It’s important to be open-minded when you start dating someone. Sure, you might hate the way they cut their toenails in bed or leave dirty dishes on the sink like they’re curating an exhibition, but these things aren’t exactly deal breakers. Real dating red flags tend to be a little more complex than habits you could pass off as behavioural quirks. And in today’s love at first swipe culture, where apps and social media have revolutionised the way we communicate, they’re more nuanced than ever.

You don’t feature on their social media accounts after a few months

This is niche and should come with a disclaimer: if you or your partner are not on social media, or you use Instagram solely to follow cat fan accounts, you can probably ignore the following. But if you are someone whose partner scrolls through Instagram/Twitter/Facebook religiously and has a history of featuring exes on their profile, it might be bad news if they haven’t posted about you yet. “It might mean they don’t see you as a long-term option, or that they are not ready to show you to the world,” The one exception? If it’s a business account. In that case, not wanting to post selfies of you both in front of the Eiffel Tower complete with love-heart emojis and #CoupleGoals is kind of fair enough.

He expects you to do all the work.

Relationships are a two-sided affair. While it’s wonderful that women can approach and ask out a man without waiting for him to do it, there is also a delicate balance in the relationship. Both sides have to invest. Does he ask you to plan all the dates? Does he show little interest in making reservations, getting creative with activities, or expect that you’ll do this for him? The investment factor seamlessly leads to an even more important type of initiative.

You feel isolated in your relationship.

While there is a natural rhyme and rhythm to when one meets friends, family and others in the course of a relationship, there can also be a level of exclusivity that can feel stifling or unbalanced. No relationship can thrive in a vacuum. In fact, overly exclusive relationships where partners don’t want to include others are a hallmark characteristic of abusive relationships. No one is there to witness it when your boyfriend is putting you down, treating you poorly, or being disrespectful. And seeing through the rose-colored glasses of love, you don’t see any differently either. In your eyes, he is flawless. Which is why you need someone to help check your vision. Whether it is a friend a sibling, or other acquaintance, it can be helpful to include a larger community in your relationship for the purposes of safety and balance.

There’s a power imbalance

Dating is about working together to support one another in equal measure. Being in a happy relationship should feel like being in the best kind of team, he says. If it doesn’t, and it seems like one of you is constantly exerting control over the other, who is more submissive, consider it a bright red flag, he tells The Independent.

“Signs of a power imbalance can take the form of jealousy or controlling behaviour,” he explains. “Both can easily lead to the end of a relationship, so try to deal with this early on rather than bottling up emotions.” As for how to handle it, Preece advises making your concerns clear and if nothing changes, it’s time to reevaluate

The rules change all the time. Actually, the rules are arbitrary.

For better or worse most women are socialized to be good listeners. Additionally, we are often the mediators and conflict resolution specialists in disputes among family and friends. However, to be able to do this we must have access to the whole story and concrete facts. This is much more difficult if the story is constantly changing. In the context of a romantic relationship if the target is constantly moving, it is a futile endeavor. First he’s not interested in marriage and children. But his parents support it. So he might also be into it. But he also might not be. He doesn’t actually see the point of marriage. But on second thought if children are involved then it is a necessity. However, he doesn’t really like children all that much. So then if a=b=c; a= relationship, b=marriage, c=children; then a will not actually equal c. Difficulty with basic algebra much? Relationships shouldn’t be complex equations to solve. They either work or don’t. Don’t waste your time following a nonsensical formula.

You express your feelings to one another differently

It’s a good thing to have a yin and yang balance in a relationship: what you lack, your partner provides and vice versa. But one instance when this could be concerning is when it applies to how you express your love and affection for one another. It could be that you’re more of a romantic wordsmith – you constantly tell your partner you adore them and inundate them with compliments – while your partner is less appreciative of effusive compliments and favours kind-hearted actions. The tricky thing is that if you’re one way inclined, it may lead you to expect the same kind of behaviour from your partner, and when you don’t receive it, it can be disappointing.

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