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Home  Dating

Red Flags! Red Flags!

By Ian Coburn

One of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to dating is to ignore the warning signs that often exist early in a relationship, even on the first date. These warning signs are red flags and many relationships end sourly because these red flags were ignored. Some people even waste a lot of time pursuing someone who's not interested because they ignore red flags that indicate a lack of interest. See if you can spot the red flags in these scenarios:

- A guy goes on a first date with a woman. She answers her cell twice during the date and makes a call of her own. On the way home from the date, she has the guy make a stop at Jewel so she can pick up a few groceries.
- A woman in Chicago dates a guy who lives in St. Louis. He tells her not to call him after six at night and won't give her his home number, even though he has one.

The red flags are pretty obvious to spot, right? The woman in the first scenario is completely uninterested in her date. She doesn't even behave as though she is on a date. The man in the second scenario is married with children. Anyone could spot these obvious red flags, right? Surprisingly, that is not the case. Many people ignore the red flags. Maybe they see them but prefer not to (call it "blinded by love"); maybe they don't recognize them as flags; maybe they think the person will change over time; maybe they're just stupid. Whatever the reason, they ignore the red flags and pursue the relationships.

No, that can't be right. Surely anyone and everyone would heed the red flags I just mentioned. A friend of mine pursued the woman in the first scenario for four months. They went on a bunch of dates - all for which he paid - and he never even got a decent kiss before he called it quits. Another friend dated the guy in the second scenario for over a year before she learned he was married with kids. So, obviously, not everyone heeds red flags.

Needless to say, my guy friend was angry with the girl he wined and dined for naught, while my woman friend was furious with the married man. Many of you probably agree with them, thinking they were betrayed and used. Certainly, the misleading woman and the married man were unscrupulous. But I have no empathy for my friends; they have no one to blame but themselves. They ignored some huge red flags. (Red flags are referred to as "red" because they are obvious, bright indicators of a problem, not subtle, hard-to-spot indicators.)

People on first dates want to impress someone they're interested in. You don't impress someone by having your cell on, let alone answering it repeatedly. And you certainly don't ask them to take you to the grocery store on the way home! As for the married man . . . hmm . . . can't call him at home . . . can't even have his home phone number. What the hell is that? That doesn't seem odd?

Both my friends fell victim to the same thing many of us fall victim to . . . nice packaging and shallow flattery. One couldn't look past the beauty of a woman to see how she felt about him. The other was tickled pink that a guy bought her nice gifts and took her to fancy places. We've all fallen for such things, and probably will again. We are blinded and ignore the red flags. In the end, we wind up frustrated and angry with whoever fooled us. We blame them for taking advantage of us, for mistreating us.

Is that fair? No. The truth is the only person we can honestly blame is our self. We chose to ignore the red flags. We chose to continue to pursue or stay in the relationship. The problem is that most of us will choose to do it again. This creates dating tendencies that often lead to an endless cycle of bad relationships.

Do yourself a huge favor: Pay attention to red flags! You see them, don't pretend you don't. If you decide to live with them, that's fine; just realize you have no one to blame but yourself when you are finally no longer able to put up with them. The people who display red flags aren't hiding anything from us; not really. If they were, there wouldn't be any red flags.

Remember, you'll be much more apt to find yourself in good relationships with the right people if you pay attention to red flags and act accordingly.

Comedian Ian Coburn's new book "God is a Woman: Dating Disasters" has been garnering lots of popularity and praise from readers. Adults of all ages have begun to email him personal dating questions, particularily college students. He recently started a dating advice column entitled "Lunch is Not a Date," which is beginning to syndicate. You may learn more at http://www.godisawoman.net/ and find readers reviews on Amazon.


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