In any new relationship, you’re likely to find yourself on high alert for behavioral red flags. Even with a total dreamboat, there could be something a bit off that signals it’s time for you to get the bill and go your separate ways. Whether the warning is subtle (they didn’t hold the door open for the people behind you at the bar) or obvious (they full-on raged at the waiter who messed up your drink order), these cues are important indicators of a person’s emotional intelligence, says Houston-based sex and relationship therapist Ty David Lerman.
“A lot of these warning signs give insight into an underlying problem,” he says. If you see a behavior that doesn’t sit right with you, take it as an opportunity to learn more about the person. “Flags are an invitation to get curious,” explains Lerman.
Some flags, like controlling how you look, are bright firetruck red: They signal aggression and disrespect and you should feel free to walk away right then and there. Other flags, like if they go on and on and on talking only about themselves on your first date, are more of a marigold yellow. It’s annoying, sure, and could signal that this person lacks baseline common decency—or they could just be having a bad day.
Before you completely write off a yellow flagger for being an insensitive jerk, Lerman recommends that you look for patterns in their behavior. Some flags can graduate from yellow to red if they violate a boundary or become a recurring problem, while others might disappear once you address them directly.
So, just how red is that red flag you noticed on your last date? Is it a charming quirk in disguise, or are you about to end up on Dateline? Use Cosmo’s generator below to help you make sense of all these warning signs in the early stages of getting to know someone new.
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