I listen to a pretty excellent dating podcast on the reg called “U up?” which I highly recommend. At the end of each episode the two hosts discuss if certain behaviors are “red flags” or “deal breakers” in a new relationship. In the past, some examples have included someone who is always complaining about being sick, someone who, non-ironically, has a ‘stay calm and carry on’ poster above their bed, or someone who has crashed their car three times.
These are just a couple of the red flags they’ve talked about on the show, but it got me wondering about the little warning signs that pop up when I’m dating someone new.
If a guy constantly talks about how terrible his ex was, would that be a deal breaker for me? Or, just a red flag to keep an eye on over the time we’re together?
What about a guy who never cries? Some men practically boast about their inability to cry during emotional movies or tender moments, but I find that to be somewhat worrisome. Deal breaker? No. Red flag? Probably.
Then, what about someone who just does something dorky like wears socks with sandals or uses croakies to keep his sunglasses on? Sure, these are somewhat ill-advised fashion choices and could potentially indicate a general lack of social awareness, but they certainly aren’t dating deal breakers in my book.
But then there are those absolute “no’s”.
If I’m out to dinner with a man and he’s rude to the waiter, that’s beyond a red flag for me. I can’t handle egotistical jerks who think they’re better than the people serving them. Instant deal breaker.
If someone smokes, that’s a deal breaker for me too. The occasional cigar or vape pen or whatever is fine, but if you’re regularly smoking cigarettes, you’re not for me.
So I’ve got pretty strict, tangible dealbreakers and I like to think I’m getting better at noticing red flags, but is there some sort of equation for how many red flags add up to one deal breaker?
Honestly, a red flag or two early on in a relationship might be okay. You can probably work through a few unappealing traits over time, but if there are four or five red flags that you notice early on… is that reason enough to break up? Can you work through them? Is there a timeline for red flag resolution? Like, if you figure out how to work past one flag, is it gone for good? Or does the shadow of it linger and tend to sour things in the relationship down the line?
And maybe, like lots of things, I’m overthinking this and red flags are red flags and deal breakers are deal breakers and there’s no amount of little warning signs that should ever equate to a full-on relationship-ender. I really don’t know.
How many red flags could you tolerate before they’ve piled up to create one inescapable deal breaker?