If you’re a woman who has been dating for a while you might be feeling discouraged about the prospects out there. You may even be struggling with self-trust and your own ability to have good judgment. Maybe your wondering if you’re “too picky” or losing hope that there are any “good ones” still out there. It only takes a few false starts or bad dates to wonder whether you’re doing something wrong as you search for your Mr. Right.
From the time we’re little girls we’re taught to be pretty, pleasant and pleasing. We have also been culturally convinced that we be more accommodating of our own needs, and within the context of relationships we learn that we shouldn’t be too demanding or place our expectations too high. We’re so hyper-focused on approval and acceptance that we sometimes forget that we have the ability to make empowered and conscious choices about the men we let into our lives.
Searching for your right partner requires a blend of your gut instinct and your higher consciousness. This becomes easier the more you know yourself and what you need to thrive as a woman in the world, but there are actually some universal qualities in men that you can keep your eyes peeled for when you’re out there dating. Learning to read between the lines while keeping your wits about you when meeting men will reduce your chances of heartbreak and making a bad choice of partner.
To make things a bit easier I have broken down some of the things you want to watch out for by categorizing them into Red Flags and White Flags. When you experience a Red Flag you’ll want to abort the mission because they suggest qualities that may be very problematic down the road regardless of compatibility. A White Flag is more negotiable and includes issues that are either negotiable or changeable depending on the person. With these you’ll want take note, but you don’t necessarily need to run for the hills.
Here are some examples:
He says he had a “perfect” childhood. – Red
No one has a perfect childhood so this implies a sense of denial and an inability to see his life through a bigger perspective. He probably needs things to be perfect, and has a low tolerance for challenging or difficult feelings. People who refer to their past in this way almost always have a need to protect themselves from the bad which means he will not welcome your negative feelings. This is a big issue and he would need a lot of help to address this conditioning.
He doesn’t talk about his past relationship or marriage – White
You might be someone who needs full disclosure, but it’s actually healthy to not inundate a new relationship with old baggage. This is probably more a sign of resolution with his past than avoidance. If there are skeletons in the closet you’ll uncover those soon enough, but not vomiting his past and sharing all of the details are signs of good boundaries and the ability to find closure.
He’s really “good friends” with his Ex(s) – Red
Many men brag about this like it’s some badge of honor. This is a big red flag because it only means that his Ex(s) will be around and in his life. While he may think this shows that he ends things well, it actually implies that he hasn’t ended it at all. Ex’s only have a place in one’s life if there is co-parenting involved or some other shared logistic that requires contact. Being amicable and remaining friends are not the same thing.
He waits a couple days to follow up after the date – White
While this may be upsetting or generate a feeling of anxiety most men are encouraged to wait a bit before making contact after a first date. Immediate contact is also a white flag because many men don’t play games when they meet someone they like. If the pattern of delayed response continues beyond the first few encounters you are probably bordering on a red flag situation, but playing a little hard to get isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
His last girlfriend was “crazy” – Red
Any man that refers to a woman as “crazy” has a high probability of being sexist, and won’t understand the feminine. This is a guy who will find you irrational, tell you to calm down when you’re upset and will not be empathic with your moods. Don’t think that you won’t be considered to be “crazy” too at some point so remain aware of any derogatory language that implies a lack of respect for the female gender.
He’s never been married – White
If you’re dating older men you might find that the one’s who have never been married are not dateable. While this could be something to take note of, sometimes men (like women) spend a large part of their time focusing on career, travel and other personal opportunities more than marriage. Later marriages are becoming more and more common so this doesn’t always mean he’s commitment phobic.
Remember that no matter how long you’ve been searching for the right partner you should never settle or compromise your values or needs. Be mindful of rationalizing negative qualities to make something work because your honesty with yourself in the beginning will protect you from heartbreak in the end.