How to Spot Red Flags When Dating After Divorce
Red flags can show up at any stage of a relationship. And they are almost always present from the very start. If you sharpen your intuitive skills, you’ll pick them up sooner rather than later. Your date will probably be flying his/her red flags without even realizing it. Next time you’re on a date, or even on the phone before a date, pay attention to the words he or she says. And pay closer attention to what’s NOT being said. If something doesn’t feel right, that’s important information.
Here’s what happened to me on a recent date with ‘Dave’. Hopefully, it will help you learn how to spot red flags, even when they’re not that apparent.
How to Spot Red Flags
1. He says too much too soon. Dave’s first personal email to me was over 2,000 words long (yes, I checked). He shared his life story ~ from birth. I’m not kidding. TMI.
As savvy as I am, I was a sucker for his sad story of a mom who died when he was a toddler. When I told him I was uncomfortable with him sharing so much on a first exchange, he argued that it was important for me to know his history in order to ‘get’ him.
No way. Telling too much too soon is a great way to freak someone out. It usually signals insecurity. Less is more. Healthy relationships build slowly and steadily.
2. He thinks you might be the ‘one’ before you’ve even met. Dave was projecting so much into the possibility that I might be the woman of his dreams. This is a big red flag. See note above on building relationships slowly. Otherwise, it’s just wishful thinking.
3. He talks too much about his ex. When I asked Dave how long he was divorced, he told me another long story (notice a theme here?) about how he met his ex, how the relationship fell apart, and other irrelevant information. And all of this on our first phone call! I was looking for a number – 2 years? – and got a story instead.
It reminded me of the classic tale of a young child who asks his parent, “Where did I come from?” The parent answers with an awkward lecture about sex. All the kid wanted to know was what city he was born in!
I cut Dave off in the middle of his story, and he repeated that it was important for me to better understand him. Wrong! The ex doesn’t belong on a first phone call or a first date. Three is a crowd.
3. Listen carefully to his stories. Dave did tell me a fascinating story on our first (and last) date. This one had me riveted. See if you can decipher the red flags embedded in his story.
About ten years into his marriage, his wife wanted to go out with her divorced friends to a sleazy bar in a blue-collar neighborhood. He didn’t want her hanging out in the low-class part of town, and offered to pay for her and her friends to go to a local restaurant. She refused. She only wanted to go to this bar.
He finally consented, with the condition that she be home by midnight.
At 1:00 AM, he angrily chained the front door. She arrived fifteen minutes later, banging on the door until their teenaged daughter opened it. She angrily hit Dave with her keys for locking her out.
He called the police and reported domestic violence. They interrogated the wife, who admitted that she did hit her husband. They wanted to arrest her.
Dave said, “I don’t want her arrested,” and the police left.
Dave told this story to illustrate what a hero he was, how toxic and crazy his ex was, how calm he remained throughout, and how he exhibited his goodwill by not having her arrested.
He revealed more of himself than he probably realized.
You probably picked up on the same red flags I did.
Dave’s Red Flags
a. Dave was controlling. Who gives his wife a curfew and chains the door when she’s late? She’s not his 12-year-old daughter. In a healthy marriage, your wife doesn’t have to ask for permission, even if it is to hang out with her divorced friends at a sleazy bar. Okay, she shouldn’t be hanging at the sleazy bar, and that brings me to point ‘b’.
b. Dave’s wife was trying to pose as a single lady. Why was she hanging out with her single friends at a bar? Their marriage seemed to have been over many years before the divorce.
Interesting sidebar: I have found that a majority of the divorced men I speak with have ex-wives with personality disorders, and divorced women had emotionally abusive husbands. Hmmm. What’s really going on here?
Here’s my very unscientific theory: Passive/aggressive controlling men (who appear to the outside world to be calm and rational) piss off their wives with their passive/aggressive controlling ways. The wives, who eventually break, act out in ways that make them seem to be crazy lunatics with irrational behavior. Hey, it could happen.
So, pay attention to what he/she is saying and not saying on a date. If your intuition is saying ‘red flag’, it probably is. Make a quick getaway.
It’s time to use the best four-letter word in dating: NEXT!