Finding a suitable romantic partner, especially after a breakup or divorce, can leave you confused, exhausted and feeling hopeless.

So how do you do this effectively while managing other aspects of your life, like career and children, without becoming overwhelmed?

Learning to recognize the red flags that make a prospective lover unacceptable will save you time and spare you a mountain of heartache.

 What Are Red Flags?

Red flags have been used throughout history as a signal of coming danger. When it involves relationships, red flags can give warning of a person’s serious, perhaps even dangerous, character flaws.

Red flags are an early sign of trouble to a relationship in the same way that a man suddenly growing hair all over his body is to the fact that he is becoming a werewolf. If you noticed them ahead of time, you would know it is best to run from this individual before your heart is torn to shreds.

Unfortunately, there is no operator’s manual to help us pick the right partner. Most of us got our training from watching our parents’ marital example.

There are simple clues that signal a cautionary approach towards a new prospective romantic partner.

Let’s examine them.

 1. You caught he/she in a lie.

Maya Angelou says, “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

Nothing shows you more about a person than their integrity. There must be honesty in a relationship to establish trust. Admittedly, we all like polishing our own apple, but there is a difference between putting your best foot forward and lying.

Online dating taught me a lot about this subject. Some dates did not resemble their profile pictures, or they misrepresented their age. If a prospective partner lies about the little things, you can bet they will do the same with the larger issues.

2. He/she seems only concerned about their well being.

In the movie, A Bronx Tale, the father instructs his son on what to look for in his date. If, after helping her get into the passenger side of the car, she leaned over and opened his door lock (this story is set at a time before automatic car door locks), then she was a keeper.

The father’s wisdom was straightforward; son, stick with the woman who shows concern for your well being.

Sometimes a circumstance may call for one partner to give more than the other, but, for the most part, each partner must make the other’s well being as important as their own.

Simple behavior can point this out about your prospective partner.

Do they timely return your texts or phone calls (for me this means within twenty four hours)?

Are they habitually late by fifteen minutes or longer to meet you?

Do they cancel a date at the last minute or forget it altogether?

Do they seem disinterested in the things that are important to you?

Must you always engage in the activities they are interested in if you want to see them?

If the answers is yes to these questions, then there will not be much left for you in the relationship.

3. He/she has trouble accepting responsibility for their actions.

Successful love partners understand that in order to heal misunderstandings, each one must acknowledge their responsibility for causing the disagreement.

Are you the one who must reach out when you have disagreements?

Does you partner have trouble apologizing for any misunderstandings they may have caused?

If the answer is yes to these questions then, more than likely, you will have to accept responsibility for the bulk of the relationship’s problems to keep the peace. This kind of acquiescence will rob you of your soul.

4. He/she is not welcoming of your friends and family.

We don’t come alone to a relationship. There are family members and friends important to us.

A partner is not worth having if they are jealous of these relationships and make it difficult for you to maintain them. These are signs of a controlling individual who will isolate you. It is better to be alone than accompanied by someone who infringes upon your ability to maintain these close ties.

5. He/she has had many romantic relationships.

I dated a woman who claimed she had divorced only once. During our courtship, she revealed her involvement in five different live-in relationships within that sixteen-year period. Based on law of averages, she had moved in and out of a relationship every three years.

It didn’t take me long to discover what the problem was with my newfound love, she feared intimacy. When things between us got too close, she felt vulnerable and then bolted. When the fear subsided, she came back. I couldn’t last, this version of “she loves me, she loves me not” was too agonizing to live through.

Although it is easy to count the number of divorces as a critical criterion when evaluating a partner, we cannot forget that failure of other committed relationships is a good indicator that a person may not be able to maintain one for the long term.

6. He/she has a litany of strained relationships.  

We are the common denominator in all of our relationships. While there are reasons we don’t get along with everyone in our lives, common sense tells us that normal humans enjoy a cadre of friends and family who surround them.

I went out on a dinner date with a lovely lady. Within the hours we spent together, I learned that she was estranged from her four children. She also mentioned her parents and siblings had not spoken to her for over a decade. Adding to the litany were the legal suits she had filed against her second husband and her last boyfriend. She was also on the verge of quitting her job because she could not get along with her boss.

My acquired lesson from the experience was that if a person cannot get along well with others, they are not going to do so with you either.

7. He/she suffers from an addiction.

Dealing with substance addiction is a difficult personal problem. It is a heavy burden to for any relationship to carry. Besides alcohol and drugs, people can also be addicted to sex, gambling, food, job or exercise.

The problem with someone who suffers an addiction is that, no matter what you do, the coveted object will always have the highest priority in his or her life.

To have a successful relationship, both partners must make it a priority in their lives. Any kind addiction makes that impossible.

8. He or she does not seem very open minded.

Do you find that every time you express your opinion he or she shouts you down?

it is important to remember that no one owns the whole truth about anything. Just because a person has an opinion doesn’t mean they are the absolute authority on the matter, it just means they have something to say about a subject. In fact, most people don’t know fact, only opinions.

A good partnership relies on open and respectful conversation. Notice I did not say agreement. But it does comprise of a level of acceptance and compromise that allows room for each person to incorporate their values and beliefs in the relationship.

A partner who silences or insults you because of what you believe does not merit your love and commitment. Period.


One of the most impactful decisions you will ever make is that of choosing a partner. Being in a healthy relationship is critical for your health and emotional well being. It also adds meaning to your life and helps you develop as a human being. This far too important a decision to rely on trial and error to gather information.

It is imperative to see the good and bad in someone before committing your love to them. Some red flags are immediately visible while others may only become visible after you have spent time with the individual.

There is nothing unethical or immoral about being selective. If you see in your prospective partner any of the indicators aforementioned, it behooves you to move on

Reach Deeper

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