What are your relationship "red flags"?

In my sporadic and (largely) unsuccessful dating life, I have learned a few things about what I don’t want. My friend once referred to it as the 80/20 rule…80% of disagreements don’t matter, but there’s 20% of stuff that you simply cannot compromise.

So, what is in your 20%? What ideas/actions/behaviors are immediate warning signs to you to get out of the relationship.

I assume, of course, that there are certain basics that are a given. General ideas about morality and faith, et al. (I could be wrong of course, but I figure that a fundamentalist isn’t going to jive well with an ardent atheist, and someone who thinks we should “nuke the Middle East and let God sort them out” isn’t probably compatible with someone who has disdain for NeoCon politics).

I’m more interested in those minor nitpicks that you just can’t pass over. For example:

  1. Must love animals. She doesn’t necessarily have to own a pet (I don’t have the time to be a caregiver to an animal myself), but I consider animals to be great judges of character, and a truly great part of life. Someone who is not cat or dog friendly makes me suspicious, and isn’t going to last.
  2. Picky eaters. Yes, I realize that everyone has different tastes in food, and I don’t expect someone to like everything (no matter how many times I’ve tried it, I don’t like the taste of duck). But, I simply can’t date someone who is a high maintenance picky eater. If going out to eat is an exercise in finding the menu that includes the 4 things she is willing to try, she’s a no-go. I like ethnic foods, so an open-minded pallete is a must.
  3. Sloppy Drunks. This is one I just learned from my last GF. It can be fun to go out an have a good time, but I will not date a girl who stumbles all over herself, such that all of the other (drunk) people at the party go, “Man, she’s really drunk.” Get drunk and become more talkative or friendly or amorous - fine (good, even). Get drunk and slur your words, demand to make out in public, before literally falling down (something my last GF did at my friend’s wedding - we left early) - unacceptable.
  1. Possessiveness. Obviously, it’s a logistical issue whatwith my being married and all, but even before it was against my game rules, it made my skin crawl. Nothing chills me faster than the assumption in word or deed that I “belong” to anyone else ('sides my kids, and even there it’s borderline) or that I’m “loved” or I’m expected to “love” someone else to the exclusion of others. For me and me personally, it ain’t love if it’s limited, by definition.

  2. Judgment of my choices that don’t concern you. Under this category would fall the vegetarian who shudders when I eat a steak and the churchgoer who prays loudly for the salvation of my soul under a religion I don’t share. I guess in some ways this is just a more specific angle of 1).

  3. Sports/fitness nuts. Casual fans are fine, I’m talking about the memorabilia collecting, season pass to more than three professional team holding, drives back to the alma mater for home games kinda sports guys or the works out more than 10 hours a week, more than 3 supplements in the medicine chest, your neck is oddly wide fitness junkie. Previous history has shown it just won’t work out - our interests are too wide apart for us to find stuff to do that we both enjoy. You’d have to be a phenomenally interesting person for this flag to be ignored.

I’ve been happily married for 14 years and 10 months, but before that the red flag was a woman who did not like me to have female friends, which translates to insecurity.

I am a heterosexual but i find that all my relationships turn out badly if my partner is a woman, but what choice do I have.

  1. Ditto sloppy drunks, or drinking more than say, once a week. I would add occasional drug use, even if it’s just pot, because I don’t like anything in my home that could possibly incriminate me.
  2. Excessive jealousy. I had a boyfriend that wasn’t even comfortable with me wearing a bathing suit in public. It wasn’t a long-lived relationship. I can’t stand feeling constricted or controlled, and underlying even the most mundane, ‘‘I don’t like you talking to that guy’’ comment is a fundamental sense of distrust. Pass.**
  3. ‘‘I love you’’ too early. BIG warning sign that I’m dating someone who can’t tell the difference between infatuation and love.
  4. Constant pressure to have sex. I had a potentially pleasant relationship terminated abruptly because he wouldn’t shut up about how badly he wanted to get into my pants. After 3 days. It’s not a moral thing, it’s a personal thing. I’m not that girl, and it’s not even really on my list of priorities when I’m getting to know a new guy. I want someone like-minded.

**Jokes about being jealous, long after the relationship has been established, can be endearing… there’s a difference. My husband and I, who aren’t truly jealous people, do jealous banter all the time (ex: he’s interviewing for grad schools right now, and I told him to tell any girl that talks to him that I will cut her. ‘‘Hi, I’m MrOlives. My wife will cut you.’’) It’s our way of telling one another we are worth holding onto, that there is an emotional stake in the potential loss. That’s okay. I’m talking about angry jealousy, you know, the kind that leads to sulking after parties.

On that note,

  1. Moodiness. You know how some people will get pissed off at you just to see if you consider them worth the effort of trying to make up? Yeah, I’m really not into that. If you’re doing that sulky/pissy thing this early on in our relationship, I assume we’re going to have some serious compatibility issues. I am an immensely easy-going person, and I can’t tolerate high maintenance bullshit.

Sorry, DP???

Ahem. Probably the most important thing right next to:

Must not try to finish my sentences. I suppose the occasional one is okay, but this is a mightily irritating and possesive/domineering trait which sends me running for the ramparts.

  1. She must love cats, and vehemently dislike dogs. If she’s one of those crazy dog people, she’s right out. If she likes cats, but just a bit, and she doesn’t have any particular opinion about dogs, she’s still out.

  2. If she insists on smoking inside the house, and this includes both her own house and anybody else’s, she’s out. She can smoke all she wants outside, but indoors? Fuggedaboutit.

  3. I agree completely on the sloppy drunk thing.

  4. “Am I pretty? I am fat? Does my ass look big?” Yes, in fact, your ass does look big. Grow some balls, and it will look smaller.

  5. If she finds Bergman movies boring or anything beyond the sheer fucking genius that they are, she’s out.

  6. If she’s one of those crazy Tolkien fans, she’s right out.

Beyond that, I’m not picky.

Edit: Actually, I’m reaching the age where there might be another issue: If she wants to reproduce, she’s out. She can have all the damned kids she wants as far as I’m concerned, but she’s sure as heck not having them with me.

Just a few from recent memory…

  1. While we don’t need to have the same political outlook, if finding out who I voted for in the last election makes my date twitch, we’ve got a problem. We should, at the very least, be able to discuss politics in a fairly civilized manner. Somebody who gleefully tells me about his fantasies that involve liberal actors being violently silenced doesn’t get a second date.

  2. Hard drugs get an instant rejection. I’m not much of a drinker and I can turn a blind eye to alcohol, cigarettes, or pot in moderation, but anything more and you’re out the door.

  3. “I don’t read.”

  4. We had our first date on Friday. Then you want to hang out on Sunday. Then, you’re coming over to my cousin’s house on Tuesday, wanting to have dinner with my mother on Thursday, and making plans for our next date on Saturday, when you’ll tell me that you love me. And during all of this you’re bugging me on Yahoo! IM, writing love songs about me that you’re posting on your LiveJournal, and emailing me every day. And you’re a 26-goddamned-year-old man who should know better. NO.

Interestingly, the opposite is another thing I’d add to my list. I enjoy working out a lot, and eating well, and staying in good shape. It’s a lifestyle that suits me well.

However, I’ve discovered that I can easily get into a relationship with someone who wants to gorge on junk food and go out to parties until 2 a.m. instead of to the gym. Once there, I quickly fall out of my fitness habits, and I wake up one day feeling out of shape and eventually bitter about my lifestyle. Yes, this is my issue. And, yes, there are people who can effectively moderate between the gym and the late night partying.

But, since I’m not one of them, I’d also have to say I can’t be in a good relationship with someone who doesn’t exercise regularly. It’s an important part of my life, so it needs to coincide with their life, too.

(Although, in my defense, I don’t go to the gym 10 hours a week, and I don’t think my neck is oddly wide…I am guilty on the supplement count, though).

Meanwhile, I see others have mentioned pot. I would have figured that pot smoking would be a deal breaker - if you smoke, you won’t fit with an abstainer, and vice versa. But, I have a good friend who smokes pot regularly, and his newlywed wife has never smoked pot in her life. It doesn’t bother either one of them. Go figure.

Must be non-smoker. Must not use hard drugs. Must not drink to get drunk.

Also must not say, “I don’t read.” (That’s a good one, CaerieD, and it would never have occurred to me. Proud of not reading? That’s like being proud of having no fingers!)

  1. I can’t date people who don’t like going to movies. I normally see at least two movies in the theater a week, they are my default “going out” activity. I don’t know what I could even DO with someone who didn’t like movies.
  2. I agree with the OP about loving animals. Pets aren’t quite children, but they’re definitely family, and I couldn’t be with someone who didn’t see that.
  3. People who are excessively thrifty. Or I could just be unkind and say “cheap.” I’m not rich by any means and I don’t light money on fire just to see it burn, but if I want to eat somewhere/see something/do something and I can afford it, I don’t stress about the money I’m spending. I need someone who is wants to come along.
  4. And I totally agree with “I don’t read.” In fact, anti-intellectualism in general is right out.

Any type of abuse–physical, but also emotional. Disregard for my feelings (Oh, I was only kidding. Don’t you find that funny). People who yell, call names, or throw things. The last one is a total turn off–there’s a slim line from throwing things to hitting people.

And people who are never responisible for anything–Yeah, I slapped you in the mouth, but you made me mad.

People who even think violence is ever deserved. I once gave shit to a total stranger who defended OJ on the grounds that Nicole got what she deserved “for fucking around.” You know, men can do it but women can’t. :eek:

1.) Must not be overly jealous. The occasional smidge of insecurity, I can deal with; really, it can even be endearing. Accusing me of sleeping with every guy I talk to, though? Or being a jerk to my male friends? No.

2.) Can understand what I’m saying. In other words, no looking at me blankly when I use a word that has more than three syllables. Especially especially, do not accuse me of using big words to feel smart. I use big words because that’s just how I talk, and I don’t even think of 'em as big words.

3.) Has compatible taste in music. This is a picky one, but kind of a big one. Obviously, being clones of each other isn’t a good thing. But the person’s choice of radio station or CD should not regularly send me lunging for my iPod. Music that I don’t like will piss me off really, really quickly.

4.) Use of mind-altering substances on a regular basis. Use pot once in a blue moon at a party? Fine. Drink to a buzz every so often? Fine. Use anything harder than pot? Not fine. Have most of your social occasions involve drinking-for-effect (not necessarily drunkenness)? Not fine. I’m probably a lot stricter on this than most, but that’s because, generally, dealing with people in an altered state of consciousness tends to piss me the heck off. If I have to do it too often, there’re going to be serious resentment issues. That might be my issue, but it’s there.

Re Annie’s post–Any kind of physical or emotional abuse is another, obvious NO.

If a woman has more than two cats, she probably has issues…

Jealousy is my number one issue. This is why I had to divorce me ex-wife. We’d go out and basically I was expected to keep my head down and look at my feet because God forbid I might actually see an attractive women. (At least this is how her jealousy made me feel anyway.)

Now I’ve got the attitude: Yes I have a wondering eye. No I’m not fucking rude about it. I wont interrupt you mid sentence so I can check out the “hawt” girl walking by. But yes, if I’m by myself and “hawt” girl is walking by? Sure I’ll check her out. (as long as she doesn’t notice me checking her out)

Also, believe it or not, this doesn’t mean I’m incapable of being faithful.

I’d say sloppy drunks but I don’t know man. There have been a few times when it was just me and my lady friend at home, alone and we’ve got sloppy drunk and had a great time. But yeah, for the most part, if I see a girl downing shots a Yagger(SP?) up at the bar; my red alert goes off.

I also don’t like a girl who swears too much. I’ll be the first to admit this is a double standard as I cuss like a sailor.

  1. No books in the house. I can’t imagine making babies with someone who doesn’t even have some token literature in the john.

  2. Controlling behavior. Not just talking about the stuff everyone thinks of when they think of control freaks. I’m talking about nagging me over my hair (and not just head hair), my clothes, and other minor shit. Either accept me as I am, or get to steppin’, fool!

  3. The guy doesn’t have to like cats upfront, but he has to be open-minded enough to let mine seduce him into loving them. They are good at what they do, but the guy has to help them help him.

  4. He has to have some hobbies or interests outside of work. Eating and sex don’t count. If I ask you what you like to do in your spare time and all you can say is “watching TV” or “hanging out”, then I’m gonna probably not want to be bothered with you anymore. Sorry.

  1. Someone uneducated or without a core base of knowledge. Because I like watching history documentaries and mythbusters and I read and I like discussion. Discussing world war II with someone who couldn’t name the countries on either side would be a problem.

  2. Kids. I don’t enjoy children, I think people rush into having children, people are dumb to have kids in bad marriages, and I think it shows a lack of good planning/decision-making.

  3. People who own snakes freak me out.

  4. Devoutly religious. We’d have too many issues.

  5. Living at home. IMHO, moving out, even if you’re broke and living in a basement apartment with two other people, shows a need/desire for independence and personal growth. Plus, I don’t know if I could be in a relationship with someone who has never cooked his own breakfast or did his own laundry.

Red flags - anyone too clingy or too bossy. Anyone who doesn’t understand compromise. Anyone who makes excuses that its always “someone else’s fault” or that the rules don’t apply to them.

Most other things are incompatibilities - to me that’s a different thing than red flags. Would mean I’d stop dating them - wouldn’t be worried that they’d stalk me or torture my cat.

People with cats or dogs that smell. You need a pet? Fine, but it’s a -50 in my book and one that smells is simply intolerable.