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Brian’s Red Flags of Dating

images (9)You don’t get to be 33 and single without being… how should I put this? A tad bit picky? However, I like to think that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve actually become way less picky than I used to be. It’s not that I’m more willing to settle as much as it is that I’ve come to learn that some of the things that I used to consider “deal breakers” aren’t as important as I once thought they were (It’s now OK if we don’t have at least a 50% agreement on our top ten movies or if she doesn’t think the Fugees are the greatest hip hop group of all time). Still, I think that as I’ve gotten older I’ve also honed my ability to spot some red flags in a potential partner early on and from a mile away. Everyone has little things they do that allow others to draw conclusions about their larger personality, and when the conclusion that is drawn is that it’s best not to pursue a romantic relationship, that means that little thing is a red flag. Some red flags might be universally recognized: the neediness of woman who owns 30 cats or the immaturity of a man in his thirties who only dates 20 year olds. Others can be completely subjective and might speak to your personal issues more so than anything actually being wrong with the other person like red flagging a guy because he’s “too nice” or a girl because she’s “too ambitious.”

In my case, my list of red flags has been developed from trial and error, and just some conclusions and observations I’ve drawn over the years. I’m sure most guys are looking for something different than I am in a woman, but for me, I’m confident in my list, and I know the futility, stupidity and inevitable frustration that comes with ignoring red flags. Many of them are going to sound superficial, but I think there are many superficial things people do that give a real insight into a person’s personality.

Woman who constantly text – This can obviously just as easily apply to men, but nothing arouses my don’t-bother-with-this-person alarm like someone who is always texting while talking to me, especially if they do it while trying to nonchalantly hide their screen. Me finding it rude that someone would constantly text while talking to me might be a behavior I have to just learn to deal with because of it seems so pervasive these days; I pray not. Regardless, combine constantly texting with the obvious implication that I’m not smart enough to see or that you’re too dumb to realize that you’re acting shady while doing it, and we’ve moved from an issue of politeness and manners to one of respect and trustworthiness, either of which is a deal breaker in my book.

not zumba crossfitWomen who have made running marathons or doing CrossFit part of their regular life – This one isn’t that I have anything against you. I respect your level of fitness, toughness, focus and discipline. However, as someone who shares none of those qualities (I’m more of a movie marathoner), I figure I’ll do us both a favor and not pursue anything serious. While I have regularly gone to the gym for years, my idea of a weekend well-spent remains staying out late, sleeping in, watching sports, drinking beers and accomplishing as little as possible, and you guys tend to be way too energetic for me to believe you could enjoy that week after week.

Women who ask you to buy them a drink  I’m just going to put this one out there: If you have ever done this, you acted like you had no class. If you do this regularly or even semi-regularly, you have no class. From now until the end of time, men will debate whether or not buying a woman a drink is a good way to first approach her (95% of the time it’s not, but I’ll save that for another article). However, something all men can agree on is that a girl who asks this without knowing us is a user. The handful of times I’ve seen it done while bartending or just while I was out, the girl stopped talking to the guy as soon as the drink was purchased, or gave it to a friend (often times a guy), or then tried to get the guy to also buy her other friends a drink. The sad part is, it’s usually a happy-go-lucky, cute party girl asking a nerdy-looking guy and taking full advantage of the fact he’s excited to talk to her. So whether or not you actually try it on me, the fact that you would do it to anyone just screams, “I’m a classless user who is basically a well-dressed bum in a club.”

Louis-Vuitton-Women-Handbags-Spring-SummerGirls with Louis Vuitton bags (or any other expensive bags I don’t know the name of)  If there was ever a red flag I’d want to ignore, it’s this one. Many girls with these bags tend to be a bit more stylish and fashionable and all the other things that are appealing to the eye. But I will never in a million years understand how someone can view a handbag as being worth thousands of dollars when bags 1/100th the price can literally do all the same things. Maybe the expensive purse will last longer, but not long enough to justify the cost. Besides, after a few years, won’t it be out of style anyway?

Materialism and consumerism are two things I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to avoid with varying levels of success, and I don’t automatically associate someone being fashionable or having a good sense of style with being materialistic. However, when I value something like a handbag so extremely differently as someone else, I can’t help but to suspect that difference is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to some issues like the importance we place status, our financial priorities and, possibly, how fiscally responsible we are. I’m sure I sound judgmental, but I just don’t see how spending that much on a bag isn’t reflective of a person’s views on these other things that I find to be really important. Plus, I think the bags are ugly.

high_maintenance_cGirls who are never dressed casually – This is obviously a hard one to know about someone when you first meet them, but if you keep running into a girl outside the party scene and they’re always dressed to the nines, this is a good indicator of the level of required on-going maintenance. I’m all about getting dressed up and having a nice night out on the town, but I’m also all about being able to run to the store without having to wait 20 minutes for someone to make themselves presentable. Whether their need to get dressed up all the time is to hide the fact they don’t look good without makeup or just because it’s how they prefer to look, it’s a need that doesn’t work for me. This is mostly because I’m still way into budget traveling in developing countries, and I’m willing to bet the kind of girl that always needs time to get ready isn’t going to be digging taking the slow boat up the Mekong River anytime soon. I’d also bet they would travel with a roller bag instead of a backpack, and if you read my previous article on traveling, then you know how much I really despise roller bags.

Conservative/Religious people – I enjoy a good debate as much as the next guy. Actually, I enjoy it way more than the next ten guys, but there are some things I need to be able to agree with someone on. Religious beliefs (or my lack thereof) and political beliefs are important to me and they are rooted in how I see the world at a very fundamental level. While I’m sure there are some pretty high degrees of disagreement I could easily be fine with and might even enjoy with both of these, I can’t be with a science denying, angel believing, gay hating, country loving, religious conservative. Just not gonna happen. So thank you to any attractive young ladies out there who put a “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Romney” sticker right next to the “Jesus Take the Wheel” sticker on their car’s bumper for weeding yourselves out. Sometimes it can take a full ten minutes before I realize someone is that dumb from conversation alone.

taylor-swift-leadGirls who are always in relationships – Admittedly, this red flag might be more about my personal issues than anything to do with the girl, but I just don’t trust girls who are always in relationships. I’ve been in very few relationships in my life because the kind of girl who can actually make me willing to commit is few and far between. And doesn’t this, by definition, make them special? So what does it mean if the girl I’m interested in has been in 5 long-term relationships in the past 7 years or has been in 7 short relationships in the past year? What is her evaluation process for dating someone? Why has she had such an easy time finding someone to commit to? Why does she find it so easy to commit? Is she just Taylor Swifting it and dating to get material for her next album? Plus a million other questions that all lead to the big one: Am I special to her, or does she just need to be with someone? This is a tough red flag to deal with because it’s not superficial and by time you usually know these kinds of details about someone’s dating history, you’re likely already kind of interested.

Obviously, when it comes to relationships there are no 100% rules, but red flags are not something that should be taken lightly. They mean you know yourself, what you want and what you want from your partner. If you keep dating losers or people who are just wrong for you, you gotta admit it and you gotta find a way to change that up. Looking for shared traits and commonalities between past failed partners is a good place to start and using the superficial to find deeper insights can speed up the screening process and might just help you be single when the right person does come along.

Side Bar: One last red flag: woman my age. Remember that thing I said at the start about being “a tad bit picky”? Well, replace “tad bit” with “insanely.”

Brian M. Williams
Brian is the author of the recently published travel memoir "Stranger in a Stranger Land: My Six Years in Korea." (Click this profile for more information.) He's also a law school grad with Southern charm and Virginia roots. He recently returned to America after nearly seven years traveling and working abroad. He loves dive bars, international travel and foreign accents. He's particularly good at small talk and was the first person to notice there's no "I" in "team."

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