent daters everywhere.