A woman dates a man for three months and after they finally have sex, she pushes him for a commitment. The guy goes to the bathroom, comes back ten minutes later and confesses that he loves her BUT already has a girlfriend and he wouldn’t feel right. He felt right about dating this woman. He felt right about texting her nearly every day. He felt right about putting his face between her legs… but now he’s thinking about his girlfriend. The woman who told me this story vented about how horrible men are and how she’s through with dating. I simply asked— Did you miss the red flag of his relationship because he was that good at hiding it or did you blind yourself because you wanted him to work?

A man courts a woman for the better half of a year, then they agree to give a real relationship a chance. Not even a week later the girl is in his apartment going through his closet, demanding the passcode to his computer, and accusing him of cheating. Even after the man gives her full range of all of his devices, she’s still not satisfied and it’s an argument every time he doesn’t answer the phone or isn’t home by a certain time. Finally, the man runs into a friend of a friend who says, “Yeah, she burned her ex with an iron while he was sleep.” The guy telling me that story was pointing out to me that no matter how nice you treat females, they’re all crazy and will find a way to push a “good man” away. I simply asked—Did you miss the red flags during the entire year you were dating her because she was that good at hiding her damage or did you blind yourself because you wanted her to work?

Not all men are users and predators and not all women are crazy and overly emotional, if this is all you know, then it’s time to look at the choices YOU MAKE when dating. No one should jump in a relationship after a few weeks, the dating process should last at least 1-3 months before you make a final choice. In that time, you mean to tell me you miss all the signs that this person is sneaky, jealous, has anger issues, or is prone to lies or exaggerations? I know that Red Flags can be hard to spot when you’re caught up in the moment of new love/lust/like but you’re an adult who must take responsibility for his or her choices. This isn’t about easy stuff like if they drink too much, don’t have a job, or any surface level traits you can pick up on. The red flags that ruin most of you are the things you need to look for over time. Don’t cry about effort and not having time to be a detective; a lasting relationship isn’t like a damn Disney movie, it requires actual work. Your only job is to be careful with your heart because the person you’re dating damn sure won’t. If you’ve been on the wrong end of a bad relationship that you now regret, then the security system to your heart and mind is defective. Maybe it’s your ego. Maybe you’re naïve. Maybe you’re plain old slow. Either way, it’s time to fill those holes so no one can every play you for a fool again.

Dating Stage Red Flags

Consistency Holes: The first week or two of dating will have that person on their best behavior, but there are several things you can do to poke holes in their act. For instance, a woman that’s trying to hustle a man out of money or just wants male attention will tease, but she won’t get too intimate. Any smart man knows that body language, if she allows him to kiss her, and her overall energy when reaching out to him will give away her true feelings. “I’m shy… I like to take it slow…” should fade after a few dates, if not that’s an obvious Red Flag that she’s hustling you. The same goes for dating women who are carrying some kind of damage. Snapping when you don’t text back, getting a random attitude, allowing one comment to drastically change her mood. That’s not a result of you not knowing how to talk to women, that’s proof that she’s battling some kind of internal demon. Fear of being rejected, played, or not being good enough will drive a seemingly great girl to sabotage and expose her true self because mentally she’s not built to deal with any man except her asshole exes or similarly damaged guys who speak her toxic love language. As I wrote in She Ain’t It, most men ignore everything I just wrote, not because they’re “Captain Save-A-Ho” but because it’s hard to see past that pretty face or insane body to do the work in the moment.

Women tend to miss Red Flags like Shaq missed free throws. Why? Because men often mask their flaws behind nice treatment. Ladies, think about the blitz a man puts on you when he first meets you. He’s trying his best to impress you and he’s showering you with attention. Even during his “nice guy” sales pitch, there are ways to expose the Red Flags. Communication is a big one. You can’t allow a man to just text you and see you. If he’s hiding a girlfriend, if he doesn’t actually do the work he claimed to do, or if he simply sees you as a new vagina not really worth his time, the communication will be limited to the easy text chit chat. Liars don’t want to get on the phone. On the phone you can ask questions, you can hear what’s going on in the background, you can catch him in his lies instantly. His best bet is to keep it text based and say, “I don’t really like the phone.Men in relationships can only see you during certain times or call you during certain times, right? Instead of going with the flow, throw a wrench in their game. They text you—call them. They want to go out at 8pm on Friday, tell them to make it for the next night. What this does is open the door to hearing their excuse for not being able to do it, then later testing that excuse…

Red Flag Test: A man that’s juggling other women or who doesn’t really want to date you seriously will ignore your phone call and text back later… he was sleep, didn’t have his phone near him, or in a place with bad service. Obvious lies! A man that has a live-in girlfriend or has another date can’t take you out other than the time he gave you because his weekend is booked. Instead he’ll tell you, “Oh I have to do something for my mother that night.” Another lie. Not every excuse is bullshit, but early on you must push these people outside of their comfort level to see if they keep coming up with similar excuses. If he does that same “my phone didn’t have service” lie the next week—Red Flag. If he can’t meet up on a different day than he tried to arrange for a second week in a row—Red Flag. If the only thing he’s consistent about is trying to see you so he can try for sex and the rest of his life remains a mystery—Red Flag. Stop wasting multiple weeks or months on these clowns, and apply pressure during that first week. If you allow yourself to be led and charmed, you’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, and by the time they show their true colors you’ll feel stupid because you had a chance to stop yourself from falling hard early on.

Crooked Answers: Actions take time to test, but words are instant. When you’re on the phone or in person, your best weapon when vetting is asking deep questions. I wrote about this in MDLWLY and so many women have written in about how it was a life saver. The goal isn’t to catch someone in a lie. The goal is to listen to them tell on themselves or dodge questions. If you ask a woman who just got out of a bad relationship where she was the negative force, what happened to her last boyfriend, you will get a bias and pre-planned response. Everyone is prepared to answer the easy question about why they are currently single, and every will give you a version that makes them seem like the victim. Your job is to flip the script and ask, “What was the last big argument you got in with a man,” and watch how her wheels start spinning. Everyone likes to tell stories and express themselves, right? That question will cause her to open up a little, knock up against some personal pain, and give you a way to easily keep pushing her until she gives away more than she wanted.

The same thing applies for women who are dating men who are full of shit or hiding baggage. Ladies, you will meet guys who lie about everything from the job they have, to the car they actually drive, to their relationship status. Don’t sit on the phone or across from him on a dinner date and let him just flirt and blow smoke up your ass about the moves he’s making, how his ex-girlfriend cheated on him, or any tall tale that makes him a saint. Ask specific things about his job title. Ask about the people he knows. Talk about popping up to visit him at his home. Push him to tell you a real story from his past relationship, not just the generic, “she was crazy,” lines. Liars get nervous when you get near the truth! Dates are meant to softly interrogate not giggle and talk about your horoscopes.

Lazy Effort: A huge Red Flag will come in the form of effort… or lack thereof. The first month or two is the honeymoon period, right? They like you a lot, they’re trying to see you twice in a row, they’re trying to make big plans. It’s a gold rush. Maybe this impassioned effort is because they see you as special or maybe it’s to get you comfortable to the point where they can have sex or exploit you in other ways. Men especially deal in equity. If he took you to a good dinner, brought you something, or did you a favor—He loosens your suspicions. Most of you reading this have dealt with men who didn’t treat you to nice things or weren’t romantic, so to meet a man who goes above and beyond puts him ahead on the score card. Now that he’s ahead on the score card you may notice something interesting. No more fancy dates. No more gifts. No more favors that he has to go out of his way to do. You can’t get too mad, because self-guilt dictates that he did all of that stuff before, so he’ll do it again soon. Soon never comes, and by the time you figure out he hustled you he’s already gotten you to agree to house dates, had sex, or won you over with his personality to the point where you aren’t going to stop talking to him, despite him not treating you the way he did when you first met.

A person’s effort towards you tells you everything you need to know. Expose this Red Flag by keeping your foot on the gas during the dating stage. If you’re not in an official relationship, stay demanding! It’s too early to always want to chill at the house. It’s too early to be telling you they’re too busy or don’t feel like seeing you. It’s too early to be taking you for granted like you’re just some Basic ass side project. If the way they treat you dips each week you know them, it’s not a coincidence, it’s proof that they’re trying to train you to settle for less. Don’t roll with the punches, don’t buy into the excuses that they’re tired or busy, don’t let them guilt you by bringing up the things they did for you in the past. This is the real them, that other person was just a representative. Take this lazy effort seriously as a sign that if you do continue on, things will keep declining to the point where you will be yet another person stuck in an unfulfilling relationship.

Relationship Stage Red Flags…

Runs Away from Talks: Communication is King. It sounds cliché, but most of you don’t know how to communicate about how to communicate. Follow me? You know how to bring things up after the fact, you know how to act passive, you know how to erupt when you’re sick of holding it all in. But do you know the art of killing arguments before they form? Every couple needs at least an hour of alone time to just talk. Forget Netflix, forget going out, forget vacations—you need to talk for an hour at least three times a week. In long relationships the conversations become about nothing. How was work—No one cares. Guess what mess your friend got into with her boyfriend—No one cares. What do you want to eat—No one cares. Real talks disappear in long term relationships and gets replaced by chit chat and gossip. Isolate each other from that world and open up about larger topics. Mentally how do you feel? How do they feel? Bring up a TEDTalk or a book you read. If something is bothering you ask for advice. If you have a problem with something they recently did, now’s the time to bring it up calmly. You should be constantly getting to know each other even in a relationship by having Quality Time. If the person you’re with stone walls you, gives you one sentence answers, or isn’t interested in being transparent about their own inner thoughts, then you have a problem. Distance can’t grow if you two are open books. If they shut down or want to keep it chit chat, then it’s only a matter of time before the relationship crumbles.

Attitude Around Others: Watch your girlfriend or boyfriend around other people. Observe how they talk to your friends, how they look at your co-workers, and the comments they make in public about service workers or even random strangers that you come across. I get a lot of email from women who found themselves in abusive relationships. The common trait most times was that their boyfriends isolated them from their friends, talked down to other people, and showed all the signs of being a narcissistic asshole months before they turned their sites on the woman. In the early relationship stage, miserable, angry, and bitter people will direct that energy to other people because it’s too early to take shots at you. Don’t laugh when he says racist remarks, don’t think he has your back when he’s talking down about your friends being snakes, and don’t think he has your back when he nods along that your family members have issues. Once he divides you from your support system, it’s game over. It’s easy to manipulate with half-truths, “I thought you said she was a liar, now you’re listening to her about us?” or “Didn’t your mother say that about your last boyfriend, you know she’s just jealous of you.” Don’t confuse protecting you with preying on you!

Look for a partner who has positive things to say about friends and family or if there are issues, observe how they give you the floor to talk without feeling a need to double down and cosign. A decent person will be all ears, they won’t automatically jump to the negative that they need to be cut off. Give them time alone with your friends or associates, like when going to the bathroom or networking at a party. The more rope you give a person to do something sneaky the greater odds they will do it. When you wait too long to expose the fact that they’re overly flirty, talk too much about personal issues, or puts you down behind your back, you won’t want to address it because you’re in too deep. Use other people as tools to test the person behind the mask sooner than later.

New Routines: How can you grow apart from someone you still love? How can distance form even when you sleep under the same roof? Easy, first the communication breaks down, then the excitement fizzles, and in turn you go from being a couple in love to…furniture—you’re just there. I talk to a lot of women who grow bored with their boyfriends’ lack of romance or creativity, so they start to take on “friends” or hang with girlfriends that are still single and down to have fun. In EVERY one of those cases the girl ends up having a physical or emotional affair because the other guy (or even girl) lights a fire that her boyfriend doesn’t. I personally know several men who can’t stand to be at home with their girls on the weekend and are constantly looking to have a guy’s night or go drinking. Just the other week I got hit with, “Come out with us, your wife got your balls in her hands?” The difference was, I enjoy hanging out with my wife, he loathes hanging out with his girlfriend.

In your relationship, there’s space, and then there’s straying. Pay attention to the Red Flag of new routines because while they start off as innocent they can quickly evolve into something that will tear you apart. Affairs, new circles of friends, and even the realization that they are happier being single without you. If you see this happening, don’t yell, don’t try to limit where they go, hit the source of the problem—why don’t we do things together anymore? Once again, communication is needed along with patience. If you have a talk about incorporating each other into more exciting things and going out more, but they continue to run off to do them, it’s already over.

Situationship Stage Red Flags…

Control Minus the Label: Many of you don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend, you have a “friend”. Someone that understands that you don’t want anything serious (or so you claim) and is there to scratch your emotional or physical itch while you’re trying to figure out what you really want. The problem with situationships are that they are rarely balanced. A huge Red Flag is when your situationship bae begins to dictate what you can and can’t do and lays a guilt trip when you go against their wishes. For example; If you’re a woman who has a fuck buddy that you see every Saturday, take a week off from seeing him. If he responds by accusing you of seeing someone else, tries to guilt you, or any mind game tactic, then he’s showing you that this isn’t Friends with Benefits, he sees you as his concubine. He wants boyfriend benefits minus the title, because he wants to still sleep with other women as they pop up, while holding onto you. Some women and men don’t mind being controlled because they’re hoping the situationship grows into something legit. Spoiler Alert it doesn’t. For more on that Read THIS ENTRY.

Ghosting: The move of the century is Ghosting. A manipulator realizes that walking away without explanation mindfucks a person to the point where they want them even more. Think about human psychology. No one likes to be ignored. Email, text, DM, phone call—to reach out and not be acknowledged hurts your ego because the other person is basically saying you’re not worth their time. Here you are thinking you’re the shit, and they’re like, “Nah, you’re corny.” In situationships, Ghosting is the lasso that puts you back in place whenever you try to stray. I get at least ten emails a month asking how to turn a friend with benefits situation into a real relationship. Most from women who have already tried gimmicks. Those gimmicks like, ignoring him, going on dates with other men, and making ultimatums don’t work because these ladies aren’t committed to change, it’s a bluff.

Tell a man who sees you as a sex toy or good time girl that he either makes it official or you walk. What happens is that he will give you a heartfelt excuse, then disappear. The key to ghosting is that there is no closure. It’s not, “I can’t be with you, sorry, go live your life.” Instead you get, “I got a lot going on, but let’s talk about it this weekend.” The weekend comes, and he’s gone. You text text text then call call call, and nothing. Instead of being happy that you’re free of this fuck boy, anxiety sets in. You’re now afraid that you pushed him away, and panic. You brainwash yourself to think that he wasn’t that bad, and now will do anything to talk to him so you can clear the air, thus you lower your standards and go back to normal. In the end, he wins because your weak ass emotions made you cave in. You enter back into the situationship with even less power than you had before, because that man now knows that you need him more than he needs you. Ghosting is a powerful weapon when used on a weak mind.

Ego Checks: Words not only hurt, they beat a person down until they no longer have the will to do better. The biggest Red Flag you will ever expose comes in the form of how someone talks down to you. Nothing in life is as simple as it seems, so while you may think you would never let someone disrespect you, reality shows that it happens to even the strongest of minds. Ego checks start off as jokes or side comments. “Getting a little fat,” “Still working that same old job,” “Good job, genius.” Your weight, your career, your intelligence are the easiest things to attack under the cover of “just kidding” but nothing’s funny about Gas Lighting. These manipulators need you to feel like they’re the only ones who want you, that you’re so damaged and flawed that your best bet is to stick it out with them. Spartan Up and understand what’s going on in the moment. They are pinpointing your insecurities and taking shots like a sniper. The moment you hear a cruel joke—check them. The moment they criticize in a way that puts you down without trying to give helpful advice—check them. The moment they curse at you or threaten you, then blame it on their temper, alcohol, or any other factor—leave them. Life is too short to keep giving second and third chances to someone who’s goal is to beat you down until they feel better about themselves.

It’s Okay To Start Over

Every romantic relationship is replaceable. Affirm that right now because the only reason Red Flags slip by is because YOU want to believe in the potential of the person more than the reality of their actions. No matter how good they look, how successful they are, how good they are in bed, or how pretty their words sound, keep your eyes open to the small, yet telling, negative qualities they show over time. Push out this thought that you aren’t good enough to find someone else or that it’s better to stay with the devil you know. You’re more than enough! Flawed individuals want you to buy into the fact that they’re rare, that they’re trying to change, and that you’re going to regret leaving them. It’s all a con job. YOU are the rare one in the relationship, you have the power to find something better, and they will be the ones filled with regret over not treating you better. Know your worth, get your worth, and never tie yourself to a mediocre person when your future has so much better in store for you.

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