The modern dating scene is flooded with an overwhelming number of options. Dating apps can trap us in a seemingly endless cycle of scrolling, swiping, texting, meeting, and my favorite: ghosting. It can be difficult enough to even organize dates in the first place, much less someone that you genuinely click with.
When you do meet someone who seems compatible, whether through dating apps or other methods, she’ll also be reflecting on whether you’re a good match for her. Below are five common red flags that women look out for when dating to help you put your best foot forward and get the most out of your dates.
Speaking about exes frequently and/or disrespectfully
Bringing up your dating history isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but how you speak about your exes can raise red flags for a potential partner. If you habitually describe former partners in a negative light, she may think that you have trouble taking responsibility for your actions. Dwelling on the past may also signal to her that you aren’t yet ready to move on.
Almost all of us have had relationships that, despite our best efforts, go off track. These life experiences don’t need to be permanent sources of sadness, resentment, or anger: instead, they can help us understand our own patterns, needs, and values better. Internalizing and acting on these lessons shows that you are emotionally mature and willing to grow.
Never initiating dates or conversations
If your first date went well, the natural next step is to see each other again. However, if you sit back and expect her to initiate most of your conversations and dates, she’ll take note. Having a busy schedule is perfectly understandable: however, rarely reaching out to organize plans or check in via text is a red flag. It demonstrates that you expect her to do more of the heavy lifting in your relationship, or that you’re afraid to appear emotionally invested.
Connection doesn’t come out of thin air–it comes from the experiences you create. This doesn’t mean you need to take her out on multiple fancy dinner dates per week or text her every single day. Simply being proactive and putting in effort to make plans makes her feel respected and valued while also showing good communication skills.
Not respecting her boundaries
All successful relationships involve setting and honoring boundaries. They are basic guidelines that let others know what to expect from us and what we expect from them. Recognizing your date’s personal and sexual boundaries helps them feel safe and respected. Crossing her boundaries after she’s asserted them, as well as questioning them or trying to convince her to bend them for you, is a major red flag.
Mistakes happen, and we can sometimes unintentionally overstep someone’s boundaries. This can be hard when you’re dating someone new and just getting to know them. What matters most is not the initial incident, but how you modify your behavior in response. Showing genuine remorse and being mindful of her boundaries in the future shows that you respect her and take her values seriously.
Being chronically late
Showing up late to a first date may be embarrassing, but it’s not a dealbreaker. If you’re late almost every time you meet your date, however, this becomes a troubling pattern. It warns her that you don’t respect her time and maybe careless and irresponsible in other parts of life.
While you can’t plan for everything, there are delays that you can reasonably anticipate, so give yourself extra wiggle room. Consider avoiding date plans on days when your schedule is particularly tight. If you’re going to be more than 5 minutes late, let your date know immediately. Courtesy goes a long way and will show her that you value her time as much as you do your own.
Not handling conflict in a healthy way
Some amount of conflict in a relationship is unavoidable. While disagreement is not a reason to stop dating someone altogether, how we navigate conflict is significant. If you have trouble handling your emotions, become defensive, or aren’t open to feedback, this raises red flags. This doesn’t even need to be directed at her: if a new date sees you poorly handling disagreements with friends or even service workers, she may become uncomfortable around you.
You and a potential partner deserve someone who’s emotionally mature enough to have tough, but respectful, conversations. Emotions can run high during conflict, but trying to empathize with her perspective and communicating your own thoughts clearly and respectfully can help both of you grow from these experiences.
The world of dating has changed radically, but the possibility for meaningful connection is a constant. Being intentional and selective when dating, as well as seeking external help and advice from a trusted confidante, will save you time and help you find the kinds of connections you deserve and want.
While it can be helpful to be aware of common red flags, it’s important to remember that they are just guidelines. Instead of fixating on what not to do or worrying about how you will be seen, use them as a benchmark to help you be your best self. There is no greater green flag than a man who approaches dating with open-mindedness, self-awareness, self-confidence, and respect for others. This won’t be for just her benefit, either—when you’re working on and happy with the current version of yourself, you’ll have dating experiences that are not only more successful and fulfilling but more enjoyable as well.
Barbie Adler is the Founder and President of Selective Search, a leading national luxury matchmaking firm. A former executive search professional, Barbie’s matchmaking service uses Fortune 500 executive recruitment techniques for personal matchmaking, guiding professionals toward lasting love. She has written and spoken extensively on a broad array of topics relating to dating and relationships.