4 relationship red flags you should never ignore

·5-min read

Dating shows are balm to our weary post-lockdown brains, full of pretty people in colourful swimwear and wedding outfits, sharing their most mortifying ups and downs with the viewing public. And one of the most enjoyable aspects, of course, is spotting early on who's making a big mistake.

From Love Island to Married at First Sight, we're all dating experts now, and while we cheer on the successes, there's a sense of smug satisfactions when our grim predictions come to pass.

married at first sight
Sometimes we can tell when a reality romance just won't work. Photo: Channel Nine

Perhaps that's because it's easier to spot 'red flags' in a potential partner when it's not our own hearts on the line.

As relationship coach Melody Chadamoyo explains, "a red flag is a sign of danger and in a relationship, it's something your partner does that shows lack of respect, integrity, and interest in your wellbeing - demonstrating that the person would not be able to have a healthy relationship with you."

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Of course, when it's you being dazzled by hearts and flowers, and declarations of love three days in, it's a lot harder to figure out what's genuine attraction and what's just lust and flattery, and that goes for all of us.

As singles ease back into the dating pool post lockdown, then, they may need a little help - so here are the red flags to watch out for, according to experts sought out by Lenstore.

Young adult woman swiping on an online dating app
A few things to watch out for if you're heading into the dating pool. Photo: Getty

They spend too much time talking about their ex

Dating and relationships expert Clarissa Bloom believes it's ok to bring up ex-partners if the conversation is relevant, not insensitive and won't start a direct argument.

"But the main area for concern is if they speak highly negatively of their ex," she tells Yahoo.

"This could be a sign they haven't fully got over them. Breaking up can be a very hard time and they might want to go on a date to get over their ex-partner, but you shouldn't be used as a tool for them to overcome their ex.

"They may need some time on their own to fully get over their feelings."

If he or she still has the ex as a screensaver, and suffers 'mention-itis', talking endlessly about them and their amazing family/friends/house/job, it's a giant neon sign reading 'avoid.'

Bad date. Young woman feeling bored during dinner at cafe
Too much chat about their ex might mean they still aren't over the breakup. Photo: Getty

Me, me, me

"If the conversation is purely about one person, this can be a quick red flag," says Clarissa. 

"Both people on the date should be eager to get to know each other, whether that's directly asking questions, or following up an answer with an enquiry back.”

If they're spending more time looking at their phone than looking at you, or holding forth about their own opinions, experiences and thoughts with no interest in yours, it's a serious sign that they're self-obsessed.

They complain all the time

"It's one thing to be comfortable and open up about your private sentiments," Chris Pleines, a dating expert from Dating Scout, tells Yahoo.

"It's another to complain relentlessly. You may not see through it at first, but a person who does this on a date, and the first date at that, will bring a steady stream of personal problems and negativity."

Of course, they may have plenty to complain about, so initially, it seems reasonable. But if it's relentless, he says, "you will be left with so little space or none at all - to open up your own emotional life. If they do this on a first date, how much worse is it going to be in the future?

"Of course, you have to give the other person a chance. It is possible that they could only be having a particularly bad day. However, monitor if the behaviour persists and do not ignore this red flag."

Portrait of woman complaining about food quality and taste in restaurant.
If all they do is complain there will be little room for you. Photo: Getty

Whirlwind romance

Chris Pleines says another red flag to watch out for is being trapped into a 'whirlwind romance'.

"When you haven't build any foundation yet for your relationship but they are already treating you as if you are the love of their life, they are, in fact, lulling you into a false sense of security," he says. 

"They are just putting up a front and manipulating you into thinking that they are “the one.”

"Once you fall for them, that's when they start taking advantage of you. They can get away with toxic behaviours in the actual relationship because you are manipulated into thinking they'll go back to being the “perfect” romantic partner you first met.”

If s/he's declared love in the first week and is pushing for moving in within a month, slam on the brakes - and ask why it's all happening to speedily.

Reporting by Flic Everett.

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