Red Flags 

One of the hardest things about dating someone is balancing between learning from your past relationships whilst not letting your past dictate your present and future happiness with another person. For example, a partner may have cheated in your last relationship. You are now aware of the warning signs (red flags) but if you're not careful, you can fall into the trap of not trusting anyone, ever again!

Whilst this post is about when you meet someone on a first date and noticing the red flags, it's also worth bearing in mind that you may want to balance the information provided with your "gut instinct" when you're on a date. You know the "feeling" you get when you are with a person who is genuine and how you feel comfortable as opposed to a person who makes you feel slightly on edge and you can't quite put your finger on it.

The warning signs are there, which you'll be able to pay attention to, and you'll quickly know if you want to go on a second date or not.

Abigail Brenner profile
quotation mark

“A red flag is a good intuitive image to help you process what you're really feeling. At the end of a difficult relationship, people often say, "He (or she) told me who he (or she) was at the very beginning, but I just didn't listen.”

— Abigail Brenner

The Issue with "General" Red Flag Checklists

Most red flags checklists highlight the obvious such as:

Whilst observing mainstream red flags are helpful, they're based on the "general" perception of a red flag.

Just because something is a red flag for one person does not make it one for you; your beliefs and values may be different. For instance, you may believe that you should (and want to) pay the bill at the end of a date. Or, you dislike food going to waste and don't see an issue when your date takes their leftovers home. 

If you find you are the type of person who benefits from checklists, and you want a dating red flags checklist tool that is different from others that are available, click on the link below to download your copy. This tool will give you the confidence to make a decision whether or not your date is the right person for you. 

Get Your Dating Red Flags Checklist Now

A simple assessment tool to support you to make the right decision for you!

How to Use Red Flags Effectively!

Outlined below is a framework that will support you to understand (and clearly see) five sets of patterns people can slip into when they feel disconnected.

If you are fed up with dating the same type of person and experiencing the same difficulties over and over again in your relationships regardless of it being with a different person, the following information will support you to recognize behaviors that are red flags to "you," on the first date! 

No more time-wasting dates.

You will quickly and easily make your own list of red flags based on your personal experiences, not on others' experiences, values, and beliefs.

Behavior Patterns

When you feel disempowered, uncomfortable, or disconnected, you will move into an unconscious pattern of behavior, as does your date. There are five patterns of behavior you can move into, and your dominant archetype determines your pattern of behavior; how you react in times of need, overwhelm, stress, and anxiety; this also applies to your date!

Generally, when you're on a first date, you tend to feel uncomfortable and anxious. And the more you are attracted to your date, the more uncomfortable you will feel because you are emotionally invested in the person you're on a date with; you want them to really like you too! 

On the other hand, the more a person you're on a date with likes you and wants to get to know you better, the more they will slip into (and use) one of the five patterns of behavior for your energy type. 

Quick Tip

It's particularly helpful to know the five patterns of behavior and red flags if you want to attract a different partner and relationship.

It's particularly helpful to know the five patterns if you want to attract a different partner and relationship.

For example, you may be "over" being in a relationship with a person who always blames you for everything and you now want a relationship with a partner who is kind, caring, and attentive. In this instance, dating a person who always blames another person is a red flag to you!

Or maybe you've left a relationship because you saw your partner as controlling, even bordering on abusive, and you want to be in a relationship with someone who is independent, self-reliant, yet loyal.

One pattern (or dating red flag) is not better than (or worse than) another, they are patterns of behavior. They are behaviors that are red flags to "you" so you can be more aware and consciously choose the next person you enter into a relationship with. 

Each of the five behavior patterns is on a sliding scale 

The degree and extent of behaviors your date displays will be based on how anxious, stressed, and disempowered they feel. For instance, a person who has a controlling red flag may show indicators such as being perfectly groomed and punctual, which are good manners particularly on a date, but it can move on to other areas such as showing contempt to members of staff at a café for mixing up the order. In this example, your date wants to be in "control" and to show you they are the "boss." In addition, the degree of behaviors your date uses will depend on how experienced they are at containing their behavior over a period of time, for example, an hour coffee date will be different to a full day at the beach.

Someone who has a tendency to have abusive behavior, are overly critical, or on the extreme end of having a controlling behavior will show these traits but to a much lesser degree in the early stages.  

The Red flags are there, even on the first date! 

We all have them, including you!

When you know the five patterns, you can very quickly detect the behaviors that are red flags to "you." 

What are the 5 First Date Red Flags?



Your date may want to present themselves to you as being, "in control." The more your date feels internally out of control, the more they have to control their external environment to feel a sense of (you've got it...), control.

Now, there is nothing wrong with being in a relationship with a person who needs to be in control. It is about being aware that your date has a dominant behavior pattern that needs to be in control when they feel disconnected.

When you're on a date with a controller, you may mistake their controlling ways with "confidence." You may believe that they have confidence in themselves and they know what they want in life, and how to get it. You may even think, "This person has their baggage sorted out!"

Are you able and willing to be in a relationship with a person who has to have the final say? If you're a person who needs to be in a relationship with a partner who is flexible, in tune with their emotions and is able to empathize with you, a person who is in control may be a red flag for you.

When you are on a first date with someone who controls, some of the red flags and behaviors they display could be:

Quick Note About Controllers

When you are on a first date with someone who controls, some of the red flags and behaviors they display could be:

  • being punctual and may not be impressed if you're late, 
  • order for you
  • they maybe intolerant if you arrive late 
  • they make the decisions for the date (where, when, etc.)
  • they're rigid/inflexible boundaries
  • they're very organized
  • they need structure, order, timeframes
  • they may have a need to rearrange the seating and table position,
  • they like making their presence known (larger than life) 
  • they make sure they have your attention, adoration and approval,
  • they may come across as arrogant and talk disrespectfully to members of staff at the venue whilst being respectful to you, 
  • there is little time for you to talk, and
  • they like to "boast" about their achievements, etc.



Your date may be shy and quiet. You may feel that you're the one who is doing all of the talking on the date and you put it down to them being "shy."

Again, your date's behavior is a nervous stress response to the situation. They appear to come out of "their shell" as the date progresses. The more they get to know you, the more confident they feel. You start to see a little more of your date's personality and character.

You may find you have to continually ask them questions to get any information out of them because they don't give it away freely; they appear aloof. In one respect, it makes a refreshing change being with someone who wants to listen and get to know you, but on the other, you may get frustrated because they don't disclose anything about themselves.

In a long-term relationship, the quiet and shy person will feel the need to withdraw when they are under stress. They may appear distant, cold-hearted, and disinterested in you and the relationship. If you are a person who "needs" to feel connected and close to your partner, this date may be a big red flag to you.

Quick Note About Withdrawers

When you are on a first date with someone who withdraws, some of the red flags and behaviors they display could be:

  • aloof and distant
  • shy and quiet
  • rigid/inflexible boundaries
  • only gives information when prompted and yet still remains evasive
  • may continuously ask you questions to avoid disclosing anything about themselves
  • they appear distracted and pre-occupied. They maybe at the same table as you but they feel miles away.
  • they may come across as disinterested, even if they "really" like you.
  • they talk quietly so you need to get closer to hear
  • they have few friends and they tend to be "superficial"



Your date may be very attentive to your needs. They will listen to your stories and take "pity" on you. They want to "fix" you and make things better. They may even find fault in you (or your situation) so they can be supportive. They "need" to be "needed."  

They dig for the "sad" stories. They may even try to psychoanalyze you and tell you what's wrong in your life. You may hear why you're still single, why your last relationship failed, and how they would not let that happen to you.

They may constantly check out how you are on the date. Making sure you're not too warm, you're not hungry; they need to know you're comfortable. For example, they will support you by getting you that glass of water you didn't even know you needed.

In a long-term relationship, the person who needs to be needed will sabotage situations and events to make sure they're needed and you won't leave them. However, they will be keeping score of everything they've done for you (including the support they gave when you didn't want it); they will throw it back in your face when resentment builds up.

Quick Note About Rescuers

When you are on a first date with someone who rescues, some of the red flags and behaviors they display could be:

  • they are considerate
  • they are attentive
  • have no boundaries
  • like making sure you're comfortable
  • they are very (if not, overly) empathetic to your stories/history
  • they find fault where there is none so they can fix it
  • they're very helpful
  • they like to show you how caring they are, they may even tell you to make sure you notice
  • they may sabotage a situation so they can be the hero and fix the problem



Your date may be "super-keen" to be on a date with you. They are enthusiastic to be in your company and may start to talk about the future. They mention how lucky they are to have met you. The pursuer is very interested in you and already talking long-term. If you do not appear as keen, or dismiss your date's attention, they may become increasingly anxious that you are not interested in them. 

As a result, they may start questioning you, digging, probing, and hinting. They want to seek validation you are there for them, that you are as interested in a relationship together as they are. They want to know everything about you, including ex-partners. If there is anything that remotely connects you, for instance, you both like the same color, the pursuer may confirm how much you have in common and how alike you are.

They need to feel connected to you; now and always. The only difference is, the need for connection intensifies as the relationship develops. As the relationship continues, the more they fear to lose you, the more they pursue you. You may feel smothered and isolated from friends and family members in this relationship. As a partner, this person can be jealous and demanding of you and your time.

Quick Note About Pursues

When you are on a first date with someone who pursues, some of the red flags and behaviors they display could be:

  • they like to question, dig and probe to seek confirmation you like them
  • they may criticize your previous partners based on the information you share
  • they can have jealous tendencies
  • they lack boundaries
  • they may put their future happiness on you and a relationship with you 
  • they have smothering tendencies
  • they can be too much too soon
  • they're overly interested
  • they have the ability to find connections and similarities that are not there or are not important, such as liking the same color
  • they can be very demanding 



Your date may want to blame everyone and everything for their life and predicament. They may turn up to the date late and blame the traffic and no parking. They may moan and even try to "guilt trip" you into the reasons they're having a bad day. After all, they wouldn't be late if they didn't have to meet you.

They may move on to their last dating experience or ex-partner and how badly they were treated. You see, with a blamer, it's every bodies fault but theirs. You may listen attentively to their problems and could make suggestions to support them in their predicament, but there is always a reason why that would not work. If you find a solution for a blamer, they have nothing to moan about. You take away their identity.

In a long-term relationship, they move from one crisis to the next. If there isn't a crisis, they will create one. In this relationship, you will be responsible for your their happiness, and yes, blamed for their misery too.

If they want something done, they will play the "victim" card to get you to do the task for them. They've mastered helplessness! 

Quick Note About Blamers

When you are on a first date with someone who blames, some of the red flags and behaviors they display could be:

  • they moan and complain about others, particularly their ex-partner
  • they don't take responsibility for their actions or situation
  • they can be "doom and gloom" and discount possible solutions to their problems 
  • they want you to make their life better
  • they may complain about their health
  • they have no boundaries
  • when something is wrong, it's always someone else's fault
  • their life is one big crisis
  • they may arrive late to your date
  • they may have forgotten to bring their money so you pay for the date
  • they tell you they had a bad day
  • the date is about them and their problems


As you can see from the five dating red flags, people move into one of five behavior patterns when they are under stress.

No pattern is better than, or worse than, another. It's all down to personal choice based on your previous relationship experiences, values, and beliefs. 

This framework supports you to spot behaviors that are red flags to you, quickly and easily.

You will identify your date's patterns on the first date and avoid time-wasting relationships!

If you want to have a different outcome and relationship experience, you need to try something new; conscious dating! Have you ever considered getting a dating coach to support you on your journey so you can experience a healthy relationship?

When you use the dating red flags checklist, you are making a conscious choice whether or not you want to continue dating a person. 

You can date differently, be the chooser of your next relationship, and find your ideal partner; with confidence in your decisions!

Until next time


Relationship Coach and Dating Coach

Coach 2 Connect

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Dating Red Flags Checklist

Do you want a dating red flags checklist that focuses on "your" red flags and not red flags based on other people's values, beliefs, and concerns?

This simple assessment tool will support you to be clear about your date and whether or not you are making the right decision for, you!

Why not click the link below to download and access your dating red flags checklist, today?

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