By Natasha Burton, Julie Fishman and Meagan McCrary, authors of The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags
Having collected relationship red flag stories from thousands of women, we’ve read some pretty unbelievable accounts of men’s not-so-nice (to put it lightly) behavior. We’ve also noticed somewhat of a pattern: Certain red flags—warning signs we define as indications that there might be an underlying issue in your relationship—just kept appearing in our inboxes from women who wished they had recognized the signs earlier. Learn from their mistakes, and avoid dating disasters of your own, by being aware of these 10 big red flags.
He’s not really your boyfriend
If he hasn’t “defined the relationship”, otherwise known as “DTR”—it doesn’t matter how many dates you’ve been on or how many times you’ve slept together … you are not his girlfriend. A fact he will be sure to remind you the second you expect him to treat you like one.
He treats you like a, well, slut
Even if your relationship is largely sex-based, a man should still be interested in your comfort and pleasure—not simply use your body as if it’s simply there for his disposal. Without some tenderness, sex becomes more business transaction than intimate encounter . . . in which case, you may as well ask him to leave you a check by the nightstand.
He’s only there for you when it’s convenient for him
A guy who won’t commit to dinner until twenty minutes before he’s supposed to pick you up is clearly waiting to make sure he’s not going to miss out on whatever his buddies are doing. In addition to making you feel trivial, this guy is undependable—he’ll be around on sunny days but as soon as the clouds roll in, he’ll run for cover.
He’s a narcissist
While a little self-love is healthy, a man who is too busy gazing lovingly at his own reflection to attend to your needs, or even compliment you once in a while, is not one worth dating. Narcissism is an actual psychological condition that usually requires therapy to remedy. However, in order for treatment to work, the man must be able to admit that he has a personality flaw. Good luck convincing a narcissist that he’s anything but perfect. No one, including you, will ever be good enough for him or worth his attention because, after all, he’s already found the best lover . . . himself. And when your Romeo is living in his own little world, a healthy relationship is a fantasy.
He doesn’t have your back
If your guy is constantly pointing out your flaws or correcting you (like when you say “uh huh” instead of “yes”) in front of your friends, family, colleagues (or even total strangers), he’s letting you, and the world, know, that he really doesn’t have your back. Not to say that your boyfriend should never disagree with you, but he definitely shouldn’t pick you apart.
He’s shady with this phone
If he always goes into the other room to talk, he may have another woman on the side. The number of late-night texts he sends and receives is proportional to how many other chicks he’s probably sleeping with.
He accuses you of being unfaithful
We’re not precisely sure what psychology lies behind this crackpot move, but loads of women have reported the phenomenon. One girl’s boyfriend incessantly checked her phone for incriminating text messages, another’s demanded she check in with him every thirty minutes if she wanted to go out with her girlfriends, and more than a few girl’s boyfriends would go ballistic if they spied their ladies even talking to another guy.
He constantly critiques you
Maybe he’ll make backhanded comments about your weight, or have the occasional demand that you change into something “more appropriate,” either way, acts like these show that you man is less interested in you and more concerned with bending, breaking, and shaping you to look like the woman he believes he deserves. Perhaps he’ll merely offer a suggestion, but say it with a slightly contemptuous tone, or teach you a new, “more efficient” way of doing something you’ve been doing every day for ten years (how you made it this far without him there to tell you how to wipe your own ass is a miracle).
For this red flag, pay attention to your man’s small gestures—like if he stops at Jack ‘n the Box for a milkshake on the way to your house but forgets to bring you a treat. Inconsiderate acts early on tend to escalate the more comfortable a man becomes with the situation, and pretty soon you’ll be in a one-way relationship headed full speed for resentment.
He’s a control freak
Controlling men’s manipulative ways may take on a variety of forms: some guys may berate you into being who they want you to be; some try to isolate you from your family and friends; some present ultimatums to run the relationship. Other men repeatedly “rescue” you—chipping away at your independence until you’re fully dependent on them. Dating a guy like this puts you in an unhealthy situation, to say the least. A functional relationship consists of respect and support, not one person calling all the shots. Even if he says he’ll change, he probably won’t—cut your losses before you lose your sense of self, sense of worth, and sense of right and wrong.
For more dating and relationship advice, check out The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags, available now wherever books are sold. http://www.amazon.com/Little-Black-Book-Big-Flags/dp/1440512655