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Wondering If He Is The One? Watch Out For These Modern Dating Red Flags To Know When To Run

By Somdutta Mazumder

Updated - May 9, 202415 min read

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"You know, it's funny; when you look at someone through rose-coloured glasses, all the red flags just look like flags" - Wanda from Bojack Horseman 


Regardless of your age or stage in life, a budding romance always hauls along some semblance of renewed hope, reawakened excitement and an array of flowery flurry feelings. Everything is suddenly tolerable, your daily homicidal urges are substantially repressed and your stomach constantly feels like you had some bad sushi the previous night, but you know, in a romantic way. Just the thought of this person is enough to make you feel light-headed and you can't spare a second without wondering how you, of all people, got so lucky.


Now, wait, hold on just a minute. 


In an attempt to savour this funny feeling (dopamines, those are dopamines) for as long as we can, we let go of all our inhibitions and sometimes even that red alarm blaring "Danger" at the back of our head. Owing to our quest to find the perfect guy and the perfect relationship, we end up ignoring the little signs, the perfectly lined up crimson flags and instead settle on internally screaming "He does NOT mean that" every ten seconds into a conversation with him. Cut to a few months or years later, you are sobbing to your girlfriend while making proclamations of how you never saw the end coming. Eh, yes you did. And you skillfully turned a blind eye to all the things that should have led you running for the hills. Well, it's not too late.


Read on to discover 13 major red flags in the chaotic world of modern dating to better prepare yourself the next time Cupid comes knocking on your door.  


1. The "Art" of Negging

What - A nouvelle phrase coined by pick up artists, negging simply refers to the act of deliberately delivering back-handed compliments as a way of keeping the other person's self-esteem in check. It is more like an insult wrapped up in a pretty little bow which intends to augment your need for approval. Seen as an idiot-proof tactic to win a woman's attention, negging buys into the strategy of reducing her supposedly inflated sense of self and keeping her wanting more. *Gags*

Reality check! Negging is not an artful strategy mastered over several years of attempting to pick up women. It is, in fact, a sign of manipulation and a stepping stone towards gross emotional abuse. In my humble opinion, if one has to resort to making a woman question her self-worth in order to get her to be attracted to them, perhaps its time for some serious introspection, bud.



"Wow, you look so pretty, contrary to your everyday appearance!"

"Those pants make your waist look so much thinner" 

"You look beautiful, must be all the make-up!" 


Image Courtesy - Giphy


2. Subtle Body Shaming

What - This one is pretty self-explanatory. Body shaming is when a man shames you for the body you have been blessed with, the body that devotes every last cell to the process of ensuring you stay alive, and the body that makes you, you. Casual or intended to inflict serious emotional damage, we have all been at the receiving end of thoughtless body shaming. Ranging from nonchalant fat comments to grave criticism, body shaming repeatedly assaults your self-esteem till your own self-perception becomes dangerously skewed. When this cruel act takes subtle forms and comes from those we love, it can especially be difficult to come to terms with what is happening. 



"You're so skinny, eat something!" 

"Wow, your legs are so bony!"

"Do you really want to eat that? You skipped the gym yesterday as well!"


If these statements are all too familiar, girl, RUN. 

Body Shaming

Image Courtesy - Giphy


3. Casual Sexist/Misogynistic Jokes Despite Objection 

What - It's 2019. Jokes about women belonging in the kitchen are, in addition to being offensive, also incredibly lame. Seriously, if your idea of an irresistible sense of humour constitutes asking me to make you a sandwich and then cackling like a maniac, you might as well directly give me a call once you finally graduate from fourth grade. It's still understandable if your guy cracks a sexist joke ironically or in zest once or twice but stops once you point out how cringe-worthy it is. But those that continue to indulge in misogynistic humour despite or rather further spurred on by repeated objection, are the kind of people you should steer clear from. 



"You're a girl, what do you know?" 

"Arrey, don't worry, you'll just end up marrying a rich guy" 

"Are you the Feminazi type?" 

Sexist Jokes

Image Courtesy - Giphy



4. Untiring Bigotry 

What - We are living in an age of discussing and debating, of challenging and reframing existing norms, of questioning and communicating. We are the generation that made being "woke" a trending thing. Then why do we still continue to put up with ignorance, prejudice and good ol' bigotry? If you are about to propose the entire over-used notion of "everybody is entitled to their own opinion", let me stop you right there. If your opinion has anything to do with the marginalisation or subjugation of certain societal groups less powerful or widely represented than the one you belong to, it's not really a simple opinion that you hold. 



"Why are you talking to a Muslim? They are all so aggressive." 

"Abortion should be illegal, its murder!"

"Jesus dude, you're so gay" 


Image Courtesy - Giphy


5. Poor Listening 

What - You know those people? The ones that don't really listen to what you have to say but rather wait for you to finish so they can promptly resume speaking again? The ones that have a glassy look in their eye and seem lost in a world beyond Planet Earth every time it is your turn to speak? Yes, those are the people you need to maintain way more than a one-arm distance from. If you are dating someone who has zero interest in anything you have to say and considers his contribution to the conversation as far more significant than your opinions or views, it is time to reconsider things. This red flag is particularly difficult to spot because of the probability that your brain, lost in the high of your whirlwind romance, is likely to mistake his poor listening skills for simple excitement on his part. Which might just be the case. However, if this seems like a constant process as opposed to a one-time occurrence, you are definitely on your way up a very steep hill with a death drop. 



"Haha, this is nothing. You know what happened to me?"

"How long will you talk about this?" 

*Constant interrupting to make additions* 

Poor Listening

Image Courtesy - Giphy



6. Misery Olympics 

What - Misery Olympics is the satirical phrase coined for a phenomenon most of us are all too familiar with. If while expressing your own concerns and stressors, your partner barges in just to explain how much worse off they are, congratulations, you are now participating in an epic round of misery Olympics. Not only does it take away from your moment to express and voice your concerns, it also belittles your trauma making you feel like you are simply over-reacting to a minor thing when clearly, there are people who are dealing with substantially more difficult matters. If comparing trauma is a constant occurrence in your relationship, it can end up causing sizeable damage to your emotional and psychological well-being. You need someone who understands your burdens for what they are. After all, regardless of whether it is a six feet deep or a ten feet deep pool, you are still drowning at the end of the day. Also, what do you even want to win, dude? Why can't we all be miserable together? *Sob*



"This is nothing. You know what happened to my friend?"

"Why are you crying because of a paper cut? I almost broke my wrist last week!"

"Your dog is sick? Well, my mother was hospitalised yesterday and you don't see me crying" 

Misery Olympics

Image Courtesy - Giphy


7. Constant Defense Over Acceptance Of Mistakes 

What - I get it, it is always undeniably awkward when you're caught in a mistake or a lie. Especially considering our primordial tendencies as human beings, fighting or defending oneself is but a natural response. And that in itself is not necessarily a red flag. However, the previous sentence is applicable only when your guy eventually, albeit after some arguing, accepts his own shortcomings. On the other hand, if you are dating somebody who only vehemently argues in the face of confrontation and will not stop defending himself irrespective of how wrong his actions might have been, you can definitely interpret that as a bird of ill omen. 



"I did not call her! I was sitting on my phone and it accidentally dialled her number. So what if I spoke to her for an hour? I did not mean to call her! How can you accuse me of wanting to talk to my ex!?" 


Image Courtesy - Giphy


8. Flaky/ Inconsistent Behaviour 

What - When it comes to dating in the contemporary world, we have all been a part of the guessing game at some point. You know, when every interaction leaves you with a series of additional questions about what exactly you've gotten yourself into. You make grand plans for the weekend, Friday comes along and as the clock strikes 6 PM, you can barely contain your excitement. Only to receive a text from them, an hour before you are supposed to meet, about how they can't make it because of a sudden meeting. This is his fourth impromptu meeting in the last two weeks and his flaky behaviour is starting to give you severe whiplash. Sporadic communication, gaps in stories, constant last-minute cancellations, abrupt changes in behaviour, do you really need a bigger sign to realise that he's just not that into you? 



"I really like you, but I am still trying to get over my ex so I am not ready for anything committal, but I can't stop thinking about you." 

"Wednesday sounds great! Oh hey, I can't make it on Wednesday, let's do dinner on Friday?; Oh hey, I was just about to text you, Friday won't work for me."

"I don't like labels, but I don't want you seeing anybody else"


Image Courtesy - Giphy


9. Perpetual Ex Bashing

What - All of us have dealt with an infuriating ex-partner at some point. More often than not, seemingly civil romantic relationships end in a slew of bitterness and frustration, and for a stipulated period of time, your ex is the worst human being you've had the displeasure of knowing. However, we take time to heal, we grow and we empathise. In other words, we move on. Having said that, there are some people who seem to be perpetually stuck in a toxic cycle of resentment and ex bashing. We get it, your ex-girlfriend was "crazy". Yes, we understand that she was stifling and never respected your space. Okay, she was also unbearably clingy and.....seriously? We are still on this? It's been two years!



"Seriously? Why are you over-reacting? You're just like my ex, she was also crazy." 

"Have fun at the party! Don't get too drunk or it will be like being with my ex-girlfriend all over again!"

"You're not clingy, are you? My ex was insane and I never got any space!"

Ex Girlfriend Bashing

Image Courtesy - Giphy


10. Breadcrumbing/ Love-Bombing

What - Imagine luring a lost puppy to safety by leaving a trail of bread pieces. Now imagine yourself as the puppy, except there is no safety, just a winding, never-ending trail. That's exactly what breadcrumbing feels like. A 21st-century dating concoction, bread-crumbing is the process of sending out flirtatious, non-committal texts every now and then, with the sole intent of leading you on and leaving you stranded. The person expending energy on bread-crumbing may not even be interested in you but wants you around regardless to satisfy his ego or boost his self-esteem. They enjoy your attention and consequently want to ensure that there's an unremitting supply of it, available at their dispense. Love-bombing is a similar phenomenon, except the person intermittently showers you with grandiose gestures of love and affection, and then leaves you high and dry for days to come. Both bread-crumbing and love-bombing are inherently manipulative strategies and are likely to invoke feelings of confusion, bewilderment and uncertainty. As the popular saying goes, if you are constantly unsure about their intention and objective, you are with the wrong person. Because with the right person, you will just know. 



"Hey, long time! Was thinking about you yesterday. We could go out sometime this week. I'll keep you posted!" 

"Hey, gorgeous. I am sorry for the silence, work has been crazy! Miss me?" 

"Hey, remember me? Haha, you look pretty in your new post. Let's grab coffee sometime." *promptly disappears*


Image Courtesy - Giphy


11. Gaslighting

What - Arguably the most deleterious tactic of all, gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse in which the perpetrator manipulates the situation by making the victim question his/her own reality and perception. Gaslighting makes you question your own instincts and feelings, leaving you highly susceptible to believing the morphed truth or crude lie being put forth by your beau. If the guy you are dating constantly makes you feel alien simply for experiencing certain emotions or feigns a lack of understanding when you are trying to communicate, or even outright refuses to listen or talk about pertinent issues, its time to take a step back and review what exactly is going on. 



"You are upset again? I am not listening to any of that, just leave me alone!"

"Why are you making things up? To pick up unnecessary fights? Can't we just be peaceful for once?" 

"You are depressed? Why do you see things in such a negative way?"


Image Courtesy - Giphy


12. Low Emotional Quotient 

What - Psychologists have spent an eternity emphasising the importance of emotional intelligence, of the ability to accurately process and manage emotions as well as appropriately respond to those of others. A high Emotional Quotient has been deemed immensely crucial to optimal functioning in various social situations. However, some people continue to be bodaciously complacent with being emotional train-wrecks. If your potential SO exhibits argumentative tendencies, an inclination to evade honest communication, utter oblivion to your feelings, inability to deal with strong emotions or an incapacity to empathise with others, congratulations, you are dating someone with the EQ of a toddler. Start looking for an escape strategy, and perhaps, a therapist?



"Why are you so sensitive? How is it a big deal?"

"Wow, you are crying again? I can't deal with this. Text me when you're calm."

"I cheated on you because you were so over-bearing all the time!"

Low EQ

Image Courtesy - Giphy


13. Disregard For Boundaries

What - Notwithstanding the closeness of your bond, clear boundaries are essential to any healthy relationship. At the end of the day, no matter how starry-eyed in love you might be, you and your beau are still two distinct individuals with your own lives, hobbies, social circles and aspirations. In any thriving relationship, the two individuals give each other a healthy amount of space, respect boundaries and leave room for mutual understanding. If the afore-mentioned factors seem to be largely absent in your dating equation and you constantly feel suffocated, view it as a testimony to the disaster that awaits. My advice? Practice saying "No, I am not comfortable with that" repeatedly in the mirror till you can say it as naturally as you breathe. 



"You had a fight with your mother? What happened? What do you mean you don't want to talk about it? TELL ME!"

"How can you go out with your friends when you know I want to spend time with you? So what, we went out yesterday? I want to see you every day, I am your boyfriend!"

"Would you mind if I went through your phone? I just want to see who you speak to."


Image Courtesy - Giphy

So here we are, at the end of this guide to modern red flags in contemporary dating. Here's hoping that you are reading this part with a renewed sense of awareness and enhanced wisdom. If not, I'd suggest browsing through this article repeatedly till you are able to spot these red flags from a 10 KM radius. As parting words, all I am going to say is, it's okay to make mistakes ladies, just don't date 'em.