6 dating red flags intelligent people pick up on almost instantly, according to psychology

As someone who has been on the dating scene for some time now, I’ve slowly come to realize that no matter how often the term “red flag” is thrown around, many people are still blind to it in real-life scenarios.

And you know what?

I get it. 

Getting to know someone new is a very complicated process, and since everyone puts their best foot forward in the first few weeks, it can be pretty darn difficult to see the signs for what they truly are.

Luckily, I’m here to demystify some of those signals for you.

These are the 6 dating red flags to watch out for.

1) When it’s a bit too much too soon

Ever heard the term “love bombing”?

According to psychologist Dianne Grande Ph.D., love bombing “has become the popular label for overwhelming someone with attention, gifts, and words of affection or praise in order to win over their affection very early in a relationship.”

She adds, “To the receiver, it may initially feel like being swept off your feet by someone who has fallen in love with you. After a few days or weeks, the person on the receiving end of this attention usually begins to feel uneasy and uncertain of the motives of the love-bomber.”

While love bombing itself is often considered to be a narcissistic and manipulative strategy – the person love-bombing you is essentially trying to get you to attach quicker, thereby gaining a sense of power over you – it’s also possible that someone rushes into a relationship out of subconscious fears or hidden insecurities.

Simply put, not everyone who tries too hard wants to manipulate you into loving them. That still doesn’t mean it’s not a red flag, though.

When someone showers you with affection and grand promises of a future spent together two weeks after having met you, it signals they are probably operating from a mindset of insecurity and validation-seeking rather than a genuine desire to connect with you on a deep level.

This could give rise to jealousy, unhealthy attachment patterns, and resentment.

2) When they disrespect your time and energy

Look, I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt. If someone arrives a bit late to a date and has a good excuse, I’ll give them a pass. Life happens. Moving on.

The moment tardiness, cancellations, and rescheduling turn into a pattern, though…

That’s when you know it’s probably not going to work.

They might tell you that they simply tend to lose track of time or that they like to go with the flow. But whatever they say, the fact remains: they don’t respect the time you’ve carved out for this date and the energy you’ve put into it.

And the truth of the matter is that your time is a precious and limited resource. You don’t want to waste it on people who aren’t considerate enough to stick to plans and manage their time in an efficient manner.

Don’t just take my word for it. Psychologist Aaron Ben-Zeév Ph.D. agrees: “Unpunctuality can harm the development of long-term profound love, which is based on shared emotional experiences and joint activities. Such development presupposes a certain coordination between the two lovers,” he writes.

“Accordingly, some level of punctuality is also necessary in loving relationships. Lateness can indeed hurt those we love, and we should try to prevent it as much as possible.”

3) When they agree with you 100% of the time

“But maybe we’re just really similar. Maybe we understand each other really well and see eye to eye on our core values. How could that be a bad thing?”

It’s not.

However, humans are incredibly complex and tend to be different from each other – even in the smallest of ways.

While it’s great when you agree with each other on a great number of things, someone who always nods along to anything you say, doesn’t offer any counterarguments, and doesn’t challenge your beliefs may simply do so because they hate conflict and want to get in your good books.

I’m a very honest person. As such, I used to believe that the people I went on dates with presented themselves in a very authentic manner because that’s what I did, too.

Then I found out that some people cared more about getting me to like them than about fostering a genuine connection rooted in honesty. Since then, I’ve been much more careful when it comes to people who share the same opinion on every single topic I bring up.

4) When they don’t ask you almost any questions about yourself

This one’s more common than you might think.

Do you know that feeling when you’ve just come back from a date, thinking it went great, only to slowly come to the realization that you were the one who made it fun?

Really, if you weren’t there, the date would have been a complete drag. You were the one asking the interesting questions. You were the one putting in the effort. You made yourself laugh.

When you think about it, the other person was just… there, going with the flow.

And how many questions did they really ask you? Weren’t you just revealing stuff of your own volition?

Yep, I know that crushing feeling of disappointment. I’m also really glad it flares up when necessary, though, because it warns me that another date might be a waste of time.

Let’s be honest – if someone isn’t interested in you on the first date, why would they suddenly change on the second or sixth? Why would they be more fascinated by you three or thirty years down the line?


Psychology backs me up on this. According to marriage therapist Erin Leyba, L.C.S.W., Ph.D., “People who ask more questions, particularly follow-up questions, are better liked by their conversation partners.” She also highlights research that says this kind of approach leads to more second dates.

5) When they say all their exes are crazy

Relationships are complicated. That much is clear.

And when they end, it is for a myriad of reasons. Usually (unless the relationship is abusive) there isn’t only one person to blame.

When someone says their exes are all crazy, it shows they either lack the emotional maturity to view their past relationships as the complex and nuanced thing they are or that they deliberately deny their own mistakes because they operate from a victim mindset, villainizing their exes and refusing to take accountability.

Of course, some people do have exes who were abusive or manipulative. But oftentimes, the picture isn’t black-and-white. It’s rich in color.

6) When they make you feel like you have to prove your worth

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this article, it’s that no one should make you feel like you’re any less than an amazing person worthy of respect.

If you’re on a date with someone who makes belittling jokes, offers backhanded compliments, or plays hard to get, it likely means they are pretty insecure deep down. What’s more, it means they don’t see your worth.

A sexual or romantic partner should always bring out the best in you. They should want to see you shine.

If they don’t…

Yep, that’s right. It’s a red flag.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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