The beginning of the end: Red flags during the first phase of dating

Ask Alea: Do I keep trying to see where things go with Jacob? Or are there too many red flags?

The following redflaganecdotal story is about red flags on a first date, and how and why to end potential relationships quickly. I have included my commentary in (italics) or bold-red flag for the following experience to engage the reader and to draw attention to important points of the story.  Disclaimer: Keep in mind the advice and red flags given in this story are within the context of the first initial phase of dating and this anecdote; comments are meant to be well-intentioned and offer support. *please note the names of this story have been changed to protect the individual’s confidentiality.


Part 1

We emailed briefly after affirming each other’s pictures were tolerable on an online dating site. He seemed pretty intelligent-working on his masters, creative-played the guitar, and had enough pictures to determine he was attractive.  For me he seemed to meet the basic requirements that you can gather from an online profile. He asked me out on a date and he picked me up, brought me a flower (extra points there), opened the car door (very chivalrous), and took me to the restaurant of my choice. (note: I prefer when the guy plans the whole date, but in this case he wasn’t from the area. Just something to consider not gripe about) The date was very nice, we had a good “give and take” conversation. But what concerend me was he talked a lot about his ex-girlfriend.

Red Flagtoo much information for first date:  He told me his ex girlfriend was a prostitute and he hadn’t noticed while living with her. (note 1: informing someone on a first date that you dated a prostitute may give the wrong impression of your values and what you are looking for in partner; note 2: if someone does not notice this kind of information about their partner, this may be a sign that they are: overly self-involved, may lack awareness of their partner’s feelings or priorities/goals/etc, may not be concerned/aware with communication or relationship difficulties, or may avoid relationship stressors)

Date ended just fine, with the promise of a following date.

Part 2

It was finals week, my roommate and I decide to make dinner. She invited her boyfriend and I invited Jacob. Jacob said he would love to come and would let me know if he was overwhelmed with studying, and if he wouldn’t be able to make it. So the next day passed, I went to the store to collect groceries, 5oclock rolled around and my roommate asks if Jacob will be joining us. Since he hadn’t gotten back to me that he would not be there, I assumed he would be.

Red Flagno confirmation of date: I texted him at 5 and asked if I should set a place at the table for him. He responded via text he was sorry and meant to call me. Then he did call me. He apologized profusely for not calling earlier and that he was very stressed about studying.  I was feeling very frustrated and confused, even a little embarrassed that I had contacted him when he said he would get back to me. (note: someone who makes another their priority will  take the time to text or call even in stressful moments or times. This is important because life will always have stressors and communication will alleiviate confusion, frustration, and relationship discord)

Red Flag-excuse for not keeping his word: He had a lot of excuses and said I really want to see you again so lets plan to meet later that week. (note 1: following through shows reliability, predictability and allows for safety in a relationship, note 2: did he make a plan for the following week? or ask your availability?)

Part 3

So long story short we tried to make a plan for 3 weeks. He would offer one or two days a week at a time he was free. Unfortunately, I could not accommodate those times. He then had a few clutch comebacks to my attempt to find a date that would work for us both like: “it seems like you don’t actually want to meet up,” or “did you find another boyfriend?” or  when he knew I had class, or at 2am “I am in your area if you want to meet up.” (note: these statements show some defensiveness, insecurities, and are disrespectful of your time)

So finally I told him that we were on different pages and good luck. He was confused. So I explained to him that I could not accommodate to his life and that I would like an equal relationship where both people are willing to give and take. Then a miracle happened.. he apologized and said he had no idea he was acting like that and would still like to go out if we could find a time.

Part 4

Two days later, Saturday, he texted “hey there” at 7:30 pm (a little late if you want to make plans for that same evening, but early enough that if you did respond a plan could be made). So I waited until 9pm to respond because I had food poisoning and didn’t want him to think it was an excuse for me not being able to meet with him when he happened to be free. (note 1: making assumptions that he would think you are making an excuse for not wanting to see him is an example of your lack of safety about being honest with him. This is a warning sign there may be something amiss in the relationship. Relationships should be based on the fact the other person will be kind and have good intentions. note 2: after he could not make it to dinner it would have been approrpiate for him to ask when you had free time or find a time that would work for both of you to set up another date. It is a red flag to wait multiple days before contacting you, especially in the evening, to make a plan for the same ngiht)

Text Conversation:

Jacob: 730 – hey there

Me: 9-hey you

Jacob: haha whats going on

Me: haha?

Jacob: it’s a little late (red flag: assuming that their schedule is your schedule; appropriate behavior would have been noon-at the latest-to make a date for the same night *caveat-if this was a committed relationship the time frame for making dates may be more lax, but at this stage it is important for things to be more clear and respectful)

Me: I’m over this. I’m sorry I was watching a movie with my roommate and not waiting for you to text me. Good luck

Jacob: you should know it was just a joke (red flag: defensive)

Me: I actually don’t know you well enough to know when you are joking over text

The End

Learning from the red flags:  From the beginning it was very clear that Jacob lacked awareness of another person’s experiences and was totally self-focused. He was insecure and defensive. Even when he was able to apologize (the ability in others I greatly covet) he still continued to behave true to your first experience with him. See the red flags….listen to your warning signals in your body…. Communicate… move on

Thank you to anonymous for the story and the question


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