Finding a good person to date is kind of like being on The Bachelorette—except the finale has yet to air. Why is it that people get so weird or just generally horrible when you were just starting to like them? Unfortunately, that's one question we can’t answer. Instead, we talked to collegiettes and two experts about what made them walk away from someone faster than you when you're late to class, so you can learn from their mistakes and dodge a bullet when you see one coming at ya.
1. You had nothing in common
Generally, one of the prerequisites for dating you is actually having things to talk to you about. But it's not as easy as it sounds. “Last year, my friends tried to set me up with a mutual friend of ours,” says Gabrielle*, a senior at the University of Southern Maine. “We hung out a few times and I could really tell that things weren't going to go well if we continued to spend time with one another. We had completely different senses of humor and just didn't have much in common.”
Having things in common doesn't have to mean both being obsessed with Game of Thrones, indie Austrian bands and aged gouda. It could be as simple as liking to hike, or laughing at dad jokes. If you don't even have that baseline, this relationship is most likely doomed.
“I think that in general, the biggest red flag is when your friends ask, ‘Do you like him?’ and your response is something along the lines of, ‘Uhh... well... he's really nice?’” Gabrielle says. “I think that being indifferent is almost worse than a glaring red flag, because you can convince yourself that there are plenty of reasons that he's ‘actually a really nice guy.’”
But just because someone is nice doesn’t mean they’re right for you. “Too many differences can create challenges that are too big to overcome,” says Lesli Doares, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “While it’s important to have some individual interests, it is what you have in common that will ground you and keep you together.” You can’t build something out of nothing.
2. They didn’t have any interests
Even worse than not having things in common with you (hey, it happens!), some people might seem to not have any interests or hobbies at all. “I stopped seeing this guy because he literally did nothing,” says Delaney*, a freshman at Temple University. “He wasn't involved in sports, clubs, organizations, volunteer work, anything. And he said he was ‘too lazy to get good grades.’ His lack of motivation and goals for his future turned me off completely.” We can't imagine why? This guy seems great?
“It's healthy for people to have an outlet (i.e. interests or hobbies),” says Neely Steinberg, a dating coach and founder of The Love TREP. “Having nothing outside of the relationship to sustain or feed someone might put undue pressure onto the relationship and they might rely on you entirely for happiness—a recipe for disaster.”
3. They wanted to move way too fast
Look, you’re amazing. You know it, we know it, everybody knows it. So naturally, people want to date you all the time. But what if they want to date you so badly that they go completely overboard? Yeah, not a good look. “I didn't want to go on a second date with someone because he was way too into me,” says Paige*, a senior at Boston University. “He bought me a cactus for our first date (a big one) because I had mentioned they're my favorite plant. Then he wouldn't let me pay for half of dinner when I offered a few times because it was expensive. Then he took me to a comedy club and paid for that too. All the while I had to carry around my large cactus. On our way back he had me wait outside of CVS so he could buy gum because he wanted to kiss me. I was not about it.” We're not about it, either.
But besides just coming on too strong, someone being a little too into you could be a sign that they would be jealous, dependent or possessive in a relationship—all things you’re better off avoiding. “This might be a signal of deep-seated insecurity issues, which will ultimately wreak havoc on a relationship,” Steinberg says. “Both people need to work on being whole themselves instead of relying on the other to fill them up.” You’re so much better off alone than with someone who is likely to bring you down.
4. They didn’t share your values
Again, not having much in common is one thing, but literally feeling uncomfortable with someone’s worldview is a big, big red flag. “Dating someone who isn't a feminist is a big deal breaker for me,” says Alaina Leary, a first-year graduate student at Emerson College. “I had a kind of misogynistic boyfriend years ago and we broke up essentially because he wasn't pro-women's rights and I felt that didn't mesh with my values.”
Not only will building any sort of relationship without shared values be next to impossible, but in the short term, you just won’t enjoy being with that person. For Doares, if “you feel like you have to walk on eggshells or not say certain things because of their reaction,” this is your cue to move on. “In a healthy relationship, both of your thoughts, feelings, and opinions have equal weight,” Doares adds. “Not being able to be who you are will eventually become unworkable so if you don’t feel like your views are valued it’s time to rethink the relationship.” You will find someone who sees your worth, we promise. In the meantime, just focus on being your awesome self!
5. You weren’t a priority
If someone treats you like you don’t matter, it goes without saying that they are not worth your time. “I was into this guy freshman year and we hooked up until I realized he was sleeping with four other women,” Paige says. “We had only been hooking up on Thursdays for a reason…”
Even if you two are just hooking up, there has to be some respect there. Doares also explains that if “they don’t return phone calls, texts, or show up when they say they will, this is disrespectful and they are telling you that you are not a priority to them.” And you deserve to be a priority.
6. They patronized you
You’re a collegiette: you work hard, you’re involved in a million things and chances are you’re also a great friend and a fun person. So if someone can’t see how amazing you are and thinks it’s okay to talk down to you, do yourself a favor and run. For Doares, it is NOT okay if “they constantly put you down, criticize or make ‘jokes’ about you. Feeling safe and supported is critical for a lasting relationship. If you let them know that these things hurt and they continue to do it, they are telling you that you don’t really matter.” Which, again, you do.
7. They were really possessive
Being interdependent is never a good thing in a relationship, so if this person shows signs of being overly needy and possessive, you should probably stop seeing them. One of the extremes of this might be if “they cut you off from your friends and family, keep you from activities you enjoy, track your movements and question you constantly about who you’re with,” according to Doares.
And don’t be fooled: “Some people see jealousy as a sign of love; it’s not,” Doares adds. “It’s a form of control and abuse. A good partner will support your interests and goals, not make you defend and justify your actions.” *insert preach hands emoji*
If you’ve ever encountered any of these things in someone you were seeing, we’re glad to tell you that you definitely dodged a bullet. If you’ve been lucky enough not to come across any of these, be warned! A-holes are everywhere.