Six relationship red flags you should never ignore

Drawing on her own messy dating history author Charlotte Levin reveals her top six relationship red flags to set alarm bells ringing

relationship red flags

Drawing on her own messy dating history author Charlotte Levin reveals her top six relationship red flags to set alarm bells ringing

When we refer to relationship red flags, it's usually in hindsight. At the time, the fact they could pass as Harry Cavill’s much less attractive cousin and told a funny joke once can blind us to those crimson alerts wafting in our face. After dating someone ‘disappointing’; we may be shocked at their treatment of us, cry in disbelief. But often, the person in question pretty much told us in advance how it was all going to go, and we ignored them.

I’m not saying we should take the blame for other people’s bad behaviour. Hell no! That’s on them. But we can learn to wise up to early clear signs of relationship red flags to avoid the heartbreak.  

Red flag 1: blatant advertising 

Sometimes, our dates tell us. Just full-on come out with it. An ex-boyfriend once told me he was a 'bastard', but because I fancied him more than anyone, ever. I decided this was not true. It was true.A friend of mine once dated a guy who turned out to be a player. Years later, it transpired that when he first asked her out, he was wearing a T-shirt with ‘Player’ printed right across his chest. So, yes, they sometimes tell us, but we have to listen and believe. They're not lying. And it’ll probably be the only time they're not.

Red flag 2: ban the bomb!

Love bombing feels AMAZING. Someone instantly confessing they think you’re better than Beyonce and they’ve never felt like this before - what’s not to like?! Well, aside from it being a narcissist’s favourite trick to hook you in before they decide what they intend to do with you. Yes, you are brilliant, and probably almost a teeny bit like Beyonce but, he has felt that way before. And it was two weeks ago with someone who is now wondering why he's ghosted her. So, give peace of mind a chance, and ban the love bomb.

Red flag 3: crazy ex-girlfriend

If your date refers to his 'crazy ex-girlfriend', there's a strong possibility that it was he who made her that way. Ask for specifics. Does she really warrant her own Netflix drama, or is she just a woman reacting to his bad behaviour? And on that basis, are you happy to be the future Miss Cray Cray?

relationship red flags

Author Charlotte Levin's debut thriller If I Can't Have You is out now

Red flag 4: must be willing to climb Everest

A little while back an Instagram post by Wayne Lineker (of being someone’s brother fame), posted a call out for a girlfriend. There was much to dislike about it. Mainly he wanted someone so much younger and the whole thing was pretty icky. But for me, the worst thing was the overriding sense it was all about HIM and HIS life. The woman in question needed to like everything he liked, would want to do everything he wanted. Online dating is awash with this. Yes, it’s nice having things in common but, if someone is only interested in their needs, that’s not an equal, respectful relationship in the making. That’s someone thinking they are the only important person in the couple. So, don’t climb Everest. Unless you’ve always really wanted to. But please be careful.

Red flag 5: I don’t know what I want or do I?

The fact is people generally do know what they want when they find it. If they keep messing you around and saying they don’t know what they want - they do. They don’t want to commit to you but are keeping you there until they decide what they want, and it won’t be you. It will only be you when you meet someone lovely and move on. 

Red flag 6: I won’t do that

Making an effort in relationships is vital. If someone makes no effort, they’re not invested. I'm a pay-my-way kind of person when dating, but I once dated a guy who went on to break it off. A month or so later he texted to say he missed me and would do ANYTHING to make it work. He talked me into going to the cinema. I agreed. We were in the queue. He paid for his ticket and stepped back for me to pay for mine. So, I guess that's what Meatloaf was referring to.

relationship red flags

Charlotte Levin's gripping psychological thriller, If I Can’t Have You (Pan Mac), is an all-consuming story about a lonely woman taking her obsessive love for a co-worker too far. Out now in hardback

Maria Coole

Maria Coole is a contributing editor on Marie Claire.

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