Red Flag Dating

My friend Dan compares online dating to driving in the Indy 500. Digital technology speeds up everything. All the likes and ignored messages, the feelings and triggers, and the red, and sometimes green, flags. Dan estimates somewhat facetiously there are 30 red flags, and they may be different for each person. The only way we can recognize these flags is through practice.

Recently, I made a week-long pit stop from match, to catch my breath and consider the red flags so far.

There have been red flags so obvious they’re comical, except they’re not, because we’re talking about another human being with a history and a heart and hopes and strengths and weaknesses, just like me.   

Take the guy who asked during our second conversation, “Want to hear something weird?”

“Sure, I mean, yeah, I guess,” I replied. 

“I sleep on my couch every night.” 

“And why is that?” I asked (curious voice). 

“I like it better than the air mattress in my bedroom even though it has a layer of memory foam on top.”

I pictured him sliding around on that contraption and said, “How interesting.”

Then he told me he falls asleep at night in front of the same World War II movie and he’s looking for a woman who can give him a good polishing.

“Well hopefully you’ve done some of your own polishing,” I said, laughing.

“I guess, I have.”

He also mentioned COVID-19 virus was created in a lab in Wuhan.  

“Actually, that’s a conspiracy theory,” I said.

“It is?”

There was a long pause.  “Well, this has been a lovely chat,” I said.   

I was supposed to meet another guy for coffee after we had two phone conversations. During our first chat, he told me when he’s interested in a woman, he takes down his dating profile. I asked him why.

“Because I don’t want her to think I’m cheating on her.”

His reply struck me as a little odd and a lot premature. Two days before our Saturday coffee date, I get a text: “I’ve deleted my entire profile. Just want to confirm coffee on Sunday.” I was so floored by his announcement, I didn’t notice he was confirming the wrong day. On Saturday, I waited at the café for 18 minutes and thought he’d stood me up. The whole thing just felt, well, wrong. 

Red flags go both ways. I suspect I waved one for the first guy I ever spoke to from match, when I intimated that Tucson is more liberal politically, hence my decision to move here versus more conservative Phoenix. He had just told me he works as an engineer for a defense contractor.Or maybe his red flag was me being a creative type in graduate school who had to take remedial math in college. He never replied to the text I sent the next day telling him I enjoyed our conversation and would be interested in speaking again. I felt rejected for all of an hour. 

In the balance, I’ve seen a few green flags, too. I had several dates with one guy. We went on some walks, had coffee, and visited a farmer’s market. The physical attraction was there right away. He was handsome, fit, a good conversationalist, and eager to spend time with me. However, soon it became apparent he wanted to move a lot faster than I was comfortable with.

Photo by Sunsetoned on

Whenever I graciously said no to a date, he acted understanding yet under the surface, I sensed irritation, as if I wasn’t going along with his agenda. There was also the issue of his recreational drug and alcohol use, which I have no judgement about in theory. Longer term though, a nightly wine drinker would be a problem for me as a clean and sober person.  

After a lot of careful thought and consulting with Dan and a couple of women with a LOT more experience with dating, I thanked the faster-moving gentleman for his company and wished him luck finding a romantic partner. He replied in kind. Communicating this was harder and easier than I thought it would be. I suspect he’d come to the same conclusion. For all I know, my “go slow” may have been one of his red flags.

Was I disappointed this guy didn’t work out, or that this week, the cute rock-climber, gardener who seemed sensational on paper, turned out to be a dud conversationalist? Of course. But I’m relieved, too. A woman needs to get off the track for a few laps and take time to consider the waving flags

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