Dating is exhausting, pretty much regardless of whether you find romantic success or not. With everything else going on in our lives, devoting time to meeting and pursuing new people, be they for long-term commitment or fling reasons, can get tough.
Added to that is the fact that people aren’t usually giving you the truest version of themselves when you’re in the early stages of dating (we all do it — it’s okay!). It can be hard to detect whether someone is worth your time or not, so we polled some expert collegiettes for their takes on which traits are red flags in a romantic partner and which you can give another chance. Read on for their tips!
1. They mansplain to you
People can be hard to read in dating situations, but there are some clear tells that someone is way more into themselves than they are into you — don’t waste your time here! There are several indicators that a person doesn’t have a genuine interest in getting to know you.
“One I've experienced is them trying their hardest to relate to your interests/hobbies,” says Veronika Potylitsina, a senior at the University of Toronto. “For example, I'm actually, really interested in architecture and they try to make things up about what they know about the thing that are obviously wrong.” Classic case of a man thinking he knows more about your topics of interest than you do yourself.
Mansplaining is about the least sexy/appealing/acceptable thing that happens in the realm of dating, so don’t let anyone mess around with you like that. You have every right to drop them (and give them a lecture on the real facts as well as why they don’t need to overcompensate and patronize you by trying to show you up on your own knowledge).
2. They’re overly attached or jealous
Clinginess, especially in the early stages of dating, is super disconcerting. You don’t want them to be dependent on you from the get go!
“If they're moving too quickly, that's another red flag — overattachment is often a little troublesome if you're just getting to know them,” says Rachna Shah, a freshman at Dartmouth College. They don’t know you like that.
Jealous behavior takes this unhealthy attachment a step further. “If a no-strings-attached type relationship has been established yet he gets obviously jealous when you talk about other people/guys to him (such as abrupt end of conversation, trying to immediately hang out with you, trying to ‘one-up’ the person, etc), that's also a red flag,” Veronika says.
“Being possessive is not part of the deal and should be addressed immediately,” she adds. No matter the stage of the fling or relationship, jealousy is toxic and can lead to unsafe situations.
Flakiness, even when it comes to a fling, is more than just annoying — it’s a deliberate disrespecting of you and your time.
“One of the biggest red flags is when the person acts in a manner best described as flaky,” Rachna says. “They talk to you when they want to, but as soon as one of their friends shows up, they ditch you.” If it’s a repeated pattern, you’re better off without them. Like we said earlier, you’re busy!
4. It's all about them
Regardless of the seriousness of the relationship, both parties should be committed to reciprocality at the very least. “I dated a guy who always managed to turn the conversation around to interest him or make it about him, says Tiara Curow, a senior at Central Washington University. “I could bring up a topic and he would give me his side but wouldn’t ask me about mine, or if I brought up something that he wasn’t interested he would blatantly ignore it and start talking about himself or whatever he was doing.”
If they can't handle a two-way conversation, it's not likely to make for a good relationship. “The biggest red flag is when a guy won’t stop talking about himself or always keeps things superficial,” Tiara says. “I was dating a guy for two months and we had no problems discussing what my major is or my favorite food but when it came to my family or anything slightly personal he was not interested.”
Getting to know people is hard work, and if you’re invested, they should be too. “I think this shows that the person really isn’t interested in getting to know you or doesn’t see the relationship going anywhere,” Tiara says. Next!
5. They don’t take anything seriously
Sure, a fling is a fling, but if your relationship is moving to the next level and they are noncommittal or don't take you or your relationship seriously, that's probably not a good sign. “I once went out with a guy who was a fun, go with the flow type of person,” says Morgan Mullings, a sophomore at St. John’s University. “While there's nothing wrong with this, when things got serious he avoided any serious topics or conversation!”
If you're not comfortable with their aversion towards real talk, steer clear. “There's a time and place for EVERYTHING, and if he can't handle talking about something a little tough, that's a huge red flag,” Morgan says. There's a difference between wanting to have fun and being a 12-year-old inside the body of a 20-something!
Second chance traits
1. Lifestyle differences or personal preferences
Just because you don’t have everything in common and don’t love all the same things doesn’t mean you won’t get along or last. These differences could potentially make your relationship even stronger in the long run! You’ll fill in one another’s gaps.
For example, you might be a vegetarian and they might be a hard core meat eater. It doesn’t mean it isn’t meant to be, it just means that you have an opportunity to have some interesting conversations with one another about these sorts of things! If the chemistry and interest is there, you can absolutely make it work.
2. Things about them others don’t like
Pretty much any outside advice about a romance should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, the person giving the advice is probably not one of the people involved in the romance itself, so they can only understand what’s going on to a certain degree!
It’s one thing if other people in your life have genuine concerns about your health or safety when you’re seeing a person, but just because your SO’s personality doesn’t match with your friends’ or family’s doesn’t mean they’re wrong for you. “I would recommend enduring through...family and friends [who] don't initially approve of your SO (and vice versa!),” says Rachna. They’re your SO, not your family’s or friends’!
3. They’re close with their family
It can be unattractive if someone talks about their family a lot, much less spends a great deal of time with or talking to their family members. Aren’t we supposed to be flourishing in our independence? You might be that way, but just remember that that may not be the case for everyone.
“I once went out with a guy who called his mom and talked about her literally all the time,” Morgan says. “This was off putting at first because I was like, ‘Are you dating me or your mom?’” A classic conundrum.
Closeness with a parent or other family member that you aren’t used to shouldn’t send you running for the hills, though. “But later on it wasn't as frequent and I realized they just have a very good relationship,” Morgan says. “And that actually makes him a better person to date.” Hopefully that bond means they’re more grounded and have good priorities. And if they’re sharing details about their other close relationships with you, that’s gotta be a good sign!
4. They overshare
This is the contrast to guys who are super into themselves. Oversharing might be too much or even seem a little creepy, but (hopefully) it's just an indicator that they're comfortable with you!
“Most of the time, the guy is just really excited to tell you about his life and share the things that he enjoys and can get a little carried away,” says Charlee Hrubesky, a sophomore at Indiana University. “I like guys who share their lives with me, even if they like to share a lot at one time.” You are supposed to be getting to know each other, after all.
A healthy amount of pickiness is good — you shouldn’t have to settle — but you could also miss out on someone really great if you discount them based on something that might not actually be too big of a deal.