Wikipedia is telling me that the earliest use of the term “red flag” was in 1602, and it referred to a literal flag used by military forces to indicate that they were preparing for battle.
Now, in our current context, it kinda means the same thing, but instead of military wars we’re talking about LOVE wars. If red flags are present in your romantic situation, they are there as a warning. They are telling you to prepare for battle.
Before I coupled up with my current boo, I fought many a love battle, so many of which could have been avoided or, at the very least, took less of a toll on my energy, if I would have just paid attention to the got-damn red flags.
But if I did, what hilariously dark stories would I have to retell to friends at happy hour or to the Internet?
My sister and I were texting recently about some of my comically awful exes when I got the idea to share some of these entertaining/unfortunate stories with you. (Because I love you all and want to protect you from making my mistakes.)
Here are 10 mega-red flags that, if you are experiencing them (or something like them) with your current squeeze, it might be time to pack it up and move right along.
1. If your relationship is primarily technological and he avoids bringing it to the real world.
He is 100% hiding something from you, and no amount of sappy texts received, suggestive photos sent or bad poetry written about you should deter your smart, logical self from knowing this. (OK, I’ve been guilty of this, like, 80 times.) An Internet boyfriend is no boyfriend at all, because he is likely one or more of the following: dating someone else, hiding that his life is in shambles (and you’re just feeding his ego), suffering from Peter Pan syndrome, or not as into you as he pretends to be online. Cut the cord; this is all a fantasy, and the sooner it’s over the better.
2. If he is a very aggressive neck kisser/lip biter/pillow-puncher.
He will say weird things after hooking up like, “I guess we need to know each other better before we really beat each other up.” This will terrify you, yet you will continue to hook up with him anyway. Eventually, the hickies will get so bad that you have to cut this off. Don’t wait -- it’s a waste of concealer.
3. If he goes on a pro-life rant after having frequent unprotected sex with you.
He likely actually wants to impregnate you. You will continue to sleep together in several “let’s test fate” situations, like in a flower bed under a full moon, and when you miraculously aren’t pregnant, he will send you a weepy message about your child who never was. In short, use condoms.
4. If he has a questionably close relationship with his mother.
RUN. “Questionably close” includes but is not limited to: long cuddle sessions/back rubs with mom in her bed (while you are there, sitting on a chair next to the bed), answering all of mom’s phone calls no matter what he is doing (oh yeah, middle-of-sex mommy chats), and inviting mom on many of your dates (so he won’t have to pay). He will one day butt-dial you while he is talking to mom, in explicit detail, about your relationship and what he hates about it. (You will promptly dump him.)
5. If he takes a long trip abroad and you only hear from him when CCed on the emails he sends his dad (with no reply to your personal messages).
You are getting dumped when he gets home. Might as well bite the bullet and beat him to it. (You might feel the need to optimistically pick him up for the airport anyway. DON’T.)
6. If he has ex-girlfriend photos hanging on the wall or framed next to the bed.
He is not over his ex-girlfriend. When you ask about the photos, he will say that she’s just a close pal. (She’s not.) Even though he is unimaginably dreamy, freckled and mysterious, he will never love you as much as you think you love him. (You don’t love him. He’s just dreamy, freckled and mysterious.) Steer clear -- these are hard to get over.
7. If his last relationship was celibate.
No judgment to him and his ex, but you DON’T want to be the girl that he jumps back on the sexy horse with. This sex will be very boring for you.
8. If he confesses his love for you while his girlfriend is playing beer pong in another room.
Tread lightly. On the surface, this is a very fun relationship, because it’s designed to be sneaky and secretive. But this is destined to fail. You’ll start to do things that aren’t sneaky and secretive, like drive him to work and kiss him goodbye, and it will feel so mainstream and boring you both almost barf right there in the car. Did I mention he sort of has a girlfriend the whole time? (The good news is this one will turn out to be a lifelong friend once he ditches that girlfriend, who sucked. You two just had to get through this experimental phase to realize the potential of your relationship when your clothes stay on.)
9. If he declares that he “hates having sex sober.”
Oh god, there are so many problems with this person/relationship, namely alcoholism. Do not waste your time, love and energy trying to save someone who is clearly not interested in being helped. Also don’t move in with him. (You’ll move out two weeks later.) While this relationship will have been well-prepared for by all your years of listening to Brand New and Elliot Smith, it still sucks. AVOID.
10. If he is really adamant about taking off your shoes when you come over (as in, he removes the shoes for you).
He will later confess to a foot fetish. This isn’t that bad or anything -- it’s just funny. (In an alternate circumstance, he might just care a lot about the cleanliness of his floors. But assume foot fetish first, always.)
Now that I told you mine, tell me yours! I love a good WTF-how-did-I-deal-with-that red flag ex story.