What are the very first signs that your new relationship might not be healthy? Match.com’s relationship expert KATE TAYLOR brings you the top things to watch out for in the first days of dating
Everything you need to know about a relationship’s future is right there waiting to be read, like tea-leaves, during its first three months. Think back to your last bad relationship – there were signs very early on that things would end the way they eventually did, even if the split came 10 months or 10 years later. Every bad relationship has Early Warning Signs that shout, “Abort mission!” within the first 90 days. All you have to do is know what to look for. Here they are.
Lying of any kind should be an immediate red-flag. It often isn’t! But it really should be. Even if your new partner isn’t lying to you, don’t be fooled: deception is their way of coping with life’s problems and sooner or later you’ll be on the receiving end. At the end of a relationship with a liar, you’ll be bruised and baffled, tempted constantly to replay the relationship in your mind, trying to sift the truth from the deceit. With just 24 hours in each precious day of your life, want to be spending them doing that? When there are over 300 satellite TV channels available?
Watch how a date treats the waiting staff at the bar or restaurant. Are they friendly and calm, or contemptuous and aggressive? If the latter, don’t see them again unless you long to be treated that way in the future. Similarly, listen to how they speak about work colleagues, friends and family. An air of tolerance is OK but superiority is not. Don’t be flattered that your partner will love and respect you above everyone else – sooner or later, you’ll be treated to their arrogance.
Any meanness with money in the very early stages of a relationship doesn’t bode well. If a man insists you split the bill for your first dinner-date, he’s not thinking long-term – he’s putting his wallet ahead of the opportunity to impress you. Avoid! But I don’t mean to say you should date only millionaires – don’t mistake thrift for stinginess. A man could take you on a picnic that cost him just £5, but if he spent hours making all the food just to make you smile, it’s priceless.
Watch your partner: do they seem to get very angry very easily? Do they suffer from road-rage, or seem to recount daily fall-outs with people around them? Do they love to vent their temper on internet messageboards, using hateful language, or talk about violent incidents they’ve had in the past? Do they seem to give out a low-level aura of anger? If so, walk away now. That anger will turn around onto you one day.
Someone who genuinely likes you a lot very early on won’t go on about it because they’ll be worried about scaring you off. They’ll take it slowly, being lovely over time and then warming up to the big talk about marriage, kids, house in the country… someone who might have ishoos, on the other hand, will talk about that stuff on the first date. They’ll be highly flattering, using language designed to make you feel unique: “You’re the only one for me, I’ve never felt like this about anyone, I’d die without you, if you ever left me I’d be suicidal.” If you’ve been single for a while, this kind of talk can be enticing, but stay alert. Listen to your gut feeling: if the talk feels too good to be true, don’t believe it. Instead, watch their actions. Do they seem keen to move straight in? Is everything moving very fast? Do they have a history of broken engagements or short marriages? If so, steer clear. You might be dealing with a commitmentphobe or an abuser.
Somebody who blames everyone else for their problems would a long-term drain on your life. Luckily, they’re easy to spot as it’ll start from the first date: if they’re late, they’ll blame everything else for the tardiness – the traffic, the weather, you. They’ll seem to have a lot of tension with people in their life, perhaps law-suits with ex-partners or former workplaces, or they haven’t spoken to anyone in their family for years. Talking about past relationships, they’ll always blame their exes for the split and if they accept any responsibility, it’ll be trivial and trite: “I’m too trusting, I believed them for too long.” Bad things happen to all of us, but you’d do well to look for partners who are willing to take some blame and take action to improve their situation. Don’t believe the stories unless you want to be taking care of them forever.