Dating Red Flags for Women | Colleen Sheehy Orme


Woman covered with sheer red fabricPhoto byPhoto by Airam Dato-on

Love is complicated but there are simplicities in the complexities of relationships. As a former business columnist turned relationship columnist, I view relationships through the lens of a marketer. I’ve spent a decade in counseling and research on the topic.

It’s the day-to-day in dating and relationships that trip us up.

There’s an adage in the marketing world. An entrepreneur is what we call the CEO. The chief everything officer. They have so many responsibilities as a self-employed individual it can bring them down. They often lose sight of their brand objective because they are pulled in too many directions. Relationships and marketing are not so different.

They are both driven by emotion.

It’s our emotion that makes us lose sight of red flags. But there are simple clues to help us gravitate towards better dating choices.

1. Watch the way a man treats his mother because it will one day be the way he treats his wife.

This advice happens to be generally true.

The relationship a man has with his mother will tell you a lot. If he is disrespectful to his mother he may one day be disrespectful to you. If he mistreats his mother he may one day mistreat you. If he ignores his mother he may one day ignore you.

He could be a prince while you date him.

It doesn’t matter.

Once married, he will probably assume those behaviors. If he never called his mother back, cared what she said, thought to buy her a birthday present, took her to dinner, worried about her, did anything thoughtful, and/or visited her.

You will probably reap that unfortunate neglect too.

He will likely go to work and never check in, disregard holidays, blow off your concerns, and ignore you. There was no significant connection to his mother and ultimately there may be none with you. It will be a home of parallel play. Two people living in the same space but doing their own thing.

If a guy speaks horribly to his mother, there’s a good chance he will do that to you.

It’s important to watch they way a man treats his mother.

The imperative word is ‘watch.’ Look at his actions, not only his words. Be observant. He may not overtly mistreat her but he may completely disregard her.

Is it an absolute?

No, there are always exceptions to the rule. Some young men may need to mature before they appreciate their mothers. Some men may work hard to have better relationships with their wives because they didn’t have one with their own mothers.

But generally speaking, this is good relationship advice.

2. Watch for signs of maturity.

We believe we are dating adults.

They pay rent or mortgages, car payments, and hold jobs. For all intense purposes, they must be mature and responsible. Or are they?

We go out into the world and duplicate the roles we played in our homes while growing up. Hopefully, that means we are self-responsible. But if not, we will attract ourselves to someone who is.

What does this mean?

A person could be incredibly successful in their career. But they may have been allowed to come and go as pleased at home. They may have had little responsibility for daily or personal tasks. Their parents may have taken care of all of the household duties, making their doctor’s appointments, etc.

If you find yourself parenting someone in any way, it is a sign of immaturity.

And a lack of personal accountability and self-responsibility.

The guy you are dating should be able to make his own appointments, cook his own meal, do his own laundry, and get where he needs to get on time. He should be buying gifts for his own family on holidays, keeping contact with his own family, and generally maintaining his own life.

If you begin to assume his responsibilities, do not confuse it with kindness.

Women have a tendency to want to give. But it’s not your responsibility to make sure he books his flight, calls his mother, has clean laundry or makes it to the dentist. Should you occasionally help him out? Absolutely.

But it should be the exception, not the rule.

You want to date a man, not a boy.

3. Are you making excuses for his behavior?

If you are dating someone and making excuses for them, run.

Everyone deserves a hall pass. But not a repeated free ticket. This is one of the easiest red flags to recognize early on. Is the guy you are dating treating you well? Or is he a seemingly great guy that you are making excuses for?

“He was late again, but he has a demanding job.”

“He didn’t call me back but he never gets back to his friends either.”

“He didn’t really lie, he just forgot to tell me.”

“He doesn’t text me back but he hates texting.”

“He was rude but he had too much to drink.”

It doesn’t matter what the cause or reason is, making excuses for someone’s bad behavior is a dangerous red flag. It can lead to years of heartache. A man who mistreats you, doesn’t grow up, or behaves badly, does not deserve your excuses.

He doesn’t deserve your time, attention, or loyalty.

You deserve to be treated well. Every single human being, man or woman deserves to be treated well. Ask yourself if you would do the same to him. Probably not. Why put up with it from someone else?

You can be kind but have boundaries.

You can have self-protective instincts and self-respect.


In the dating and relationship world, some red flags can be detected early.

They aren’t that difficult to miss.

We just haven’t been taught to view relationships through anything but our hearts. But we should connect the dots with our brains before our emotions become overly invested. A few simple insights can lead to healthier relationships. And the kind of guy who will treat us well.

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