Danger, Will Robinson by @SevenDatesaWeek

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Reacting to Red Flags

Online dating is an arena where we sharpen our instincts.  Because we’re meeting strangers, we’re on our guard, and of course, we’re more attuned to potential “red flags” – indicators now of potential upcoming dangers.  But how do we know which of these red flags are nothing, and which will turn out to be important determiners of how a future relationship would fare?  How do you tell the nothings from the somethings?  Here’s what I’ve found.

Some of our triggers for red flags are based on our experiences in past relationships.  They could be reasonable ones, such as a man who badmouths his family meaning he probably has intimacy issues – or they could be unreasonable, such as a certain brand of cologne meaning he’s certain to be a cheater.  Inevitably, things about our new dates will remind us of our exes.  Keeping a cool head in response to these triggers will help us make better choices when they do come up.  Just because Jim likes the same microbrew that Sam drank, he won’t necessarily give your family the impression Sam did when he threw up on your eight-year-old niece at your cousin’s wedding.  On the other hand, if Jim starts proposing to the jukebox after a few drinks at the bowling alley… I wouldn’t be asking him to the next family bar mitzvah.

Dating Red Flags

Some of our triggers for red flags are more based in instinct, and these are the ones we really need to heed.  If something about my date bothers me and I can’t be sure why, I listen to that little voice.  More often than not, I’ve noticed something subconsciously that I can’t quite put into complete thoughts – but that is important for me to know.  These kinds of red flags are the ones I use a three strikes rule with.  Three of them, and no matter how much I may like someone or how harmless she may seem, she’s just riled my instincts too much for me to continue a relationship with her.  I know that from now on, I’ll spend more time wondering about her true motivations than about what she’s wearing underneath that dress.

My intuition has rarely steered me wrong while dating.  Some of my more disastrous mistakes have come from directly ignoring that intuition, even.  And when it comes to red flags, pretending I don’t see them has never worked out well.  By now, I’ve learned that I’m quite capable of outsmarting myself by just not thinking too hard, and I think it’s possible that maybe we all are.  What are your red flags, and how often do they change your actions with the people you meet?

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Single gal up to her nips in the dating pool. Bisexual, polyamorous, clever and confident. Meeting people and looking for the real deal.


  • June 13, 2012

    Joanna Rothman

    Great post! I find it shady when you ask a guy about his profession and he skirts the issue. It usually means he’s unemployed!

    • June 13, 2012

      Seven Dates a Week

      Yes! I hate it when someone won’t talk about his family.

  • June 13, 2012


    Great great post and so relevant! Our instincts never steer us wrong and guide us where we need to be. The problem is that we don’t always listen. What do they say? Hindsight is 20/20 … well red flags definitely are something to watch out for!!

    • June 13, 2012

      Seven Dates a Week

      A little bit of judgment and a little bit of instinct go a long way!

  • Very insightful post, and a great reminder to trust your gut. I often have the opposite problem; I’m hypersensitive to potential pitfalls, and have ended things with otherwise decent men for somewhat trivial reasons- like the shape of someone’s ears, or that they laughed in the wrong place during a movie.

    See my post, “Breaking Up is Hard (Actually it’s Quite Easy) to Do” if you’d like to read more. Thanks!


  • June 26, 2012

    According to Jewels

    I love this one! I used to think a Red Flag was when he didn’t dress the way I wanted or just seemed too different from me. I know SO much more now that I’ve aged a little. Now the Red Flags are when I don’t feel safe, he feels a bit off, or something tells me I should be hanging up/leaving. I am more open minded and therefore meeting and talking to more people and trusting your gut and listening to that voice, especially for women out there dating virtual strangers, is ESSENTIAL!