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Embarking on a new romantic journey can be both exciting and joyful, getting to know someone new, as well as sharing new experiences. However, the early stages of dating are also crucial for spotting potential red flags that could indicate unhealthy patterns or dynamics in the relationship. Being aware of these early signs can save you from heartache and lead you towards healthier, more fulfilling relationships. Here are some early dating red flags and relevant examples to watch out for:

  1. They’re inconsistent with communication

Consistency is key in the early stages of dating. If your new interest is hot and cold with their communication—texting, you one day and then disappearing for days—it might indicate a lack of seriousness or respect for your time. For example, if they only reach out late at night or are always full of excuses for why they can’t meet or call, it’s a red flag.

  1. They speak negatively about their exes

How someone talks about their past relationships can reveal a lot about their character. If they’re constantly blaming their exes and playing the victim in every situation, it could be a warning. It’s a sign that they may not take responsibility for their part in issues, which could mean trouble for conflict resolution in your relationship.

  1. They pressure you into moving quickly

While it’s normal to feel excited about someone new, pushing for a serious commitment or saying “I love you” extremely early can be a sign of emotional immaturity or manipulation. A healthy relationship takes time to grow; any pressure to rush into things should be met with caution.

  1. Disrespectful behaviour

Pay attention to how they treat others around you, like waitstaff or friends. Are they rude or too demanding? For instance, if they’re quick to lose their temper with a server for a minor mistake, it’s a clear indicator of how they handle frustration and treat people.

  1. They don’t respect your boundaries

Boundaries are essential for any healthy relationship. If you notice they’re pushing your boundaries early on—whether it’s ignoring your requests to slow down physically or constantly pushing you to share more than you’re comfortable with—it’s a significant red flag. A partner who respects you will respect your boundaries.

  1. Overly critical or judgmental behaviour

Notice if your date is overly critical or judgmental of you, themselves, or others. Constant negativity or criticism can be draining and is often a sign of deeper insecurities or controlling tendencies. If they’re quick to point out flaws or make you feel inadequate over minor things, it’s a concerning sign that shouldn’t be overlooked.

  1. Lack of empathy or understanding

Empathy is crucial in a healthy relationship. If your date shows a lack of understanding or empathy towards you or others’ feelings and experiences, consider it a red flag. This might manifest as indifference towards your feelings, mocking you or others, or an inability to apologise genuinely when they’ve hurt someone.

  1. Always playing the victim

If they consistently portray themselves as the victim in every situation, it might be a warning sign. This behaviour can indicate an unwillingness to take responsibility for actions and a tendency to manipulate sympathy from others. It’s essential for both partners in a relationship to own their actions and contribute to resolving conflicts.

  1. Your friends and family have concerns

Sometimes, being in a new relationship can make it hard to see things clearly. If multiple friends or family members express concerns about your new partner, it’s worth taking a step back and considering their perspectives. They might notice red flags that you’ve missed or downplayed.

Moving forward with confidence

Recognizing these red flags early can empower you to make informed decisions about who you let into your life. Trust your instincts, communicate your needs clearly, and don’t be afraid to walk away if your core values are not being met. Healthy relationships are built on mutual respect, understanding, as well as patience. By staying alert to these early warning signs, you’re taking an important step towards protecting your emotional well-being and paving the way for more meaningful connections.