Can I Ignore Small Red Flags Early in a Relationship?

And how to tell whether or not something is a dealbreaker.

We’ve all been there: you meet someone new, there’s an amazing connection, and they seem totally perfect… except for a few things that you rationalize as being ‘not a big deal.’ Maybe they’re slow to text back, or maybe they act weird and overly private around their phone, or maybe they won’t introduce you to their friends. Whatever it may be, one thing is clear: Small betrayals early on in the dating process can become giant f*cking betrayals in a year, two years, five or ten. 

By conveniently missing or ignoring red flags early on, you could be setting yourself up for a massive disappointment in the long run. When you’re just 1% off from the trajectory of what you want, it can end up putting you one-thousand percent off the mark years or decades down the line. 

The thing is, we’re used to seeing other people self-abandon, or not live in their truth, and later find themselves standing in a place they didn’t want at the outset. This doesn’t need to be about just relationships either — it can happen in work and career as well. We operate in a society, culture, and world where it is normal to self abandon and betray yourself in order to be in a relationship, to land that job, to make money, or get that external validation from peers — whether online or IRL. 

Let’s start normalizing being in alignment, in integrity, and standing in our truth. If someone’s inconsistent with communication, tell them your middle name is ‘Consistency,’ and then shut the door. The next time you encounter a red flag, just say, “Nope, I’m not touching that with a ten-foot pole.”

In my Dating 101 program, we run through red flags and green flags, and how to identify what’s actually a dealbreaker. The bottom line is accepting that if you need to self abandon to be in a relationship, then you’re not actually in a relationship. 

So many of us see self-abandonment as a big, obvious gesture or action, but it actually happens in smaller ways that are tougher to see. If you’re on a date and they say they love football, for instance, and you say you also love football (but don’t say that the only game you ever watch is the Super Bowl), then that’s a form of self-abandonment. It might seem like a small thing, but those small self betrayals end up becoming bigger, snowballing out of control. So, to continue with the football example: when your new partner doesn’t call you back after they said they would because they went out for drinks with friends after the football game, and you say you’re not upset (but don’t say that you actually are quite upset) because you know how much they love football, then that’s another form of self-abandonment. 

It’s time to stop abandoning yourself and start reclaiming what you want and need. The next time an opportunity comes up where you’ve traditionally self-abandoned, stop and ask yourself, “Is this really what I want to be dealing with in a year, or two years, or ten years?”

As we learn about red flags, green flags, self-abandonment and betrayal, some of our Dating 101 participants express feeling overwhelmed and drained by the prospect of dating. If you find meeting people draining, then it’s time to turn it back into a joyous experience or an adventure. Dating is healing, but if it’s weighing heavily on you then it’s time to lighten up! My course isn’t just about figuring out what you want and don’t want — a big part of Dating 101 is to bring joy and love back into finding a partner. Because that’s the goal, right? To find someone who helps you feel even more of that love and joy.